There is nothing like riding a bicycle. Getting outside and exercising is good for your health and state of mind. However, records show that almost one-thousand bicyclists are hurt or killed in San Diego County each year in crashes with cars and trucks. Solo bicycle crashes, collisions between two bicyclists, crashes between pedestrians and bicyclists, and bicycle accidents were not counted.
In a study submitted to the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, cyclists were determined by investigating police officers to be at fault in slightly over one-half of the crashes between a bicyclist and an automobile. Bicycle advocates dispute this findings.
Most of these cases were violations of the right-of-way, where the bicyclist either cut in front of a car or decided not to stop at a stop sign or red light, according to Lt. Leonard Flake, an officer with more than 28 years of experience in investigating these accidents. There are times when both the driver of the vehicle and the cyclist share the blame. Every year, approximately ten cyclists are killed.
Bicyclist organizations have advocated legislation prohibiting automobiles and other vehicles from approaching more than three feet from the cyclist while passing. The motorist's excessive speed is indeed a factor in many bicycle accidents. When a bicyclist runs a red light, for example, excessive speed of the motorist is often a contributing factor. The main factor seems to be the challenge of safely sharing the roadway. Roadways have been designed and built with cars in mind in San Diego. Urban planners and transportation engineers are trying to encourage people to ride bicycles to reduce greenhouse emissions. Separate spaces for walking and bicycle riding is one solution to the safety problem. But while only one-percent of people actually ride a bike, ten percent of all fatalities in the U.S. involve a bicycle rider. Guess who is the injured or deceased person when the bicyclist is struck by a truck, for example? You guessed it; the bicyclist.
A seasoned investigating officer will look for known patterns of crashes. He or she will take statements from the parties and any witnesses. Evidence of the point of impact will be made at the scene. Factors of time, distance, and speed of the driver and bicyclist will be determined, if possible. The investigating officer must often rely on experience and special training. Keep in mind that the bicyclist has the same right to the road as does the driver of the vehicle. Most of the rules of the road under the California Vehicle Code apply to bicycles. Yet the fact remains that the bicyclist is highly vulnerable to injuries and death. It is advisable to wear the best helmet that you can afford. The law does not require bicyclists 18 years or older to wear a safety helmet, although those under 18 must.
It is very common to see traumatic brain injuries in my practice. Even if a helmet is worn, the cyclist oftentimes is either struck by the other vehicle, or ends up hitting the pavement with a great deal of force.
It is not unusual for the motorist to have limited liability coverage under his automobile insurance policy or none at all. This is where Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage is essential. The Medical Payment portion of your liability insurance is nice to have.
The investigating officer's opinion as to who is at fault is inadmissible in court in the state of California. His or her observations, measurements, and photographs are admissible as evidence. The officer will often refer to his or her police report during testimony. Use your smartphone camera to obtain photographs of skid marks and other important evidence such as damage to the vehicle. There may also be a dangerous condition of public property involved. You have only six calendar months to serve a Notice of Government Claim against the correct state, city, or county agency involved. You have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injuries.
It is best to retain an experienced bicycle lawyer who can retain a private investigator to conduct an independent investigation. You may also need a referral; to the appropriate medical specialists to document your injuries and provide state of the art medical care and treatment. Certainly photograph your bruises and contusions. Inform the paramedics and police officer of all of your injuries. At the Emergency Department go from head to toes on your symptoms. Note whether you have lost consciousness, are nauseous, dizzy, have a headache, or have trouble remembering events clearly either before or after the accident. Many traumatic brain injuries persist. You may need an MRI of your shoulder, knees, back, or neck. If the doctor suspects a brain bleed, a CT scan is used. Later, a strong field MRI of the head with brain injury protocols may detect axonal nerve tract injuries in the brain. Neuropsychological testing may also reveal loss of concentration, memory, or other mental and emotional injuries that subtle though they may be, could persist for more than a year-and -one half.
Only an experienced bicycle lawyer can adequately represent you to obtain the best result in your case. We have over thirty five years experience in the investigation, settlement and trial in such cases. We are available to help you or a loved one. We currently have several bicycle cases.