Riding bicycles in cities is becoming more common, both as a recreational activity and a means of transportation. With an emphasis on an active lifestyle, exercise and health, many are finding bicycling to work a healthy alternative to driving. It not only provides a means of exercise, but also conserves energy and natural resources, and is certainly less expensive than driving. Plus, finding parking is far easier with a bicycle, and parking is free. As bicycling becomes more and more popular, the number of cyclists on our streets and roadways will increase. Unfortunately, more interaction between cyclists and motor vehicles will likely lead to an increase in bicycle and motor vehicle collisions, especially in areas such as San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland.
Though bicycle use only accounts for one percent (1%) of travel trips, it accounts for two percent (2%) of fatalities, which is quite an overrepresentation. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation National High Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010, six hundred eighteen (618) pedal cyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and there were fifty-two thousand (52,000) reported injuries. Additionally, seventy-two percent (72%) of these fatalities occurred in urban areas. Bicyclists can actively reduce the risk of collision by being alert, following the rules of the road, by using reflective tape and lights (at dusk and night), and by riding defensively, in general. As a cyclist on a city street, a rider should always assume that the driver of a motor vehicle does not see you. To help protect against serious injuries, it is critical to wear a helmet. They key is attempting to reduce one’s risk of being involved in a collision with a motor vehicle.
There are many causes of bicycle and motor vehicle collisions, and many factors that can lead to a crash. Poorly maintained roads, wet roads, reduced visibility due to weather conditions and lighting all contribute to an accident. Bicyclists who do not follow the rules of the road and do not obey traffic laws can expose themselves to a potential collision. In addition, cyclists ride at speeds that are unsafe for the conditions may be a cause of an accident. Drivers of cars, trucks and busses, who do not pay proper attention to the road, refuse to share the road with cyclists, leave their car doors open (which can result in a cyclist being “doored”) or disregard bike paths, contribute to a great number of collisions on the roadway. Determining fault in a crash involving a bike and a motor vehicle is not always so simple. California juries are entitled to find a driver caused an accident involving a bike, but some portion of fault may also be attributed to the cyclist. In California, there is no requirement that fault must be determined to be 100% on behalf of one party. Of course, a motor vehicle is more capable of causing serious injuries and death, than a bicycle, which should place a greater responsibility on behalf of the driver, though in reality, this does not always occur.
The harm and costs a cyclist suffers as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle are often far greater than the physical damage to a bicycle. Not only can medical bills and charges add up, but also if someone is unable to work due to their injuries, they will suffer lost earnings (wage loss). In some cases, if the injured person’s ability to work in the future is compromised, they will suffer a loss of earning capacity. A cyclist involved in an accident on the roadway can suffer bodily injury and harm, including broken bones, head injuries, nerve damage, ligament damage, emotional damages, and physical pain. Some physical injuries are temporary, and some are permanent. Depending up the nature of a crash, a bike versus car accident can result in the death of the cyclist.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a serious bicycle collision, Willoughby Brod, LLP can help you pursue your rights, and fight for fair compensation. Greg Brod, a member and supporter of both the San Francisco and Marin County Bicycle Coalitions, has successfully represented many people who have been involved in bicycle accidents, and he is dedicated to helping injured cyclists. Willoughby Brod, LLP handles cases involving injuries on a contingency fee basis, which means no legal fees are owed if we do not obtain compensation on your behalf. If you or someone close to you has been injured in a bicycle accident, please call us for a free case evaluation, today.
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