Cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transportation in California. Although cyclists make up less than 1% of total commuters across the United States, a concerted effort to create bike sharing programs, bike lanes, and pedestrian-friendly streets have started to show results in some cities.
In Davis, California, over 20% of all trips involve a bike, the highest share in the country. And, in Oakland, bike trips as a share of commutes has risen 40% in the past two decades after a targeted approach to make cycling safer. A new bicycle lane change law (AB 1909) to give bicyclists more room also went into effect Jan. 1, 2023, across California. It reads:
“Existing law requires the driver of a motor vehicle that is passing or overtaking a bicycle to do so in a safe manner, as specified, and in no case at a distance of less than 3 feet.”
Yet, the Los Angeles Times points out, “In a county where so much of life revolves around our cars, commuting by bicycle isn’t for the faint of heart.”
How many cyclists are injured in accidents?
Between 2011 and 2020, Los Angeles County registered 276 cyclist fatalities, the most of any US county. Across the state, over 100 bicyclists are killed and over 10,000 are injured in bicycle accidents each year, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
As a cyclist, you should be aware of the factors that can affect your compensation if you’re involved in an accident. This blog post will discuss five key variables that can influence the amount you may receive: medical expenses, lost wages, insurance coverage, comparative fault, and pain and suffering.
What factors can influence compensation for bicycle accident claims?
1. Medical expenses
Medical expenses are one of the primary factors affecting cyclist accident compensation. Injured cyclists often face substantial costs for emergency room visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, physical therapy, and ongoing medical care. These expenses can quickly add up, and it’s important to document all of your medical bills and related costs to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
2. Lost wages
Injuries sustained in a bicycle accident can force you to miss work, resulting in lost wages. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be unable to work for an extended period or even permanently. To recover these lost wages, you’ll need to provide evidence of your regular income and the amount of time you were unable to work due to your injuries. Your compensation may also cover future lost earnings if your injuries prevent you from returning to your job or pursuing your chosen career path.
3. Insurance coverage
California law requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, which covers bodily injury and property damage caused to others in an accident. However, this minimum coverage may not be enough to fully compensate you for your injuries and damages. If the at-fault driver is underinsured or uninsured, your compensation may be limited. In such cases, your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, if you have it, can step in to cover your losses. It’s essential to understand your insurance policy and the policies of other involved parties to determine the amount of compensation available.
4. Comparative fault
California follows a “pure comparative negligence” system, which means that your compensation can be reduced based on your percentage of fault in the accident. For example, if you’re found to be 30% at fault for the accident, your compensation will be reduced by 30%. It’s crucial to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you minimize your degree of fault and maximize your compensation.
5. Pain and suffering
Pain and suffering play a significant role in determining the compensation awarded to victims of bicycle accidents in California. Unlike tangible damages such as medical expenses and lost wages, pain and suffering encompass the emotional and psychological distress experienced by the injured party as a result of the accident. This can include physical pain, emotional trauma, anxiety, depression, and a diminished quality of life. In California, there is no fixed formula for calculating pain and suffering damages. Instead, the jury evaluates the severity of the injury, the impact on the victim’s daily life, and the victim’s prognosis for recovery to determine an appropriate compensation amount. As a result, pain and suffering can significantly increase the overall compensation awarded to a bicycle accident victim, depending on the specific circumstances of the case.
Penney & Associates Can Help
If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident, reach out to Penney & Associates for legal counsel. Our experienced team of injury lawyers is committed to providing the highest level of service so you can get the damages you deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation.
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