Los Angeles county is one of the most bicycle-friendly counties in the United States, where thousands of people use bicycles for recreational as well as transportation purposes. Every year more bike lanes are created, which in turn creates more bicyclists thereby increasing the number of bicycle related accidents. Although some motor vehicle drivers do not seem to believe so, but bicyclists have the same rights as any motor vehicle driver. Over the years the number of bicycle related accidents has been increasing and the numbers of injuries and/or deaths caused by these accidents is staggering.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2013 alone, 743 bicyclists were killed in accidents with motor vehicles, which on average is about 2 people per day in the United States. Bicycle related accidents are responsible for over 2% of all deaths caused by traffic accidents.
Overall in the past ten years, the number of bicyclists injured and killed has been increasing. From 2001 to 2013, the number of bicyclist deaths has increased from 732 to 743, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, the number of bicyclist injuries has also increased from 2001 to 2013, from 45,000 to 48,0000 injuries.
Males make up 83% of all people that are being killed in a bicycle accidents. These fatalities usually occur in urban areas and after 6 pm. In 20% of bicycle deaths caused by a traffic collision, the bicyclists killed had a BAC above the legal limit.
The number of deaths resulting from a bicycle related accident in California is especially alarming. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, California leads the nation in the number of bicycle fatalities. With 141 deaths per year California is well ahead of the second placed Florida (48) and third placed Texas (48).
MOST COMMON BICYCLE ACCIDENT INJURIES
Injuries created by bicycle accidents tend to be more severe than most other traffic accidents, simply because bicyclist are very poorly protected from an accident with motor vehicles and crashes in general. In many instances a bicyclists are thrown over the handlebars and have very little control on how they land. In other instances, they are struck head on or “sideswiped” by a motor vehicle, which no doubt creates the most severe injuries and in many cases deaths of bicyclists. Although all California bicyclists are required to wear helmets and this law has certainly saved many bicyclists, there are still many bicycle related injuries that helmets cannot prevent. The most common bicycle accident injuries are:
- Head and Neck,
- Brain Injuries,
- Spinal Cord Injuries,
- Facial Injuries,
- Broken and Fractured Bones,
- Dental Injuries,
- Joint Dislocation,
HOW TO AVOID A BICYCLE ACCIDENT
Although most bicycle accidents are created by someone other than the bicyclist, there are still many accidents that could have been avoided with a little more caution from the bicyclists themselves. The following are some helpful tips on how to avoid a bicycle accident.
Always Wear Your Helmet – It’s the law in California and wearing it can be the additional factor that saves your life.
Avoiding Riding Your Bicycle at Night – Visibility for bicyclists is very limited at night compared to other motor vehicle drivers, simply because of lack of adequate lighting on bicycles versus automobiles. Additionally, other motor vehicle drivers do not see as well at night. These two factors results in you not seeing what is ahead of you, or another motor vehicle driver not seeing you, both of which can cause a serious bicycle accident.
Learn Hand Signaling – Using hand signals will not only save you from being involved in a bicycle accident, but it will also save you from not being cited by the Police, as using hand signaling is the law.
Avoid Wearing Dark Colored Clothes – The point is for you to be visible to other drivers. You may see them but many times they cannot see you. To be more visible wear bright colored clothes and avoid a bicycle accident.
Obey Traffic Rules – It’s the law! In California a bicyclist must obey the traffic rules as any other motor vehicle driver.
Do Not Ride on Sidewalks – It is against the law to ride your bicycle on a sidewalk. You may be issued a citation as sidewalks are intended for pedestrians.
Ride in the Same Direction as Other Traffic – Many bicyclists believe that they may ride in either direction of the traffic, which is wrong. Bicyclists must ride in the same direction as the traffic and not against it.
Avoid Riding Recklessly – Remember, you are only protected by your helmet and if involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, you will receive serious injuries as vehicles weigh tons of pounds. The odds are already against you, thus do not make them any worse by riding recklessly.
PROVING DAMAGES IN A BICYCLE ACCIDENT
As bicycle accidents result in some of the most severe injuries caused in all traffic accidents, it is important to know which damages you are entitled to and how to get compensated for those damages.
Personal Injury damages refers to the amount of money the injured party will receive as a result of the injuries caused by a negligent, intentional or reckless act of another. These damages are generally divided into two groups: special damages and general damages.
Special Damages are generally easier to calculate, as they are those financial losses suffered by the injured party as a result of the accident. They include:
Medical Expenses – This includes all medical bills incurred by the injured party as a result of the accident. These are bills generated by an Ambulance, Hospital, Chiropractor, Orthopedic Surgeon, Radiological facility, Physical Therapy, and any other medical bills generated as a result of the accident.
Loss of Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity – This includes all monies not earned, but would have been earned if the accident did not happen. In addition, these damages include compensation for all money that the injured party cannot earn in the future as a result of the accident. For example, a football player whose leg was amputated as a result of the accident can no longer play football and earn money playing football.
Repair and Replacement of Damaged Property – In a bicycle accident, this would be the value of the bicycle if it was completely destroyed by the accident. If not, then the amount of money it would cost to repair it, unless that amount is higher than the fair market value of the bicycle.
General Damages on the other hand are usually a little more difficult to calculate, although not difficult to prove. Most common types of general damages are: Pain and Suffering, Physical Disfigurement, Mental Anguish, Loss of Companionship, Physical Impairment and Lowered Quality of Life.
CHOOSING A WOODLAND HILLS ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
The severe injuries and deaths caused by these tragic bicycle accidents require a Woodland Hills Accident Attorney who will represent his clients and fight for them every step of the way. Negligent and reckless drivers and their insurance companies must be held accountable for their wrongdoing.