Bicycle Accidents in California: How to File a Lawsuit - Adamson Ahdoot LLP

California Legal Blog

Bicycle Accidents in California: How to File a Lawsuit

January 26, 2023 María López Garcia
Home » Blog » Bicycle Accidents in California: How to File a Lawsuit

Riding a bicycle is becoming a habit for many California citizens. The trend of bicycling has increased, in part, because of programs promoted by companies such as MetroBike, B-Cycle, or Bike Nation. However, this practice also has its risks. Mainly because of having to share the road with motor vehicles. As a result of their increased use, bicycle accidents in California are also on the rise.

But, what should you do if you’re hit while riding a bicycle? In this article, we’ll find out the ins and outs that lead many Californians to bicycle collisions. Among other things, we’ll discuss possible causes, tips for avoiding collisions, and how to file a lawsuit in the event of an accident.

California is the state with the largest number of bicyclists in the country.

California Bicycle Accident Statistics

Although the last thing we think about when we go out for a bike ride is getting into a crash, the statistics look bleak. Currently, the United States has 52.73 million citizens who ride bicycles on a regular basis. Of this number, more than 45,000 are involved in motor vehicle collisions each year. 

California is one of the deadliest states for bicyclists. If not the deadliest. Annually, it has been estimated that more than 11,000 bicyclists are injured, and 160 are killed. With a rate of 14.5% of all cyclists nationwide, the Golden State’s data regarding bicyclist deaths on the road is devastating. Californian casualties account for 4% of all fatalities nationwide. This is twice the national average. 

Interestingly, the number of fatal bicycle crashes reached an all-time high recently. According to the California Healthline report, the 2016-2018 period was the deadliest in 25 years. Along with data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a total of 455 bicyclist fatalities were recorded. That is 3.9 bicycle accident deaths per million people. Nationally, the rate was 2.6.

However, the numbers show clear recklessness in many of the bicycle accidents in California. The California Highway Patrol estimated that, of nearly 2,000 accidents to bicyclists that ended in serious injury or death, approximately 70% of them were the bicycle driver’s own fault. In addition, the tendency for cyclists to win cases does not appear to be high: plaintiffs lose two out of every three cases that go to trial.

More California Bicycle Collision Statistics

  • Bicycle laws are not the same for adults and children.
  • In 17% of fatalities, the cyclist was not wearing a helmet
  • In San Francisco, riding on sidewalks is prohibited, except for children under 13.
  • One-third of all cyclist fatalities involve victims between the ages of 5 and 20.
  • Males are more likely to die in a bicycle accident than females. According to a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 719 male bicyclists killed in 2019, with 119 female bicyclists.
  • Alcohol was the cause of death for 791 cyclists in 2019.
  • July is the deadliest month for cyclists, accounting for 12% of total fatalities.
  • The most dangerous times to ride a bike are between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Fatal accidents occur more in urban areas, at 78% than in rural, at 22%.
  • Fatalities of minors have decreased, while the numbers of those over 20 have tripled.
Deaths from bicycle collisions in California exceed the national average since 1994. (Source: California Healthline)

Los Angeles, Unsafe City for Bicyclists

Despite the city’s attempt to promote a healthy, non-polluting habit, the city of Los Angeles has not done a good job of ensuring the safety of its cyclists. Out of 28,000 miles of roadway, bicyclists cannot find adequate accommodation for their practice. 

There are only 0.6% of lanes designed for bicycling. Specifically, Los Angeles has 1,200 miles of bike lanes. Typically, cyclists share space with cars, so the risk of being hit by a car is high.

This data is striking for biking enthusiasts, since in the past the city was considered the bicycle capital of the United States.

As one of the largest cities in the state, Los Angeles has a high rate of bicycle accidents in California. The average number of people injured in accidents is over 3,600, with a death rate of 36 per year. These numbers are only estimates, as the city does not publish the number of crashes that end in injury.

The average age of the cyclists most affected varies, but typically the highest rate is in victims between the ages of 15 and 34.

But what are the most dangerous intersections in Los Angeles for bicycling? The records don’t lie, downtown is one of the most unsafe places. Precisely, Main Street and East 1st Street are the most accident-prone streets. However, there are other intersections with frequent accidents:

  • Olive Street and W 7th Street 
  • Hill Street and W 5th Street 
  • Wall Street and E 4th Street 
  • Los Angeles Street and W 7th Street 
  • Washington Boulevard between Figueroa Street and Main Street

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

The numbers tell the story: 50% of bicycle accidents occur when a bicyclist loses control and falls. However, according to the Federal Highway Administration, 20% of accidents do involve a motor vehicle and a bicycle. While the main causes of bicyclists include mechanical failure, unlimited skills, poor road conditions, or falls due to inappropriate clothing may be unavoidable, those related to traffic can be easily avoided.

When cars and bicycles coexist on a road, accidents are not uncommon. Among these mishaps, 25% occur when a vehicle turns right in front of a cyclist. This causes the cyclist to collide with the side of the vehicle. Similarly, crossing collisions are also frequent. This occurs when the car does not see the cyclist and makes a full impact when turning. This causes, in many cases, devastating injuries. 

The percentage of vehicles hitting a bicycle when passing cyclists is low, at 1.3%. Yet, they have a 54% chance of serious or fatal injury. Speed and poor ability to correctly measure the distance to the cyclist are the reason for these accidents.

Statute of Limitations in Bicycle Accident Cases

It is never pleasant to have to deal with legal specifics. However, having a basic knowledge of California traffic laws can save us a lot of headaches in the event of an accident. Especially when it comes to bicycle collisions. Understanding what the California statute of limitations is can make the legal process easier for you. But, more importantly, it will also let you be aware of the time frame you have to begin litigation against the person responsible for the accident.

What Is the Legal Deadline to Sue in a Bicycle Accidents Case in California?

The time interval to legally process accidents caused by bicycle collisions or impacts varies depending on the severity of the damages. The claim period is different if there are personal injuries or if the victim is deceased.

  • Personal injury and property damage – For these cases, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the accident.
  • Wrongful death – Negligent death allows family members or friends to file a lawsuit up to two years after the day of death.

In the event that you miss the legal deadline for filing a claim, the resolution may not be as desired. Normally, when a complaint is filed out of time, the insurers would present a rejection of the proposal. As it is law, the judge would accept it. Since the insurance company no longer needs to settle, the victim would not get any compensation. 

To avoid any confusion, it is vital to hire a personal injury lawyer who specializes in bicycle collisions.

Rules Are Different for Children and Governmental Entities

In the case of minors who are injured while riding a bicycle, the period for filing a lawsuit is put on hold until the child reaches the age of majority. When the victim turns 18 years old, he/she will have two years thereafter to start a complaint.

On the other hand, filing a claim against a public employee or entity involves a somewhat different process than usual. Whether it is because a city bus, an ambulance, or a police car negligently struck a person on a bicycle, the first legal deadline for filing an administrative claim is only six months. The agency must respond 45 days after the complaint notice is processed. The victim will then receive a response with a resolution and possible financial settlement. After that time, if the victim does not agree with the response, he/she can take the case to court.

How to Prevent Bicycle Accidents in California

California bicycle crash legal proceedings can be a tricky business. While some accidents are unavoidable, there are several safety tips to help prevent these accidents. Bicyclists, while not classified as vehicles, are subject to the state’s traffic rules, so abiding by them is the first step in ensuring health is intact.

The NHTSA has a list of 10 rules that cyclists must follow on the road. Among these, first and foremost among them, is the use of helmets. Wearing head protection can reduce injuries by up to 85%, avoiding possible brain damage.

Adjusting bicycles also avoid incidents, as it provides more control over the bicycle. This also includes checking brakes and wheels. If these are not in good working order, it could more easily lead to collisions with other vehicles.

Wearing bright clothing or reflective vests also helps other cars see the bicycle more clearly. Especially when riding at night, which is not recommended.

Being alert to road hazards and conditions is paramount. One should be constantly vigilant to prevent falls and impacts resulting in injury. In many cases, there are areas where the road has obstacles, potholes, or is simply broken. Slowing down or avoiding that stretch helps to avoid health issues.

Likewise, cyclists should ride straight and steady, following all traffic rules and maintaining an adequate distance from other vehicles.

Bill AB-1909, Approved by 2023

Respecting the safety distance and driving properly is another essential rule. To ensure that vehicles also comply with this, California has incorporated Bill AB-1909. This rule will benefit the safety of bicyclists by, among other things, forcing cars to change lanes before passing a bicycle on the road.

Bicycle Insurance, is it Worth it?

Do I need insurance to ride a bicycle in California? This is one of the most frequently asked questions among those who ride bicycles on a regular basis. The answer is clear: no, it is not a legal requirement, but, it may be a good idea. After seeing the shocking numbers of bicycle accidents in California, getting insurance for frequent bicyclists doesn’t sound too far-fetched.

When you are involved in an accident with a motor vehicle on a bicycle, the injuries can result in high financial expenses if you are not insured. Medical bills can become very expensive, taking a toll on our mental and physical health.

Investing in bicycle insurance to cover possible damages in the event of an accident can be an effective measure of protection. While the insurance world has a wide variety of coverages available, the most popular is the one that protects against traffic collisions. Personal injury insurance will inject the financial support needed to treat any physical injuries. These policies can cover everything from medical costs to physical therapy to dental expenses.

How to Successfully File a Bicycle Collision Case in California?

The process of suing for bicycle accidents in California can be summarized in three steps. Although the legal process may seem a bit difficult, it is a tolerable experience if you have the legal help of a personal injury expert.

Call 911 if you are involved in a personal injury accident. The police report is essential evidence to win the financial compensation you deserve.

Collecting Evidence

First, call the emergency services if you are able to do so. At this point, provide the location, and give any information you have at the time: how many victims are involved and how the incident occurred. Later, the police will prepare a report describing the details of the accident.

  • Obtain the other driver’s information. From their full name to the driver’s license and car information. It is critical to obtain the other driver’s insurance company’s information.
  • Write down everything the other driver says about the accident. Likewise, you should not talk too much, either. Do not engage in any conversation that is not part of the legal process. Any phrases such as “It’s okay,” “I’m fine,” “Don’t worry,” or “I should have avoided it” can be used against you in the future. Save your statements for the police, who will come to investigate the accident.
  • Look for witnesses, if there are any. Mention the presence of any witnesses to the police so they can take their statements.
  • Take photographs and videos of the area of the incident. See if the area has any video surveillance cameras from an establishment. Be sure to take pictures of the condition of your car and the injuries you have sustained.
An experienced California bicycle collision lawyer will help you file a solid case.

Get Medical Treatment and Document Your Injuries

Getting immediate medical treatment will help stop your pain. However, don’t forget to document your injuries with photos and keep medical bills. Most settlements are given as a result of personal injuries that are proven with evidence.

If you are okay at the scene of the crime, it is recommended that you do not refuse medical attention. Even if you think you are fine, you never know what injuries may arise later. In fact, the pain may come even months later. So it is highly advisable to constantly check your health after a bicycle accident.

Build a Strong Case

To win these types of legal proceedings, you must have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney by your side. An experienced professional can guide you from the beginning and will handle any necessary paperwork for the case. Protecting the value of your claim is critical to your legal representative. 

With an experienced California bicycle collision lawyer, you can forget about the formalities. With their help, you will submit all paperwork on time in an organized manner, and you will get adequate compensation for your claim. 

Filing a solid lawsuit with evidence can be a headache, but your attorney will fight with the at-fault party and the insurance company to get you the highest possible compensation.

Win Your Case with the Attorneys at Adamson Ahdoot

Bicycle accidents in California are common. Understanding the steps and having legal expertise available to you if you are injured in a vehicle collision can be key to your case. As one of California’s most prestigious choices, Adamson Ahdoot prides itself on being a highly successful personal injury law firm.

With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our team is able to get our clients the compensation they deserve. If you or someone you love has been injured in a bicycle accident in Los Angeles or the surrounding area, do not hesitate to contact us.

Our attorneys excel at empathizing and fighting for our client’s best interests. Don’t waste any more time, call us today at (800) 310-1606 to learn more about our services, or contact us online.

Client-First Approach

Above all else, our clients come first. We go above and beyond to obtain the highest level of compensation possible.

Meet Our Attorneys

Multi-Focus Law Firm

Adamson Ahdoot has successfully executed a plethora of personal injury cases.

Cases We Handle

Get in touch with our firm

Our team can better advise you on your legal options once we receive any available evidence about the incident.

Take Action Now