Over time, cycling has increased in popularity as a healthy and cheap option of transportation in California. Unfortunately, California also records a significant number of bicycle crashes every year. As per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, there were a hundred and forty-seven bicycle accident-related deaths in California in 2016, happening for different reasons. These were the highest recorded number of deaths in the whole country.
Bicycle collisions may result in life-changing injuries that would need rehab and additional medical care. You may also be incapable of returning to work due to the injuries you sustain from the accident. After being in a bike crash, it is critical to talk to a lawyer and determine your legal options for seeking compensation that could help you pay for these expenses. If you are in Orange County and have been involved in this kind of accident, attorneys at the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney are at your service to help you. We will evaluate your case to determine if you have a legal claim. And if you do, we will fight for you till the end and ensure you get just compensation. There are many reasons why bicycle accidents occur in Orange County. This article explains these reasons in detail.
Our attorneys have observed that the majority of bicycle-related accidents can be avoided if motorists acted more responsible and were more cautious of their environments. Distraction is one of the leading causes of car crashes, as well as collisions involving cyclists.
For instance, a driver may knock your bike if he/she is checking emails or text messaging while driving. A distracted driver is less likely to notice bicyclists in time and avoid collisions. They are also most likely to swerve between lanes and engage in other erratic vehicle driving behavior.
Also, drivers that are eating, fidgeting with the radio, or applying makeup will most likely hit cyclists. Distracted driving elevates the danger of severe cycling crashes, particularly if the bicyclist is crossing the vehicle’s path at the time when the motorist isn’t paying attention.
Drugged or Drunk Driving
Accidents that happen due to drugged or drunk-driving may involve both motorists and cyclists. Prescription medications, alcohol, and marijuana impair the driver’s or cyclist’s ability to drive. Impaired motorists cause bicycle-related accidents in Orange County and the whole of California for failing to yield the right of way to cyclists. The motorists are also most likely to speed, increasing the danger of a collision.
Flaws in a bike may present hidden dangers which the cyclist can’t discover until it’s too late. Defects can occur due to serious mistakes in the bicycle design or the design of one of its components. Or, they may also arise because the bicycle was improperly manufactured. These defects may, in turn, result in crashes. Safety equipment may also develop faults that can prevent them from functioning correctly in the course of a collision. Usually, defects lead to recalls of the product in question, in this case, the bicycle. A bike can be recalled for several reasons. For instance:
- Brake failure
- Cracked or defective carbon fiber frame
- Fork failure
- Defective tires
- Incorrect assembly or materials
- Failure to meet safety standards
- Flaw on quick-release hubs on the front wheel
Cyclists need to have helmets that are correctly fitted and are free of cracks or other flaws. They should replace their helmets if they’ve hit the ground or other objects in the cause of an accident. A helmet that has protected the cyclist in a collision may seem to be intact, but it might be compromised and won’t offer protection anymore.
Dooring happens when a vehicle occupant opens the car’s door without ensuring it is safe doing so. Bicyclists cycling alongside the vehicles will then have no or little time to react. This might result in an accident that could lead to long-lasting injuries. For instance, the cyclist can be thrown off their bike and get severely injured in case a car door opens in front of them without warning.
Dooring crashes happen mostly in urban settings, in bike lanes. They are more common when vehicles park parallel to each other along the streets. Note that even a cyclist that is cycling along the bicycle lane or the right-hand side of the roadway legally may get injured in this type of accident.
This kind of accident is difficult for bicycle riders to prevent, beyond merely giving space and slowing down when they are cycling past cars parked in a line, and making themselves visible to motorists by putting on bright-colored clothes, ringing the bike’s bell, and using a lighter.
However, the duty is entirely on vehicle drivers to always check the rearview mirror of their autos before opening the doors of their cars. California law even reflects this obligation, although that does not stop most motorists from carelessly opening the doors of their cars into bicycle traffic. Should you get doored, know that the law favors you. You should proceed to pursue a claim to have your damages and injuries covered.
Right & Left Turns at Intersections
A right-hook collision can happen when an automobile makes a right turn right in front of a cyclist who is riding in a straight line. These kinds of accidents take place commonly because the motorist failed to see the bicyclist. For the courts to determine liability, they will consider the amount of time that passed between the vehicle passing the bicyclist and the car making a right turn, among several other factors.
On the other hand, a left-hook accident can happen when a motorist makes a left turn in front of a cyclist at an intersection. When making the turn, the driver can hit the bicyclist approaching from the other direction. These kinds of collisions are often a result of the driver failing to yield the right-of-way or when a motorist misjudges the bicyclist’s speed.
Drivers are most likely to knock you over while you are riding in places that have poor visibility. Poor visibility areas are those that might have a significant number of blind spots or poor lighting.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Even though most of the common reasons why bicycle accidents occur in Orange County involve collisions with drivers, it is not always other vehicles that cause these accidents. A bicyclist can crash and sustain severe injuries all by himself/herself.
Dangerous conditions of roadways make it unsafe for bicyclists that are cycling around at high speeds with little protection gears. Orange County streets are full of dangerous obstacles that could lead to cyclists falling. The predominating obstacles include utility hole covers, muni tracks, and potholes. Trolley or railroad tracks and sewer grates are also hazardous since the bike tire can get stuck and make the bicycle rider veer into approaching traffic or fall off the bike. With the wet conditions of our cities, these daily hazards might be even riskier since they become harder to notice and more slippery.
For you to avoid a crash, try hitting these obstacles head-on at all times, and not at any angle. Also, do not engage the brakes while you are riding on slippery road surfaces. The more steady and direct you will be, the most likely you’re to ride across the obstacle safely.
While you may think that the public or government agency liable for maintaining the roadways would always take the blame for injuries caused by dangerous conditions of the road, they generally have a given degree of immunity. They might not be held accountable where an ordinary individual would be to blame.
Being Pushed Off or Sideswiped Off the Roadway
Whether it’s accidental or intentional, being pushed off the roadway by a vehicle is a terrifying and common kind of collision for bicyclists in Orange County. This accident commonly takes place at red lights, when a bicyclist is waiting on the bicycle lane on the right-hand side of a vehicle that’s waiting to make a right turn.
The moment the lights turn green, and the bicyclist begins cycling forward, the vehicle turns right without paying attention to the cyclist and ends up crashing into him/her. For you to prevent this from happening, you have to ensure you are noticeable to the motorist close to you while you are at the red light. You can ensure visibility by making eye contact, waving, etc., so the driver knows that you’re at the spot before they begin turning. Or, you could stop your bicycle a little far away back and allow the car to make a right turn when the lights turn green before you can start cycling forward.
Getting pushed off the roadway is a specific concern on Orange County’s busy streets whereby delivery vehicles and rideshare cars often use the bicycle lanes as parking spots. As bicyclists ride lawfully in the bicycle lanes, they must be on a continuous watch out for autos merging into them unlawfully and with no warning.
These sudden bike crashes are difficult to avoid. However, if possible, any step you can take to get the driver to notice you and let them know that you are also there will help to keep you safe. In case a vehicle is merging your direction, and the driver does not notice you, try slowing down quickly and ride out of the way without placing yourself in further danger.
Side Street and Driveway Intersection Accidents
This form of crash frequently occurs in Orange County, and unluckily, it usually has severe consequences for the involved cyclist. One minute you are cycling along the bicycle lane, the next minute, a vehicle approaches out of nowhere from a side street or driveway, and, in the process of cutting you off, it drives right into you.
Like being doored, this type of collision isn’t your fault. It’s the duty of the motorist merging into traffic to do so only when it’s safe. For you to help in avoiding this form of accident, you have to slow down any time you are nearing a driveway or side street, particularly the ones that are on your right side where you’re most vulnerable.
Failing to Yield the Right-of-Way to Cyclists
Pedestrians, bicyclists, buses, commercial vehicles, and cars ought to all share the roadway safely. But, for this to happen, it needs everybody to be mindful of the safety and space of everybody else. Unfortunately, most drivers still decline to acknowledge the rights of cyclists to use the road.
Most accidents take place when motorists merely fail to allow bicyclists their right-of-way and safe space. Provided you’re adhering to the rules and regulations of the roadway, any motorist that causes an accident that involves you is to blame.
We recommend that you always obey the law of the road yourself. Failure to do so, you may end up being partially or even fully responsible for the collision too. The more careful and predictable you are when riding, the easier it is for motorists to drive around you safely. When possible, be in communication with those drivers that are around you. This will help to maintain your safety on your bicycle. Wave, ring the bicycle bell, make use of hand signals, and make eye contact to show them where you are going.
Failure to Obey Traffic Control Devices
Drivers that do not stop upon reaching a stoplight or sign are a risk to everybody around them. It’s reasonable for cyclists to expect cars to leave the way for them, but they also should never presume that the motorist will always do so.
Speed also plays a role in many collisions, including those that involve cyclists. Even though bicycle riders don’t cycle at the speed of vehicles, this does not mean that they should cycle as fast as possible. On the other hand, drivers that are hurrying somewhere have little time to react to situations on the road, and this may be catastrophic for the unsuspecting bicyclist.
Severe injuries and sometimes deaths can be associated with the travel speed of a cyclist or driver. Other autos on the roadway, road conditions, weather conditions, and road terrain are all factors that should be considered when determining a safe travel speed while riding.
Cyclists should avoid cycling in torrential downpours, ice, snow, and hail. These adverse weather conditions can be the cause of bicycle-related accidents. Additionally, usually, rush hours coincide with when the sun’s in the ideal position to blind motorists with a glare in case they’re driving into the sun. Cyclists that get caught in a rainstorm are also less visible to oncoming motorists. They should put on reflective clothes or have a light that will help make known their presence.
Cycling doesn’t excuse anyone from acting responsibly and riding safely. Several collisions involve cyclists that are evidently to blame for the crash. For instance, bicyclists that make sudden movements into the path of cars, those who fail to make themselves noticeable, run stop lights or stop signs, or act aggressively put themselves at the danger of being involved in an accident. They may also place other bicyclists at risk if cycling in a group.
Cycling Close to a Lane of Vehicle Traffic
Motorists ought to leave, at the minimum, three feet from the widest point of their car and the bike. They should give cyclists at least three feet of space when riding in one lane. Bicyclists need not assume that autos will leave for them much space to ride their bicycles safely. It can be much safer to ride on a sidewalk or shoulder lane than on the right-hand edge of a road. It is also critical to be aware of which stretches of the freeway and highway prohibit bicyclists.
Weaving Through Traffic
Motorists weaving through traffic will less likely see the bicyclists that are sharing the roadway with them. Additionally, they will less likely be capable of making evasive maneuvers to avoid crashes. Also, weaving drivers often drift outside of the traffic lanes and find themselves onto the bicycle and shoulder lanes.
Unsafe Changing of Lanes
Even if a motorist isn’t weaving through traffic, making unsafe lane changes could still be extremely hazardous. Bike accidents that involve the unsafe changing of lanes are generally caused by drivers merging into bicyclist’s lanes without first watching out to make sure the lane is safe and clear.
The risks of operating a vehicle while tired are broad. The risks are similar to those of driving while intoxicated. However, research has shown that the dangers of these two are the same in terms of severity. Drivers that go out late, out early, or attempting to reach home after having a long day of working could be at an increased risk of causing severe collisions.
Drivers Turning into the Path of Bicyclists
This is one of the leading reasons why bicycle accidents happen. Usually, this scenario occurs when a motorist overtakes a cyclist and unexpectedly slows down to make a turn, placing the car directly into the cyclist’s path. In almost all instances like this, auto drivers assume there is enough time and space for the bicyclist to slow down and prevent him or herself from crashing into them. Often, motorists even confess to not having seen the bicyclist at the roadside, and hence they didn’t see the reason they should have taken any precautionary measures.
Measures to Take to Avoid Bicycle Accidents
Apart from knowing the common causes of bicycle accidents, a bicyclist in Orange County can prevent bicycle collisions by practicing particular safety precautions. The different tips for riding safe include:
- When cycling along a line of vehicles on the roadway, do so with caution. You can avoid dooring crashes by cycling three feet away from the parked autos. If there isn’t enough space for bicycles and automobiles, take the lane so that cars drive around you. You’ve got the right to take up as much space as it is necessary to prevent hazards.
- Obey all roadway laws, including traffic lights and stop signs.
- Never assume that you got the right-of-way at turns or intersections. Double-check at all times and presume that the cars might not adhere to the rules.
- Take note of an auto slowing down when it’s approaching an intersection from any given direction. The vehicle could be slowing down in preparation to make a turn.
- Be on the lookout for slow down and turn signals if possible. It will help you prevent a right-hook accident.
- Use bicycle lanes when possible
- Be on the lookout to avoid roadway hazards
- Always make use of hand signals before turning, changing lanes, or stopping. Doing this will let the motorists behind you be aware of what you are doing.
- Follow all bicycle light rules to make sure other road users can spot you. This is particularly critical at night. The laws in California require the use of reflectors or multiple lights for cycling during the night.
- Boost your visibility, especially when riding at night by putting on bright clothing.
- Always put on a helmet. It will help protect you from brain injury.
Find an Experienced Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Even though a bicyclist may not be capable of avoiding all bike-related accidents, understanding the reason why they happen can help you to avoid being knocked over, even if the driver would’ve been entirely to blame. In most cases, bicycle-related crashes and injuries arise due to the negligence of motorists. Thus, it is only fair that the careless driver and any other party involved pays for their mistakes by assuming the responsibility to compensate you fully for your injuries, losses, and damages. If you are involved in a bike-related crash in Orange County for any particular reason, you should reach out to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyers at Orange County Personal Injury Attorney understand the different bicycle accident causes and will legally represent you in fighting to seek compensation. Call us at 714-876-1959 for a free consultation or to share the details of your case.