Whether you live in a bustling urban center and or a scenic rural area, chances are good that you’re going to encounter bicycles. From road racers to mountain bikers to people commuting on their fixed gears, bicycle riders are growing in number in nearly every part of the United States.
When it comes to the potential for bicycle accidents, vehicles are far more dangerous than potholes, unmarked roads or even rough weather. Being hit by a car is far and away the most common cause of bicycle accidents nationwide, accounting for almost 30 percent of traffic-related bicycle injuries.
Shockingly, research into hospital records shows that as few as ten percent of bicycle accident-related injuries are ever recorded by police. This shows that in most cases of bicycle accident injuries, the person responsible for the accident is never brought to justice.
How Bicycle Accidents Happen in San Diego
Even in states where bicycling is commonplace, there are far too many drivers who do not understand that bicycles, though they are count legally as pedestrians, have the right to share the road with cars.
When drivers fail to understand this, the consequences are grim. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, about two bicyclists are killed each day by crashing with a motor vehicle. Meanwhile, the number of bicycle crash injuries has been on the rise, with 50,000 bicyclists injured in accidents involving cars, trucks or other vehicles.
Bicycle accidents take a financial toll as well, costing over $4 billion per year in wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle damage, and employers’ uninsured costs.
Shockingly, the most common place for bicycle accidents to take place is in intersection crosswalks. This is all the more surprising since bicycles are not required by law to use crosswalks; in fact, some municipalities require bicyclists to walk their bikes through crosswalks, or else ride on the street.
Another common cause of bicycle accidents is road-related accidents. In this case, unclear road signage, poorly maintained roads, or obstacles left in the road may take bicyclists by surprise and cause them to crash. This is a frequent cause of mountain bike or trail bike accidents.
What to Do When You’ve Been in a Bicycle Accident
If you are a bicyclist who gets involved in a bike crash, especially with a motor vehicle, you may be too shaken or injured to think clearly. We recommend that you memorize the bike accident follow-up checklist below; better still, copy it and keep it on you when you ride your bike. While we hope you don’t ever need it, this list could be the key to protecting your rights as a bicyclist:
- Notify the appropriate law enforcement agency. A written accident report of the crash must be submitted by the law enforcement agency to the Department of Revenue under the following circumstances:
- Call 911 or else ask someone nearby to call. Notify the police of the accident and where you are. If you are hurt, ask them to send an ambulance.
- Do your best to note the license plate number of the car involved in your accident. Ask the motorist to provide ID and stay at the scene until the police arrive.
- If the driver leaves the scene of the accident, even if they offer you their information first, he/she is guilty of hit and run. In that case, you will need to provide a description of them to the police.
- Get the name, phone number, address, driver’s license number and license plate number of the motorist.
- If you can, write down or take pictures of your injury, the damage to your bike, the damage to the vehicle, and any marks or other damage on the road (such as skid marks or scratched lightposts). If your helmet was damaged, take a photo of that, as well.
- Ask any witnesses for their names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
- Get the name of the car owner’s insurance company and the policy number. If the driver doesn’t own the car, make sure you get insurance information on the vehicle AND the driver.
- When police arrive, request that they take an accident report.
- Be aware of your rights here. Not only do you have the right to have a report filled out if you ask for it, but a report is required if the crash involves serious bodily injury, death, or if more than $1,000 of total property damage occurs.
- Below that amount, a report is optional under the law, but you should insist that one be completed. The police officer may give you the form to fill out and send in the mail.
- Get the reporting officer’s name, badge number, and department or agency.
- Even if you didn’t request an ambulance, visit your physician as soon as possible after the accident. The most serious injuries in bicycle crashes are to the head, but these injuries sometimes do not manifest their full extent until much later. It is important to have your doctor examine you and check for possible long-term injury.
- Once your doctor releases you to go home, call a bicycle accident attorney. If your bike accident was the result of a driver’s negligence or a poorly maintained road, you may have the right to financial compensation to help with your recovery.
Find a Bicycle Accident Attorney in San Diego
The common lack of understanding about bicycle law can have devastating results for cyclists who end up in a bicycle accident. Even when you follow traffic laws and exercise caution, not only can you suffer injury from a negligent driver, but you may find that the driver and law enforcement blame you for the accident, even when you are clearly the victim.
Don’t let your rights suffer from a misinformed legal system. Call bike accident attorney Jordon Harlan to make sure that you receive justice. You should not have to bear the blame for an accident with a vehicle much bigger than you. Contact Jordon today to learn your legal options for seeking financial compensation for your bicycle accident.