Protecting Yourself and Your Rights as a Cyclist in California

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California is a busy place. With roughly 40 million people living there, people are constantly on the move, going from one place to the next, driving in cars, riding on public transit, and of course, riding bikes. Being a cyclist is a great way to get around: it’s good for the environment, it eases traffic, and you’re making yourself healthier while you’re at it. But while cycling itself is a healthy way to get around, there are others out there who can represent a serious danger to cyclists.

Drivers and cyclists collide at an alarming rate. Many of these accidents are caused by negligent drivers. To protect yourself as a cyclist, you need to be proactive as you ride, and have an understanding your legal rights in case an accident should happen.

A world of danger for cyclists

There are nearly fifteen million registered vehicles in the state of California, and nearly as many opportunities for a bicycle-vehicle accident to occur. Vehicles can strike cyclists. They can be parked in bike lanes. Their doors can open suddenly and “door” cyclists, causing serious injuries. Cars can cut cyclists off, force them into new lanes, clip them when turning, and more.

But the cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans that do all of these things don’t do them on their own. These accidents are caused by negligent drivers.

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Anticipating mistakes and riding defensively

You can’t control what negligent people do behind the wheels of cars and other vehicles. But, as a responsible and skilled cyclist, there’s a lot that you can do to protect yourself. You should always wear the proper safety gear when you ride your bike. A helmet is an absolute must, and additional safety gear is never a bad idea.

You should also practice defensive cycling. Never assume you know what a driver is going to do, and don’t challenge the recklessness and stupidity of others on the road: being in the right is not enough to avoid an accident!

Unfortunately, there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of being in a bicycle accident — not in California nor anywhere else. If, and when, you are involved in an accident, you need to protect your rights and your finances.

Fighting back in court

Cyclists have rights under California law. Lawmakers in counties, cities, and towns across the state have set rules and established bike lanes to protect cyclists. When drivers violate these rules, they break the law; when their reckless and negligent violations result in an injury to a cyclist, these drivers can be held accountable in court.

If you’re injured in a bicycle accident that was not your fault, you could have the makings of a personal injury lawsuit, and it would be wise to consult with a bicycle accident lawyer who understands California laws. In a personal injury lawsuit, a person injured as the result of someone else’s negligence can recover funds. That money can be a lifesaver when the injured party is dealing with the staggering expenses that emerge from a bicycle accident: hospital bills, physical therapy bills, wages lost due to an inability to work, and so much more.

If you do set up a consultation with an accident lawyer, bring documentation like police reports and medical bills, and explain your situation. Only accept legal advice from a trained attorney familiar with your case. Your attorney will lay out your options, and you can begin fighting for what’s yours following a bicycle accident.