A recent study from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that more Americans, primarily middle-aged and older men, are riding bicycles than in previous decades. In the face of the United States’ obesity and energy crises, this is a great thing. But with more Americans riding bicycles, more Americans are falling victim to collisions and other types of bicycle accidents, suffering injuries as a result. These injuries range from fairly minor, such as sprains and small cuts, to major and even life-threatening. From 1998 to 2013, the frequency of bicycle injuries per 100,000 adults increased by 28 percent from 96 to 123. Hospitalizations following bicycle injuries increased by 120 percent, from 5.1 per 100,000 adults to 11.2.
In many cases, an accident is not entirely the bicyclist’s fault. The bicyclist might hold some of the responsibility for an accident or be completely innocent, injured by another party’s negligence. In any case where a bicyclist is injured partially or wholly because of another party’s negligence or reckless behavior, that bicyclist may possibly seek monetary compensation for injuries through a personal injury claim. This type of claim is typically an insurance claim filed with the negligent party’s insurance provider, seeking coverage for economic losses associated with the victim’s injury. These losses can include his or her hospital bills, doctors’ visits and medication costs, lost wages due to time spent out of work, and any necessary disability aids he or she might need temporarily or permanently, such as a mobility scooter.
California Bicycle Accident Statistics
California’s perpetually mild weather and varied landscapes make it ideal for bicyclists. But accidents can happen in even the most ideal settings. Between 2010 and 2012, California was the number one state for bicycle accident fatalities, with 338 cyclists losing their lives in collisions with motor vehicles. Behind California came Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas. During this two-year window examined by the Governors Highway Safety Association, more than half of bicycle accident fatalities in the United States occurred in these six states. Although one might assume that a significant portion of these fatality victims were children, the truth is 84 percent of American bicyclists killed in car collisions in 2012 were over the age of 20; 74 percent were male.
Staying Safe on a Bicycle
There are many ways bicyclists can minimize their risk of being involved in collisions and other accidents. Some accident prevention methods include:
- Obeying all posted traffic signs and signals. This is especially critical for bicyclists who ride in the street, rather than on the sidewalk;
- Learning proper hand signals for each type of turn and using them;
- Adapting riding style to the terrain and weather conditions. This can mean changing gears to better handle a dirt path, wearing reflective clothing when riding at night, slowing down when riding in wet conditions, and taking turns slowly and safely;
- Riding with the flow of traffic, not against it;
- Being wary of all pedestrians, other bicyclists, cars and other motor vehicles, and animals present in the area where the bicyclist is riding; and
- Supervising children when riding bicycles with them.
Bicyclists who wear helmets and other protective gear when riding can minimize the extent of the injuries they sustain in the event of an accident. In California, all bicyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets. Children under age five who are riding bicycles as passengers must also wear helmets.
Drivers can also take steps to avoid collisions with bicyclists on California roadways. As a motorist, never take your eyes off the road while your car is in motion. Be mindful of bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists and always give them ample space on the roadway. If you witness a bicycle accident, call 911 immediately to have law enforcement and emergency medical personnel sent to the scene.
Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorneys
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you should contact an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney to develop and pursue a strong claim for potential monetary compensation. For legal guidance, you can trust a team that knows California personal injury law, contact Martinez & Schill LLP today at 951-200-4630 to schedule your free legal consultation with our firm.