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Bicycle Accident Attorney Santa Barbara

Bicycling is gaining popularity as a fun form of exercise and a more economic means of transportation. Many cities, including Santa Barbara, have noticed this trend and are implementing infrastructure changes to make their communities more accessible to cyclists. Unfortunately, despite these changes, accidents involving bicycles are on the rise. 

Motorists, long accustomed to viewing the road as their domain, can be careless around cyclists. Cyclists riding along a bike lane may find cars parked in the lane, forcing them to enter a car lane to maneuver around the parked vehicle. Sometimes a cyclist is struck when a car passenger opens their door into the lane without checking for oncoming bicycles. Potholes, signs, traffic cones, and other hazards can cause a bicycle accident without a car present.

When riding your bicycle, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and obey traffic laws. You should also be aware that some rules are unfamiliar to motorists and even some police officers. This includes your right to “take the lane” (riding in the middle of the lane) when no bike lane is available and the lane is not wide enough to safely ride next to a car. Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a bicyclist can help prevent injuries when cycling. If you are involved in a bicycle accident in spite of your precautions, a skilled bicycle accident attorney in Santa Barbara can make sure you are properly compensated for any injuries or damages.

What are my responsibilities as a bicyclist?

There are certain precautions every cyclist should take to reduce the likelihood of being injured. Some of these precautions are legal requirements under California law, while others are simply good practices to keep yourself safe when cycling.

 

  • Wear a helmet – While California law only requires helmets for bicyclists under 18 years of age, it is highly recommended that all cyclists wear one. Head injuries are very common in bicycle accidents, and a properly fitted helmet can prevent or lessen the severity of head trauma in an accident.
  • Stay in the bike lane – Use bike lanes whenever possible, leaving them only to avoid safety hazards such as open doors, potholes, or signage in the lane.
  • Ride with traffic – If no bike lane is available and you can match the cars’ speed, then ride in the direction of traffic, allowing three feet between you and the car next to you. If the lane is too narrow, you may ride in the center of the lane, but pull over to allow traffic to pass if five or more cars are lined up behind you. Walk your bike when moving against traffic on a one-way street.
  • Stay off the sidewalk – Santa Barbara prohibits riding bicycles on the sidewalk. Dismount and walk your bike through areas designated for pedestrians.
  • Obey traffic laws – Obey traffic signals, signal when turning, do not ride a bicycle while inebriated, and do not carry anything that prevents you from keeping at least one hand on the bars at all times.
  • Stay well-lit – At night, all bicycles should have a white light in the front, with red reflectors in the rear. Reflectors are also recommended on wheels and clothing. This increases your visibility and reduces the risk of being struck by a motorist at night.
  • Maintain your bike – Bicycles need regular maintenance, which includes checking tire pressure, brakes, and lubrication on bike chains. A well-maintained bicycle decreases the chance of injury due to a malfunction.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – Always watch for unexpected obstacles, including car doors, pedestrians, children, animals, potholes, and other road hazards. Keep one ear uncovered to listen for traffic coming from behind.

Following these guidelines will reduce the chances of being injured in a bicycle accident in Santa Barbara and strengthen your claim if an accident occurs. At Maho Prentice, LLC, we can help you understand the law regarding your accident and work to make sure you are properly compensated for your injuries.

Who is Liable for a Bike Accident?

As a comparative fault state, California allows liability to be divided between the plaintiff and the defendant, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Therefore, a cyclist who is injured by a car may only collect partial damages from the driver if the cyclist contributed to the accident through negligence. The same holds true in a bicycle accident that occurs due to hazards in the roadway. 

Under the premises liability law, a property owner is liable for injuries occurring due to lack of maintenance on their property (potholes, broken pavement, etc.). However, a property owner who can prove that hazards were clearly marked may be able to claim reduced liability. Because comparative fault can make filing an insurance claim more complicated, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced bicycle accident attorney to review your options.

What Should I do After a Bike-Car Collision?

If you are hit by a car while riding your bike, try to stay calm. Call 911 to request medical assistance immediately, even if you think you are fine. If you are able to do so, move out of the way of traffic. Leave your bike where it landed, and take pictures of the scene. Write down everything you can recall of what led to the accident, or dictate it to your phone. Exchange contact information with the driver. File a police report as soon as possible, and contact your insurance company. 

At Maho Prentice, LLP, we have 67 years of combined legal experience in personal injury lawsuits. We will review the details of your claim and ensure you are properly compensated for your injuries. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in Santa Barbara, contact us today for a free consultation.