Personal Injury Law Blog

Average Bicycle Accident Settlement Amounts in California

When a car negligently hits a cyclist, the injured cyclist deserves compensation for their resulting injuries. 

bicycle accident settlement california

Bicycle accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or death due to bicyclists’ lack of protection when matched against a vehicle. In fact, from 2016 to 2018, California led the country with the highest number of fatal bicycle accidents during any three years in the past twenty-five years. 

As a bicyclist, there are several steps you can take to ensure your safety. However, if you were involved in a bicycle accident, one of your first steps should be to contact a personal injury attorney to file a bicycle injury lawsuit in California. 

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

The pattern of events leading up to a bicycle injury lawsuit in California varies from victim to victim. Many people opt to ride bicycles to commute instead of driving. However, riding a bike on roadways with vehicle traffic increases your risk of injury. The following discusses the most common causes of bicycle accidents involving cars.  

Door Accidents

Door accidents occur when a bicyclist rides by a car in the bicycle lane or the right of the roadway and the door of a parked car suddenly swings out into their path. In these situations, the cyclist collides with the car door, and there is nothing the bicyclist can do to avoid the accident. 

Based on California Vehicle Code Section 22517, no one should open a door on the side of moving traffic unless it is safe to do so. Fault for these types of accidents is generally placed on the driver. Many drivers cause this type of accident by failing to check their mirrors before opening their car door. Bicyclists can work to avoid this type of accident by riding at least four feet away from parked vehicles.

Driveway and Side Street 

Cars often appear out of nowhere for bicyclists, particularly in populated cities where driveways and side streets hide parked vehicles. Drivers must enter all roadways safely by checking to ensure that bicyclists are not present. Many bicyclists ensure drivers see them by using a headlight and making eye contact. However, some drivers may not see a bicyclist ride by as they back out of the driveway. Additionally, a driver may be looking in another direction and fail to see the bicyclist riding toward them from the other direction. 

Failure to Yield

Some drivers fail to understand that they must yield to bicyclists on roadways. For example, when a bicyclist is riding on a road, all drivers must treat them as if they were a vehicle. However, many drivers fail to do this. For example, they may turn in front of a bicyclist at a four-way stop intersection—even if it is the bicyclist’s turn.

Sideswipe Cutoff Accidents 

Sideswipe accidents occur commonly and are typically due to a driver failing to use caution or take notice of a bicyclist behind them. These accidents commonly occur when a bicyclist rides in the bike lane and a driver turns right in front of them. The driver fails to recognize that the bicyclist may go straight and collide with the car. Fault in these accidents typically lands on the driver, as the driver most likely made an unsafe turn. 

Factors Affecting a Bicycle Injury Lawsuit in California 

Just as the causes of bicycle accidents may vary, bicycle accident settlement amounts also depend on each case’s particular facts and circumstances. A bike accident insurance payout generally depends on the following major factors. 

Severity of Injury 

The severity of your resulting injuries impacts the value of your bicycle injury lawsuit in California. Medical expenses and the need for long-term care and rehabilitation impact lawsuit values. Additionally, if injuries resulting from a bicycle accident cause permanent injuries, that can increase the value of any bicycle injury lawsuit in California.

Liability

Liability is a key factor affecting the value of a bicycle injury lawsuit in California. Your attorney may obtain evidence of liability from a police accident report. In many accident reports, police officers express an opinion on fault based on their unbiased view and understanding of the events leading up to the accident. Other evidence of fault can come from photographs of the scene and witness testimony.

There may be instances where a bicyclist and a driver both carry fault for the resulting accident. It’s important to remember that California is a comparative negligence state. Comparative negligence means that even if you are partially responsible for your bicycle accident, this does not bar you from recovering compensation for your injuries and damages. This fact does, however, impact how much compensation you may recover. For example, if you are 10% at fault for your accident and obtain a $50,000 judgment in compensation, your 10% liability reduces your compensatory award to $45,0000. 

Insurance

A cyclist hit by a car may seek compensation through the at-fault driver’s insurance. Therefore, determining the coverage limits of the driver’s insurance policy is a critical factor in bicycle accident settlement amounts. It’s essential to understand who will pay, the limitations of any insurance policy, and how these facts impact a bike accident insurance payout. 

California requires all drivers to obtain a minimum amount of insurance coverage, including $15,000 per person, $30,000 per incident, and $5,000 for property damage. However, a bike accident insurance payout of $15,000 may barely tap the surface of your injuries after a devastating bicycle accident. In that case, you may need to explore other avenues of recovery, such as through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.

Many insurance companies may use a bicycle accident settlement calculator to provide a low-ball value for your claim. For this reason, it’s crucial to seek the legal assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney. Your attorney can work to negotiate with the insurance company to obtain fair and just compensation for your injuries. 

Contact Us

Joshua Glotzer and Daniel Leib of Glotzer & Leib, LLP help accident victims recover just compensation after suffering injuries due to another’s negligent conduct. With over 50 years of combined legal experience, the attorneys at Glotzer & Leib, LLP empower clients to focus on getting better while working hard to secure just compensation on their behalf. After a bicycle accident, you may understandably feel scared, confused, and overwhelmed. We are here to help. We assist clients regardless of their financial situation. Contact our office today for a free consultation and find out how to get on the road to recovery.

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