In need of a San Jose bicycle accident lawyer?
An increasing number of people in San Jose, California are turning to bicycles for health, recreation and transportation. Riding bicycles is also a good choice for people who are wanting to reduce their carbon footprints. When bicyclists share the roads with motorists, they are more likely to be seriously injured or killed in accidents. People who are injured in bicycle versus motor vehicle collisions might benefit by seeking help from our experienced San Jose bicycle accident lawyers. We may be able to help the victims or the families of people who are killed to recover damages for their losses.
Bicycle accident statistics
In 2015, which is the most recent year for which statistical data is available, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 129 bicyclists in California were killed in traffic accidents, which represented 4.1 percent of all of the traffic fatalities that happened in the state that year. Across the U.S., 818 bicyclists were killed and an estimated 45,000 more were injured. The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that 357 bicyclists in San Jose were either injured or killed in 2015.
Common bicycle accident injuries in San Jose
Bicycle accidents can leave the victims suffering from many catastrophic injuries. Some of the most common bicycle accident injuries include the following:
• Head injuries
• Skull fractures
• Traumatic brain injuries
• Severe lacerations
• Facial injuries
• Broken arms and legs
• Thoracic injuries
• Pelvic injuries
• Broken bones
• Crushing injuries
Since bicyclists do not have anything to protect themselves from the environment around them, they may suffer multiple injuries when they are struck by cars.
Legal rights of bicyclists in California
Under California Vehicle Code 21200, bicyclists in California enjoy the same rights and have the same responsibilities as other motorists. There are some specific rules that apply to bicyclists, however. For example, if you are traveling slower than the traffic around you, you are supposed to ride as far to the right as you can. If you are traveling just as fast as other vehicles, you can ride wherever in the lane that you want. A caveat to this is that you are allowed to take the lane if you need to do so to avoid hazards or when turning even if you are traveling slower than other cars. If there is a bicycle lane, you must use it unless you are turning left, passing or trying to avoid hazards. Other people and motorists are not allowed to obstruct bicycle lanes.
Establishing liability in a bicycle accident
It is common for bicyclists who are injured in bicycle accidents to be disoriented immediately after their accidents. If you are injured, do not accept blame. Many motorists will attempt to place blame on injured cyclists in an effort to avoid liability. After you have gotten medical treatment, you might want to consider filing a lawsuit against the motorist. In order to win your lawsuit, you will have to prove that the motorist was negligent.
Proving the negligence of a motorist involves you proving four legal elements. You will first need to show that the motorist owed a duty to drive with reasonable care and caution and that he or she violated the duty that he or she owed to you. You will then need to prove that the motorist’s breach directly or proximately caused your accident and injuries. Finally, you will need to show that you suffered financial losses because of the accident.
Since negligence claims are civil cases, the burden of proof that you will have is to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. This burden applies to each of the individual elements of negligence. If you are only able to meet your burden of proof for three of the elements but not the fourth, your claim will fail. Our experienced lawyers understand what is required to prove the elements of negligence and are able to evaluate your claim so that we can give you an assessment of whether or not it is winnable.
Safety tips for bicyclists in San Jose
San Jose bicyclists should do everything that they can to reduce their risks of being involved in crashes with motor vehicles. Here are some of the most important safety tips that you should follow:
• Always wear a helmet regardless of your age;
• Pay attention to your surroundings and avoid listening to headphones while you ride;
• Make certain that you are visible to motorists;
• Always use the required hand signals;
• Use your mirrors to increase your visual field;
• Obey all traffic laws and signals;
• Use lights on your bicycle at night;
• Ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic;
• Wear brightly colored clothing; and
• Ride as far to the right as possible when you are traveling slower than other vehicles.
When to contact a San Jose bicycle accident lawyer
Whenever you are injured in an accident that was caused by a motor vehicle, it is important for you to seek legal help. It is common for motorists and insurance companies to attempt to blame the bicyclists for causing their own accidents. They may do this to try to avoid paying damages to which you should be entitled. An experienced San Jose lawyer may anticipate the arguments that the defendants are likely to make and build a strong case that clearly demonstrates the liability of the motorists. It is also important for you to contact a lawyer as soon after your accident as possible. California has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. If you do not file your lawsuit before this deadline expires, you will be barred from trying to recover damages for your injuries in the future. Contact our law firm today to schedule your consultation so that you can learn more about the rights that you might have.