Injured in a Bicycle Accident?

Bicycle Accidents in California –
Personal Injury & Wrongful Death

This type of accidents accounted for 125 of the nation’s 677 fatalities in 2011. On a per-capita basis, Californians are more than twice as likely to be killed in a cycling accident than a rider in any other state. About 20 riders a year are killed in Sacramento County, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Nationwide, another 50,000 riders are injured. Too often, cycling accidents in California result in very serious injuries, including broken bones, crush and amputation injuries and traumatic brain injuries.

Whether you are engaging in a bike race, marathon or merely biking in Northern California for leisure purposes accidents happen. Although some accidents are simply that, accidents, others could have been prevented had it not been for the negligence of another party. Bicycles are commonly ridden along the right edge or shoulder of the road. Motorists often don’t notice bicycles and when they do little regard is shown for their equal rights to use the streets and roadways. Since 1984, the California accident attorneys at  Zappettini & Bradley has pursued personal injury and wrongful death claims for clients injured in bicycle accidents throughout Sacramento and other portions of Northern California.

Sacramento Bicycle Accident Lawyer

California is the deadliest state in the nation for bicycle accidents.

If you are going to be killed by a car while riding a bicycle, there’s a good chance you are male, older than 20 and living in California. California had the most bicyclists killed of any state in 2012.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Zappettini & Bradley, serve Sacramento and the surrounding counties, and are dedicated to winning justice for cycling accident victims and their families. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident in the Sacramento area, call today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

The increasing popularity of cycling for both recreation and fitness has changed the demographics of those most at risk of serious and fatal injuries. Today, middle-aged men are most likely to be seriously injured or killed in a cycling accident. In fact, federal statistics show the average age of an accident victim is on the rise. In the last decade, the average age of a cyclist killed has increased from 36 to 40, while the average age of a cyclist injured as increased from 28 to 32.

Riders ages 45-54 have the highest fatality rate. In many cases, the accident victim is a family’s primary wage earner, adding to the emotional and financial consequences.

Injury Claims for Bicyclists in Sacramento

Many people are surprised to learn that bicycle accident victims, and even pedestrians injured by a motor vehicle, are entitled to recover insurance benefits for personal injuries under their own auto insurance policies. Auto insurance coverage may also be available for children involved in bicycle accidents, or those who are injured by vehicles under their parent’s car insurance policies. Insurance proceeds can be used to pay for medical bills and pain and suffering. Our Sacramento bicycle accident lawyers understand California motor vehicle accident laws, insurance policies, and how the applicable law may apply to your case.

You should know that California law provides bicyclists the same legal protections applicable to motor vehicles. Likewise, cyclists must follow the same rules of the road.

Statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that between 2000 and 2009, traffic crashes claimed the lives of a total of 7,053 pedalcyclists. The NHTSA defines pedalcyclists as “riders of two-wheeled non motorized vehicles, tricycles, and unicycles powered solely by pedals.” Traffic data also suggests that, while there is oftem more emphasis on safety during nighttime bike rides, 72 percent of the bicyclists and other cyclists who were killed in 2009 (630 individuals, or 1.9 percent of the traffic fatalities recorded nationwide) lost their lives in wrecks that occurred between 4 a.m. and 8 p.m.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 500,000 bike accident victims are admitted into the ER to be treated for their injuries on an annual basis. Statistical data also indicated that kids no more than 15 years old make up more than half (59 percent) of all bike accident-related emergency department visits.

bicycle accident attorney

Bicycle Safety on the Road

Riding your bike is a healthy way of getting around, saving money and doing your part to preserve the environment. Unfortunately, bike riding can be very dangerous. If you are an avid rider, it is important you understand not only how to stay safe on busy roadways, but also how you can protect your rights if you have been injured in a bicycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing.

Bicycle accidents can happen at any time. All bicyclists must do their part to prevent injury accidents. At the same time, motorists must also remember that they share the roadways with other vehicles such as motorcycles and bicycles. Perhaps the best way to prevent an accident is to ride defensively.

Our California bicycle injury law firm strongly recommends that a proper fitting bicycle helmet be used at all times no matter how short the ride to prevent a head or brain injury. If you are involved in an accident where you helmet hits the ground, replace the helmet even if there does not appear to be damage. We strongly recommend that your helmet be certified by ANSI or the Snell Memorial Foundation.

Another important safety consideration for cyclists is to always wear brightly colored clothing, especially during the day, dawn or dusk. Fluorescent colors increase a rider’s visibility. We also recommend to try to avoid riding a night. If you must ride or train at night, it is important to use a front light and flashing red rear reflector. Special clothing made with reflective tape should also be worn on night rides.

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

There are numerous ways in which a bicyclist can end up in a serious accident. Some of the common causes of bicycle accidents are as follows:

  • Failure on the part of a motorist to yield the right-of-way
  • Bike lane intrusion
  • Failure to stop at an intersection
  • Dooring; accidents where drivers open doors of parked vehicles directly in bikers’ path
  • Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Distracted drivers
  • Roadways with potholes or debris
  • Poor lighting
  • Dangerous roadway design

Most people understand the risk of driving under the influence of alcohol. Yet a surprising number of people are seriously injured or killed riding their bicycles while drunk. Nearly one out of four cyclists killed in 2010 had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit of .08/g/dl or higher. Accordingly, we urge you to never drink and ride a bicycle.

In other cases, we have assisted injured cyclists who have had accidents due to debris in the road, poorly maintained surfaces or other hidden defects. When this happens it is important that our attorneys and investigators immediately photograph the scene of the crash and obtain witness statements.

If you have been involved in a bicycle crash and you use a GPS device on your bicycle, you should immediately download all the relevant information such as the time, date, place, and speed at the time of impact. This could help prove your case in the event that a claim is filed. Modern bicycle computers provide evidence that can be used to help you win your case.

Numerous websites offer safety tips for cyclists and riders. A few of which we have found especially important in dozens of cases we have handled where bike riders are injured or killed:

Dawn and dusk are the most dangerous times to ride. Rising and falling sun makes motorist vision difficult and minimizes the effectiveness of cyclist safety measures to be conspicuous. Avoid riding during these hours if possible unless dedicated bike paths are available.

Headlights, red reflectors, light colored clothing, are a must to make riders as noticeable as possible.

All bicycles should have rear view mirrors and loud audible horns to enable operators to ride defensively.

Riding in groups, the larger the better, contribute to motorist awareness of riders.

Always yield to vehicles even if the road rules give the bicyclist the right of way; it’s a mismatch for any cyclist in contact with a multi-ton vehicle.

Helmets and protective clothing sometimes mitigate injury severity.

Bicycle design defects or manufacturing mistakes to frame, wheels, pedals and seats.

These are just some basics we have seen from experience. Avoid high-speed traffic and ride defensively. In the event of a serious injury preserve the bicycle and other physical evidence, which can be useful for accident reconstruction to establish motorist liability for negligence by a qualified personal injury attorney.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a bicycle accident that resulted from the negligence of another party, the Sacramento, California based personal injury attorneys of Zappettini & Bradley are here to help. For more information on how we can help, or to schedule a free case consultation with a Sacramento accident attorney today, call us at 916-457-5022 or contact us online.