Looking for a bicycle accident attorney in San Diego?
In San Diego, more people are opting to use bicycles as their primary means of transportation as well as for recreation. With the warm weather, people are able to ride bicycles year round. Unfortunately, bicycle accidents are fairly common. When people are struck by cars while they are on their bicycles, they have a high risk of suffering permanently debilitating injuries or deaths because of the limited protection that they have. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you may want to consult with a San Diego injury lawyer for help with recovering damages.
Bicycle accident statistics
According to the League of American Bicyclists, the number of people who have chosen to commute with bicycles increased by 105 percent from 2000 to 2013. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 818 bicyclists were killed in accidents in 2015 and an estimated 45,000 cyclists suffered injuries. In San Diego County, the California Office of Traffic Safety reports that a total of 552 bicyclists were injured or killed in accidents in 2014.
Common bicycle accident injuries
Cyclists are especially vulnerable to accidents because they have little to protect them from the physical forces that are released in accidents. Some of the most common types of bicycle accident injuries include the following:
• Traumatic brain injuries
• Head injuries
• Facial lacerations
• Thoracic injuries
• Injuries to the extremities
• Pelvic injuries
• Internal bleeding
When these injuries result because of the fault of the drivers, the victims are able to file lawsuits against them so that they can be compensated for their losses.
In order to prove liability in a bicycle accident case, you will need to show that the driver was negligent and that his or her negligence caused you harm. This requires you to prove the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:
• The driver owed a duty of care to operate his or her vehicle in a reasonably safe manner;
• The driver violated the duty of care;
• The driver’s breach caused your accident and injuries; and
• You suffered financial harm as a result.
Your attorney may investigate your claim in order to help you to build a strong argument that supports the liability of the driver. It is common for motorists and their insurance companies to dispute the liability of the drivers while attempting to blame the cyclists. Experienced attorneys understand the tactics that are commonly used and may work with accident reconstruction experts and investigators to help prove liability.
Rights and duties of bicyclists
Bicyclists in California have all of the same rights and duties as other motorists when they are operating their cycles on the roads under California Vehicle Code § 21200(a). Cyclists are normally supposed to ride to the right as far as possible, but there are certain exceptions that allow cyclists to take the lane in CVC § 21202:
• Cyclists may take the lane when passing;
• Cyclists may take the lane when they are preparing to turn left;
• Cyclists may take the lane in order to avoid hazards along the sides of the road; and
• Cyclists may take the lane when they are getting close to a place at which right turns are authorized.
If you were injured when you took the lane, you might need to get legal help. Some police officers do not understand the exceptions that apply under the law and might wrongly attribute fault to you.
You are required to ride while traveling in the same direction as traffic under CVC § 21650. You are also required to use bicycle lanes if they are available unless there are hazards in it, you are passing other cyclists or if you are getting near to a place at which right turns are authorized.
Safety tips for bicyclists
There are several important safety tips that cyclists should follow. You should always wear a helmet and safety gear whenever you ride your bike. It is a good idea to wear bright clothing during the day and to use reflective tape at night. You should mount a headlamp on your handlebars to make yourself more visible at night. Observe all of the applicable traffic laws. When you draw near to where cars may turn right, move to the left to make yourself more visible. Avoid stopping directly to the right of a vehicle at a stoplight. If the driver turns right, he or she may not see you if you are parked in a blind spot. Whenever you approach intersections, pay attention to traffic that is coming in the opposite direction. Be prepared to stop if someone suddenly turns left. Finally, always use hand signals when you are turning so that drivers around you understand what you are doing.
When to contact an attorney
If you have suffered an injury in a bicycle accident that was caused by a negligent motorist, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. It is common for insurance companies to wrongly attribute blame to the cyclists rather than accepting that the motorists were at fault. Insurance companies may also extend settlement offers that are unreasonably low. A lawyer may properly value your claim and build evidence that shows the liability of the motorist. Contact an experienced San Diego bicycle accident attorney today to learn more about your rights.