With its warm weather and stunning scenery, Los Angeles and the surrounding areas are very attractive to bicyclists. But with the many cars that travel on Los Angeles’ roadways each day, bicycling in the City of Angels can be quite dangerous as well. Even with proper protective equipment, a bicyclist involved in a motor vehicle accident is at risk of suffering severe, even fatal injuries. Statistics maintained by the California Office of Traffic Safety and other agencies like the National Transportation Safety Administration show that:
- There were 141 bicyclist fatalities in California in 2013;
- That same year, just over 700 bicyclists were killed throughout the United States (meaning California accounted for about one-seventh of all bicycle fatalities in the country that year); and
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that approximately 48,000 bicyclists were also injured in 2013.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in Los Angeles, you are likely facing significant financial expenses and a long recovery time. A bicycle accident lawsuit brought on your behalf by an experienced accident attorney can help you meet these expenses.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents can happen when a bicyclist takes too great of risks by weaving in and out of traffic or not obeying traffic control signs and signals. A bicyclist who does not wear proper protective equipment is also exposing him- or herself to needless risk of injury. But motorists can also negligently cause a bicycle injury by:
- Following a bicyclist too closely;
- Not looking before turning or changing lanes;
- Trying to cut off a bicyclist or passing a bicyclist without sufficient clearance (California requires motorists to give bicyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing or overtaking a bicyclist);
- Making sudden stops or turns without proper signals; and/or
- Opening the car door without first making sure there are no bicyclists approaching from behind.
Motorists in California should be well aware that they share the road with bicyclists. Some do not, however, and cause needless pain and injury to bicyclists.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
Even when a bicyclist wears proper protective equipment, he or she faces serious injuries from a bicycle crash. These injuries can include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (the risk of TBI increases dramatically if the bicyclist is not wearing a properly-fitted helmet or is not wearing a helmet at all);
- Spine and neck injuries;
- Broken bones;
- Groin or pelvic injuries;
- Cuts, lacerations, and “road rash”; and/or
- Scars and disfigurement.
After a bicycle accident, it is vital that you seek immediate medical treatment, even if you feel “okay.” Because of the great risk to serious injury from a bicycle accident, it is important to be examined promptly to ensure that you did not suffer any internal injuries which have not yet manifested outward symptoms.
Safety Tips for Bicyclists
Bicyclists can decrease the chances that they will be involved in a serious accident and minimize their risk of serious injury by taking a few commonsense actions:
- Always wear a properly fitted helmet: a poor fitting helmet or one that is not made to industry standards offers little to no protection.
- Wear highly visible clothing, especially if you ride at night.
- Make sure your bike is visible with reflectors and/or lights.
- Follow all traffic laws and control signals. Do not think you are above the law.
- Give vehicles plenty of room and do not travel in a vehicle’s blind spot.
- Use proper hand signals to indicate when you plan to sop and/or make a turn.
It is possible to enjoy a safe and pleasant bike ride around Los Angeles: you simply need to be prepared and put safety first. If you are injured in a bicycle accident, a Los Angeles bicycle attorney can help you recover compensation for your injuries.