Preventable deaths from bicycle accidents increased by six percent in 2019. It also increased by 37% in the last decade, from 792 in 2010 to 1,089 in 2019. Many crashes are due to negligence. A bicycle accident can leave you with injuries, substantial medical bills, among other losses. If you were involved in an accident in Long Beach, CA, caused by somebody else, you should hold the negligent party accountable. Overett Group Attorneys can assist you in understanding your rights after the accident, including the entitlement to financial compensation. We can also take time to listen to your side of the story and understand your challenges, needs, and concerns and then develop a personalized legal strategy.
Bicycle Accident Statistics
Between 2016 and 2018, California’s cyclist fatality rating was 3.9. The figure means 3.9 cyclist deaths per one million people, the highest rate over any three-year timeframe since the mid-1990s, before most cities built extensive bike networks.
Also, the time of the day makes a massive difference in the level of risk bicyclists face. While the rush hour is the most hazardous time to be on the road for any road user, sundown and dusk are also dangerous for cyclists. According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the following is information on when accidents happened in California in 2019:
- 48% of accidents occurred during the day.
- 28% occurred at night with traffic lights on.
- Collisions at dawn or dusk accounted for seven percent of these accidents.
- 16% took place at night on roads without street lights.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that approximately 78% of cyclists were killed in urban areas, and 22% of collisions happened in rural areas.
Finally, the gender and age of the bicyclist play a significant role in fatal accidents. Knowing the figures helps ensure the streets are safer for all road users. As with other vehicle-related accidents, male cyclists die in collisions more than women. Between 2016 and 2018 in California, about eight men succumbed to bicycle collisions for every woman who lost her life.
California Bicycle Laws
California has bicycle laws that involve where the cyclist rides on, how they should equip their bike, and guidelines on riding.
When it comes to where the bicyclist can ride, the laws restrict a bike to be within the bike lanes if available or on the right side of the ride. Exemptions to the rules apply if dangerous road conditions make it impossible to adhere to the laws or you are turning left. Also, cyclists are prohibited from freeways and bridges.
Generally, rules about equipping a bike involve the structural elements of the bicycle and its components. Your bike should:
- Have regular handlebars and seats.
- Have functional brakes.
- Adhere to reflectors and lights rules for night riding.
- Be small enough for you to control safely.
The rider should also do the following when operating the bike:
- Put on a helmet.
- Avoid wearing headphones or earplugs on all ears.
- Stop at all stop signs.
- Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians walking in crosswalks.
- Avoid operating riding while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Following these traffic laws protects you from accidents and ensures that you can recover compensation if you are injured in a collision.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
While there are many causes of bicycle accidents, most are driver-related. Knowing the exact cause of your accident can help you identify the defendant.
A common cause of bicycle accidents is the cyclist’s position on the road related to the driver colliding with them. It causes the following forms of collisions:
- Dooring accidents occur when cyclists run into parked motor vehicles doors opened into the bicycle path. The motorist should ensure no incoming bikes before exiting the cars.
- A sideswipe accident happens when a driver fails to give a rider adequate room while passing.
- Rear-end accidents happen when cyclists fail to focus or follow too closely. The crashes are common when the rider tries to move left to move around a parked vehicle or at a stop sign.
- Turning bikes motorists on the right side — If you are to the vehicle’s right at an intersection, a car can hook you when turning right. Most motorists do not check blind spots.
Human Error Play a Significant Role in Bicycle Crashes
Road users can prevent most bicycle collisions if they are more cautious of their environs and act responsibly.
Accidents can also be caused by the following:
- Hazardous weather conditions — Most bicycle collisions occur during torrential downpours, snow, ice, or sleet. Cyclists in a rainstorm are less visible and should put on reflective clothing.
- Speeding — A speeding motorist has less time to respond, making it hazardous for cyclists.
- Hazardous road conditions such as railroad crossings, potholes, or broken glass.
- Distracted driving — 6% of all motorists involved in fatal accidents in 2019 were reported as distracted during the accident. The motorist can be grooming, tending to a child, texting, speaking to a passenger, adjusting the stereo, or navigating GPS. Distracted driving can impair either the driver’s cognitive, visual, or manual abilities.
Defective Bicycle Accidents
Sometimes a bicycle accident can be caused by dangers inherent in the bicycle. Common bike defects include:
- Defective tires.
- Frame defects.
- Defective brakes.
- Defective design.
- Breaks or cracks during the manufacturing process that are not repaired.
- Failing to adhere to safety standards.
According to the California product liability law, manufacturers are accountable for ensuring the products are safe for use. Otherwise, they will be found negligent, and you can hold them responsible for injuries and losses suffered.
However, other parties can be found liable for defective bicycle parts, including:
- The defective part’s manufacturer.
- The retailers, if they did not handle the bicycle properly.
- The company or person who assembled the bicycle.
Understanding Fault and Negligence
California is an at-fault state. That means to receive compensation for your losses and injuries, and you should establish that the defendant was negligent. Specifically, you should present proof that:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- The defendant breached the duty.
- You suffered damages.
- The defendant’s negligence caused your losses and injuries (damages).
If you believe another person caused the bicycle collision, you can seek settlement from the defendant’s insurer. Nonetheless, the insurance provider will not just agree to a settlement. The adjuster will investigate the matter to ensure the policyholder is liable. The investigation can involve examining the accident scene and interviewing parties involved in your accident. Factors the adjuster will use to determine fault include:
- The defendant admitted to fault.
- Traffic violations.
- Police reports.
- Location of the property damage.
- Signs of carelessness.
If accountability is unclear, the insurer will try to avoid responsibility by claiming the defendant did not cause your bicycle accident and therefore refuse to compensate your losses. The insurance provider can also argue that you were partially accountable for your accident and significantly reduce your compensation amount. Suppose the insurer fails to make an accurate liability determination, or the settlement offer is too little to cover the losses. In that case, your lawyer should help you bring a lawsuit to court.
Please note that you have two years to file your bicycle accident claim. The court will dismiss your case if you try bringing your claim after the statute of limitations has elapsed. While twenty-four months seem like a lot of time, it will pass quickly, especially if you have severe injuries. The clock does not stop ticking for your settlement negotiations. In other words, if the defendant or their insurer is uncooperative, you could be left with a couple of weeks to file your lawsuit.
How Comparative Negligence Can Affect Your Bicycle Accident Claim
What happens if you are partially accountable for your bicycle accident? Does that mean you will not recover compensation?
California follows comparative negligence rules that allow you to receive compensation for loss linked to the defendant’s percentage of fault. In other words, instead of obtaining 100% of the damages, your fault’s degree will reduce the recovery. For instance, if your claim has a total value of $50,000 and you were 20% at fault, your compensation amount will be $10,000 or 20% less.
Evidence Used to Prove Bicycle Accident
Establishing your personal injury claim requires evidence that disproves defenses that the defendant or the insurer will use to fight the case. The right piece of evidence is essential to your success.
Collecting Proof at the Accident Scene
The process of collecting evidence for your claim starts at the accident scene. There are numerous forms of evidence that you can gather which will come in handy later. You can use a camera or your smartphone to capture a video or photos that show the accident scene verify the accident circumstances, including:
- Property damages.
- The accident scene itself.
- Your injuries.
Additionally, write down your version of what occurred during the collision, with as many details as you can recall. Over time, human memory fades. Noting down everything as soon as possible after your bicycle accident ensures you do not forget crucial details.
Gather the names, contact information, and addresses of witnesses who can support the claim. If possible, record their statement.
Verifying the Bike Accident-Linked Costs
Economic compensation in your personal injury case is based on the losses and expenses incurred due to the accident. You can document the expenses using:
- Copies of your hospital bills.
- Pay stubs indicating lost income.
- Receipts of assistive tools such as canes or walkers, special food, and medication you required during the recovery.
- Travel expenses linked to medical appointments.
Pain and suffering is a non-economic damage that is challenging to place a dollar value on and is based on the injuries’ severity and medical costs. Some documents your attorney can use to establish this damage include:
- Medical records and bills.
- Expert testimonies.
- Medical prognosis.
- Photos of your injuries.
- Psychiatric records.
Showing the Defendant Violated a Traffic Rule
If you can prove
- a driver broke the law and
- the violation played a significant role in causing your accident,
the motorist is presumed negligence per se.
Negligence per se gives you more leverage to prove the fault.
Police officers do not always come to the accident scene unless the crash is severe. If your accident is minor, the officers will recommend that you resolve the matter on your own by exchanging contact details between the involved parties.
If the law enforcers come, they will draft a police report. Generally, the report is a summary of the police’s observations. It can include:
- Debris on the road.
- Property damage.
- Weather conditions.
- Tire skid marks.
- Road conditions.
Please note that police are human and can make mistakes. Therefore, while the report is essential in determining fault, it is not always accurate, and you can challenge it. You can request the responding officer to make changes, especially if the error is serious.
Using Expert Witnesses Testimonies
An expert witness can also offer authority and credibility to your personal injury claim. Their testimony can support various aspects of your claim. Typical expert witnesses include:
- Doctors and medical experts specialized in treating health conditions can testify your pain and suffering, cause of the injuries, and future medical requirements.
- Accident reconstruction experts who use property damage, road conditions, and weather conditions to determine the accident events’ timeline.
- Human factors experts can prove the difference between human error and negligence.
- A product liability expert if a bicycle defect caused the accident.
- Life Care planning experts can help determine what your future needs will be after permanent accident injuries.
- Suppose you need to enter another career after the injuries. In that case, a vocational expert can testify what positions you can obtain given your training resources, education, health, and the current job market.
What is the Worth of Your Bicycle Accident?
No two bicycle accidents are alike. Case circumstances and damages vary significantly from one case to the other. It makes it challenging to place a dollar value on a crash or estimate its worth without a thorough assessment.
Additionally, non-economic losses such as mental anguish and pain and suffering are hard to evaluate. These damages do not have financial value and need convincing arguments based on the injuries suffered, permanent disfigurement or disabilities, type of medical treatment received, among other factors.
The best method to assess a claim’s validity and potential compensation is to schedule a confidential, no-obligation case review with a skilled Long Beach personal injury lawyer.
After your accident, you can receive compensation for psychological, emotional, and financial losses. Typically, there are two forms of damages: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages have an assessable dollar value. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are subjective and personal hence hard to quantify financially.
Common damages awarded include:
- Medical expenses, including future medical bills.
- Lost wages due to the inability to go to work because of the medical treatment, temporary disability, and injury.
- Loss of future earnings.
- Loss of consortium.
- Pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of life enjoyment.
If a relative succumbed to the accident, you are entitled to compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Injuries Cyclists Commonly Suffer from Following an Accident
Riders have rights to bike lanes, as motorists do on the road. Regrettably, bicycles do not have numerous protective safety features as motor vehicles, increasing the risk of sustaining severe injuries should an accident occur. Common injuries suffered include:
- Head injuries — Even when putting on a helmet, head injuries can be devastating in a collision since victims are often thrown over the handlebars. The injuries range from skull fractures to scrapes on the head.
- Facial injuries, including broken or lost teeth, fractured jaws, eye damage, road rash that can result in permanent scarring, or a broken nose.
- A biker can also sustain soft-tissue injuries following an accident. A biker stuck on their back can suffer from whiplash, while a rider hit on their side can experience torn ligaments in their knee joint or a broken leg. A person who tries to break their fall following a crash can break their wrist or hand or dislocate the shoulders.
- The accident can also damage your nerves in any body part.
- Back injuries.
- Internal bleeding.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Dental injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries.
Find an Aggressive Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
After a severe bicycle accident in Long Beach, CA, you will feel overwhelmed, alone, and unsure where to turn. While facing pain, financial uncertainty, and a long journey to recovery, the defendant’s insurance provider will fight your claim and attempt to push a low-ball settlement offer.
At Overett Group Attorneys, we can leverage our reputation for diligent advocacy and experience to benefit you, pushing against the insurer’s tricks to devalue, dispute, or deny valid claims. We can investigate the accident to collect evidence that supports your claim, determine liability and your case’s worth and handle negotiations or represent you at trial. Our legal team is ready to review your case at no cost, and we work on a contingency basis. Contact our legal team at 562-986-9864 to schedule your initial confidential consultation.