Bicycle accidents are not uncommon in Los Angeles, one of the most densely populated cities in the United States. An important number of people living in L.A. are using bikes as a mean of transportation to and from work. The mild climate in California is an advantage for two wheels lovers, either bicycles or motorcycles.
Traffic collisions involving bicycles and cars can result in serious damages on the bicyclist, who is less protected and can sustain serious injuries, especially when traveling through high-traffic areas. Our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys can help you if you have been involved in this type of accident in California. Our personal injurieslawyers can assist in matters related to bicycle accidents and motorcycle accidents in L.A. and the surrounding area.
The Bicycle Law, explained by our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney
Like in many other cities, bicyclists in Los Angeles are not exempt from observing the special regulation for their category of vehicles. The California Vehicle Code contains a set of laws for persons cycling in California. For example, while riding a bicycle on the highway, a cyclist has to observe all the rules and regulations applicable, including riding on the right half of the roadway.
Some California cities have banned sidewalk cycling in various districts, requiring cyclists to ride on the road. Apart from observing the rules for riding, cyclists in California also have to observe special provisions for signaling their movements. Also, persons who ride a bicycle should not carry any package that might prevent them from keeping, at least, one hand on the handlebar.
According to law, drivers must keep a buffer zone of three feet between them and the bicycle when passing them, of a fee is applicable. Drivers who are unsure of how much space they should allow between them and a cyclist are advised to provide a larger distance. California is the 24th U.S. state to enact a law that allows a special buffer space for cyclists.
Bicycle accidents in L.A.
Although vehicle owners in L.A. are required by law to acknowledge the presence of cyclists in traffic and maintain a mandatory distance of three feet for safety, accidents and collisions between cars and bicycles are not uncommon in Los Angeles.
Types of bicycle accidents can include those that involve colliding with the open door of a parked vehicle (which might not have been parked accordingly), accidents that take place when the automobile takes a left-hand turn or in busy intersections. The California Vehicle Code has a special paragraph detailing the manner in which vehicle owners must ensure that they only open the door of their vehicle after they have checked that it is safe to do so.
The types of injuries in bicycle accidents range from serious to mild ones. Of course, there are cases in which the bicyclist is extremely injured in the accident and he may even have lifelong debilitating problems. These accidents are referred to as catastrophic injuries are it is suitable to seek proper legal counseling in these cases, because of the extreme nature of the injuries.
If you have been a victim of a bicycle accident that was not caused by you, you are entitled to a compensation from the party responsible for the accident. The list below, put together by our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney, is useful when trying to determine what types of compensations you are entitled to. These are economic and non-economic damages, as follows:
Medical expenses: all medical treatment related to the bicycle accident can and should be compensated for, also including future medical care for treating those specific injuries.
Lost wages: the income lost as a result of the plaintiff’s inability to work after the accident can be recovered
Property damage: this includes the personal property damaged in the accident and can extend to the bicycle itself
The plaintiff’s suffering: when the accident is especially traumatic, the plaintiff can be compensated for emotional pain and distress.
Our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney can help you get the most out of the insurance policy. Persons injured in bicycle accidents in L.A. can obtain compensations for both the medical expenses and the expenses of repairing the bicycle or motorcycle.
Fault and negligence in bicycle accidents in L.A.
The party at fault in bicycle accidents is the one who acted irresponsibly or negligently and thus caused the accident. A driver who was talking on the phone, texting, or was otherwise distracted when driving will be accused of failing to act in a prudent manner, as expected of him in that particular situation.
When proving negligence, the plaintiff can use evidence from the accident, police reports, medical reports and even eyewitness testimonies. It is important to show not only that the driver was careless but also that the accident was indeed the cause of the damages and injuries.
Important issues to consider in bicycle accident cases
If involved in a bicycle accident, it is useful to know what are the main legal issues that need to be considered and addressed. Below we list the most important ones, but keep in mind that each case is different and not all situations will be the same.
Rear-end collisions: although this term is not quite the same in case of bicycle accidents, because of the fragility of the bicyclist, it still implies that a driver hit the other party from behind; it this is the case, then the plaintiff can argue that the driver did not maintain a safe distance.
The safe distance: as stated above, keeping a safe distance falls under the responsibilities of the driver; you can use this issue when making your case and one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers can help you find out the lawful safe distance in California.
Know your rights on the car lanes: when using a bicycle as a means of transportation, especially among cars, it is important to know your rights.
Know your rights on sidewalks: although not directly linked to automobile-bicycle accidents, this can prove useful in other accidents in which where bicyclists are involved.
Because bicyclists also have to follow the same rule as automobiles, sometimes both parties can bear a degree of fault. In this case, the blame will be shared, as described below.
The pure comparative fault rule in California
Plaintiffs in California involved in bicycle or vehicle accidents are still able to receive compensations even if they are also found at fault for the accident. This is known as the pure comparative negligence rule and California is one of the states that use it.
If the bicyclist also has some degree of fault, the judge will determine the percentage of fault and it will be deducted from the final settlement amount. California also has a statute of limitations of two years meaning that the plaintiff has two years from the date of the accident to make his/her legal claim.
Types of compensations for bicycle accident victims
Bicycle accidents can happen for a variety of reasons and bicyclists are more vulnerable than drivers to severe accidents. Some common situations include vehicles crossing into bike lanes, crosswalk accidents, hit and run accidents, bikers hitting car doors when opened into traffic and others.
The types of compensations that can be obtained by bicycle accident victims include the following:
medical expenses: the costs of the initial medical treatment needed for the injuries resulted from the accident;
future medical expenses: the future medical costs needed for subsequent treatments, after the initial hospitalization period;
lost wages: the amount of income lost during hospitalization can be compensated for;
property damage: compensation for the damages bicycle as well as any other valuable items the individual was carrying when the accident occurred.
Because bicyclists can be subjected to serious injuries, some may also claim compensations for pain and suffering after the accident, especially if the injuries are life-altering, such as missing limbs or paralysis. One of our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys can help individuals submit the claim for economic and non-economic damages.
We invite you to watch this video about the services provided by our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys:
Special considerations in case of bicycle accidents in California
California has a set of rules and regulations in place in terms of traffic rights for bicyclists and the driver’s duty of care towards these traffic participants. It is useful to talk to our team of Los Angeles personal injury attorneys for detailed information about the laws that govern a certain situation. We can help investigate the accident from a legal perspective and by observing the factual evidence.
Bicyclists in Los Angeles should know that the applicable statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident.
Our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys will offer you legal representation and adequate legal advice if you were injured in a bicycle accident in California. Please contact us if you need more information about the legal steps necessary in this case.
Our personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles
Marc Y. Lazo is specialized in personal injury cases as well as in complex business and commercial litigation. He has tried numerous cases to successful verdict and has obtained multiple six-figure judgments in both state and federal court.