PERSONAL INJURY BLOG

Who is at Fault for Cycling Accidents at Intersections?

Tuesday, September 05, 2017
woman cycling to work in the city approaching at an intersection
As the world is still learning to share the road with cyclists, riding your bike to work or for fun, especially on busy city streets, can be a dangerous experience, more so than getting in a car to drive each day. However, one of the most common areas for cycling accidents is at intersections. Cars aren’t sure how to treat cyclists, cyclists are unsure how cars are going to react, and as everyone tries to figure out who has the right of way, accidents happen. However, discovering who is at fault is all about knowing who had the right of way.

The key to figuring out who has the right of way at an intersection is to assess the environment. When there are no traffic lights at an intersection and you are merely dealing with stops signs, the vehicle that arrives first will always have the right of way, and yes, this includes bicycles. Unfortunately, it can be a huge contributing factor for accidents since cars don’t see bicycles as vehicles of equal measure on the road.

Unfortunately, crossing an intersection on a bicycle can be even trickier at an intersection with traffic lights. Occasionally, bicycles are not heavy enough to trigger sensor-controlled lights. This can leave them waiting for quite a long time until a car comes up behind them. In these cases, some states are passing laws that state a bicycle can cross on red if it is safe, but in California, it will still be the cyclist’s fault if they cross on red and are hit.

If you have been in a bicycle accident, then it is more likely that you weren’t able to limp away without damage to either your person or your bicycle. However, if you had the right of way at an intersection and the car is at fault for your accident, then you have the right to compensation. If you have been in a bicycle accident and need representation, contact us today.

Most Drivers Could Do with Refresher Training

Monday, September 15, 2014

The last time most motorists underwent a proper driver education program or driver training course, was when they received their license. Unlike commercial drivers or fleet drivers, motorists are not required to get their driving skills upgraded, and that, according to new research, could be a problem. Los Angeles car accident lawyers believe that there could be far too many motorists driving on Los Angeles roads, with inadequate knowledge of driving safety or driving laws.

In a study that was conducted recently, researchers found that motorists were unable to clearly figure out how much stopping distance to leave between their vehicle and the car in front. In approximately 50% of the cases, they overestimated the stopping distance, while only 16% of the motorists were able to remember the stopping distance that they learned in their driving education program.

But motorists are not required to undergo a driver education program to upgrade their driving knowledge of driving laws. For instance, the laws related to distracted driving, or speeding, bicycle safety and other laws frequently change in California. Motorists could benefit with upgraded driver training modules that allow them to stay updated with changes in the laws. A new law in California, for instance, now requires motorists to maintain a minimum of 3-feet passing distance when they pass by a bicyclist. A motorist who is not even aware of this new law could be at serious risk of causing a bicycle accident, and getting a traffic violation citation on his record.

The researchers are calling for at least periodic retraining of motorists to learn about the latest driving safety laws, and refresh their driving skills.

NTSB Makes Several Trucking Safety Recommendations

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The National Transportation Safety Board has made several recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urging the federal agency to take more steps to increase tractor-trailer safety, and reduce the risk of truck accidents involving these vehicles.

The recommendations were triggered by a safety study that was conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board in 2013. One of the most important recommendations involves the mitigation of blind spots behind and around the tractor-trailer. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the blind spots around the tractor-trailer can easily cause accidents involving passenger vehicles simply because the truck driver cannot see these vehicles.

Every vehicle has its blind spots. Even your average passenger vehicle driver will have several blind spots in his field of vision, which prevent him from seeing motorcycles or bicycles that are in these areas. However, the blind spots that exist for a truck driver are much larger, and because of the sheer impact that a trucking accident can have, it is important to mitigate these hazards. Additionally, there are a number of factors including location, characteristics of the truck mirrors and windows, and the design of the vehicle that can affect the driver's ability to identify and locate passenger vehicles around the truck.

The National Transportation Safety Board in its recommendations especially focuses on the blind spots that exist on the right side of the truck, because it interferes with a large section of the truck driver’s field of view, and therefore, very often results in pedestrian, passenger vehicle, and bicycle accidents.

Motorists must educate themselves about the blind spots in a truck driver’s field of vision, and avoid being in the spot for too long when they're driving around the tractor-trailer.

Alcohol Use Can Increase Risk for Pedestrians

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Walking can be a dangerous activity in California even at the best of times, but if you are walking under the influence alcohol, then your chances of being involved in a fatal accident are much higher.

According to the results of a new analysis of data by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the rates of people who were killed while walking while under the influence of alcohol, has remained very steady over the past two decades. This is even though the number of people driving under the influence of alcohol, has shown a steady downward trend.

Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyers find that many people seem oblivious to the dangers of walking while the under the influence of alcohol.The same holds true for people who are on their bicycles. Bicycling while intoxicated can be an exceedingly dangerous activity, substantially increasing your risk of being involved in an accident. In fact, according to the analysis, alcohol-impaired bicyclist fatalities increased by 45% between 1992 and 2011.

There are specific reasons why pedestrians or bicyclists may be at a much higher risk of being involved in a fatal accident. An intoxicated pedestrian or bicyclist is likely to behave in ways that increase the risk of being involved in an injurious or fatal accident. For instance, an intoxicated pedestrian may walk against a light, or may cross the road at a place where it is not safe to do so, like an intersection or away from a crosswalk. Bicyclists, while intoxicated, may not bother to wear a helmet while riding.

Keep in mind that just a small amount of alcohol is enough to give you a buzz, and impair your walking or bicycling abilities. Even with a small amount of alcohol in your system, your judgment abilities can be impaired enough to be unable to judge the movement of traffic around you.

Lederer Nojima Wins $275,000 Jury Award for Victim of Bicycle Accident

Monday, November 04, 2013

A Santa Monica jury awarded a 21 year old Spanish speaking dishwasher a $275,000 award as a result of being struck on his bike by a pickup truck driven by a retired engineer in Hawthorne California. The jury found that the defendant was 75% at fault for the accident for his failure to properly confirm that he could safely turn right on a red light at this intersection where obstructions partially blocked his view of the direction from which the bike rider was traveling. The jury made this finding despite the fact that the plaintiff was riding his bike on a sidewalk going against traffic on the wrong side of the street and came off the curb outside of the cross walk and against a flashing red “DON’T WALK” sign just before being struck by the defendant’s truck. The plaintiff admitted some fault for the accident, yet the defendant continued his refusal to accept any responsibility or fault for the accident all the way through the trial. The plaintiff sustained a fractured leg requiring surgery at a total cost of $93,000 and which will require a second surgery to remove the hardware in his leg. The defense insurance company, Farmers, sought fit to offer only $6500 to settle this claim while the plaintiff demanded only a fraction of the verdict to settle the case before trial. The plaintiff was represented by Seema Bhatt of the Los Angeles based personal injury firm Lederer & Nojima, LLP.

California Assembly Passes Stringent Bill against Hit-And-Run Offenders

Tuesday, June 04, 2013
There's no denying that Southern California with its extensive population of pedestrians and bicyclists has a severe a hit-and-run problem. The California Assembly recently had good news for Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers and bicycling and pedestrian groups when it passed a bill that is clearly targeted at cracking down on such hit-and-run offenders. AB 184 was recently passed unanimously by the California Assembly, and has now been sent to the Senate.

Under the legislation, law enforcement officers are given more powers and extra tools to crack down on hit-and-run offenses. The statute of limitations for such offenses has been extended to three years from the date of the hit and run offense, or one year after officers identify a suspect, whichever is later.

Under the current law, motorists who have struck a pedestrian or bicyclist and simply fled the scene of the accident are home safe as long as they manage to avoid the statute of limitations. Not only that, the person could actually be free of all criminal liability, even if he is involved in another fatal or injurious hit-and-run accident. This bill however provides police officers a much wider time frame in which they can investigate these crimes, arrest suspects and initiate prosecution.

The Southern California region and Los Angeles in particular has a serious problem with hit-and-run accidents. In fact, Assemblyman Mike Gatto happens to be the representative of a region that has seen a number of such hit-and-run accidents recently. In fact, just one month after the bill was introduced a bicyclist was hit by a minivan, and seriously injured in the Assemblyman’s district. The bicyclist was dragged more than a quarter mile down the highway, resulting in serious leg injuries. Ultimately, his leg had to be amputated because of the injuries. The hit-and-run offender continues to be out there, posing a serious threat to bicyclist safety.

Hit and Run in Rancho Cucamonga Leads to Bicyclist's Death, Suspect Arrested

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Good news is hard to find in such a story: 25 year-old Michael Vega of Norco was riding his bike on a recent evening when he was fatally struck by a white utility truck. Vega was rushed to an Upland hospital where he was pronounced dead. The truck driver fled the scene hoping to evade justice. That evasion may have come to an end if police have the right suspect in custody. If there is any good news at all in this story, it may be that this case will be solved.

Riverside’s Press-Enterprise newspaper confirms that a man has been arrested in connection with the fatal bicycle accident. Jason Cox, a construction worker in the area, was identified as the man driving the truck. Though the arrest came nearly two weeks after the incident, police felt confident that they had the evidence to charge Cox with gross vehicular manslaughter and hit and run that resulted in death. He is also accused of causing the accident while driving drunk at the time of the crash, according to San Bernardino news reports.   

According to the report, tips sent in to We-Tip anonymous crime tip organization lead to the arrest (http://www.wetip.com/). The tip lead Riverside sheriffs to Jason Cox’s home where they questioned him, examined his truck and ultimately arrested him. Though punishing Cox will not bring Michael Vega back, the arrest may signal one more step towards justice. This case is also a stark reminder of the many dangers that Southern California cyclists face on the roadways. 

Newport Beach may be a Risky Place to be a Cyclist

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A recent article in Costa Mesa’s Daily Pilot indicates that the affluent town of Newport Beach is not a safe area to be a cyclist. The article relays information from the California Office of Traffic Safety informing readers that, in 2010, Newport Beach was ranked among the worst cities for bicycle safety in California when compared to cities of similar size in the state. Bicycle accidents account for a higher percentage of injuries in the community compared to others in the same category (http://articles.dailypilot.com/2012-09-21/news/tn-dpt-0922-safety-20120921_1_cyclist-fatalities-bike-accidents-crashes). Though the community may be highly attractive, bicyclists may think twice about riding there especially if they are seniors. 

Throughout the nation, seniors are the most vulnerable pedestrians and bicyclists. According to the Alliance for Biking & Walking’s most recent national report, adults over the age of 65 account for 10% of walking trips, yet comprise 19% of pedestrian fatalities. This same demographic accounts for 6% of bicycling trips, yet suffers 10% of bicycle-related fatalities (http://www.peoplepoweredmovement.org/site/images/uploads/Media_Fact_Sheet_-_Benchmarking_2012.pdf).  

California cities that have a high percentage of seniors and retirees should probably do more to ensure pedestrian and bicycle safety. In Newport Beach,  according to the 2010 census, 25,322 people in the city (29.7%) were aged 45 to 64 and 16,162 people (19.0%) were 65 years of age or older. Since Newport Beach is so highly attractive to people in the upper age demographic, it seems reasonable that they would do more to ensure bike safety since such a high percentage of the population is statistically at risk. Newport Beach officials clearly value the safety of residents; perhaps the recent report will help them solve a problem before it's too late.  

Los Angeles Bicyclists Face Higher Risk of Fatal Accidents than the National Average

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

According to a recent study released by the University of Michigan, Los Angeles pedestrians and bicyclists are at at a significantly higher risk of being killed by automobile drivers than the national average. The Los Angeles Times reports that the study shows a much higher risk of death for Los Angeles bicyclists and pedestrians than in other areas with the exception of New York ().

Pedestrians throughout Los Angeles accounted for approximately one third of all traffic-related deaths; this is almost triple the nation’s average of 11.4%. For bicycle accidents that involved automobiles the fatality rate was approximately 3%. That is significantly higher than the 1.7% national average for bicycle accidents that involved motor vehicles. The report does not include data about accidents that resulted in serious injury as the result of Los Angeles area bike accidents. A reasonable assumption could be made that pedestrians and bicyclists in LA are at greater risk of serious injury than the national average.

The Times story also indicates what most Los Angeles bicyclists know: the city spends much more money and effort on keeping automobile lanes running “efficiently” than it does improving bike lanes and taking safety measures that would further aid bicycle safety.  Automobile safety should be important. But cyclists and pedestrians are at such extreme risk that greater safety measures seem imperative.

A Los Angeles automobile accident is always serious. When injuries are involved, the possibility for tragedy looms. But many car accidents do not involve injuries. The property damage, police reports, and insurance negotiations may lead to headaches but these are often the only consequences. When a bike versus car or pedestrian accident occurs, the injuries are almost never minor. Knowing this and having the Michigan study available begs the question: will Los Angeles do more to ensure bicycle and pedestrian safety? 

Los Angeles Bicyclists Often Face Serious Injuries and Massive Medical Bills

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

California Senate Bill 1464 requires drivers to keep at least three feet of clearance between their vehicles and a bicycle headed in the same direction.  The bill was introduced by state Senator Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach and awaits final approval by the assembly. It arises from a problem that cannot be ignored in a state with vast amounts of year-round bicycling weather. 

When Los Angeles area bicyclists travel the Mulholland Highway Loop or pedal along the Los Angeles River through densely populated areas, windy roads and traffic-filled streets, they have a right to feel safe. Unfortunately, LA bicycle enthusiasts can end up becoming injured or killed as the result of unsafe road conditions and other factors. Many times cars and trucks are to blame for the bike accidents that cause tragedy. Often these motorists are underinsured. Though Senate Bill 1464 may make streets safer if law enforcement can devise a reasonable way to enforce it, the bill will not solve the problem of uninsured or underinsured motorists.  


Many Los Angeles motorists do not have adequate insurance to cover the catastrophic injuries that cyclists can suffer.California law has longrequired that all motorists have liability insurance. In California, manydrivers purchase the legally allowed minimum coverage. But the injuries sustained in a bicycle accident involving an automobile can far exceed the limits of coverage. When the cost of an injured bicyclist’s injuries exceed the coverage provided by the at-fault driver, an under-insured claim may be filed against the bicyclist’s insurance company or against the at-fault motorist. But if a driver is uninsured or underinsured, they may also not have the assets to compensate the injured cyclist. The legal complexities, physical struggles and financial difficulties involved require attorneys experienced in this area of the law. Despite the best efforts of the state senate, litigation may still be necessary to ensure safety for Los Angeles’ many cycling enthusiasts.   


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