Were You Injured In a Serious Bike Accident in San Francisco, CA?
With an ideal climate and a compact downtown, San Francisco is one of the most popular cities in the U.S. for beginner and experienced cyclists. A leader in tech and innovation, San Francisco actively promotes bicycle safety, but is no stranger to serious bicycle accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, and pedestrians. If you were involved in a serious San Francisco Bay Area bicycle accident, you may be feeling at a loss at what to do next. We are here to help you navigate this difficult situation.
We are a San Francisco personal injury firm specializing in auto accidents including bicycle accidents, car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, rideshare accidents, and workers’ compensation. Our mission is to help accident victims who have suffered severe injuries recoup their expenses and losses from the at-fault party. We maintain a 99% success rate and offer a free consultation to get to know you and your bike accident case.
Common Causes of San Francisco Bicycle Accidents
Most of the time, bicycle accidents are caused by negligent drivers. Drivers do not look for cyclists or provide them with enough space. However, there are times when a bicyclist might cause an accident if they fail to respect traffic laws. Below are some common causes of bicycle crashes in San Francisco, CA:
- Speeding: Speeding is a major factor in many bicycle accidents, as it reduces the reaction time and increases the impact force of a collision. Motorists should obey the speed limit and adjust their speed according to the road and weather conditions to avoid deadly crashes with cyclists.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving is a growing epidemic in the U.S., and has certainly been a factor in a number of bicycle accidents. Motorists who are texting or talking may not see a cyclist and cause an accident.
- Illegal turns/left turn accidents: Left-turn accidents are a huge risk for bicyclists. A driver who is turning left at an intersection may not see the cyclist and turn. In these cases, the cyclist almost always has the right of way.
- Sideswipe accidents: Drivers must leave at least three feet of space between them and a cyclist under California’s “Three Feet for Safety Act.” If a driver fails to do this, they may side-swipe the cyclist and cause serious injuries.
- Dooring: This type of accident occurs when a driver or passenger opens their car door without checking for cyclists approaching from behind. This can cause the cyclist to crash into the door or swerve into traffic to avoid it.
- Inclement weather: The Bay Area is known for its foggy weather, which can reduce visibility for drivers and cyclists alike. Cyclists should wear bright or reflective clothing and use lights and reflectors when riding in low-light conditions. Drivers should slow down and pay attention to their surroundings when visibility is poor.
- Roadway defects: San Francisco’s steep and winding streets can be dangerous for cyclists, with potholes, uneven pavement, and other hazardous road defects. These conditions can make it difficult for cyclists to control their bikes and can lead to accidents.
- Riding against traffic: Bicyclists also have a responsibility to follow all traffic laws the same way motorists do. In California, it is against the law for a bicyclist to ride against traffic on a roadway.
- Running red lights or stop signs: By law, bicyclists must obey stop signs and red lights.
Common Bike Accident Injuries
Even when cyclists are wearing a helmet and protective gear, they are still likely to suffer serious injuries in a bicycle accident. Unlike passenger vehicle occupants who have the safety of a car and airbags, bicyclists have little to no protection against a crash. Serious bicycle accidents can cause the following types of injuries:
Head and brain injuries
While wearing a helmet reduces the risk of serious head and brain injuries, it doesn’t eliminate them completely. Head injuries can include skull fractures, concussions, contusions, and intracranial hemorrhaging. These severe injuries can cause brain damage, cognitive impairment, coma, or death.
Spinal cord injuries
A spinal cord injury could mean never being able to ride a bike or walk again. Neck and spinal cord injuries can range from minor, like whiplash, to more severe, like herniated discs and even paralysis.
Bone fractures can affect any part of the body, but the most common ones in bike accidents are the collarbone, shoulder blades, arms, legs, and wrists. Bone fractures can cause pain, swelling, deformity, loss of function, or infection.
Cuts and lacerations
While generally considered minor injuries, soft tissue injuries like road rash, cuts, bruises, sprains, and strains are incredibly painful. If not treated correctly, they can lead to infection or scarring.
Face injuries can include cuts, bruises, fractures, dental injuries, and eye injuries. Scarring, disfigurement, vision loss, or infection can result from these types of injuries.
Abdominal and chest injuries
Rib fractures, lung injuries, and other internal injuries are severe and potentially life-threatening. Abdominal and chest injuries can cause internal bleeding, organ failure, shock, or death.
If a cyclist succumbs to their injuries, the surviving family members may sue the at-fault driver for compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Much Is My Claim Worth?
The value of your California bike accident claim depends on many factors, such as the severity of your injuries, the extent of your damages, the degree of fault of the parties involved, and the availability of insurance coverage. There is no average or typical settlement amount for bike accident claims in California, as each case is unique and has different circumstances.
However, in California, you can recover both economic and non-economic damages from the person who caused your bike accident through negligence. Economic damages are the tangible losses you have suffered, such as:
- Medical expenses: Past and future medical bills for treatment, medication, surgery, rehabilitation, and assistive devices.
- Lost income: Wages, tips, bonuses, commissions, benefits, and earning capacity that the injured victim would have earned.
- Property damage: The cost of repairing or replacing your bike and other personal belongings damaged in the accident.
- Other out-of-pocket expenses: Transportation costs, home modifications, or household services.
Non-economic damages are the intangible losses you have suffered, such as:
- Pain and suffering: Physical pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, and reduced quality of life.
- Disfigurement and scarring: Permanent or visible injuries that affect your appearance or self-esteem.
- Disability and impairment: A disability that affects your ability to perform daily activities or enjoy hobbies.
- Loss of consortium: Loss of companionship, affection, intimacy, or support from your spouse or partner.
In some cases, you may also be entitled to punitive damages if the person who caused your bike accident acted especially egregious. Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future. However, punitive damages are rare and only awarded in extreme cases. Talk to our experienced bike accident lawyer to see what damages you may be able to recover.
What Is The Time Limit To File A Bicycle Accident Claim?
Generally speaking, California bike accident victims have two years from the date of their accident to file a claim. However, there are some exceptions, including different deadlines for minors and bicycle accident cases that involve a government entity. It’s best to consult with a San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible to help determine the applicable deadline for your case and file your insurance claim before it expires.
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Who Is At Fault In a Bicycle Accident?
As with most auto accident claims, bicycle accident lawsuits generally involve negligence. Negligence is the legal term for carelessness, or failure to act with reasonable care that any person would do. A motorist who speeds through a red light and hits a cyclist would be found at fault for violating traffic laws. However, there are cases where both the motorist and cyclist may be found at fault.
California is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that even if a cyclist is found 99% at fault, he or she can still pursue a claim for damages. The judge will reduce the plaintiff’s compensation according to their percentage of fault. So, if a cyclist is 20% at fault and the driver is 80% at fault, the cyclist can recover 80% in damages (for example, $80,000 of a $100,000 total settlement amount). To learn more about liability in your bicycle accident case, speak with our bicycle accident attorneys at Golden State Accident Lawyers.
What to Do After a Bike Accident in San Francisco
If you have been involved in a serious bicycle accident in San Francisco, the most important thing to do is stay calm and remain on the scene. If you sustained injuries, call 911 and wait for help. If you have not been seriously injured, follow the below steps to protect your legal rights:
- Call the San Francisco police and have them create a police report.
- Exchange contact information of the other driver, including their name, phone number, driver’s license number, and insurance information.
- Take photos of the accident scene, the damage to your bicycle, and the vehicle that hit you.
- Get medical attention for your injuries, even if you feel fine.
- Report the accident to your insurance company, but do not admit fault or discuss details.
- Contact an experienced San Francisco bicycle accident attorney.
If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident, it’s extremely important to contact a bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help identify the driver and contact witnesses.
California Bike Laws
Under the California Vehicle Code (CVC), bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. Therefore, they must obey all traffic laws. Here are some of the most important bicycle laws in California to know:
- Ride with traffic: Cyclists must ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic. If they are moving slower than traffic, cyclists must ride on the right side of the road.
- Use the bike lane: When a bike lane is available, bicyclists riding slower than the cars around them must use the bike lane except when making a left turn or passing.
- Wear a helmet: Anyone under the age of 18 must wear an approved helmet. Cyclists over the age of 18 are not required to wear a helmet, but it is strongly recommended.
- Use a signal: Bicyclists must signal their intentions to turn or stop using hand or turning signals.
- Riding at night: Cyclists riding at night must have a front white headlight and reflectors attached to their bicycle or clothes.
- Do not ride under the influence: It is illegal to operate a bicycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Our bicycle accident lawyers are well-versed in California’s bicycle laws. We will guide you through your rights and how to proceed in a personal injury case.
Most Dangerous Intersections and Streets in San Francisco
While the city of San Francisco has seen major improvements in bicycle safety over the years, accidents still happen. Downtown San Francisco, including Union Square and the Financial District, have traditionally seen the highest accident rates due to the lack of designated bike lanes and narrow streets. Below are some streets and intersections that bicyclists should be aware of:
- Market St.
- Mission St.
- Valencia St.
- Polk St.
- Octavia St. and Market St.
- Valencia St. and 14th St.
- Market St. and 5th St.
- South Van Ness Ave. and Mission St.
Contact a San Francisco Bike Accident Lawyer
At Golden State Accident Lawyers, we are dedicated to helping injured cyclists in Northern California recover financially, physically, and mentally after an accident. We treat each client with the care and compassion they deserve, and we work tirelessly to give everyone a chance to get their lives back. Our law firm takes a firm stance on victims’ rights and obtaining maximum compensation. We also work on a 100% contingency fee basis, which means that we never collect legal fees unless we win your case and you receive a settlement.
We offer a completely free, no-risk consultation to get started. Contact our San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer to rebuild your life.
Golden State Accident Lawyers
550 Bryant St. Suite 2K
San Francisco, CA 94107