If you have been in a bicycle accident in the Southern California area contact me today for a free case evaluation. I am an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney who works closely with every client to obtain the maximum amount of compensation possible.
What if a loved one is rear-ended on their bicycle?
Just like passenger vehicles, bicycles can be rear-ended by motor vehicles, but when there’s an impact, there’s no steel body around bicyclists with specially engineered crumple zones. There aren’t any restraint systems or air bags either. He or she is exposed to the possibility of severe injuries or death.
Common bicycle rear-end accident scenarios
A bicycle presents a much smaller profile in traffic than a passenger vehicle, so drivers are more likely to miss seeing them. One common scenario for a rear-end bicycle accident is when the bicyclist changes from the right lane of traffic to the left lane while preparing to make a left turn. At the same time, a vehicle that’s already in that left lane comes upon the bicycle in an instant, and it hits the bike’s rear tire. Another common scenario is the rear end strike at night. Along with other reflectors, California law requires bicyclists to have a red rear reflector on their bike that can be seen at a distance of 500 feet.
Rear-enders are serious at any speed
Rear-end accidents might be considered to be minor light impact collisions when they involve two passenger vehicles. For a bicyclist, this type of accident could be catastrophic or even fatal. The impact of a car or SUV will lift the rear wheel of the bicycle off the ground and propel the bicyclist forward onto either the pavement or another vehicle and then the pavement. If the vehicle’s speed is high enough, it can even run over the bicyclist. Common injuries suffered by bicyclists who have been rear-ended often include traumatic brain and/or spinal cord damage, facial fractures, severe dental damage, rib fractures, organ damage, Hand, or severe road rash and possible infection.
Proving negligence in rear-end bicycle accidents
Proving negligence in these types of cases isn’t as easy as it might seem. Your bicycle accident attorney has to prove negligence. They have to prove that the motorist had a duty to use due care when sharing the road with the bicyclist, the motorist breached that duty, that breach caused the injury and the cyclist suffered legally recognized damages.
Damages that can be claimed by a bicyclist who was rear-ended by a motor vehicle can be wide ranging. Those can include but aren’t limited to:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Funeral and burial expenses in a wrongful death case
The California Wrongful Death Act
About 300 bicyclists per year are killed in California as a result of collisions with motor vehicles. California’s Wrongful Death Act governs cases when a person is killed as a result of the negligence of somebody else. A wrongful death action isn’t criminal in nature. It’s a civil lawsuit for damages that’s ordinarily brought by the family members of a person who died in an accident. Because a death was involved, other damages in addition to those in a personal injury case can be sought.
When the motorist is uninsured or underinsured
Unfortunately, a large segment of the driving public in California either carries no auto insurance or the statutory liability insurance minimum of:
- $15,000 per injured person or fatality per person
- $30,000 total per injured person or fatality per accident
- $5,000 for property damage
That $15,000 is wholly insufficient if a bicyclist requires surgery to repair serious fractures. If the bicyclist owns a car and carries underinsured motorist insurance, he or she might be able to receive compensation for injuries through his or her own insurer. The same opportunity might be available through uninsured motorist insurance. Both ordinarily cover people who are residents of the insured person’s household who are family members. It usually even covers them as pedestrians.
Sometimes an injured person wasn’t using due care and caution for their own personal safety, and he or she was partially at fault in an accident. That’s when the law of comparative negligence is considered, and a percentage of fault is assigned to the injured person.
California is one of a minority of pure comparative negligence states. With pure comparative negligence, even if a claimant is 95 percent at fault, he or she can still be awarded damages.
If you are injured in a bicycle accident, don’t give a statement to the insurer of the driver who hit you. The law doesn’t require you to give one, and the insurer will only try to use the statement against you in the future. Preserve and protect your rights by calling us right away for a free consultation and case evaluation. Bicyclists have the right to compensation for damages caused by negligent motorists.
Allen Vaysberg practices personal injury law and works tirelessly to defeat the tactics of insurance companies and large corporations who try to deny justice and fair compensation to injured people.