COVID-19 has impacted almost every aspect of daily life. People need to get out, enjoy the fresh air, and exercise while remaining safe and practicing social distancing. Many still need to commute safely to their jobs. More people are choosing bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. Many factors have led to an increase in the number of bicycles on the road. And so are the number of bicycle accidents.
More people are working remotely from their homes; commuter bus and rail ridership are way down; people are driving more; medical care is transitioning to telehealth instead of visits to a doctor’s office. What’s more, gyms, movie theaters, sports arenas, restaurants, and bowling alleys are closed; online grocery shopping has become the norm; shopping at malls is a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, with the dramatic increase in bicycle ridership, there has also been an increase in the number of bicycle accidents. California, Florida, as well as Texas, are the most dangerous states for cycling.
The statistics are alarming. Each year in California, over 100 bicyclists are killed and over 10,000 are injured in collisions.
What are the Rules of the Road for Bicyclists?
All states require bicyclists on a road to follow the same rules as motor vehicle drivers. They must ride in the same direction as traffic flow, stop at red lights, obey all traffic signs and traffic signals, avoid making unsafe lane changes, stay off sidewalks, as well as yield to pedestrians.
Why Have Bicycle Accidents Increased?
- More bicycles on the road
- More people commuting to work by bicycle
- Inexperienced bicyclists on the road
- Distracted driving, in general, has increased
- Motor vehicle operators do not follow or ride next to cyclists safely
- Overwhelmed bicycle repair shops running out of spare parts
- Cities have not made the necessary infrastructure overhauls to make cycling safer
Types of Injuries Suffered in Bicycle Accidents
In an accident involving a motor vehicle and a bicycle, it is the cyclist who is most likely to suffer severe injury.
Bicycle accidents can involve any part of the body and range from minor to catastrophic. Brain and spinal injuries are the most damaging injuries suffered. However, there can also be internal injuries, amputations, bruises, abrasions, as well as road rash.
Who is the Responsible Party in Bicycle Accidents?
The short answer is: it depends. California uses the legal concept of comparative negligence in determining liability in any type of traffic accident. Either the motor vehicle driver, the bicyclist, both the driver and the cyclist, or neither can be attributed liability for the accident. As an example, if it is determined that the motor vehicle operator was 70% responsible for the accident and the bicyclist was 30% responsible, each can receive only a percentage of the damages for which they were not at fault. The driver could recover 30% of the full settlement in damages and the cyclist could recover 70% in damages.
If you are involved in a bicycle accident and suffered an injury, it is very important that you contact an experienced bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Each case is unique. The skilled and caring attorneys at Freeman & Freeman will listen to the specifics of your case; determine the best strategy to optimize any compensation due to you for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, as well as pain and suffering; walk you through the complicated legal process; acquire the necessary medical documentation, and face off against the insurance company lawyers for you.
It is the insurance adjuster’s job to offer you as little as possible for your injuries; you need an attorney on your side to preserve your rights as well as fight the legal battle for you. The experienced Freeman & Freeman litigation attorneys work on a contingency basis, so if they don’t win your case, you owe them nothing!
Making the Roads Safer for Bicyclists
California initiated the Slow Streets program in early 2020. This was designed to limit motor vehicle traffic on designated residential streets and corridors. Unfortunately, the program quickly ran out of money in Los Angeles, and infrastructure work was halted.
Other cities across the country have successfully undertaken major infrastructure changes to make the roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, such as:
- Constructing bike lanes
- Striping designated bike lanes
- Buffering bike lanes that are next to busy roadways
- Installing traffic-calming measures, such as making the road narrower, building speed bumps, and putting an officer on the road.
Being involved in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle is unnerving, traumatic, as well as potentially life-altering. Call the bicycle accident experts at Freeman & Freeman to ensure that you get the best representation possible and the compensation you deserve.