What to Do When You’re Hit in A Bike Lane in California
More and more cities are attempting to promote bicycling to work. Some cities even offer the use of public bikes to proactively encourage people to ride throughout the city and enjoy the sites. Both tourists and workers have increasingly started using bicycles as a means of transportation in large cities. Bike lanes are often created for the specific intention to allow bicyclists their own space on the roadways. However, as more bicyclists are sharing the roadways with motorists, many people are unaware of the safety laws regarding the laws of the road and who may have the right of way.
Accidents involving bicyclists and motorists can result in catastrophic injuries or even death. If you are involved in an accident and hit while riding in a bike lane, you should understand your legal rights and how to receive compensation for your injuries.
California Rules Regarding Turning Right and Bike Lanes
The State of California created specific laws that pertain to bicycle riders under the California Vehicle Code. Additionally, California always encourages bicycle riders to follow the four safety tips of maintaining control, using protection such as a helmet, remaining visible and alert, and riding in a safe lane with the flow of traffic. Along with safety precautions, California has very specific rules regarding how to approach and interact with motorists in bike lanes.
If a bike lane is created between an exclusive right-turn lane and a straight line painted on the roadway, it is considered space that is exclusive for the bicycle rider. However, if there is no exclusive turn lane, or no straight line painted on the roadway, the driver can still turn right in that lane legally. This can prove challenging to new bikers or new areas that have just recently developed bike lanes. Common sense should always prevail, and all drivers should constantly monitor their surroundings to determine if there are any bikers in their near vicinity and proceed with caution.
Always remember to use your turn signal and stay vigilant to your surroundings. Bicyclists should also use caution and know that even if they do have the legal right of way, in a collision between a motorist and a bicycle, they are likely to fare much worse. Bicyclists should always look for motorist’s turn signals and take caution if they feel a driver is distracted and may not see them.
California Rules Regarding Turning Left and Bike Lanes
Even more challenging can be the idea of turning left on a bicycle in traffic on the roadways. Again, many cities are now encouraging bicyclists and have created a special bike lane to be used exclusively by those riding bicycles. However, motorists are still not used to these lanes and through negligence, could simply be unaware that a bicyclist is in their path. A bicyclist oftentimes has the legal right to move across traffic, however, it may not be the wisest choice in busy traffic.
What to Do After an Bike Lane Accident in California
If you were hit as a bicyclist while you were in a bike lane, you likely had the right of way, and the motorist may have been distracted or negligent in monitoring their surroundings. Even if you did have the legal right to be in the bike lane, you may have suffered serious injuries. Here are the steps you should follow as a bicyclist immediately after a collision with motorist.
- Do Not Move. If you feel injured, do not move. You may have suffered internal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken or fractured bones, or other severe physical trauma.
- Contact the Police. If you feel you can move and that you are not severely injured, you should move yourself out of the roadway or traffic and away from the bike lane and contact the police. At this point, you should not move much, as you may still have serious injuries that are not felt in their entirety due to adrenaline and shock. After the police arrive, allow yourself to be treated by the ambulance medical professionals, and make sure to request a police report.
- Do Not Admit Anything. You may feel overwhelmed during these moments and want to plead your case. You may want to say that you had the right to be in the bike lane, and that the driver was negligent by not monitoring their surroundings. Attempt to refrain from declaring that you are fine or minimizing your injuries. Also, attempt to refrain from admitting fault in any way regarding the accident. Finally, never accept any monetary compensation from the driver at the scene of the accident to avoid involving insurance companies.
- Obtain Witness Information. If you are physically and emotionally able to do so, obtain witness contact information for anyone that may have been present during the time of the accident. This is important because police officers may get the facts wrong in their police report. Having the ability to directly contact witnesses may help you if you make the decision to pursue a legal claim for compensation.
- Have Your Bicycle Professionally Inspected. If your bike or your helmet show any sign of damage, you may have much worse injuries than you originally suspected. Additionally, having your bicycle professional inspected following an accident can not only help you receive compensation for your property damage to your bike but can also bolster your claims of injury.
Contact an Experienced Bicycle Accident Lawyer
If you were injured while you were a bicyclist in a bike lane, one of the most important things you can do following your accident is to contact an experienced bicycle accident lawyer. You may have had the right of way due to the fact you were in a bike lane and could receive compensation from the negligent motorist for your unexpected medical bills, loss of wages due to your inability to immediately return to work, or for your pain and suffering.
Contact an experienced bicycle accident attorney at Silverthorne Attorneys today. We can help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries. For a complimentary consultation of your bicycle accident case, contact us at (949) 234-6034 or message us online today.