Accidents Are Serious When They Involve Bike Riders or Pedestrians

One of the new 2020 California laws allows bicycles to go straight at an intersection from the left- or right-hand turn lane, provided that they have right-of-way.

If you’re injured by a motorist’s negligence in a bike or pedestrian accident, your losses can be immense, and the path forward will be challenging. An experienced accident lawyer can help.

When you’re out and about on your bike, it’s a great way to get around, enjoy LA’s beautiful weather, get in some healthy exercise, and reduce your carbon footprint. In short, there’s nothing not to love, and the same is true when you’re on foot. Los Angeles is great for active bikers and pedestrians, but bike accidents and pedestrian accidents are some of the deadliest out there. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury by a motorist’s negligence in such an accident, it’s time to consult with an experienced Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyer.

Accidents Involving Bikes Riders and Pedestrians Are Serious Accidents

Whether you’re on foot or on your bike, there is very little to protect you from the impact of an accident, and the results are often tragic. As a bike rider, you have the right to join traffic. However, you’re hampered by the fact that the motorists all around you aren’t necessarily on the lookout for bikes in their midst and don’t necessarily take the required precautions when they do spy bicyclists like you on the road, a primary cause of bike accidents throughout Los Angeles.

Bike Accident Stats

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that bike fatalities make up two percent of all traffic deaths each year and that the number of fatal adult bike accidents has quadrupled since 1975. Head injuries tend to be the most serious injuries sustained by bike accident victims, but life-threatening injuries like the following are all common:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Internal injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Limb loss and injuries requiring amputation
  • Serious cuts and burns that are highly susceptible to dangerous infection and can cause permanent disfigurement

In 2021 alone, 961 bicyclists lost their lives in traffic accidents.

Pedestrian Accident Stats

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, in a recent year, California had more pedestrian fatalities than any other state, with a total of 986 deaths. The state ranks in the eleventh position for pedestrian fatality rates, with 2.5 deaths per 100,000 population. The National Safety Council (NSC) also shares that, in 2021, 8,984 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents.

Pedestrians are vulnerable to the same kinds of serious injuries that bicyclists are in traffic accidents. If a motorist’s negligence leaves you injured in a pedestrian accident, don’t hesitate to reach out for the skilled legal guidance of seasoned Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyers today.

When You Ride on the Sidewalk in California

There is considerable confusion about bike laws as they apply to sidewalks in California, and clearing the matter up is important. When you ride your bike on the roadway or on the shoulder of a road, you must ride in the direction of traffic, but the same is not true when you’re on a sidewalk. In fact, the terms sidewalk and crosswalk are conspicuously left out of applicable legal statutes, which supports this conclusion.

Ultimately, there is no law restricting bicyclists from riding on sidewalks in California, but local municipalities have the right to implement their own regulations on the matter. When you ride your bike on a sidewalk, however, you have a clear responsibility to the safety of those with whom you share it.

All the Same Rights and Responsibilities

In California, bicyclists have all the same rights as motorists and are subject to all the same responsibilities and restrictions that motorists are on our highways – except in relation to provisions that do not apply. For example, bike riders are not permitted on freeways. Vehicles and bikes alike must be operated on the right side of the road, but it does not extend to bicyclists who are riding on sidewalks or crosswalks.

In the City of LA

In Los Angeles, there is no ban against bicyclists on sidewalks, meaning you should feel free to ride your bike on LA sidewalks as long as you respect the safety of pedestrians in your midst. When you’re riding on a sidewalk, you’re not obligated to consider the flow of traffic on the roadway near you.

A Precedent-Setting Bike Accident Case

In a precedent-setting bike accident case in California, bike laws were put to the test. In this case, a bicyclist sued a motorist for negligence in relation to a serious shoulder injury that he’d suffered in a traffic crash involving her. The jury came back with a verdict in favor of the driver, and the bicyclist appealed.

The Case Basics

In this case, the bike rider hopped on his bike and traveled with the flow of traffic on the sidewalk – headed home. When the sidewalk ended, and road construction loomed ahead, the biker chose to ride on the sidewalk across the street – riding against traffic – for safety purposes.

As he approached a driveway that exited a grocery store and crossed the sidewalk he was riding on, he saw the motorist in question at what he called a dead stop ahead. Because there was a glare on the driver’s windshield and because he assumed that she was waiting at a stop sign for a safe moment to enter traffic on the road ahead, the biker did nothing to attract her attention and proceeded forward. It was at this point when the accident that threw him off his bike and injured his shoulder occurred.

The Appeal

The appeal, in this case, is complicated, but the bicyclist asserted that the motorist’s claim – in which she maintained he should have been riding his bike with the flow of traffic – is not in accordance with the law based on the following:

  • The law requires bicyclists to ride on the right side of the highway and shoulder – following the flow of traffic.
  • A sidewalk is distinct from a road’s shoulder.
  • The requirement for following the flow of traffic does not extend to bike riders on sidewalks.
  • There is no law banning bicyclists from riding on sidewalks in the City of Los Angeles.

While the appeals court rebuffed the driver’s contention that the bicyclist shouldn’t have been driving against traffic on the sidewalk, the alleged errors in the judicial instructions to the jury weren’t deemed prejudicial, which means they had no bearing on the jury’s verdict, which was upheld.

Bike Accident Cases Are Complex

Bike accident cases tend to be legally complex. Because the injuries and losses you suffer as a result, however, can be immense, bringing your strongest claim is paramount. To do so, you need an experienced lawyer with a nuanced understanding of bike laws in California and the drive to help in your corner.

Common Causes of Bike Accidents

Every bike accident is specific to the unique circumstances involved, and no two play out in exactly the same way. Some causes of bike accidents, however, are far more common than others. Bike accidents are often caused by the negligence of motorists who fail to see the bicyclists around them – whether for lack of trying or as a result of distraction or some other form of negligence.

Considering Distraction

When a motorist allows their thoughts to wander, it makes it far more difficult to keep track of what’s happening on the road, and bike riders and pedestrians can get lost in the shuffle. Texting while operating a vehicle is the most dangerous distraction of all, and the primary reason is that it engages the driver’s hands, thoughts, and sight in one highly dangerous activity. When you factor in that a motorist who is driving at highway speeds can travel the length of a football field in the average of five seconds that it takes to send a text, the risk involved becomes perfectly clear.

Considering Excess Speed

Another form of driver negligence that puts both bicyclists and pedestrians at serious risk is excess speed. When a driver exceeds the set speed limit or drives too fast in relation to the road’s condition, they allow themselves considerably less time to recognize what’s happening around them, which makes it far easier to miss someone who is on a bike or on foot. To make matters that much more serious, the faster the motorist’s speed, the more likely an accident is to be fatal.

Considering Impairment

The statistics when it comes to bike and pedestrian accidents as they relate to driver impairment are dire. In fact, according to the CDC, about a third of all fatal bike accidents involve alcohol. Further, alcohol played a role in almost half of all pedestrian fatalities in a recent year.

Other Common Forms of Driver Negligence

Other common forms of driver negligence that make bike and pedestrian accidents more likely include the following:

  • Failure to follow traffic laws
  • Aggression behind the wheel
  • Drowsy driving

Dangerous drivers are out there, and they leave both pedestrians and bicyclists at extreme risk.

Protecting Yourself and Your Claim after a Bike or Pedestrian Accident

If you’ve suffered an injury in a bike or pedestrian accident that was caused by a motorist’s negligence, you may have no idea where to turn regarding how best to protect yourself and your claim, and you’re not alone. The fact is that the aftermath of such an accident can be exceptionally challenging, and while your accident claim will follow its own course, there are some basic steps every accident victim should follow after a bike or pedestrian accident.

Seek Medical Care

After a bike or pedestrian accident, your first concern should always be your health. Even if you don’t think you were seriously injured, the impact of these accidents is too serious to ignore. Seek the medical attention you need as soon as it’s possible for you to do so.

Call a Formidable Bike and Pedestrian Accident Attorney

A bike or pedestrian accident can lead to significant physical, financial, and emotional losses that hinder your recovery and affect your future. Consulting with a savvy accident attorney early in the process is the surest means of protecting your legal rights – in pursuit of your rightful compensation.

Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

Your doctor’s instructions and advice are designed to help you reach your most complete recovery, which makes taking them seriously key. In Addition, the insurance company that is handling your claim is looking for a reason to discredit it, and any indication that you aren’t concerned enough to adequately address your recovery will suffice. Focusing on your well-being is the right thing to do in terms of your health and in terms of your legal claim.

Leave the Insurance Company to Your Accomplished Lawyer

The involved insurance company is invested in keeping your claim as low as possible. In the process, it considers you the weakest link, which is why it will turn to you for statements and will be carefully watching your social media activity. The idea is to take your words and twist them into claim-damaging statements. Leaving the insurance company to your lawyer is the best decision you can make. Laying off social media until your claim is resolved is also well advised.

Make the Call to an Experienced LA Bike Accident Lawyer Today

The trusted bike and pedestrian accident lawyers at Blair & Ramirez LLP in Los Angeles have a wealth of experience guiding challenging bike and pedestrian claims toward advantageous resolutions that uphold our clients’ legal rights, and we’re here for you, too. We offer a free case evaluator to help you better understand your unique case and to help you make the right decisions for you moving forward. We’re also here to answer your questions and address your concerns in person – reach out and contact or call us at 213-568-4000 for more information about what we can do to help you today.