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Riding a bicycle is not only enjoyable, but also has many economic, environmental, and health benefits. Since California enjoys warmer weather all year long, it also has one of the larger numbers of bicyclists of any state. But this fun and beneficial activity isn’t without its own risk. In recent years, bicycle accidents leading to injury, and even death, have become increasingly common. In fact, according to a 2020 article by U.S. News & World Report, California has even reached its highest number of fatalities in 25 years.
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF?
As mentioned, you can’t always prevent bicycle accidents from occurring.
However, there are certain things to be aware of that can help keep you safer when biking:
- Do not stop in the bicycle lane
- Do not ride on the freeway
- Always wear a helmet
- Refrain from using headphones
- Always yield to pedestrians
- Only use a cell phone if it’s important
- Never consume drugs or alcohol before biking
- Ensure your bike has working brakes
- Only bike with a headlight at night
- Be sure that your bike has reflectors on its front, back, and sides
COMMON CAUSES OF BICYCLE ACCIDENTS
One of the most common causes of bicycle accidents occurs when a bicycle and a motor vehicle crash into one another.
There are many causes of such crashes, including the following:
Most of us know what it’s like to be in a hurry to get somewhere. Unfortunately, speeding often contributes to accidents, as it affords the driver less time to make decisions (such as braking). Therefore, when drivers are speeding and they either fail to see a bicyclist or fail to leave enough room between themselves and the bike, accidents often occur.
2. DISTRACTED DRIVING
With the continuous increase in technology and the prevalence of smartphones, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of all accidents. But distracted driving isn’t just talking or texting while driving. It includes anything that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel or their eyes or minds off the road.
Some examples include:
- Putting on makeup
- Changing the radio
- Talking to a passenger
Distracted driving causes the driver to miss important things that they should be paying attention to, including bicyclists around them.
3. IMPAIRED DRIVING
Another serious — yet preventable — cause of bicycle accidents is impaired driving. Impaired driving means getting behind the wheel after consuming drugs or alcohol. Since these substances impact the driver’s reaction time, decision-making abilities, and attention, impaired drivers pose a major threat to all others on the road. And since bicyclists, unlike cars or trucks, have no physical protection around them, they are even more susceptible to serious injury or death.
4. UNSAFE LANE CHANGES
When drivers choose to change lanes without signaling or adequately looking to ensure there is no one around them, they often end up hitting others. Additionally, when drivers are distracted, they often ride over the outer line and into bike lanes and shoulders.
5. FAILURE TO YIELD
What many drivers don’t understand is that bicyclists have the same rights on the road as other drivers. Therefore, when drivers think they always have the right of way and fail to yield to bicyclists who were there first, collisions often occur.
Drivers often fail to yield to bicyclists while:
- Making a left-hand turn
- Entering an intersection
- Backing out of parking spaces
- Backing out of driveways
- Failing to stop at stop signs
6. DEFECTIVE OR MALFUNCTIONING PARTS
Unfortunately, bikes can be defective, like any product. If a bicycle has a defect, it often goes undiscovered until it becomes extremely hazardous to the rider.
Defects within the bike itself can pose a danger to riders that may not be discovered until it’s too late. Oftentimes, this involves a product liability claim against the bike manufacturer.
7. RECKLESS OR AGGRESSIVE DRIVING
Another dangerous yet completely preventable cause of bicycle accidents is reckless or aggressive driving, often referred to as “road rage.”
Road rage often includes a variety of dangerous behaviors, such as:
- Failing to signal/cutting someone off
- Inappropriate hand gestures
- Yelling and profanities
- Failing to follow traffic laws
- Excessively honking
- Blocking the bike lane
Road rage can be dangerous to everyone on the road but can become deadly when a bicyclist becomes the target.
HOW CAN YOU PROVE LIABILITY IN A BICYCLE ACCIDENT?
There could be multiple parties at fault in a bike-related crash. They include:
- The bike manufacturer: A defective design or poorly designed bike may support a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
- Negligent driver: If another driver was negligent in the operation of their vehicle (e.g. distracted, impaired, or any of the aforementioned causes of accidents) and caused your accident, you may have a claim against them or their insurance company for compensation.
- Public agency or city: If your accident was caused by a road hazard, negligent position of the bike lane, or failure to reasonably maintain the road, a public agency or city may be liable to compensate you for your injuries.
Additionally, when a bicyclist dies as a result of negligence from one of these parties, the deceased’s loved ones may have a case for wrongful death.
When you have been injured in an accident, it can prove extremely difficult to collect evidence and build your case against the at-fault party when you are overwhelmed with caring for your injuries.
Alternatively, it can be difficult to worry about the legalities of the situation when you have lost a loved one in a bicycle accident caused by another party. That’s why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced bicycle accident attorney.
WE FIGHT FOR THOSE INJURED IN BICYCLE ACCIDENTS
While we know that no amount of money can change the fact that you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a bicycle accident, it’s important that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled to help you move forward with your life.
At the Law Offices of David P. Kashani, A.P.L.C., our legal team will work to help get you or your loved one the compensation that is deserved. Our team can help work through this delicate situation for your benefit. The most important thing when you have been injured in a bicycle accident is to seek medical attention and call a qualified bicycle accident attorney.
Contact the Law Offices of David P. Kashani, A.P.L.C. right away to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options.