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Now that cycling has become more popular, many cities are adding bike lanes to the road. While this can help increase the safety of cyclists, it can lead to other types of risks as well. If you or a loved one was injured in a bike lane accident, it is important that you contact a Palo Alto bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible to help you seek the compensation that you may be entitled to receive. At Ziff & Cohn, we have handled many of these cases for people throughout the Bay Area, and we understand the challenges that you are facing in the aftermath of a crash.
As most bicycle riders know, bikes have just as much right to the road as cars. There are laws in place that help drivers and cyclists safely share the road. California laws provide that cyclists who are not able to keep pace with motor vehicles must ride in bike lanes, if available. If there is no bike lane, cyclists should ride on the side of the road. However, if you are passing, preparing for a left turn, avoiding a hazard, or approaching an area that allows for right turns, you can move toward the center of the lane. Bicycles should also ride with traffic and follow the rules of the road.
Cars are not permitted to drive in the bike lane unless they are making a right turn. It is also impermissible for cars to park in the bike lane, although this still happens. Whenever a car driver violates a bike lane rule or otherwise fails to respect the rights of the cyclist, causing injury, the cyclist may be able to bring a personal injury claim for damages against the driver. Our attorneys can help you establish liability against a careless driver.
Generally, this process involves showing that the driver failed to use reasonable care around the cyclist and caused the accident and injuries as a result. For example, the driver may have been distracted and failed to take note of a bike next to them. Or they may have been driving while drunk or excessively fatigued, such that they were not alert to their surroundings. These are just some examples of careless behavior that can cause bike lane accidents. A driver who is found liable for causing a crash may be required to pay damages to the victim for their lost income, medical expenses, costs of future treatment, pain and suffering, damage to the bicycle, and more. (Most often, the driver’s insurer will be on the hook for this money and will litigate the case.)
The most common place for cars and bicycles to collide is at an intersection, especially when a car is making a right turn, and the cyclist is going straight. Since the driver of the vehicle will often need to move into the bike lane to prepare for the turn, that may result in an accident.
Another common kind of bike lane accident is when drivers or passengers open the car door, and the cyclist collides with the door. In almost all of these cases, the person opening the door will be liable for any injuries to the cyclist.
Another kind of bicycle accident that can occur in a bike lane is when the lane is not properly maintained. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may be able to hold a municipality accountable if it has been negligent in the planning or maintenance of the bicycle lane, or if it has failed to clear away debris or other hazards promptly. Cyclists should do their best to avoid these hazards, but sometimes this is not possible.
If you were injured in a bike lane accident, we are ready to assist you with exploring your legal options. Our attorneys have helped college students, commuters, and people injured in other situations fight for their rights while they cope with their injuries. Ziff & Cohn assists bicycle accident victims in Palo Alto, Los Altos, Mountain View, Stanford, Portola Valley, Woodside, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, San Jose, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Redwood City, Burlingame, San Mateo, San Bruno, Daly City, San Francisco, Alameda, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Fremont, Hayward, Oakland, Pleasanton, San Leandro, and Union City, among other Bay Area cities. Contact us at (650) 329-0851 or online for a free appointment to discuss your case.