Of course, a bike is no match for a car or truck in an accident. Cyclists know this when they hit the road. But what they should be able to count on is that drivers of heavy vehicles will follow traffic laws and drive with caution and prudence. Unfortunately, all too often, drivers in Los Angeles are in too much of a hurry or driving while distracted. When one of them hits a bicyclist while driving negligently or recklessly, causing injury or death, that driver will be legally liable for the resulting harm.
Quick Internet searches pull up news stories of several of these accidents recently in the LA area. For example, a cyclist died when the driver of a car pinned him between the vehicle and a pole in the Central-Alameda area near downtown. An allegedly intoxicated, speeding driver hit a Riverside biker in Rialto, who died at the scene.
LA bike accidents by the numbers
According to 24/7 Wall St. in a 2017 article, Los Angeles is the 10th most dangerous city for bicycling. According to the most recent data (2016) from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, known as the NHTSA, of U.S. cities with at least 500,000 people, Los Angeles had the highest number of pedalcyclist traffic deaths on public roads. (Pedalcyclists are riders of bicycles, unicycles and tricycles.)
Vehicle drivers need to drive with care around bikes
The NHTSA advises drivers to take steps to keep bicyclists safe on the road:
· Allow adequate clearance when passing a biker.
· Check for bikes before opening a car door or pulling away from a parking space.
· Be aware of bikes when turning in any direction.
· Yield to bicycles at intersections and in response to signals or road signs.
And of course, use common sense and obey rules of the road, especially refraining from driving while impaired from alcohol, drugs, medication or fatigue; from texting behind the wheel; and from speeding.
Seek legal counsel
Anyone in Los Angeles injured when a vehicle strikes them while bicycling should immediately seek medical care and when able, contact an experienced lawyer for advice about potential legal remedies like a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and identify potentially responsible parties, who may be liable for money damages for medical care, property damage, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.
Surviving loved ones of a bicyclist killed in such a crash should speak with legal counsel about a potential wrongful death lawsuit.