You were following the rules of the road: signaling before turning, staying far to the right, and even using the crosswalk in order to cross several lanes of traffic. You know that the driver who struck you was at fault for the crash—and unlike you, he was able to walk away. So how can you make sure a jury awards you enough to pay your medical bills?

How Bicycle Road Rules Affect Car-Bike Crash Liability

The first step in your accident case is to examine who and what could have played a role in the accident. Under California law, bikers are required to stay at the far right side of the road, or in a dedicated bike lane, unless they can keep up with the flow of traffic around them. Unfortunately, this will often place the biker in a prime position to be struck by passing cars, cars turning right, or by a driver in a parked car on the left opening his door.

Here are just a few ways cyclists have been injured by passing cars:

  • No “safe” distance. Because their right-of-the-road position places them at particular risk of accidents from other drivers, there are additional traffic rules that require all passing cars to maintain a safe space around the biker. While many agree that three feet is a minimum safe distance, not all drivers will leave enough space—and many are unable to judge a precise distance when passing a cyclist.
  • Mirrors. Even when a driver leaves enough room between his car and a cyclist, he may forget that his mirrors stick out further than the width of his car, knocking the biker to the ground.
  • Trucks and buses. The larger the vehicle, the more difficult it is to maintain a safe space cushion around a cyclist while passing. Big Blue Buses and large trucks aren’t the only problem on Santa Monica streets, as an increasing number of oversized SUVs are overwhelming the roads—including the bike lanes.

One thing is certain: if a driver made contact with you, then he could be held responsible for your loss of income and hospital bills. However, insurance adjusters may suggest that you were somehow at fault for the accident in an effort to deny your claim. Attorney Peter Steinberg is an avid cyclist and has seen firsthand the injuries and difficulties bikers have when recovering from a crash. In his book, 7 Big Mistakes to Avoid After a Motorcycle or Bicycle Accident, Mr. Steinberg provides an overview of what to expect in your case and how to protect your rights from the very beginning. Click the link on this page to begin reading your free copy!


Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982
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