Santa Monica Bicycle Accident Lawyer
There are so many terrific reasons to enjoy riding your bicycle in the Santa Monica area. With great health benefits from the exercise you get from riding, the environmental benefits of riding a bike instead of driving a car, and the general joy you can get from riding along a gorgeous Santa Monica beach or neighborhood, there is a lot to love about bicycle life in California. Unfortunately, one of the major concerns while riding your bicycle is the possibility you could get into an accident. Because of Santa Monica’s bustling roads, this is a serious concern.
If you are in a bicycle accident where you are injured by another driver or other party while riding your bicycle in Santa Monica, you might sustain damage to your bicycle or injuries to yourself. After a bicycle injury, you need an experienced Santa Monica bicycle accident attorney. Contact the firm of McLachlan Law for help.
The Legal Counsel You Need in a Santa Monica Bicycle Accident
Sadly, bicyclists can suffer a number of painful and potentially catastrophic injuries due to the mistakes or negligence of another individual. Whether you were hit by a car, had an accident due to improperly marked hazards, or even were injured because of another bicyclist, know that you maintain the right to create a bicycle accident suit to hold them accountable for any damages or injuries you may have sustained.
When it comes to a Santa Monica bicycle accident, you want an attorney specializing in bicycle accidents and personal injury law as an ally to help you navigate the legal system and determine any fault for the bicycle accident you were just involved with. The right bicycle accident attorney will know how to evaluate and discover what specific damages have been done by the guilty party. They can assist you with the legal proceedings required for holding the defendant accountable for their actions and ensure you get the compensation you are entitled to.
That’s why McLachlan Law, APC is here to help. We offer our years of expertise in bicycle accident law as well as our detailed understanding of how to handle personal injury claims in the Santa Monica area. Our team has an intricate understanding of the law’s specific nuances pertaining to bicycle accidents, and we work hard for your case as you recover from your accident. Our team knows how best to prove fault for the injuries or other damages you received as a result of someone else’s negligence, and we help you secure the compensation you are entitled to under California state law.
No matter who is the responsible party behind your bicycle accident, McLachlan Law, APC understands you should not be stuck dealing with the economic and injury frustrations from your accident on your own. We can help you navigate the legal system with compassion and strive to get you the justice and compensation that is rightfully yours in a difficult time.
Important California Bicycle Laws You Need to Be Aware Of
While you might think it pertains solely to motorized vehicles, bicycles (as well as pedestrians) are included in the California Vehicle Code, which is in place as a protective measure for everyone and anyone using California roadways. Bicyclists’ rights on the road are protected in this code, but unlike pedestrians, bicyclists do also share the majority of responsibilities that car, truck, and motorcycle drivers have, with bicyclists having to do their best to coexist on any California roadway.
Because of their smaller size and slower nature as a vehicle, with less specific protections against physical harm, bicyclists have a few more rules than the average motor vehicle. There are a number built in to keep bicyclists safe, as well as out of harm’s way.
Maybe the most well-known regulation, bicyclists are required to stay on the right-hand side of the road, riding in the direction that traffic is flowing. In many cases, especially in Santa Monica, there is a designated lane for bikes located near the curb to the far-right side of the road. There are a few specific times bike riders are allowed to change lanes, such as when going around a pedestrian, a slow or stopped motor vehicle, or simply when passing another bicycle. Things like avoiding a hazard in the road, avoiding a narrow lane or road’s end, or looking to make a left turn (specifically onto a private or side road), are also valid reasons for a bicyclist to change lanes.
Another important safety regulation protecting cyclists is the Three Feet Rule, which is listed in the California Vehicle Code. This rule states that any motorist is required to keep a minimum distance of three feet or more anytime that vehicle is moving around or passing any bicycle. There are times when a lane is narrowed or another factor, like a railway crossing, that might make this rule impossible to follow. In these cases, however, the motorist must reduce their vehicle’s speed considerably and only pass if the situation is clearly safe and the bicyclist is protected. This rule is also in place as a means to ensure motorists keep steady and safe movements when passing a cyclist.
The California Vehicle Code does have specific requirements for bicyclists to protect their safety, including the regulation that they need to use the proper safety equipment, such as helmets, lights, and other items to improve visibility.
Reflectors or lights are required for any bicyclist who is taking a bike ride during dim or nighttime hours. Such gear isn’t just for cyclists to see better on the road but also for others to see cyclists. This includes a headlight or lamp to improve forward visibility, as well as a red reflector at the bike’s rear. There are additional lighting rules which require the cyclist to have a yellow or white reflective device on their pedals, though this can also be worn around the ankle or as a shoe. In addition to the red light in the back, both sides of the back of the bike also need additional reflectors that are red or white.
The California Vehicle Code also not only allows for but encourages bicyclists to have a cellular device or mobile phone on them while traveling. That way, if an accident does occur, the bicyclist has a way to contact emergency services and the proper authorities. However, using the mobile device while riding is discouraged and could lead cyclists to serious injury. Being able to see the surrounding area, hear oncoming traffic, and focus on the road ahead is an important aspect of staying safe while cycling.
Other standard Santa Monica bike rules and regulations include a number of small safety laws, and a majority of these specific rules come into play in regard to personal businesses and sidewalks. Commercial or local businesses have the right to prohibit any bicyclists from riding on the sidewalk in front of their storefront, and unless the business has put out specific signage that authorizes bicyclists, it is illegal. Similarly, while there is no specific speed limit for cyclists on a sidewalk, rules stipulate that bicyclists must operate at a reasonable speed to keep pedestrian and foot traffic safe.
Understanding Bicyclist Rules While on the Road
Bicyclists also share most of the same traffic rules as motorized vehicles as well, especially when it comes to traffic signage. Like all other vehicles, when you are riding a bicycle on the road, red, be it at a traffic light or stop sign, means stop. Typical regulations of yielding, as well as things like the four-way stop and right-of-way rules, also still apply.
If you are looking to make a left turn, you will want to check to your left for any potential oncoming traffic, then quickly and calmly move to the far-left end of the lane or, alternatively, to the center lane that exists for any vehicles looking to make a left turn.
Also, be sure to remember the specific hand signs you need to display for any turns. If you are unfamiliar with how to signal during a left turn, hold your left arm out on the left side parallel to the ground. For a right turn, you’ll still use your left arm, but instead of extending, you will bend at your left elbow so that your left hand is sticking up. If you fail to properly signal a lane change or turn, you can create a danger to yourself and confuse other vehicles on the road.
When it comes to understanding your rights as well as your duties when riding your bicycle, you have a better understanding of if your rights have been violated due to the negligence of another party. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident that you believe to be because of the negligence of a motor vehicle or another party, you likely have a claim that can get you the compensation you deserve.
If I Was Just in a Bicycle Accident, What Steps Do I Need to Take First?
First and foremost, get medical help. Even if you don’t notice any injuries, you should still go to the hospital to check for potential injuries that something like adrenaline might have muted. There are countless more serious injuries that can have symptoms that don’t show up immediately or get progressively more painful and dangerous if left untreated. Also, delaying seeking medical attention could hurt your chance to receive compensation, so it’s best to have the condition of your body documented and treated as soon after the bicycle accident as possible.
If you have no serious injuries and can remain at the scene of the accident, you can talk with law officers and locals who might have observed the accident. If you later need proof of what happened during the accident, you can rely on their testimony. You can even see if any are willing to be a witness to your accident.
It is also important that you do not immediately consult an insurance company, as you will want to have legal representation to help navigate the nuances of the accident and ensure you don’t have to pay for something that was not your fault. Another important component to remember is to keep the incident private and avoid sharing information about it on social media or other public online forums. This can prevent the defense or other parties from finding information that might hurt your proof in court.
How Do You Prove Negligence From Another Party in Your Bicycle Accident Case?
There are a number of factors that come into play when proving that another party is to blame for your bicycle accident, but all revolve around finding the proof you need to verify that the accident happened due to negligence from the defendant. While this negligence can take a number of forms, there are several determining factors you will have to find supporting evidence to confirm negligence.
If another party was careless and ignored their duty to ensure your safety as a bicyclist, this is a major contributing factor toward proof. Examples of this include if the defendant was speeding during the time of the accident, failed to give you the regulatory three feet of space required by California law, were distracted by something like a cell phone, conversation, or other factors, or simply did not see you.
The Importance of Proof
To get this proof, be sure you obtain a copy of the police report surrounding the accident as a means for physical third-party proof that confirms the defendant was at fault for the accident. Regardless of how you feel at the time of the accident and even if you don’t believe you have sustained injuries, it is of utmost importance that you do contact local law enforcement, even if other parties are asking to keep the accident off the record. Involving law enforcement will also bring in the expertise of the law to assist in determining who was at fault.
In addition, you’ll need to prove that negligence was the direct cause for any sustained trauma or injuries you received during the accident. Typically, you will want to save any medical documentation and doctor’s notes that clarify how your injuries were sustained. You will want to keep track of the financial costs those medical visits added up to as well, so you can prove the financial damages the accident caused you.
Also, similar to a vehicular wreck, be sure to take photographs of the scene. By taking pictures of everything, from the vehicles involved in the crash to the people that caused them, you’ll give the court the visual information and proof they need to win your case. It never hurts to get additional photos from different angles or even marks on the ground or road signs around the area of the accident. If you’re dealing with an immediate injury, you can ask another person who observed the accident or even EMS or law officials to take pictures on your behalf.
Bicycle Accident Attorney FAQs
Q: How Much Is the Typical Settlement for a Bicycle Accident Suit?
A: Like most personal injury settlements, the actual settlement for a bicycle accident suit can vary depending on the nature of the accident, and the severity of the injuries, ranging anywhere between $10,000 to over a million. Discuss your case with our firm to get an idea of potential compensation.
Q: Do These Same Rules and Regulations Still Apply If I Was Doored While Cycling?
A: In the California Vehicular Code, it is recommended that bicyclists keep a safe distance when passing any parked cars so if a passenger opens a door, they don’t cause a crash. Even so, if your bicycle accident was caused by an opened door, you can still sue for negligence.
Q: Is It Possible for the Individual Driving the Car to Sue the Bicyclist for the Accident?
A: Yes, if the bicyclist took negligent actions or caused damage to the driver’s car for which they are at fault, the driver can actually sue the bicyclist for causing the accident. This, however, is more often handled through insurance companies rather than a court of law.
Q: Does the Bicyclist Have the Right of Way, or Does the Car?
A: A bicycle is considered a road vehicle, so both a bicycle and car have equal right of way, and whichever vehicle is signaled to go should be the first to make their move. However, because bikes don’t come with the built-in protection of cars and trucks, extra care should be taken when drivers encounter them on the road.
McLachlan Law, APC Is Here To Help You Receive the Compensation You Deserve
When it comes to standing up for you in your bicycle accident, the team at McLachlan Law, APC will approach your accident with compassion and handle proof with the expertise needed to get you the compensation you deserve. We understand personal injury law in the Santa Monica area, and we will help you through the legal processes so you can heal from your accident. Contact us today and schedule your consultation with a Santa Monica bicycle accident attorney.
Schedule a Consultation
Contact us now to discuss your case and learn more about our firm.