Over the past few years, bicycle commuting in the state of California has increased upwards of 69 percent. Unfortunately, bicyclists in California, as well as across the nation, worry about being hit by an automobile as they travel to work, work out, or bike for recreation purposes. The U.S. Bicycling Participation Report noted that 52 percent of those who regularly ride bicycles, worry about being hit by a car.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, speak with a Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney at Citywide Law Group today. We offer a free consultation and only get paid if you win.
Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Statistics
California had the highest bicycle accident rates in the U.S. in 2013, followed by Florida and Texas. In 2015, the LA Times reported that Vermont Avenue in the city of LA is especially bad for bicyclists, with more than 230 bicycle accidents reported on Vermont over the past five years. More than 30 0f those accidents took place at three specific intersections: Jefferson Blvd., Olympic Blvd, and West 4th Street.
Establishing Liability Following a Bicycle Accident
As you can imagine, few people are stepping up after an accident to take responsibility. The issue is further complicated by the fact that hit and runs are more common in bicycle accidents than in two-car accidents. Necessary evidence will need to be collected, as well as presented in an advantageous manner. There may be inconsistencies in the story of the driver, and it will be important to determine who had the right-of-way, and whether there were right-of-way violations by the driver. If your attorney can show the following, your case stands a much better chance of success:
- The driver of the automobile did not act reasonably;
- The driver of the automobile breached his or her duty of care;
- That breach of duty of care caused your accident, and
- Your injuries were a direct result of the accident.
There are some instances in which a defective bicycle or bicycle part was the cause of the accident. In this case, it must be shown that the bicycle or bicycle part was “unreasonably dangerous,” the bicyclist was operating the bicycle in its intended manner, and the performance of the bicycle did not change significantly since the purchase date.
Statute of Limitations Following a Bike Accident
In the state of California, bicycle accident injury claims are generally personal injury causes of action, and a plaintiff has two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. There are a very few instances in which a plaintiff may qualify for a tolling of the statute (halting), meaning he or she has additional time in which to file a claim for damages. Exceptions to the statute could potentially be made when:
- The injured bicyclist is deemed to be mentally incompetent during the time the statue was running;
- The injured bicyclist was so physically incapacitated as to be incapable of filing a claim for damages within the allowed statutory time;
- The bicyclist was unaware a serious injury was sustained from the accident until later, or
- The injured bicyclist was under the age of 18 when the accident occurred, therefore the statute will not begin until the minor’s 18th birthday, at which time he or she will have two years in which to file a claim.
If a bicyclist is hit by a government vehicle, such as a city bus, the statute of limitations is considerably shorter—just six months from the time of the accident to file a claim for damages.
If you have been injured by a negligent driver, it is important that you speak to a knowledgeable Los Angeles personal injury attorney as soon as possible. You may be entitled to one or more of the following:
- Medical expenses, past present and future. You will likely be entitled to have all your medical expenses related to the bicycle accident paid in full. This includes doctor bills, hospital bills, expenses for prescription drugs, rehabilitative therapy, and all other medical expenses.
- Lost wages, past, present and future. If you were unable to return to work following your bicycle accident, you could be entitled to payment of lost wages for the time you were off. If you will never be able to return to work, you may be entitled to wages equal to what you would have made during the years you would have worked.
- Pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages may be awarded to those who have suffered, and will likely continue to suffer some level of physical or mental pain or trauma.
Medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wage compensation are known as compensatory damages, and are awarded to make the victim of an accident whole again. Compensatory damages can be divided into general and special. General damages are for the physical and/or mental pain endured as a result of the accident and injury. Special damages cover medical expenses or other losses which were due to circumstances after the injury.
Punitive damages are awarded when the jury believes the at-fault party acted in a willful or malicious manner—that your bicycle accident was the result of malicious behavior. Punitive damages are meant to punish such behaviors as well as to deter others from acting in a similar manner.
Most Common Types of Injuries Following a Bicycle Accident
When a bicyclist, with little to no protection collides with a vehicle, the results can be tragic. Bicyclists who are not killed in an accident can suffer the following types of injury, although the severity of the injury will depend on the type of impact, whether the bicyclist wore a helmet, the speed of the vehicle which collided with bicyclists, and the condition of the roadway or trail.
- Head injuries and brain trauma are the most common type of bicycle injury sustained when a bicyclist collides with a vehicle. Bicyclists are often thrown over the handlebars after being hit, and many land, at least in part, on their head. Scrapes, gashes, bumps, bruises and skull fractures as well as traumatic brain injury which can cause loss of memory, decreased bodily functions and permanent disabilities are all possible when a bicyclist is hit by an automobile.
- Spinal cord injuries are also a possibility when a bicyclist lands on his or her back, neck or head in a forceful manner. Vertebrae fractures and even paralysis are possible when a bicyclist lands forcefully after being hit by an automobile.
- Broken or fractured bones in the arms, legs, shoulders, back, hips or neck are all “typical” injuries when a bicyclist is hit by an automobile. In some instances, the bicyclist may suffer multiple bone breaks or fractures, requiring extensive recovery times, expensive treatments and lengthy rehabilitation.
- Facial injuries can be severe for a bicyclist hit by an automobile. The injuries can include extreme scarring, a broken nose, chipped or broken teeth, a broken jaw, and the loss or damage of an eye.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
The National Survey on Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behaviors noted that a full third of bicyclist injuries occur after being struck by a car. (Other bicyclist injuries occur when the bicyclist falls, hits a roadway in disrepair, is not paying attention to the road, collides with another person or fixed object, or collides with a dog). When a vehicle is involved in a bicyclist crash, the contributing factors to that collision include:
- The bicyclist was riding on the wrong side of the road, against oncoming traffic;
- The bicyclist made an unpredictable move;
- The motorist ran a stop light;
- The motorist ran a stop sign;
- The motorist made a right or left turn in front of the moving bicycle;
- The motorist changed lanes without properly looking;
- The motorist backed out without seeing the bicyclist;
- The motorist violated the bicyclist’s right-of-way in some other way, or
- The motorist was traveling at an unsafe speed for the roadway conditions.
The Many Complexities of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents—perhaps even more so than a collision between two automobiles—have the potential to become extremely complex. If you are able, following your bicycle accident, there are certain actions you can take which will benefit you when you seek compensation for your injuries. Of course you must first attend to your health. If you are injured in any way—even if you don’t believe your injuries are serious—let a doctor check you out. In many instances, the adrenaline rush you get at the time of an accident can mask serious injury symptoms.
If you are able, wait for the police to arrive so you can give your version of the accident. If there are witnesses to the accident, take their names and addresses if you are physically able to do so. As soon as you can, document every aspect of the accident, including your injuries and medical treatments, and seek legal advice from an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney who has a solid background in helping those who are victims of bicycle accidents.
How an Experienced Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Attorney Can Change Your Outcome
Having a zealous advocate in your corner following your bicycle accident can make all the difference in your future. Your Los Angeles bicycle attorney will ensure you are taken care of financially, including your medical expenses and lost wages. He or she will also ensure all evidence is properly gathered and used to your advantage.