Everyone knows the danger of bicycle accidents. To protect against this danger, cyclists are advised to wear protective gear, including gloves, helmets, shin pads, and reflective clothing. Despite this, hundreds of thousands of Americans still end up in the ER every year due to bicycle accidents, as the CDC reports

Even worse, only a minority of these accidents get reported to the police, or reach a stage where the victim actively begins the process to recover compensation. Additionally, less than 20% of those that attempt to hold the at-fault party responsible end up of recovering satisfactory compensation. All the while, many are grappling with devastating injuries, life-altering medical issues, and significant financial losses. 

The truth is that bicycle accidents are rarely pretty, and when they result in severe injuries, they are even more nasty. To minimize the impact of the accident and secure the financial intervention that allows you to move on with your life, it is important to quickly contact an experienced bicycle accident attorney after the accident.

At Fiore Legal, we understand the pain and frustration of a bicycle accident, and the financial difficulties it brings. Our bicycle accident attorneys are among the best in California, with a solid track record of success for aggrieved bicyclists. We know the arguments that defendants in these claims try to advance, and our attorneys are experienced at outsmarting insurance companies who want to escape liability. 

If you or your loved one experienced injury or loss in a California bicycle accident, our skilled attorneys can help you secure justice and fair compensation. Start the process of holding the at-fault party responsible by scheduling a free, no-obligation consultation with our attorneys today. 

Bicycle Accident Statistics

Bicycle accidents happen too frequently in California. Despite the fact that the state ranks as one of the top ten most bicycle-friendly in the US, California still sees a disproportionate amount of bicycle accidents. In 2016 for instance, the state held the unenviable record of having the most bicycle accident fatalities across all states in the US. 

Sadly, this is only one out of a string of terrible bicycle crash statistics in the state. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that from 2016-2018, California experienced its deadliest bicycle crash period in 25 years. More cyclists died during this period than at any other three-year period since the 1990s, with 455 people losing their lives due to these accidents at a rate of roughly 3.9 cyclists per 1 million residents. 

The frequency of these accidents, and the fatalities that result from them, show clearly that the chances of death or serious injury from bicycle accidents are simply too high for comfort. The primary reason why this is the case is because of the minimal protection that cyclists have when on the road. Cyclists tend to sustain more injuries in these accidents because they are exposed to the road. In the event of a crash, there is very little protecting them from impact with another vehicle, or with the road.  

In a traffic accident with any other road vehicle, the cyclist will almost always be on the losing end. And the heavier the other vehicle, the more likely that things will deteriorate quickly. Due to the uncomfortably high incidence of bicycle crashes in California, the state legislature has passed several laws to make roads safer for cyclists. 

Bicycle Accident Laws in California 

Cycling is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, and it is a pastime that more people in California are adding to their routine. To protect cyclists on California roads, the state legislature has passed a slew of statutes, including the California Three Feet for Safety Act

The Three Feet for Safety Act specifies what is considered a safe distance to follow other vehicles or bicycles on the road. According to the Act, drivers must maintain a distance of at least three feet when following other vehicles or bicycles on the road. In addition, anyone who intends to overtake a bicycle or another vehicle must do so “at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safe operation” of the other vehicle or bicycle. They must also leave a distance of three feet between their own vehicle and the bicycle they are passing. 

Where the road conditions make it impossible to leave three feet when passing, the law requires the passing driver to slow to a “reasonable and prudent speed” when passing. They also are required to only pass when doing so would not cause danger or harm to the cyclist. 

This law was enacted to help make it less likely for fender benders and sideswipes to occur. These are two of the most common accidents that cyclists face on the road, either happening because a driver was too impatient to follow behind a bicycle or because they failed to pay attention when swerving back into the lane. 

The law also prohibits trying to share a lane with a cyclist. Every bicycle is entitled to occupy an entire lane by itself, and no driver can prejudice the cyclist or require them to share the lane. This is a common occurrence on many roads in the US, and can often lead to avoidable accidents. Many cities in California provide special bicycle lanes to avoid this possibility. You may often see these lanes painted in a solid white line or painted in green, with a white boundary. 

Other road users are expected to steer clear of these special bicycle lanes, as required under California Vehicle Code Section 21209. Other road users may enter into these lanes in limited circumstances, such as when they need to reach an authorized parking spot or to enter or leave a roadway. 

Despite these laws though, due to numerous reasons, bicycle accidents still continue to occur in California. 

Road Rage Is One of the Biggest Causes of Bicycle Accidents

Although not many drivers would confess to this, most are uncomfortable with having to follow behind a bicycle in traffic or share a lane with a cyclist. Many drivers view bicycles as little more than a nuisance on public roadways, and some take this dim view of cyclists to the extreme. 

Road rage results when drivers become frustrated at having to respect the road rights of cyclists and lash out in their anger. They may do this by dangerously accelerating close to a cyclist, forcing cyclists off the road, honking repeatedly at them, or throwing things out the window at them. In all of these circumstances, either or both the cyclist and the driver will be dangerously distracted, and terrible accidents can occur. 

According to statistics, many drivers admit to aggressive behavior against cyclists. In some regions, up to 20% of drivers confess they have succumbed to road rage against cyclists in the past, with another 10% admitting they do it at least once a month! The story is no different in the US and California, as altercations and accidents between drivers and cyclists lead to total injury costs of over $4 billion per year

Apart from road rage, there are multiple other causes of bicycle crashes in California. These include: 

  • Distraction: This is possibly the biggest cause of bicycle crashes in California. Often, drivers fail to pay attention to the road, resulting in delayed reaction time when responding to sudden road events. They may lean into a turn without noticing that a bicycle is coming up behind, or take a left turn that causes severe injury to an oncoming cyclist in the opposite lane. 
  • Speeding: Many drivers seem to forget they are on a public roadway once they get behind their wheels of their sports car or SUV. According to a report from California Healthline, most people will survive an accident if they are hit at 20 miles an hour. However, with every single-digit increase in speed, the survival rate drops considerably. 
  • Drunk driving: It is expressly against the law to operate a motor vehicle, or any other road going vehicle, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Apart from the fact that drunk driving may ground a personal injury claim from the victim of the accident, California treats drunk driving as a serious criminal offense. Yet, drunk driving continues to be one of the most common causes of bicycle crashes. 
  • Driving conditions: Statistics indicate that certain weather conditions are prime periods for bicycle crashes. For instance, due to reduced visibility in the late evening, and during weather events such as rain or snow, accidents are more likely to happen. 

Recovering Compensation for Bicycle Accident Injuries

As an experienced bicycle accident attorney in California will explain, it pays to immediately start exploring avenues for compensation after being involved in a crash. These events have significant financial implications, and those who do not act quickly enough may find themselves saddled with unexpected financial losses that won’t go away easily. 

Recovering proper compensation after a bicycle crash begins with learning what to do (and what not do) when involved in a crash. The first thing cyclists should do is learn how to manage the situation. Many cyclists adopt a permanent defensive posture when sharing the road with other vehicles. As a result, they may be more likely to lash out when the driver operates their vehicle in an unsafe manner. However, this can often be detrimental to your personal injury case. 

While it is frustrating to have a driver hit you out of nowhere or threaten to push you off the road, responding angrily may increase your chances of injury, and eventually minimize your chances of recovering compensation. Therefore, it is better to try to protect yourself if you can, and then take the following steps soon after the accident: 

  • Assess yourself for injuries, and call 911 if you are seriously injured
  • Receive medical attention as soon as you can, either at the scene of the accident or as soon as you leave
  • Exchange information with the at-fault driver, including their personal details and the details of their insurance company
  • Collect evidence at the scene, such as photographs of the scene and short video clips that capture the vehicles involved
  • Speak to witnesses who saw the accident and ask if they would be willing to sign and a statement recording what they saw
  • Keep records of your injuries, including pictures, your medical report, and your medical bills
  • Contact an attorney as soon as you can

Determining Fault After a Bicycle Accident

Often, the assumption in bicycle crashes is that the driver of a larger vehicle is at fault, and this is usually the case. For many reasons, drivers are much more likely to be the one at fault after a bicycle accident. However, in order to hold the driver responsible, there are several factors that must be present. 

  • A duty of care: Generally, victims must show they were owed a duty of care by the offending driver. A duty of care is a principle in law which states that people must take care when involved in activities, such as driving, that may cause harm to others. Drivers must drive carefully and abide by all the laws of the road. 
  • Breach of the duty: When people fail to act as they should to minimize harm to others, or act in ways that increase the likelihood of harm, they are regarded to have breached the duty of care. Drivers fail in their duty of care when they drive recklessly, carelessly, or allow themselves to be distracted from paying attention to the road. 
  • Injury resulting from the breach: Finally, it must be evident that the breach resulted in injury to one or more persons. In this case, you need to show that you suffered bodily injury or property loss due to the breach. You can do this by presenting medical evidence of your injuries, and witness reports that reveal how the accident occurred. 

In some cases, the driver may not be the ultimate party responsible for your injuries. If the driver was working at the time, their employer may be ultimately responsible if they failed to exercise proper oversight over the conduct of the driver. However, proving this fact can be even more difficult than usual, since you will require internal evidence that shows where the employer was lacking and how. 

Skilled bicycle accident attorneys can assist with building your claim and filing the proper documents to hold the at-fault party responsible. However, your chances of recovering proper compensation depend on quickly contacting an attorney in the immediate aftermath of your accident. 

Contact Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorneys for Help

If you were injured in a bicycle crash with another vehicle, our bicycle accident attorneys at Fiore Legal can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us to learn about how the bicycle laws in California apply to your case and the options available for you to recover compensation.

Claim What You Deserve

Book A Free Consultation

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.