Bike sharing for both local residents and tourists is a relatively new business concept across the United States. These businesses allow for an inexpensive and environmentally friendly form of local transportation while getting some exercise in too. Risk is also involved though. Aside from maybe a helmet, bicyclists are exposed and vulnerable to severe injuries or even death from an accident.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
It’s inevitable that in any type of bicycle accident, a rider is going to hit the pavement or the ground. That’s why head injuries might be the most common type of bicycle accident injuries. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, up to 48% of all head injuries can include traumatic brain injuries, ocular injuries, facial and jaw fractures, nose fractures, dental injuries and lacerations or contusions with the possibility of infection and scarring.
Here are some other common bicycle crash injuries:
- Skull fractures.
- Spinal cord compression or tearing.
- Damage to vital organs.
- Fractures of vertebrae, shoulders, arms, wrists, hips, legs and ankles.
- Joint tears and dislocations.
- Muscle, ligament and cartilage tears.
- A variety of liability issues present themselves in bicycle accident cases. Here are some of those issues that might arise.
Collisions Involving Motor Vehicles
As per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, about 30% of all bicycle accidents involve motor vehicles, and about 70% of those are caused by the drivers of motor vehicles. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 75% of all motor vehicle vs. bike collisions occur in urban areas. Those are precisely the areas where bikeshare businesses thrive. What many motorists don’t realize is that bicyclists have the same rights on the roadway as the drivers of motor vehicles. In traffic, bicycles present narrow profiles to motorists. Even a low speed impact with a sub-compact car can be disastrous to a bicyclist. Many drivers see them but ignore them, see them and forget about them, don’t see them at all or see them after it’s too late.
Here are some common causes of accidents between motorists and bicyclists:
- Distracted driving when operators of motor vehicles have diverted their attention to distractions like phone calls, texting or infotainment centers.
- Failure of motorists to obey traffic signals or stop signs.
- Motorists failing to yield when changing lanes or turning right or left.
- Motorists and passengers opening vehicle doors in front of oncoming bicyclists.
- Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two.
- Even if the motorist who caused your crash was uninsured or a hit-and-run driver while you were riding a bikeshare bicycle anywhere in California, contact our offices right away for a free consultation and case review with our California bikeshare accident lawyer.
Cracks in roads, potholes, loose gravel, uneven surfaces, tree roots, unmarked road construction or even freshly mowed grass can cause a bicyclist to crash on a public roadway. The governmental entity or agency that is responsible for maintaining that roadway can be held liable for a bicycle accident and injuries that were caused by negligent maintenance. Municipal liability even contemplates accidents that are caused by police cars, ambulances, fire trucks or maintenance vehicles. Take notice that if you were injured as a result of the negligence of a municipality or one of its employees, a specific claim notice must be served on the governmental entity or agency’s designated representative within six months of the date of your accident. Failure to comply with any of the claim notice requirements can be cause for dismissal of a personal injury lawsuit against the entity or agency. In the event that you’re injured in a bikeshare accident as a result of municipal negligence, contact our California bikeshare accident lawyer right away. If we’re retained to represent you, a proper personal injury claim notice will be timely served on the appropriate individual.
Negligent Maintenance of Bikeshare Bikes
We’d like to believe that bikes in disrepair are reported by rideshare customers or personnel who round bikeshare bikes up at the end of the day. Many of them are indeed reported, but that doesn’t mean that repairs, if any, will be made before another user rents a previously reported damaged bike and is injured when using it. Circumstances like that are controlled by the user agreement between the bikeshare company and the renter. The agreements are enforceable contracts, and they’re used by bikeshare companies to avoid liability. Riders don’t read the agreements before using bikeshare bikes. They’re typically more than 50 pages long and show up on the user’s smartphone screen. At this point in time, to say that successfully suing a bikeshare company for personal injury is a daunting task is an understatement.
Bikeshare Rider Accidents with Pedestrians
Every municipality in California has its own ordinance, and sometimes it’s perfectly legal for bicyclists to share sidewalks with pedestrians. Bicyclists must use due care and caution for the safety of pedestrians on sidewalks though, and pedestrians must also use due care and caution for their own personal safety too. In many of these types of cases, both the bicyclist and the pedestrian might share fault. Given the law of comparative negligence in California, we might still be able to obtain a settlement or award on behalf of either the bicyclist or the pedestrian through the homeowners, condominium or renters insurance of the opposing party.
What to do After a Bikeshare Accident
After a bikeshare accident, your physical condition should be your first consideration. Pursuant to your bikeshare agreement, you should call 911 and ask that police be sent to the accident scene. If you’re injured, ask that paramedics be dispatched too. Get to an emergency room to be examined right away. The paramedics can take you to one. The paramedic and emergency room records are pivotal in supporting the fact that you were injured in an accident. Most bikeshare companies require you to notify them of your accident within 24 hours. Make arrangements for your bike to be returned. You don’t want the clock continuing to run on your rental. Try to get a few photos of the bike before you turn it in. After you’ve done these things, no matter where your bicycle accident occurred in the State of California, contact our California bikeshare accident lawyer right away to arrange for a free confidential consultation and case evaluation.
Regardless of the fact that bicyclists are legally allowed to share the road with motor vehicles, insurance companies will do whatever they can do to try and push some or even all of the liability for a bicycle accident over onto the bicyclist. An opposing insurance company will start trying to do that by obtaining a written or recorded statement from you. California law doesn’t require you to give that insurer any type of a statement without an attorney being present on your behalf. No matter what the opposing insurance company’s representative says to try and get that statement, politely refuse to give it, and contact us instead for that consultation. We’re going to listen to you carefully and accurately answer your questions. Then, we’ll advise you on getting pointed in the right legal direction. Once we’re retained to represent you, we’re going to protect and assert your best interests. Our objective will be to maximize the proceeds of any settlement or award that we might obtain for you.