Common Causes of Bicycle Accident Injuries
Riding a bicycle is a popular pastime in California. It’s the perfect sport to go along with the state’s mild climate, scenic roads, and emphasis on healthy living. But unfortunately, sharing the road with other vehicles also makes biking dangerous. When bicycle accidents happen, cyclists almost always suffer the worst injuries.
Bicycle accident statistics highlight the severity of the problem. Fatal bicycle accidents recently reached record highs in California. Data shows traffic collisions killed 455 cyclists in California in three years alone, according to U.S. News and World Report. And nationally, the number of motor vehicle crashes involving bikes has increased steadily since 2009.
Bike crashes occur for various reasons, leaving hundreds of thousands seriously hurt each year. If you suffered a bicycle injury in a collision with another vehicle or pedestrian, a skilled lawyer may be able to help you pursue financial compensation for your losses.
The Law Offices of Pius Joseph is a Pasadena personal injury law firm with 30 years of experience representing clients throughout California, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno, and Sacramento. We’re committed to crafting convincing cases that stand up to the toughest challenges, both during settlement negotiations and at trial. Let us help you, too.
The process starts with a free consultation. Call or contact us today to speak with a knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer.
Common Causes of Bicycle Injuries
Numerous factors contribute to bicycle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) separates the most common causes of bicycle accidents into three categories:
Careless drivers often bear some responsibility for car crashes involving bikes. Examples of negligent behaviors include:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Failure to yield
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals
- Aggressive driving
- Road rage
- Breaking other traffic laws
- Poor understanding of bicyclists’ rights in California
A bicycle accident is not always another driver’s fault. Bicyclists have many of the same rights as other motorists but could share some of the blame for a collision if they were:
- Cycling under the influence (CUI)
- Riding while distracted
- Disregarding traffic controls at intersections
- Riding the wrong way on a one-way street
- Not equipping their bikes with the required lights and reflectors
- Not using bicycle paths when available
- Lack of awareness of bicycle laws in California
Pedestrians could also be at fault for bicycle accident injuries if they were jaywalking or breaking other rules that contribute to an accident.
Though there has been a push to make cities more bike-friendly, many areas lack the infrastructure to support safe riding. An injured cyclist could have a bicycle accident claim against a government entity or property owner if the crash was caused by:
- Dangerous road conditions (e.g., potholes, uneven pavement, etc.)
- Road obstructions impacting visibility
- Missing or poor signage
- Unclear markings at intersections
- Poor lighting
- Failure to respond to reports of hazardous roads
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
Cyclists are some of the most vulnerable road users. With little to protect them from the full impact of a collision with another vehicle or the pavement, it’s no surprise that bicyclists tend to suffer severe injuries after a crash.
Common bike injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Bike accidents are the leading cause of emergency room visits for brain injuries in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A TBI can range from a mild concussion to a catastrophic injury that causes permanent disability. California only requires bike helmets for riders under 18. However, any bicycle accident attorney will advise you to wear one. Even though riders aren’t breaking the law by choosing to ride without helmets, their failure to wear one could negatively affect their cycling injury claims.
- Head injuries: Beyond brain injuries, cyclists are also at risk of other types of head injuries, such as skull fractures and scalp wounds.
- Facial injuries: While bicycle helmets offer some protection to the head and neck in a bike crash, a rider’s face is almost entirely exposed. Cyclists who suffer facial injuries such as a broken nose, jaw, or cheekbone may require surgery to set the bones for proper healing. Cuts and scrapes can also leave bicycle accident victims with scarring and disfigurement after getting hit by a car.
- Back injuries: A recent news report found that four out of five spinal injuries in the U.S. were due to bike accidents. Nothing can shield a rider’s back from the impact of a collision, increasing the risk of fractured vertebrae, herniated disks, spinal stenosis, spinal cord injury, and paralysis.
- Death: Nearly 900 cyclists died in accidents involving motor vehicles in a single recent year, according to NHTSA. In California, the families or estate of a deceased cyclist may bring a wrongful death claim against the party(s) responsible for their death.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
Cyclists can protect their bicycle accident claims by taking several steps at the crash scene:
- Move out of traffic to avoid secondary crashes.
- Call 911 to report the accident and any injuries.
- Take photos and videos of the accident scene.
- Get the insurance details, names, addresses, and phone numbers from everyone involved.
- Collect contact information from any witnesses.
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Don’t wash or throw away the clothes, shoes, or helmet you were wearing when the bicycle accident occurred.
- Keep all medical bills and receipts for all injury-related expenses.
- Don’t agree to give the insurance company a recorded statement.
- Talk to a California bicycle accident lawyer to learn your legal rights.
Getting Legal Help for Your Bicycle Accident
Because bike injuries are often severe, victims suffer high personal and financial losses. Mountains of medical bills, coupled with lost wages from time off work, place many victims in a precarious financial position. A successful bicycle accident claim can help mitigate these losses.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are not in the habit of making fair settlement offers to claimants. A personal injury attorney can gather solid evidence to prove the at-fault party’s liability and demand maximum compensation for your bicycle injuries, pain and suffering, and more.
Ready to learn more about your rights to compensation? Contact the Law Offices of Pius Joseph for free legal advice now.