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In Los Angeles, many roads have inadequate bike lanes or shoulder, and drivers often ignore these protected spaces even when they are present. If you or a loved one has been injured – or even killed – in a bicycle-vehicle accident, you need the services of a Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyer – you have the right to take the responsible party to court.
Especially in collisions with automobiles, cyclists are vulnerable to serious injuries such as broken bones, head trauma, spinal cord injury, and lacerations even when wearing the proper safety gear.
However, some bike accidents are not due to careless driving but stem from the rider’s irresponsibility. Bicyclists must follow many of the same laws as car drivers. At Panish, Shea and Boyle our Los Angeles and Orange County personal injury attorneys encourage bicyclists to follow all California bicycle laws.
What are the California bicycle laws?
California Vehicle Code VC 21201 deals with bicycle requirements.
- Functional brakes – It is illegal (and dangerous) to ride a bike with faulty brakes.
- Handlebars must be appropriately sized for the rider, and not above the rider’s shoulder height.
- LA Bike has a city by city breakdown of the vehicle codes in all L.A. County cities.
There are additional requirements for nighttime riding.
- Bikes must be equipped with a lamp or headlight that can be seen from 300 feet to the front or either side of the bicycle.
- The rear of the bike must be equipped with a red reflector that can be seen from at least 500 feet away.
- The bike pedals must be equipped with white or yellow reflectors.
Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accidents
Anyone involved in a bicycle accident in California has two years to file a lawsuit for damages that result from a car accident. This is called the statutory period; if you do not file your claim within this period, a judge may bar your claim. Certain exemptions do apply if the injured person was rendered incapable of filing a claim or suffers from mental incompetence (especially if said incompetence was the result of any of the accident injuries, such as a concussion).
You may also receive an extension on the statutory period if you did not appear to have any injuries at the time of the accident but later discovered injuries that stemmed from the accident.
If a minor is involved in a bicycle accident, he or she may wait until he or she is twenty years old to file a claim. The minor will be permitted to file any time up until an 18th birthday, at which point the two-year statutory period kicks on.
If you have any doubt about your claim or accident, a Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP can help you determine whether or when to file your claim. Consulting with one of our attorneys as soon as possible will ensure statute of limitations does not run out on your claim.
Fault in Los Angeles Bike Accidents
In some states, the driver is always at fault in a car-bicycle accident. Not so in California; the fault rests squarely with the negligent party, and said party is responsible for all damages. “Negligent,” in California law, is defined as “failing to act in a manner expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances.”
What does this mean for car-bicycle accidents?
To prove the driver was acting negligibly, the crash must have caused property damage or personal injury. It must also be proved that the driver or bicyclist acted carelessly and that the carelessness directly caused the crash.
Pure Comparative Fault in Los Angeles, California
If the faulty party is responsible for all damages and there are two faulty parties, who will pay?
To fix this problem, California decided to use a pure comparative negligence model. The model asks: Who is more at fault? Who sustained more damage? If, for example, one party is 25% at fault and the other party 75%, the former party is entitled to 75% of the damages, which holds them accountable to the portion of the total damages for which they are responsible. Your Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine the percentage of liability in your accident.
Bicycle accidents Statistics in California
A growing public health concern has been developing in California regarding injuries to bicyclists that involve motor vehicles. The table below presents the numbers of all vehicle traffic injuries and all bicyclist injuries involving a motor vehicle (both fatal and non-fatal) for the years 2007 – 2015.
Through analyzing the data we find that there was an average of roughly 239,000 traffic injuries annually during the mentioned period. We also notice how overall traffic injuries have been slowly decreasing while bicycle injuries are gradually increasing.
How many cyclists are injured each year in California?
California’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) is a statewide database of crash information and a common source for data on bicycle crashes in California. SWITRS data shows an increase in bicycle crashes per total population for both California and Los Angeles County between 2007 and 2015 (California Highway Patrol, 2017).
|Year||Number of Traffic Injuries||Number of Bicyclist Injuries||Percent of Total Injuries|
(Source: California Highway Patrol-Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (CHP-SWITRS) 2007-2015)
What percentage of accidents occur on rural roads in the US?
The following table compares bicyclist injuries in traffic crashes that occurred during the period 2010-2015 between urban and rural areas in the US. As we can see, the majority of bicyclist injuries occur in urban areas (69.6%) vs. rural areas (30.4%).
(Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) 2016 Annual Report File (ARF).)
Patterns with Age vs Drunk Driver Collisions with Bicyclists [Nationally]
The following table showcases data on alcohol involvement in bicyclist injuries by age group. We found that the number of fatalities rises significantly in the 45-64 years old age group.
The percentage of those with any level of alcohol involvement is generally lower than the data from the prior decade. However, at 26% of bicycle accident fatalities, it’s still a significant number and certain measures must be put in place to minimize that number.
|Age Group||Number of Fatalities||Percentage with BAC=.00||Percentage with BAC=.01-.07||Percentage with BAC=.08+|
(Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) 2016 Annual Report File (ARF).)
How many cyclists are killed each year in California?
The following chart displays the total number of bicycle fatalities between the years 2007-2015. We notice that although the numbers slightly dropped in 2009-2010, they picked back up and have been fairly high in recent years compared to the prior decade. In the year 2016, there were 840 fatalities recorded in California for bicyclists, compared to 701 fatalities in 2017.
(Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) 2007–2015 Final File, 2016 Annual Report File (ARF).)
Total Fatalities in 2007: 701
Total Fatalities in 2008: 718
Total Fatalities in 2009: 628
Total Fatalities in 2010: 623
Total Fatalities in 2011: 682
Total Fatalities in 2012: 734
Total Fatalities in 2013: 749
Total Fatalities in 2014: 729
Total Fatalities in 2015: 829
Total Fatalities in 2016: 840
What hours of the day are most fatal for bicyclists in California? (2016)
By comparing the hourly data from 2016 and 2017 respectively, we can make a solid correlation as to what time of the day is most dangerous for bicyclists. The hours of 3:00 pm and 7:59 pm show the highest number of injuries compared to the rest of the day. With approximately 318 injuries happening every hour in 2016.
(DEPARTMENT OF CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL 2016)
What hours of the day are most fatal for bicyclists in California? (2017)
Similar to the case in 2016, the year 2017 also shows the highest numbers in the evening between the hours 3:00 pm and 7:59 pm with approximately 306 injuries happening every hour. Fortunately, the average number of injuries by the hour has decreased from 2016.
(DEPARTMENT OF CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL 2017)
Call our office toll free today at 877-800-1700 for a free, confidential case evaluation with our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys.