As more people hop on bicycles to escape then grind of gridlock’s, opportunities for bike related injuries will continue to rise.
And it’s a problem not isolated solely to bicycles colliding with cars. Poorly maintained city streets also pose significant hazards to cyclists, and have recently received added attention in Southern California thanks to media reports.
A September 6 Los Angeles Times article detailed the financial issues L.A. faces due to poorly maintained city streets.
The city has agreed to settle with a cyclist to the tune of $6.5 million. The bike rider filed a lawsuit after he hit a pothole in Sherman Oaks, lost control of his bicycle, and suffered several broken bones as well as a traumatic brain injury.
The article noted the city also recently agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle another accident case involving a man named Edgardo Gabat who was thrown from his bicycle after hitting uneven pavement. The 56-year-old died from his injuries. An experienced cyclist, Gabat was riding with a bicycle club through Eagle Rock.
“As the group moved west down a hill on Colorado Boulevard,” the Times noted, “Gabat struck a 2-inch ridge in the concrete and flipped three times over his handlebars, landing on his neck.”
Gabat’s family sued, claiming the city didn’t properly maintain the pavement, signs, or warn of irregular road conditions.
A Widespread Problem
A story produced this November 2017 by KCET suggests the problem of bicycle accidents in L.A. is widespread and getting worse. It was reported that the city has paid $20 million to injured bikers since last year, out of a total $60 million budgeted for all civil liability cases expected to occur in all of 2017.
But according to KCET, a local broadcast station, L.A. has already settled $100 million in civil payouts this year (a figure that includes bicycle and other accidents).
City Hall watchdog Eric Preven told KCET that L.A. might seek additional funding in the form of judgment obligation bonds to help cover its civil liability. Under this type of funding, the city would borrow money under unfavorable terms (the process is comparable to paying off debt with a credit card).
Multiple cyclists interviewed for the story, some of whom suffered significant injuries due to poorly maintained streets, noted that after their accidents, the city was slow to repair the causes of the crash.
Different Types of Accidents
When it comes to a dynamic urban environment involving moving vehicles and bicyclists, there are several different types of accidents that can occur. These can involve:
- Roadway and pothole issues
- Malfunctioning traffic equipment
- Hazards Not Marked with Cones or Other Safety Devices
- Driver Negligence/Distracted Driver
- Intoxicated Driver
- Improperly marked bike lanes
- Other Issues
Because so many factors must be considered in a bike accident situation, a good lawyer should be consulted. The good news is, the law offers clear protections for cyclists.
What the Law Says About Cyclists Riding on California Roads
In addition to looking for hazards in the road, there are many laws that cyclists must follow when riding on public highways. But it’s important to note, that under California Vehicle Code § 21200(a) bicyclists have the same rights as cars. The section of law states:
“A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division…”
Section 21202 of the vehicle code states that a cyclist riding on the highway slower than the normal speed of traffic “shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the road way except under any of the following conditions”:
- When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
- When preparing for a left turn at an intersection.
- When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions such as surface hazards or substandard width lanes.
When is it Time to Lawyer Up?
If you’ve been injured while riding a bike on a public street, either because of improperly maintained roadways, or driver negligence, it could be worth your time and effort to discuss the incident with a qualified personal injury attorney. The California Vehicle Code is complex, and there can be many different reasons as to why a person, or a municipality should be held responsible for a cyclist’s injury. A good personal injury attorney should be able to assess your situation and quickly determine the merits of your case.
Cyclists who have been injured and win their settlements can be eligible for compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and in some cases, punitive damages.
If you have questions about any of the issues discussed in this article, or some other issue dealing with personal injury, contact our office to see how we can help.