With endless coastline and perpetual sunshine, it’s no wonder that so many bicyclists consider San Diego as one of the best cities for cycling. Whether you bike with your family, ride competitively, or even commute to work, biking takes responsibility and careful attention. Unfortunately, even the most vigilant bicyclist can get injured in an accident when reckless drivers fail to pay attention to others on the road.
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Given that a bicycle is fundamentally different than a vehicle—no airbags, no anti-lock brakes—injuries can be life-threatening even if the collision occurred at low speeds. Despite using a helmet or other safety gear, ultimately, a rider is no match against a moving vehicle.
Riders who have been involved in an accident often report injuries ranging from broken bones to internal organ damage, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury or other catastrophic bodily injury. In some of the most tragic cases, bicyclist injuries can lead to wrongful death, leaving family members devastated and seeking answers in wake of their loss.
COMMON CAUSES OF BICYCLE ACCIDENTS
While the majority of bicycle accidents are caused by careless drivers, in some cases, accidents can be caused by product defect, unsafe road signage, poor roadway design or other instances of negligence. The following list is certainly not exhaustive; in our experience, bicycle injuries can be caused by a multitude of exceptional reasons. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident of unique circumstance, talk to a lawyer who specializes in niche cases like yours to better understand your next steps.
Here’s how most bicycle accidents occur in California.
By and far, unsafe drivers top the list of common causes of bicycle accidents in California. Unfortunately, some drivers are simply reckless and they fail to recognize bicyclists on the road. Careless drivers can often be found at-fault for the bicycle accident because they may have:
- Failed to share the roadway
- Failed to make a full and complete stop
- Failed to give the bicyclist the right-of-way
- Failed to drive at the posted speed limit
- Made an unsafe turn
- Made an otherwise unsafe or illegal maneuver
- Cut off the bicyclist
Unsafe Roadways or Bike Trails
The city of San Diego is responsible for making our roadways safe for all—drivers, pedestrians, and of course, bicyclists. In some cases, roads are simply unsafe, leading to bicycle accidents that could have otherwise been prevented. Some causes for unsafe roadways include:
- Poor or insufficient lighting
- Obscure signage
- Uneven pavement
- Faded traffic lines
- Failure to properly mark bicycle lanes
Roadways must be designed to accommodate all travelers with ease. If a roadway is poorly designed or causes the rider to be at-risk for vehicle collision, the city can be held responsible for the accident.
Faulty Bicycle Design
In some cases, a rider can be injured by the bicycle itself due to poor or faulty design. If parts fall off or erode due to sub-quality materials, including poorly-made factory screws or washers, injuries can be imminent.
In the face of poor quality control, a defective helmet can sadly make it to store shelves and into the hands (and onto the head) of an unsuspecting bicyclist—or even a child. Given that there’s no reasonable way a person would know if the helmet was defective, the responsibility would likely lie on the manufacturer to catch a bad helmet before it reaches store shelves.
It goes without saying that riding a bicycle through a construction zone should be approached with caution. But even the most watchful bicyclist can sustain an injury when construction zones are not properly planned. Signage must remain clear and cones, if necessary, must guide ALL traffic safely through the construction zone. If poor planning, however, has led to an injury, the construction company can be found at-fault for your bicycle accident.
TYPES OF BICYCLE ACCIDENT INJURIES
Bicyclists who have been injured in a San Diego accident often report injuries such as:
Broken bones are a common type of injury sustained by bicyclists involved in an accident. Because a rider may often be thrown off the bike following impact, fractures can be severe. Physical therapy can be expected for months or years after sustaining one or more broken bones and ongoing surgeries are also a likely outcome. In some cases, full restoration of movement can never be achieved, leaving the injured cyclist with a lifetime of pain and reduced mobility.
Some of the most severe injuries sustained in a bike accident are head injuries. Sadly, head injuries can dramatically affect an individual’s quality of life given the serious implications of brain damage. A person may never be the same. The complexity of the brain damage, the severity of any lacerations, and the degree of head impact may all contribute to partial or complete loss of bodily and cognitive functions.
Following a head injury, a person may no longer be able to speak or their cognitive function of speech may be dramatically altered. An individual may not be able to do common activities anymore. For example, things like driving a vehicle or preparing a meal may no longer be feasible. Tragically, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most serious consequences following a bike accident.
A TBI can lead to a completely altered state of life for the injured person AND his or her family.
Damage to the spine can lead to other medical consequences such as paralysis, loss of physical sensation, loss of dexterity in the hands and limbs, bladder or bowel dysfunction, breathing problems and other types of medical implications. Spinal cord injuries can turn an injured person’s life upside-down considering the months or years of physical therapy needed to restore some, if any, bodily function.
Bicycle accidents can lead to paralysis such as:
- Monoplegia: Paralysis affecting one arm or leg
- Hemiplegia: One arm and one leg on one side of the body
- Paraplegia: Both legs affected
- Quadriplegia: Both arms and both legs affected
Spinal injuries are emotionally difficult as much as they are physically difficult given the way this injury can affect the outcome of life.
Internal Organ Damage
Soft tissue injury can cause internal bleeding, lacerations, partial or complete loss of an organ, pierced bowels, blood loss, infection or other catastrophic bodily injury. Many cyclists who have been injured in a so-called “low impact” accident may fail to get immediate medical attention despite injuries that cannot be seen by the naked eye. In many cases, these cyclists can later develop an infection or they may experience increased internal bleeding that can lead to worsening symptoms or even death.
The midsection of a human body is inherently vulnerable to injury. With essentially only skin and muscle protecting the stomach, it’s no wonder that abdominal injuries sustained in a bike accident can be severe. Injuries can range from lacerations, to puncture wounds, internal bleeding, loss of organ function, and other catastrophic bodily injury. In cases of abdominal injury, surgery can be expected. For many injured individuals, it may take weeks, months or even years to fully recover. Unfortunately, some people may never fully recover from abdominal injuries sustained in the wake of a bike accident.
A blow to the chest by a moving vehicle can lead to broken ribs, collapsed lungs, a broken sternum or ruptured diaphragm, heart pain, artery damage, and even a ruptured aorta which can tragically lead to the cyclist’s wrongful death. Needless to say, chest injuries can affect an injured bicyclist for years to come and the individual may require ongoing medical care for the rest of his or her life.
WHEN TO FILE A BICYCLE INJURY CLAIM
Injured bicyclists will often take legal action to seek justice and to get their lives back on track. Medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life—these difficult and stressful accident outcomes are generally not the fault of the injured person. If you have been hurt in a bicycle accident, take action as soon as possible to ensure all of your legal rights are preserved.
No matter how your bicycle accident was caused—whether by faulty design or a negligent driver—our lawyers can help you file a claim and seek justice for your case. So many bicyclists have complex circumstances that require immediate professional advice—if that sounds like you, our lawyers are the experts you need for help right now.
Call the bicycle accident attorneys at Pines Salomon, APC and speak to a lawyer 24/7 with no out-of-pocket fees. There is NO cost to speak to us and we don’t collect anything unless we win your case. Call us at 858-551-2090 and speak to a lawyer right now.