It’s not always easy to get around in Los Angeles.
With so many cars on the roads, riding a bike might seem like a nice alternative to driving, particularly if you aren’t planning on going very far. And with Southern California’s warm, dry climate and beautiful scenery, Los Angeles might seem like it would be an ideal place to be if you’re a biking enthusiast. However, the numbers show that Los Angeles is actually a very scary place for bicyclists.
Even though some efforts have been made to reduce bicycle accidents in the city of Los Angeles, too many bicyclists in the area are still getting hurt and killed in accidents. In 2018, Bicycling magazine named Los Angeles as the worst American city for bicyclists.
Common causes of bicycle accidents
Poor infrastructure & road conditions
The tragic reality is that Los Angeles is a city with an infrastructure designed for motor vehicles, not pedestrians and bicyclists. Many people believe that a lack of bike lanes puts Los Angeles cyclists in danger. Not only are many roads not designed to protect bicyclists, many bike accidents are caused by roads being in poor condition. Things like potholes and debris in the road can easily cause a bicyclist to lose control of their bike and end up being seriously injured as a result.
Safe driving takes a lot of concentration. Since bicycles are so much smaller than passenger vehicles, drivers need to be particularly careful to watch out for bicyclists on the road. Anything that takes a driver’s focus off the road, even for just a few seconds, can easily lead to a bicyclist being hurt or killed. When people hear the words “distracted driving,” the first thing they often think of is someone texting or talking on a phone while driving, but this is just one way drivers can be distracted. A driver doing something like eating, adjusting their radio or GPS, or talking to a passenger can all take a driver’s attention off the road just enough to miss a bicyclist riding in the road.
The faster a car is traveling, the less time the driver has to react to something unexpected in the road. If a speeding driver doesn’t see a bicyclist riding in the road, they may not be able to stop or move away from the cyclist before it’s too late.
Drivers passing too closely
Even though bicyclists are legally allowed to ride on most types of roadways, they don’t typically reach the same speeds that cars can reach. Drivers are allowed to pass bicyclists on the road, but it’s extremely important that they leave enough space between themselves and the cyclist.
In the state of California, drivers are required to leave at least three feet of space between their car and a cyclist as they pass. If a driver passes too closely, they can potentially sideswipe the bicyclist.
When cars are parked on the street, it’s very easy for bicyclists to get hurt if the people in those cars aren’t careful about opening doors. Dooring is a type of bicycle accident that occurs when a driver or passenger in a car opens a car door into the path of a bicyclist and the bicyclist isn’t able to stop or swerve in time. This type of accident often happens in urban areas where street parking is very common.
Turning cars can be a big danger to bicyclists. As a driver starts to make their turn, they might fail to see a bicyclist who has already entered the intersection. In some cases, the driver of a turning car forgets to check their blind spot before proceeding and ends up turning into the path of a cyclist who had been coming up behind them.
Common bicycle accident injuries
Bicyclists don’t have the luxury of being protected by features like air bags and seat belts, which leaves them vulnerable to many different types of serious injuries if they’re hit by a car.
Injuries caused by bicycle accidents can include
Where and when do bicycle accidents occur?
Bicycle accidents can easily happen anytime, anywhere, but there are some times and places where they’re more likely to occur. According to data from the California Department of Public Health, 98.6% of all California bicycle accident injuries between 2007 and 2013 occurred in urban areas. During this time, 60% of bicycle accident injuries were caused by accidents that happened outside of intersections, while 38.8% occurred in accidents at intersections.
Many people might think that bicycle accidents tend to be most frequent at night, when it’s harder for drivers to see cyclists on the road. But between 2007 and 2013, 78.6% of bicycle accident injuries occurred during daylight hours.
What to do after a bicycle accident
Bicycle accidents happen in an instant and when they do, it can be hard to know what to do next. The first thing you should do is call the police so that an accident report can be made. If you or anyone else is injured, call for medical treatment right away. Even if you don’t think you’ve been injured, it’s still a good idea to be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible after a bicycle accident. In some cases, symptoms take time to show or an ache that initially seems mild ends up being a sign of a larger problem.
It’s also important to document the accident scene as much as possible. Take pictures of where the accident occurred and get the contact information of any witnesses and of the other parties involved in the accident. When you talk to the other person involved in the accident, be very careful to not say anything that could be seen as admitting fault for the accident.
If you were injured in a bicycle accident, be sure to keep detailed records of your injuries, keep as much evidence of the accident as possible, and get in touch with a bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Damages in a bicycle accident claim
If you’re considering making a claim for damages related to a bicycle accident, some types of damages you can collect include:
- Medical expenses, including future medical expenses
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Funeral expenses
Contact a California bicycle accident lawyer
Bicycle accidents can be absolutely devastating and it’s important to have an experienced California bicycle accident lawyer on your side. Insurance companies will try to get you to settle for as little as possible, but when you work with The Wallace Firm, you’ll have a team of bicycle accident lawyers ready to fight on your behalf to help you get all of the compensation you need. Let us fight for you so that you can focus on what’s most important: taking care of yourself. Our lawyers have gotten results for many accident victims just like you. Contact us today for help with your claim.