Orange County Bicycle Accident Attorneys
Serving California From Offices In Irvine, San Bernardino, Riverside And San Diego
Cycling is a popular way to get some fresh air and exercise. It is also one of the ways that people choose to get around town, avoiding both crowded roadways and packed public transportation systems. However, it is not without its risks. Every year cyclists are injured or killed in collisions with motor vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that “[e]ach year about 2 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collects and reports crash statistics, including statistics on accidents involving cyclists. The NHTSA includes cyclists in the category of pedal cyclists, which also includes “riders of two-wheel, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles, and unicycles powered solely by pedals.” In 2013 the NHTSA reported that 743 pedal cyclists died in crashes with motor vehicles and another 48,000 people were injured. As cyclists have little to no protection in a collision with a motor vehicle, a cyclist who survives an accident can suffer severe injuries and life-long disabilities.
If you or a loved one has been injured, or if your loved one was killed, in a collision while riding a bicycle, contact the Orange County bicycle accident attorneys at Woods Williford, P.C., today. We can be reached at 949-558-2245.
While some accidents are simply unavoidable, there are many things cyclists can do to ensure their own safety. First and foremost, cyclists should always follow all rules of the road, including stopping at stop signs and red lights, riding in designated bike lanes when they are available, and using hand signals. When cyclists take these safety precautions, motorists can better predict what they will do and are, therefore, less likely to hit them. Cyclists should also always wear helmets and should utilize other protective safety gear, like approved bike lights and easy-to-see/reflective clothing. When there is no available bike lane, cyclists should safely share the road, riding single-file to the right or using the full lane when necessary. Always remain aware of your surroundings and be aware of nearby vehicles, pedestrians, fellow cyclists, and road hazards. Of course, even the safest cyclists are not totally immune to accidents. Motorists have a huge responsibility to exercise the utmost caution when driving near or around cyclists. When motorists are texting, not paying attention, or driving too close to cyclists, they can cause devastating auto-bicycle collisions. At Woods Williford, P.C., we understand that, sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to prevent an accident. When that’s the case, and you are seriously injured, contact the bicycle accident attorneys at our firm to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Bicycle Accident Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 857 bicycle accident fatalities in the U.S. in 2018 (the latest year for which data is currently available). And California is consistently one of the most dangerous states for cyclists. In 2016, California saw the highest number of bicyclist accident deaths in the nation, at 147 fatalities. This number represented 4.1 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in the state for that year. And, according to an article published in The Orange County Register, at least 14 cyclists died as a result of accidents in Orange County in 2018. The youngest of those killed was only 17 years old.
Bicycle Laws In California
If you ride a bicycle or drive a car in California, there are certain laws you need to know. These include:
- Generally speaking, all cyclists maintain the same rights on the road as any motorist and must follow all applicable traffic laws
- Bicyclists must ride on the right side of the road and may use the full lane, the shoulder, a designated bike lane, or on the sidewalk except where prohibited by local ordinance
- Bicyclists who are moving slower than the speed of traffic should ride as far to the right as possible except in certain circumstances and/or when it is not possible
- Local ordinance may require bicyclists to ride single file, though no state law prohibits side-by-side cycling
- Bicyclists may not leave the bike lane until it is reasonably safe to do so and then only after using the appropriate hand signal
- When turning, bicyclists must use appropriate hand signals when any of their movements may affect nearby vehicles
- Motorists must remain at least three feet away from cyclists when overtaking them or, if they are unable to maintain this distance, must slow to a reasonable speed and may only pass the cyclist when doing so is reasonably safe
There are additional laws and local ordinances that may affect both cyclists and motorists. It’s important that you know all applicable laws and local rules to ensure your own safety and the safety of those around you.
Characteristics And Causes Of Cycling Accidents
Cycling accidents can happen for any number of reasons. These types of accidents can occur because of mistakes made on the part of the cyclist or the motorist, or a combination of the two. According to the NHTSA, some of the common mistakes made include:
- A bicyclist fails to stop or yield to traffic when riding out into the road when turning from a side street or driveway.
- A bicyclist fails to follow the traffic laws and does not stop at a stop sign or a red light.
- A motorist turns in front of a person riding a bicycle at an intersection or other location on the road.
- A motorist fails to check his or her surroundings for cyclists when operating his or her vehicle.
Cycling accidents are more likely to occur in urban areas and more than half of the accidents occur later in the day, between 3 p.m. and midnight. Additionally, the NHTSA reports that accidents involving cyclists are more likely to occur at a non-intersection location than at an intersection and the majority of those killed or injured were men. The IIHS stated that the most serious injuries suffered by cyclists were head injuries and that “[h]elmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33 percent.”
In order to recover compensation from the driver who caused your injuries in a cycling accident, you will have to show that the driver was negligent. Negligence can be defined as the “failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1133 (9th ed. 2009). To prove negligence is a court of law, a plaintiff has to show that the driver owed the plaintiff a duty of care, the driver breached that duty and that the breach of the duty of care caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Ladd v. County Of San Mateo, 12 Cal.4th 913, 917 (1996). If the plaintiff can prove these elements by a preponderance of the evidence, then the plaintiff may be able to recover damages from the defendant.
Sometimes in an accident, more than one party is at fault. If the plaintiff is partially to blame for the injuries he or she suffered in an accident, then comparative negligence may become an issue. Comparative negligence is used as a defense to apportion fault among the parties based on how much each party contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries. Any damage award the plaintiff receives is then reduced based on the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault.
Compassionate Legal Care From Woods Williford, P.C.
If you or your loved one has been injured by a motor vehicle while riding a bicycle, you want an experienced and knowledgeable Orange County personal injury attorney on your side. The lawyers at Woods Williford, P.C., have been practicing personal injury law in California for many years and are dedicated to helping their clients recover just compensation for their injuries.