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New Cyclist in Los Angeles? Safety Tips and Accident Advice

Thursday, October 29, 2020

If you're one of the many Los Angeles residents who are turning to your bike to get around during the pandemic, you're not alone. While all methods of transportation declined this past spring as many people began staying home, Los Angeles' bike share program reported a much smaller decline than other transportation options, including cars and buses. It makes sense that as riding on a crowded bus became less safe, essential workers and others who still needed to get out and about might choose to ride a bicycle instead.  

Bike riding has many benefits, like increasing your physical activity and reducing your carbon footprint. The weather in Los Angeles is usually perfect for a bike commute, and you can save money on gas or transit costs. And of course, during the pandemic, biking is a great way to maintain social distancing. However, Los Angeles isn't the most bike-friendly city and as a new cyclist, you may be worried about your safety.  

Specific challenges include: 
  • Lack of bike lanes: bike lanes in Los Angeles are sparse and not connected, leaving few safe routes through the city 
  • Aggressive driving: driver behavior toward bike riders in Los Angeles is often dangerous 
  • Road hazards are widespread, from potholes to uneven surfaces 
Here are a few of the most important safety tips, as well as our advice on what to do in the unfortunate case of a bike accident

Use Bike Lanes (With Caution)

Los Angeles does have some bike lanes, though not as many as other, more bike-friendly cities like New York City or Amsterdam. When planning your route, check for streets that have a bike lane. Be aware, though, that bike lanes don't guarantee your safety, and some aren't very well-designed, leaving you essentially biking among heavy traffic. Use your best judgment to evaluate whether a street is safe, and stay alert even when you're in a bike lane. 

Follow the Rules of the Road

As a cyclist, you have responsibilities on the road, just like drivers do. Bike riders in Los Angeles must: 
  • Stay to the right of the road or in the bike lane (if there is one) 
  • Ride a bike equipped with brakes, lights, and reflectors 
  • Avoid riding on sidewalks 
  • Ride in the direction of traffic
Other ways to stay safe include wearing a helmet, using hand signals, avoiding distractions, and paying close attention to cars and potential road hazards.   

What About Bike Accidents?

No matter how safely you ride, bike accidents are always a risk. Whether due to bicycle manufacturing defects, automobile drivers, or road hazards, a bike accident can cause injuries, damage to your bike, and lost income. If you do get into a bike accident, know your rights. A qualified bicycle accident lawyer can help you get compensation for your injuries. Many cyclists don't seek or get the full compensation they're entitled to after an accident--don't let that happen to you. Record all possible details of your accident and contact an attorney as soon as you can. 
While it might seem daunting to bike on the streets of Los Angeles, don't despair: the benefits of biking have been shown to outweigh the risks. With some precautions, you can enjoy the health and environmental benefits of bicycling, and make use of a great alternative way to get to work and other activities. 
If you've been in a bicycle accident in Los Angeles, contact us today to learn about how our bicycle accident lawyers can help you.

Los Angeles Bicycle Ridership Increases Due to COVID-19: What Does That Mean for You?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Thanks to COVID-19, more people than ever are riding their bicycles through Los Angeles to get to work and school or to enjoy leisure activities. Riding a bicycle is a great solitary activity that allows you to get in some much-needed exercise and see more of Los Angeles. Not only that, bus use is down throughout the Los Angeles area as people try to avoid high-traffic areas and close quarters.  If you've chosen to ride your bicycle to help reduce potential COVID-19 exposure or to enjoy a little exercise during this unprecedented period, it offers a number of advantages. 

You may find that using your bicycle allows you to:
  • Get in more exercise--a great answer to gym closures or avoiding the gym due to COVID-19
  • Get to your destination faster than walking
  • Improve your familiarity with the city and everything it has to offer through a rolling tour
At the same time, if you're using your bicycle during this time, there are several things you need to know. 
As more people ride their bicycles, bicycle accidents increase.
In part, accidents increase because there are simply more people riding their bikes and, with more people riding, accident risk increases substantially. Accident risk can also increase as bicycles become a more familiar sight on Los Angeles streets. Drivers may not yield as readily, or they might not take into consideration the needs of the cyclists around them, especially if they have been slowed down by bicycles as they hurry to work. 
You must also follow the rules of the road.
Just as drivers have specific rules that they must follow on the road, bicyclists must also follow those rules. You should not ride on sidewalks and other walking areas, but should ride in bike lanes when available. You should also follow traffic signals, yield to oncoming traffic, and follow any posted signs and limitations. 
Be aware at all times.
As a bicycle rider, you have little protection from the ground, the cars around you, and any obstacles in your way. Wearing a helmet can significantly decrease TBI risk, but it does not eliminate it entirely, nor does it protect the rest of your body from injury. You are also smaller than the large vehicles driving around you. Many drivers fail to notice the presence of bicycle riders in their lanes because bicycles do not fit the pattern they look for: instead of a large vehicle, you have a much smaller profile and travel at a different rate of speed. Some drivers may find you hard to spot. As a result, you must remain aware of your surroundings at all times and take steps to protect yourself as needed. 
Know what to do if you have an accident.
Many people are using their bicycles, not just for leisure or exercise, but to get to work and school: important destinations they need to reach in a timely manner. Nevertheless, you must take the right steps if you have an accident, even a minor accident. You should:
  • Report the accident and wait for the police to arrive, even if you believe you did not suffer serious injury. 
  • Collect insurance information for the other driver.
  • Seek medical attention, even if you believe you did not suffer serious injury.
A full evaluation from a medical professional can help ensure that you did not miss an injury that could cause serious problems later and serve as valuable evidence if you need to file a personal injury claim. 
Did You Suffer Injuries in a Bicycle Accident in Los Angeles?
If you suffered injuries in a Los Angeles bicycle accident, contact Freeman & Freeman today to learn more about your legal rights and how we can help you seek compensation for your injuries. 

Does Concussion Recovery Time Affect Brain Injury Lawsuit Settlements?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

For many, concussions seem like a relatively minor injury and something to be expected after an accident. However, while concussions can have very minor symptoms, they can manifest very major damage to your brain. Some who suffer a concussion as the result of an accident have brain damage that they never fully recover from, and they should be getting compensation as such.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is the result of blunt force to the head or severe shaking of the head, either of which causes the brain to essentially bash into the side of your skull and damage the soft tissue. Symptoms can be mild or severe, but can often be confused with other ailments, which can make those who suffer from a concussion slow to get help. Concussion can often be confused with simple anxiety from just being in an accident, but it is important to seek help if you have even on symptom. The symptoms of concussions include:

  • Headache

  • Loss of balance

  • Tinnitus, or ringing of the ears

  • Memory loss

  • Unconsciousness

  • Nausea

  • Slurred speech

  • Seizures

Those are just the immediate symptoms of a concussion. Longer term symptoms can manifest including issues like blurred vision, psychological disorders, light and noise sensitivity, and altered taste or smell.

For some, concussion symptoms last for a few days. Others will suffer for months or years from a severe concussion. However, what many don't realize is the time it takes to recover from a concussion that was the result of an accident can affect the lawsuit settlement they can receive.

How Concussion Recovery Time Affects Your Settlement

When it comes to accident settlements for concussions, you will be entitled to the standard damages for injuries. You can pursue damages for pain and suffering from the accident as well as the physical and mental impairment caused by the concussion.

If you suffered from concussion symptoms for more than a few days, you may also be entitled for your settlement to include compensation for a reduced quality of life. Long term symptoms of concussions can be very disruptive to a normal life, and the longer they last, the more you may get.

If you had a serious concussion, you will also want to keep good track of your medical bills. A big problem with brain injuries, aside from the unpredictable and permanent damage they can cause, is they can be very expensive to diagnose. If your concussion has serious symptoms, the MRIs, CTs, and all the other neurological testing you had to endure will be covered by an accident settlement.

In the same vein as tracking your medical expenses, if you have even the most minor symptoms of a concussion after an accident, you will want to seek medical help as soon as possible. The longer you wait to have a concussion diagnosed and treated can have an effect on your settlement amount. Furthermore, it could be argued that your lack of medical attention made the concussion worse than it needed to be, which in turn limits the amount you are entitled to.

Need Help?

Have you suffered a concussion or any other traumatic brain injury as a result of an accident? These injuries, while difficult to diagnose, are treated very seriously. They can cause long-lasting damage and disruption to your life. If you have suffered a concussion and want to discuss your legal options to get coverage for your expensive medical bills, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman is dedicated to helping those injured in unexpected accidents get the compensation that they are entitled to.

Uber Backup Driver Charged in Fatal Autonomous Vehicle Crash

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

On August 27, 2018, the first self-driving vehicle fatality occurred in Tempe, Arizona. More than two years later, Rafaela Vasquez, the backup Uber driver who was monitoring the autonomous vehicle at the time of the crash, has been charged with negligent homicide. She is accused of being distracted and failing to monitor the safety of the Uber vehicle, resulting in the death of Elaine Herzberg, 49, of Phoenix, AZ. 

Uber driver claims she didn't use cell phone

Uber backup driver Vasquez, 46, pleaded not guilty at a September 15, 2020 hearing. She told investigators that she was not using her cell phone before the crash. However, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, she was watching "The Voice" on her cell phone at the moment of the accident and failed to monitor the road. As a result, the autonomous Uber SUV struck and killed Hertzberg.

The National Transportation Safety Board also cited several contributing factors to the crash. These included:

  • Uber's inadequate safety procedures
  • Uber's ineffective driver oversight
  • The victim being outside the crosswalk
  • The Arizona Department of Transportation's lack of oversight of autonomous vehicles and testing

In addition, the NTSB said Uber's decision to deactivate it's automatic emergency braking system and instead rely on human backup drivers was a contributing factor to the accident. 

Details of the Uber vehicle accident

Uber's system did detect Herzberg 5.6 seconds before she was struck. However, it did not determine if she was a pedestrian, bicyclist, or unknown object. It also did not detect that she was headed into the vehicle's path.

According to court records, Vasquez has a criminal history, having spent four years in prison. This was for making false statements to obtain unemployment benefits, and attempted armed robbery, both felony convictions.  According to a toxicology report, Herzberg had methamphetamine in her system. 

Uber was not criminally charged

In March of 2019, prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against the Uber rideshare corporation in the matter of Herzberg's death. This decision was made by Yavapai County attorney Sheila Polk. The prosecutor's office in Phoenix declined to be involved with the case, citing a possible conflict of interest. He had previously been involved in an Uber public safety campaign. 

After the decision was made to not criminally charge the Uber corporation, the case was returned to the Phoenix prosecutors office, since the lack of a charge eliminated the potential for conflict of interest. 

Autonomous Uber vehicles pulled after fatal crash

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has prohibited Uber from continuing their tests after the SUV ran over Herzberg.  Uber removed its self-driving cars from Arizona the day before the NTSB issued its first report on the accident. This eliminated about 300 jobs in Arizona for Uber backup drivers and others in the autonomous vehicle testing program. 

A trial when Vasquez will face the charges of negligent homicide is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2021.

Self-driving vehicle research and testing goes on

Although the fatality had a big impact on the auto and rideshare industries, autonomous vehicle research and development by Uber and Lyft continues. In Palo Alto, California, Lyft has a development lab for self-driving cars staffed with over 400 engineers.  Instead of developing a self-driving car from the ground up, it is developing systems to add to existing vehicles to act as the "brains". 

As of the end of 2019, Lyft has added these systems to Ford Fusions and Chrysler Pacificas. It has special permission from Palo Alto to test these autonomous vehicles, with human safety drivers in the cars, in a very limited area. 

For details on what to do if you're involved in a rideshare accident or injury, contact us here

Auto Accidents on The Rise as Lockdown Restrictions Lift

Saturday, October 03, 2020

While we are still very much in the thick of this pandemic, COVID-19 quarantine restrictions are lifting all over the United States. While there was a marked decrease in auto accident during this time as those who could work from home were instructed to stay home, that is changing. Now, as more and more people return to work and their more typical schedules, auto accidents are sharply on the rise.

Why Driving is More Dangerous Now Than Ever

Unfortunately, during the lockdown, two equally dangerous things happened. Those who had to commute to work were able to drive faster due to the decrease in traffic and those who stayed home rather literally forgot how to drive. That is putting it in an extreme way, but driving can be a muscle memory affair for many people. If you stop doing it regularly for several months, you will still know how to drive when you get behind the wheel, but it will feel a little more foreign to you. This causes drivers to be a little slower with usual traffic decisions and more cautious. While defensive driving isn't necessarily a bad thing, too much caution can indeed cause accidents.

This increase in more cautious and unsure drivers definitely does not mesh well with the drivers that took up speeding when they were the only ones on the road during quarantine. The old adage "speed kills" has never been more true. As the road clogs up again, accidents are happening more and at higher speeds, making them more fatal.

What to Do If You Are In An Auto Accident

While the only thing you can do is try to stay safe as everyone re-acclimates themselves to the rules of the road, you do want to know what to do in the event of an accident just in case. If you are in an accident, follow these simple rules:

  • Stop – Even minor fender-benders require you to stop. Never drive away from an accident.

  • Call the Police – This is obvious if someone is hurt. However, if you will need to file an insurance claim, you will want to call the police to file a police report.

  • Document – As soon as you can, write down the series of events as clearly and as factually as you can. You will also want to take pictures of the crash scene, the damage to your vehicle, and any injuries that occurred.

  • Visit a Doctor – Even if you are not injured at the scene, injuries like whiplash may only manifest the next day after the adrenaline has worn off. You will want to make sure everything is alright after an accident with a doctor and have it documented as soon as possible so you can get it covered.

  • Contact Your Insurance – Many accidents are handled by just filing a claim with your insurance or the insurance holder of the other party. You will want to make initial contact before moving onto the final step.

  • Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer – In cases of just vehicle damage, usually just accepting insurance coverage is all you need to do. However, if anyone was injured or you just want to make sure you are getting everything you are entitle to from the accident, you will want to contact a personal injury lawyer. They can help look over the offers to make sure everything is fair and aboveboard.

While auto accidents can be complicated, following the above can take a lot of the guesswork out of it. If you have been in a car accident on the post-COVID lockdown roads and need help figuring everything out, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you get the accident settlement you need to heal.


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From our offices in Woodland Hills, California, Freeman & Freeman, LLP, provides legal advice and representation for clients in communities throughout the state, including those in Burbank, Glendale, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Santa Clarita, Agoura Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Granada Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, North Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Alhambra.