Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP
Treating California’s Injured With Dignity And Respect
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Recovery After A Bicycle Accident

The San Francisco Bay Area has beautiful and stunning landscapes, diverse topography and great weather, making it an ideal destination for cyclist.  Unfortunately, even the most vigilant and safe bicycle riders can be involved serious cycling accidents.  In fact, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), more than 100 bicyclists are killed and more than 10,000 are injured in collisions each year in California.

If you or your family member was injured or killed in a bicycling accident, you need an experienced motor vehicle vs. bike accident  injury lawyer to obtain the resources you’ll need to make a recovery.

Each year, bicyclists from around the state pay for and participate in organized bike rides such as 100-mile Century Rides.  Often these events require riders to sign a release.  Even if participants sign a release, this does not absolve race organizers from their duty to provide safe conditions for participants.  Further, releases may be poorly written or practically illegible and, as a result, may not be enforceable.  Thus, just because you or your loved one signed a release, does not mean that you cannot successfully advance a case.

It is important to be familiar with the laws that apply to bicycles.  The law in California requires a driver passing a bike to give at least 3 feet of clearance between any part of the vehicle and any part of the bike or the person riding it.  If 3 feet of clearance is not available due to road or traffic conditions, the driver must slow down and pass only when safe to do so.  Note that drivers are prohibited from crossing a double yellow centerline to pass another vehicle or bike on a two-lane road.

Some additional laws that apply to bicycles include:

  • Bikes moving as fast as traffic can ride anywhere in the lane of travel
  • Bikes moving slower than traffic can “take the lane” if the lane is not wide enough for the bike and a vehicle safely side-by-side
  • Bikes must ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable unless passing, preparing for a left turn, avoiding hazards, if the lane is too narrow to share, or if approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. (Vehicle Code section 21202)
  • Bikes moving slower than traffic must use a bike lane, if available, except when making a left turn, passing, avoiding hazardous conditions, or if approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. (Vehicle Code section 21208)
  • Bikes must ride on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic, except when passing, making a left turn, riding on a one-way street, riding on a road that is too narrow, or when the right side of the road is closed due to road construction. (Vehicle Code section 21650)
  • No stopping or parking on a bike path (Vehicle Code section 21211)
  • No riding bikes on freeways (Vehicle Code section 21960)
  • Local municipalities control whether bikes may ride on sidewalks (Vehicle Code section 21206)

Holding Negligent Drivers Accountable For Bike Collisions

Whether on an intense training ride, a Sunday afternoon leisure ride, or a commute ride to work, accidents can happen.  Collisions involving bicyclist are most often the cause of poor visibility (i.e., motor vehicle operators not seeing cyclists).  Bicyclists can be struck by vehicles when drivers make a right turn without first carefully checking a blind spot, pull out of driveways without looking for oncoming bicycle traffic, or drive into intersections without looking.  Open-door accidents involving cars parked along the street can also cause serious injury.

In addition to the negligent actions of motorists, cyclists face issues of products liability involving imperfect welds, wheel failure, or accidents caused by poorly designed or maintained roads.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a cycling accident during an organized event or a leisurely ride, call 415-421-7995 or email us to set up an appointment with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. We offer free initial consultations to those injured within the San Francisco Bay Area or broader Northern California region.

Some examples of Cycling Accident cases ASW has handled include:

Cycling Accident Cases

Cyclist v. Truck

Bicyclist struck by large truck in Presidio and suffered serious injuries

While riding his bike in the Presidio in San Francisco, a large tractor trailer truck operated by an employee of S&S Trucking made a left turn and struck our client, causing him serious injuries.  The collision occurred at the Doyle Drive Construction Project, and no flagger controlled the intersection where the collision occurred, as was required.

Cyclist v. Transit Authority

 Bicyclist lost control when bus drove too close to him, causing serious injuries

During a morning bike ride with friends, our client was forced to veer into a fellow cyclist when an Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority public bus failed to provide adequate space as it passed on the left.  The collision rendered our client’s bicycle instantly inoperable, causing him to crash and sustain multiple serious injuries.

Since the time of this case, California passed the Three Feet for Safety Act, California Vehicle Code section 21760, which requires that drivers maintain a minimum 3-foot buffer when passing a bicyclist.

Cyclist v. Driver – $1,850,000

 Cyclist suffered TBI and spinal injury when struck by car making a right turn.

$1,850,000 for a cyclist was struck by a car while riding his bike in a marked bike lane in Atherton, San Mateo County.  The driver of the car was not paying attention and made a right turn directly into the bicyclist, who suffered a concussion and two fractured vertebrae.  The bicyclist’s Strava data provided evidence that he rode at a reasonable speed at the time of the collision.

Cyclist v. Town of Truckee

Bicyclist crashed and died after losing control of his bike at the bottom of a long downhill when he rode through a sinkhole that should have been repaired by the Town of Truckee

Our firm represented the surviving wife of a 57-year-old bicyclist who hit a large sinkhole in a bike lane at the bottom of a long downhill from Donner Summit on Old Donner Pass Road, a popular bike route in Truckee, causing him to lose control, fall hard onto the roadway and suffer a fatal head injury despite wearing a helmet.  Due to its location and the lighting, the sinkhole was nearly impossible to see in advance.  The Town of Truckee had painted the fog line striping through the depression in the pavement prior to the incident and should have discovered and remedied the dangerous condition caused by rodents that built a nest below the pavement.

Cyclist v. Driver – $750,000

 Bicyclist suffered cervical fractures, a disc bulge and torn ligaments in his knee when struck by a car

While riding his bike on Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino, Santa Clara County, our client sustained several cervical fractures, a C5-6 disc bulge and torn ligaments in his left knee when a car traveling in the opposite direction made a left turn directly into the left side of him and his bike.  The 80-year-old driver admitted that he saw the bicyclist but thought he could make his turn in front of the cyclist, who flew over the hood of the car, landed head-first on the pavement, cracking his bike helmet.  The case settled for $750,000.

Cyclist v. Driver

 Bicyclist suffered fatal injuries when pickup truck drove too close and struck him

Our firm represented the surviving son of a 55-year old man from Moraga, Contra Costa County, in a wrongful death case.  Decedent was riding his bicycle with a group of other cyclists around San Pablo Reservoir just north of Orinda on a route known as The Three Bears.  Decedent rode immediately adjacent to the fog line on the westbound downhill part of the route known as Papa Bear when a large pickup truck struck the bicyclist with its side mirror as it passed him.  The impact caused him to lose control of his bicycle and hit his head when he crashed to the pavement.  The cyclist died at the scene.  The defendant driver denied that he came near the cyclist and claimed that he did not even know there had been an accident until one of the other riders sprinted ahead and yelled at him to stop.