Sacramento is a wonderful city for bike riders and enjoys a well-earned reputation as a bike-friendly city. With large numbers of cyclists on the road comes the added potential for accidents involving bikes. While not every cyclist follows the traffic laws pristinely, most of the time, an accident involving personal injury is the fault of inattentive or hostile drivers.
Sacramento has taken steps for safe cycling in the city, with ample bike lanes in highly-trafficked areas. California has installed legal remedies for when things go wrong. A bike rider injured by someone else’s actions or negligence has legal recourse to seek compensation.
The Hazards Motorists Pose to Cyclists
Avid cyclists, whether hitting the road for business or pleasure, know the threats that may await them on any given ride. Sacramento drivers have been ranked as some of the worst in the country in recent years. A swelling number of cars on the road and a noticeable decrease in traffic enforcement measures have led to too many drivers who are a hazard to themselves and others, especially cyclists who don’t have the protection of a steel frame around them.
Often a driver who hits a cyclist has a common story they stick to. “I never saw them.” This leads to cyclists being forced to be on the defensive against vehicles:
- Making sudden right turns across the bike lane.
- Turning left in front of a cyclist.
- Pulling out without using mirrors or visual checks.
- Blowing through a red light or rolling through a stop sign.
- Drifting over the line into the bike lane or onto the shoulder.
- Hugging the bike lane close enough to clip a rider with the passenger-side mirror.
- Opening the door of a car parked on the street without checking if it may strike or obstruct a cyclist.
The risk factors increase if the driver of the car is fatigued or impaired. Field of vision and reaction time being hampered creates a perilous set of circumstances that magnifies some of the poor decision-making or outright negligence causing a cycling accident.
While those instances of distracted or inattentive behavior are bad, there are even worse cases where drivers display aggressiveness and hostility toward cyclists. Bike riders face the threat of being run off the road, bumped from behind, or even having objects thrown at them.
In any instance, it’s common for the driver of the car to make excuses for why the cyclist was actually at fault. Muddying the water in a civil case, especially when there are no other witnesses, is a common method of preemptive defense used at the accident scene and repeated right through every phase of the legal process. A committed team of professional Sacramento personal injury lawyers can cut through exaggerated accusations and demonstrate who was really at fault.
Reasons to File a Lawsuit After an Accident
If you are a cyclist who has been in an accident, your first thought may be to move on and put the incident behind you, especially if you don’t immediately experience significant pain. It’s important to remember that after an accident, your adrenaline is elevated, and the full extent of your injuries may not be apparent for hours or days.
In addition to the injury, California law permits a cyclist who has been in an accident to seek compensation for:
- Damage to the bicycle.
- Wages lost due to missing work from injuries.
- Medical bills, including ongoing rehabilitation if necessary.
The driver’s insurance company will likely move quickly to try and settle for as little money and the shortest ongoing commitment as possible. Don’t be in a rush to settle without consulting an attorney first.
Driverless Causes of Bicycle Accidents That Could Result in a Lawsuit
Not all bicycle accidents involve a car. Roadways in disrepair that a motor vehicle cruises over with a minor bump can be a hazard for a cyclist. Some of these threats on otherwise suitable roadways include:
- Warped sidewalks presenting uneven surfaces
- Poorly maintained gravel
- Raised asphalt
- Cracks in cement
Private property with a right of way, commercial property, and even roadways maintained by the government could be worthy of a lawsuit if it results in personal injury.
Public roads allowed to slip into disrepair are a particularly disappointing hazard that cyclists encounter. The wear and tear on roadways caused by a bicycle are significantly less than the toll from cars and heavier vehicles. The cyclists pay taxes for roads to be kept up just like drivers do.
Government entities around California have had to contend with several lawsuits over the years because roads have become too dangerous and caused cyclists to be injured or killed. In many instances, the hazard was previously reported and documented but went unaddressed due to budget cuts or bureaucratic backlog. An injured cyclist shouldn’t have to pay for these mistakes but rather should be compensated for suffering an injury from them.
In rarer cases, a pedestrian could be the cause of a personal injury cycling accident. Some of the actions that could merit filing suit include:
- Failure to control their dog
- Looking at a mobile device while walking
- Using headphones that diminish awareness of nearby cyclists
- Stepping into a bike lane without looking both ways
Don’t Forget to Protect Yourself on a Bicycle
Knowing your legal rights and options for remedies through California personal injury law is important, but your first priority as a cyclist still needs to be for your own safety. Keep yourself safe and remove the excuses potential defendants can use to blame you for an accident.
Anytime you hit the road, make sure to have the proper helmet and safety equipment, monitor the physical quality of your bike, especially brakes and tire pressure, and be prepared for the day’s weather and with proper gear for night riding if you’ll be out past sundown.
Pick a Winning Legal Team
Guenard and Bozarth, LLP are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to litigating bicycle accident cases. Our team has a proven track record of success in getting the compensation our clients deserve when injured in an accident. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a cycling accident, contact us.