Bicyclists fill the bustling streets of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Cycling is increasingly seen as a practical, green, and healthy alternative to driving in the city. However, the increasing numbers of cyclists also increase the number of accidents involving motor vehicles and bicycles.
Here are tips for safer cycling, and how to protect your rights in the event of an accident.
The first and most important tip is to obey all Rules of the Road. A bicycle is required to obey the same rules as motor vehicles when operating on city streets (California Vehicle Code section 21200).
When an accident occurs, you should of course seek medical attention if you are injured. If you are able, you should take photographs of the accident scene, the damage to your bicycle and the other vehicle involved in the crash, and obtain the contact information from any eyewitnesses.
It is important to preserve your bicycle, clothing, and helmet as evidence. It is typical for drivers to claim they did not see cyclists before hitting them, so it is important for the cyclist to be able to show they were highly visible and not likely to be missed, had the driver been paying proper attention.
We recommend wearing bright or fluorescent clothing (including helmets), and reflective gear for night riding. California law requires the use of headlights and taillights after sundown (Vehicle Code section 21201(d) and (e)), and reflectors on the cyclists’ pedals or ankles, which also increases their visibility.
When a cyclist is hit by a motor vehicle, the seriousness of injuries to the rider can vary. Many injuries, such as concussions (traumatic brain injuries), may be invisible at the time of the accident and not recognized until days, weeks, or even months later.
It is important to be evaluated by a physician for a concussion after any crash if you suffer symptoms such as loss of consciousness, headache, blurred vision, changes in hearing, problems with memory, significant mood swings, or changes in personality.
These signs can be subtle and require specialists such as neurologists and neuropsychologists to prove. As traumatic brain injuries can cause serious lifelong injuries, it is essential that cyclists wear helmets at all times while riding.
Many cyclists are unaware they may be able to obtain compensation for their injuries from auto insurance in addition to that of the driver who hit them. They may also be able to recover payment through the underinsured motorist coverage of their own car insurance, or the insurance policies of relatives with whom they reside. This is true even though the cyclist is not driving a car at the time of the accident. Obtaining this compensation requires careful analysis of all applicable insurance policies and the crafting of thoughtful legal arguments.
It is important to consult with an attorney early on to discuss pursuing an accident claim, as these claims can be tricky. They may involve filing claims against public entities such as city governments, for dangerous conditions of public property, such as potholes, or negligently driven city vehicles, such as buses and trucks. There can also be issues surrounding the insurance coverage available to compensate you.
A number of our attorneys at Minami Tamaki are cyclists, members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and actively involved with nonprofit organizations that advocate for pedestrian and cyclist safety in San Francisco.
We are passionate about protecting the rights of cyclists and have vast experience in handling cycling accident cases involving cars, buses, semi-trucks, and municipalities responsible for creating dangerous roadways that cause cycling accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a cycling accident, contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.