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Bicycle Accidents: How to Make Sure You Get the Compensation You Deserve

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

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.

Bicycle Accidents: 3 Most Common Related Accidents to Look Out for

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

COVID lockdowns lead to an effort to avoid crowded public transportation. And just a general desire to be healthier, there has been a serious rise of cyclists on the roads. Unfortunately, even with more cyclists, the knowledge of how to share the road with cyclists has not increased too much. Accidents happen and sometimes the best way to prevent them is to know the common areas where bicycle accidents often occur.

Are you a cyclist looking to avoid the sharp rise of bicycle accidents that came with the sharp rise of cyclists on the roads? Here are where the common bicycle accidents happen and what you need to be looking out for.

3 Most Common Bicycle Accidents You Should Look Out for

Collisions with Turning Vehicles

Known as "right hook," "left hook," "or left cross" accidents. They are the most common bicycle accident – and can be the most fatal. Anytime you as a cyclist find yourself at an intersection, you want to remain as visible as possible and vigilant. What happens most often is that you are moving forward, but a car is turning either left or right. The slow-off-the-start nature of a bicycle stopping at an intersection also plays a role in this. You have less momentum to avoid these cars. In fact, you may find yourself getting hit in a full T-bone type accident.

Providing you had the right of way at these intervals, the driver will have liability in these accidents. But the issue is the fatality rate and how common they are. When at an intersection, sometimes a cyclist, especially a newer cyclist, just feels safer getting off the bike and walking across as a pedestrian or allowing turning cars to turn first before moving.

Doored by Parked Cars

There isn't a single cyclist that doesn't get at least a little nervous when they are riding past a line of parked cars. Even if they are in what should be a safe bike lane. Those who are parked by a bike lane often feel the safety of that buffer that keeps cars away. As such, they are less likely to check for actual cyclists using the bike lane before opening the door. Crashing headfirst into an open car door, as you'd expect, is pretty devastating. Furthermore, attempting to react and swerving into traffic could be just as dangerous.

Passed by a Car

In short, cars should treat passing a cyclist on the road like passing another car. Unfortunately, too few do that. What happens is that they see the cyclist off to the side a bit, and then try to inch past them. The lack of clearance either ends up with the car hitting the cyclist or the cyclist being pushed off the road and having to deal with rough terrain or a curb. This is why when there is no bike lane, you want to prevent cars from trying to inch past you by staying more center-oriented in the lane.

Are You an Injured Cyclist?

Have you been in a cycling accident and need help? Cyclists often face horrible injuries when it comes to auto-related accidents. If you have been in an accident, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you go over your case and represent your interests to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

Bicycle Laws in California Every LA Cyclist Should Know

Saturday, January 16, 2021

California is known for its progressive attitude towards cyclists. "The Sunshine State" boasts gorgeous weather and sluggish traffic. That's why so many residents prefer to commute, run errands, and get their daily workout on a bicycle. However, the state doesn't do much to inform cyclists of their rights and responsibilities publicly. After all, it's not as if we need a license to cycle!

  • Here in Los Angeles, we have a recognized problem of bicycle injuries and a remarkable number of fatalities.  
  • The good news is that bike lanes are cropping up everywhere throughout the state. That's great for biker safety.
  • The bad news is that more people are hitting the roadways without proper knowledge of California's bicycle laws.

So today, we're going to cover the laws every LA bicyclist should know. Feel free to bookmark this page or share it on social media. Our goal is to promote bicycle safety in Los Angeles.

As always, if you've been injured in a biking accident in LA and need legal help, contact us.

California Vehicle Codes Cyclists Should Know

CA VC 21200, On the Use of a Bicycle

On California's streets and highways, bikes are treated the same as motor vehicles. In other words, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as someone driving a car. You must obey stop signs, stay in the correct lane for your direction (don't ride facing into traffic), and use correct hand signals before braking or turning. Furthermore, motorists and bicyclists in California have an obligation to share the road. Each party owes a duty of care to the other.

CA VC 21200.5, Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Here in California, it's unlawful to operate a bicycle on the road while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The fines for adults are moderate, up to $250 for the first offense. But underage cyclists could lose their driving privileges for one year. 

Beyond your behavior as a safe and sober operator, California also has laws regarding a bicycle's equipment and operational ability. 

CA VC 21201, Bicycle Equipment Requirements

California sets specific minimum requirements for bicycles that operate on public roadways. These are very important for your safety and the safety of others.

  • All bikes must have operating brakes to be on a public roadway. 
  • A bike must have handlebars that rest below the user's shoulder level. "Ape hangers" look cool but aren't appropriate for street riding.
  • Bicycles must be an appropriate size for the rider. The official requirement is that the rider can sit on the bike and have one foot on the ground.
  • Any bicycle that operates on a public road in the dark must have a headlamp emitting white light, a red reflector on the rear, and reflectors on the pedals. If a bike doesn't have a headlamp, a rider may attach/wear one on their helmet or body.

Finally, let's remember that bicycle rider requirements are very straightforward. Minors must always wear a helmet when cycling, and headphones/earbuds are never allowed. This is for your safety and the safety of others.

Freeman & Freeman LLP — Personal Injury Attorneys for LA Bicyclists

At Freeman & Freeman LLP, our team of Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers knows how to get maximum compensation for our clients. If you or your family member was injured while riding a bike in LA, call the LA bicycle accident lawyers of Freeman & Freeman for a free consultation at 818-992-2919. Or contact us online. We can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injury or loss. Don't settle for less than you deserve!

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. 

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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.