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Bicycle Accidents Knowing Your Legal Options

February 5, 2024 
by LA Injury Group

The use of bicycles as a means of transport in California is very popular. The popularity of bicycles is majorly brought about by their being eco-friendly, a form of physical exercise, ease of use and being less prone to traffic jams. Moreover, California's geography makes the use of bicycles more appealing. Furthermore, the general population in California is more bike-friendly.

Due to the numbers on California's roads, bicycles bring about significant accidents. Bike accidents would often result in both major and minor bike accident injuries. The costs and inconveniences that come with bicycle accidents are normally very high if the vital parts of the body including the brain, eyes, limbs and chest areas are affected. Because of these inconveniences of treating minor and severe injuries, it is fundamental that bike users take active steps to ensure that they shield themselves from such accidents.

It should be noted that bike accident victims have the right to sue and to recover compensation from the people who brought about the bike accidents. It follows from this that it is very fundamental that bike accident victims understand California's legal landscape so that they can make informed decisions if they become victims of bike crashes. This article aims to provide a very comprehensive guide on California's laws, legal precedents that are in place, the steps to take after a bike accident, and a general overview of the most common causes of bicycle accidents with the assistance of a knowledgeable bicycle injury lawyer.

Bicycle Accidents Knowing Your Legal Options

Bicycle Accidents Knowing Your Legal Options - Causes of bicycle accidents

The major causes of bike accidents include the following:

• Distracted riding of bicycles

Riding bicycles while distracted would in most instances result in bike accidents. The reason for this is that riding bikes requires total concentration. Any lapse in concentration while riding bikes would therefore result in both minor and serious injuries.

• Riding bikes while drunk

As pointed out above, riding bikes would require one to concentrate on the road ahead. Alcohol and other drugs impair one's judgment and this would inevitably result in accidents.

• Road hazards

The presence of road hazards on the road would bring about bike accidents. Steps should therefore be taken to remove road hazards from the road.

• Failure to yield

Failing to yield to a road user who has a right of way would inevitably result in bike accidents.

• Failing to abide by traffic laws

Traffic laws are put in place to ensure that there is good order on the road. Failing to abide by the traffic laws would therefore result in chaos which would eventually bring about bike accidents.

California Bicycle Laws

One must understand California's bike laws if they intend to use bikes on California's roads. The bike laws are intended to ensure that there is good order on the road and to ensure that road users are protected. The major provisions of California's bike laws include the following:

Helmet Laws

California's Helmet law stipulate that all bike users under the age of 18 must always wear helmets. It is also recommended that all cyclists must ensure that they wear helmets while using the road. The use of helmets would greatly reduce the extent of the injuries suffered in the event of a bike accident.

Traffic Rules

In California, cyclists are subjected to the same traffic laws and rules as drivers of motor vehicles. It follows from this that cyclists must at all material times ensure that they abide by the traffic laws and regulations.

Bike Lane Usage

Bike users in California must always use the designated bicycle lanes when they are available. The use of bike lanes would ensure that the chances of accidents with vehicles are greatly reduced. If there are no bike lanes on the road, cyclists are encouraged to use the very rightmost lane.

Lighting and Reflectors

The law requires that bikes must always be equipped with rear and front lights when riding at night. Having the front and rear lights would increase the visibility of the bikes and greatly reduce the chances of bike accidents happening. It should also be noted that bike users must always use reflectors so that they can be seen.

Riding Side by Side

The law stipulates that bike users may ride side by side but must always ensure that they yield to vehicles that would want to overtake them.

The understanding of the above legal provisions is very fundamental in reducing instances of bike accidents and would always ensure that it is easier to determine the person who is liable for the bike accident when such an accident occurs.

Liability in Bicycle Accidents

The determination of a party that is liable for an accident is crucial in the pursuit of compensation. California adheres to the comparative negligence system of apportioning liability. The comparative negligence system stipulates that each party to a bike accident may be assigned a certain level of responsibility for a bike accident. The major factors that impact the assignment of liability include the following:


Users of roads in California have a duty of care to other road users. It is expected that they should not breach this duty of care. If they breach the duty of care and an accident happens, they shall be held liable for the same and they shall be made to compensate the victim.

Right of Way

Cyclists are expected to fully comprehend the idea that some road users may have a right of way in certain instances. If an accident happens and they failed to yield when the other party had a right of way, they shall be found liable.

Distracted Driving

Driving while distracted would often result in accidents. One shall therefore be found to be liable for an accident if it is discovered that they were driving while distracted.


It is important to note that speeding cars and bicycles are difficult to control. Moreover, exceeding the speed limit would attract liability if an accident happens. It follows therefore that a speeding party shall be found liable for an accident.

Steps to Take After a Bicycle Accident

If one is involved in a bicycle accident, they should take the following steps:

Seek Medical Attention

Seeking urgent medical attention is crucial if one sustains injuries in a bike accident. Urgent medical attention would ensure that serious injuries are addressed before they get worse.

Document the Scene

Fundamentally, you document the accident scene as soon as a bike accident happens. Documenting the accident scene would be extremely fundamental in the determination of liability. You must take videos and pictures of the accident scene. It is also important that you take notes of the accident scene so that you can rely on them when filing your claim.

Exchange Information

Fundamentally, the parties exchange information as soon as they are involved in a bike accident. Having their information would be crucial when seeking compensation. You must avoid arguments at the accident scene or admitting to any level of responsibility for the accident.

Witness Statements

If there are people who witnessed the accident, it is crucial that you take and keep their contact information so that you can reach out to them to prepare witness statements.

Police Report

Fundamentally, you report the bike accident to the police as soon as it happens. You must keep a copy of the police report as soon as it is prepared. Having the report shall be very crucial in determining liability.

Preserve Evidence

Fundamentally, you keep a record of all the pieces of evidence. Having a record of the evidence shall be crucial in determining liability.

Case Precedents: Relevant Bicycle Accident Lawsuits in California

Having an understanding of the various precedents is crucial in determining the issue of who should be held liable for the bike accident. The following are some of the major court decisions that have an impact on the determination of liability.

Bertsch v. Mammoth Community Water District (2016):

In this particular case, the court directed the Water District to compensate Bertsch for negligence in maintaining the road where Bertsch was involved in an accident.

Watson v. Shannahan (2018):

In this case, the court found in favour of Watson after he had proven that Shannahan was distracted while driving thereby bringing about an accident where he was injured. The court noted that the negligent driver had a duty of care to Watson and other road users.

These cases are fundamental in proving the issue of liability for bike accidents.

Insurance Coverage for Bicycle Accidents

The bike accident victim and other road users must understand the extent of insurance coverage in bike accidents. Understanding the issue of insurance coverage is fundamental while seeking compensation. It follows from this that one must look at the insurance covers and understand the extent to which they apply.

Statute of Limitations

It is fundamental to note that California provides that you can only sue and recover in bike accidents if you file the suit within 2 years from the date the bike accident happened. It follows from this that you must strictly abide by this stipulation and file your case within the period if you are to stand a chance of getting compensation. Filing a suit in California after two years would in most instances result in you not recovering compensation. However, should it happen that you fail to file the suit within two years for whatever reason, you must consult a personal injury attorney so that they can advise you.

Consult a lawyer

You must consult a lawyer as soon as you are involved in a bike accident. Consulting a lawyer would enable you to take steps that would ordinarily ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve. Consulting a lawyer would also ensure that you get all the help that is necessary in your pursuit of compensation.

LA Injury Group is available to help you with your personal injury claim. Our personal injury lawyer would take you through the steps that should be followed so that you can recover compensation such as medical bills, lost wages, and any other damages that you are entitled to get from the at-fault party or their insurance company. Contact us today if you are a victim of a bike crash so that we can begin the process of helping you.

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