When Bicyclists & Motor Vehicles Collide

Bicycle accidents in California are on the rise and have reached a high of approximately three hundred and thirty eight bicyclist fatalities.  The state even topped the charts in 2012 when it “had the most bicyclists killed of any state.”  Apparently, eighty-four percent of these deaths involved adult-males over the age of twenty.  The leading contributors to these accidents are purported to involve the influence of alcohol and not wearing a helmet.

In California, over four-percent of deaths concerning motor vehicles were bicyclist accidents.  This is even larger than the national statistic of two-percent.  Some suggest that the current state of the roads leave much to be desired.  The implementation of “bike lanes” or “boxes” could possibly help facilitate increased “visibility and protection” amongst moving vehicles.  “Separate bicycle traffic signals” were also suggested to help minimize intersection collisions.  Driver blind spots and other factors often contribute to these accidents as well.  However, until safeguards are implemented, what recourse do injured bicyclists have under the law in California?

Since bikes are considered “vehicles,” bicyclists must follow all of the same rules as those driving cars, such “right-of-way rules” and abiding by traffic signals.  Therefore, a cyclist is susceptible to the same type of liability as an individual driving a car.  For example, a cyclist could be found liable to a car driver for any injuries sustained, if the bicyclist neglected to drive safely.  Remedies that a driver may seek include recovery for “injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.”

Yet, on the same token, the California Vehicle Code affords the same legal rights to cyclists as it does to motor vehicle drivers.  Sometimes, bicyclists are allowed to “take the lane,” whereas, other times, cyclists may “travel on the right side of the roadway” while flowing with traffic, except under certain circumstances.  If you were driving a bike that had a motor, such as electric bikes or mopeds, different laws will apply to you.  You may be prohibited from using certain paths or driving in certain areas.

If you were injured in a bicycle accident in Northern or Southern California, the attorneys at the law firm if J&Y can inform you of the conduct that is acceptable by the “California Department of Transportation” and the remedies that may be available to you.