Liability Following A Cycling Accident

Bicycle accidents often result in serious injuries and complex liability issues.

In Sacramento, the number of bike commuters increased 45 percent from 2005 to 2010, according to the League of American Bicyclists. About 5,000 cyclists ride to work in the city each day. The city is mostly flat and generally has good weather for riding bike.

Some cyclists in Sacramento avoid certain roads, because of safety concerns. One rider will not go down Stockton Boulevard, for example. Fruitridge and Del Paso Road are other streets that some bicycle commuters avoid. One of the reasons is that in many parts of the city, drivers must pull into the street to see if another car is coming. If a driver pulls out too quickly, he or she can easily hit a passing cyclist.

For each of the last five years, there have been approximately 200 bicycle accidents in the city. Because of size differential between vehicles and bicycles, these crashes often seriously injure the cyclist. Injuries sustained in a collision can even prevent an avid cyclist from getting back on a bike. The Office of Traffic Safety, reports that 15 cyclists died in motor vehicle crashes between 2009 and 2013.

In June, a woman in her 40s was seriously injured after being struck by a hit-and-run driver. Earlier in March, a driver ran a red light hitting a 70-year-old bike rider in the intersection. She later died from injuries sustained in the crash.

Proposed measures to reduce the number of car-bicycle accidents

Protected bike lanes are one possible remedy. The Protected Bikeways Act would separate car traffic from bike lanes with a median, curb or other barrier. Communities that have installed such bike lanes have generally found there were fewer bike accidents.

The measure is pending in the state Senate. It passed the state Assembly earlier this year.

Another proposal seeks to target the problem of hit-and-run accidents. The idea is to create an alert system to help police catch drivers involved in fatal or serious injury hit-and-run accidents. In addition, another bill would increase fines and penalties assessed against drivers who leave the scene. Both bills are making their way through the legislature.

Civil remedies available

Because bicycle and pedestrian accidents often result in very serious injuries, it can often be difficult to determine what caused the crash. A cyclist thrown from a bike may suffer a concussion that affects his or her memories from right before the crash. It is also difficult to see if a driver is texting or fiddling with a GPS right before a crash occurs.

In these accidents, interviewing eyewitnesses may be one way to find out whether the driver was negligent. A review of cellphone records could show the driver sent a text several seconds before the crash. A police investigation may list who was at fault and this finding could help in proving liability.

Working with insurance companies to obtain payments for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering is frequently a difficult experience. Following a serious accident, seek the representation of an experienced personal injury attorney, who can ensure you receive a fair settlement.

Keywords: Bicycle accident, motor vehicle crash, serious injury