Southern California is a haven for cyclists with its clear skies, dry weather, diverse scenery, and natural variations in the terrain. Cycling has become a great form of exercise enjoyed by all ages with little-to-no impact on the environment.With this popularity comes the potential for more accidents involving bicycles with traffic, pedestrians, and road hazards.
As personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles, we want to educate cyclists in Southern California about the laws imposed upon cyclists and the liabilities in the unfortunate event of a bicycle accident.
Bicycle Laws in California
There is an important, and surprising, fact about California’s bicycle laws. Unlike motorists, cyclists can use a mobile phone while riding. Although the recommended safety tip is not to do so, there is no law in place that prohibits this act. A cyclist can be held liable if it is determined that their actions caused an accident or a dangerous situation, but not for the use of the phone as the sole charge.
Listed below are the laws a cyclist needs to be aware of when riding on Los Angeles roads.
- A cyclist must follow the same traffic laws as a motorist.
- Riding against the flow of traffic is illegal.
- Cyclists must ride closest to the right curb or edge when there is not a designated bike lane.
- Cyclists must remain in a designated bike lane if one is present.
- The permission to ride on sidewalks is determined at the local level.
- Cyclists may travel in a traffic lane if moving at the speed of traffic, if needing to pass another cyclist, or to avoid a hazard.
- Cyclists must yield to pedestrians.
- Cyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet, but there is no state law for a helmet requirement for adults.
- Earbuds, headphones, and other listening devices are allowed as long as one ear remains uncovered.
- All bikes, or cyclists’ clothing, must have a white light visible from 300’ in front and a red reflector or light in the back visible from 500’.
- All bicycles must be able to make a one-brake wheel skid on a dry, clean, and improved level surface.
The Liability in Bicycle Accidents
In accidents involving bicycles, California’s personal injury laws control. In accidents, there are three categories of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages are the monies expended by the injured party on expenses relating to the accident, like medical bills and lost wages. The value of economic damages are supported and proved by paid receipts, pay stubs, and any other documents evidencing payment. The repair and replacement costs of personal property are also within the economic damages category.
The value of non-economic damages is not based upon tangible evidence. These damages are the pain and suffering and the emotional stress experienced by the injured party.
Punitive damages can be awarded to punish the person responsible as opposed to compensating the injured party. It is rare for punitive damages to be awarded in bicycle accident cases unless malice and intent are proved.
The Negligence in Bicycle Accidents
The term “negligence” means the actions, or the lack of actions, by one causing injury to another. All members of the public using a roadway, or a sidewalk have a duty of care to those around them. Negligence, and the actions that cause an accident, are a breach of this duty of care.
However, California has a comparative fault system. Unless proven, this system does not maintain that an accident is caused by one person or party. In other words, an injured party could be responsible for some part of the accident.
The damage claim sought by an injured party could be reduced by the percentage of responsibility assessed to it.
It is imperative to retain a Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyer when the conditions of the accident are being evaluated and liability is being assessed.
The Statute of Limitations
In California, a personal injury claim must be filed in a state court within 2 years from the date of the accident. As with every rule and statute, there are exceptions, but these are specific and narrow. The 2-year period is the default.
If a claim is against a state or a local government entity, then an administrative claim must be filed first. This claim must be filed within 6 months of the accident. Once timely filed, the government entity has 45 days to respond. It must be understood that the 2-year and the 45-day periods are concurrent.
Ready to Take Action? Contact an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney in Los Angeles to Schedule a No-Cost Case Review
Have you or a family member been involved in a bicycle accident? At Los Angeles City Law, we are committed to skillfully employing our wealth of experience in pursuit of your claim’s optimal outcome. Our team is solution-focused and understands the hardships such claims can cause. We are here to help.