Know Your Rights If You Have Been In A Bicycle Accident

Bike accidents often produce serious injuries including closed head trauma, brain injuries, shoulder dislocations and broken bones. Knowing the rules of the road and other safety precautions can significantly reduce your risk of injury while riding a bike. The following are California’s laws pertaining to bikes and motorists.

In general, bicyclists on public streets are subject to the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers. Bicyclists must ride in the same direction as other traffic, not against it. Generally speaking, they should ride as far to the right of the road as safely practicable except when overtaking other bikes or other vehicles; when preparing to make a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; or, when approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. Additionally, they may move to the left when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions such as hazards, parked vehicles, pedestrians etc.

When in a bike lane, the following rules apply to motorists. Motorists must not drive a motor vehicle in a bike lane except to park where permitted; to enter or leave a driveway; or to prepare to make a turn within 200 feet of an intersection.

While operating the bike, the rider shall not carry any object or bundle which prevents him for keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.

The law requires certain safety equipment. Riders under the age of 18 must wear a certified helmet, properly fitted and fastened at all times. Brakes are required. The handlebars shall not be raised above the level of the shoulders. If riding at night, the following equipment is necessary:  A lamp visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides; a rear red reflector; white or yellow reflectors on each pedal, shoe or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bike for a distance of 200 feet; a white or yellow reflector on each side on the front and back half of the bike or reflectorized wheels.

By following the above rules, bicyclists will reduce their risk of injury and share the road safely with motor vehicles. When the rules of the road are violated, there can be serious consequences for the bicyclist. If you know someone who has been involved in a serious bike accident, it is critical that a thorough investigation be conducted immediately. Experienced legal counsel should be retained to obtain witnesses statements and scene photographs at or near the time when the accident occurred. The bike itself should be preserved to establish that it was equipped in compliance with the law. As always, do not speak directly with any insurance adjusters until you have sought legal advice.


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