Sidewalk Bicycle Accident Attorneys Los Angeles
In Los Angeles, many bicyclists choose to ride their bicycles on sidewalks in areas in which riding on the streets is unsafe. While riding your bicycle on a sidewalk might help to keep you somewhat separated from traffic, sidewalk accidents involving bicycles and motor vehicles still sometimes occur. Many cycling advocates will tell you that riding on the street is safer than riding on sidewalks because motorists do not expect to see cyclists on sidewalks and frequently fail to check for them. If you have been injured in a sidewalk bicycle accident, you should talk to the attorneys at the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC. We have years of experience and can help you understand the merits of your case and the legal remedies that might be available.Is Riding a Bicycle on the Sidewalk Legal?
Under Cal. Veh. Code § 21206, California does not have a state law prohibiting riding bicycles on sidewalks. Instead, individual cities make that determination.
In the City of Los Angeles, riding bicycles on sidewalks is permitted as long as cyclists do not do so in a willful or wanton disregard of the safety of others under LAMC § 56.15. However, numerous other cities in Los Angeles County and the county itself have ordinances that prohibit people from riding bicycles on sidewalks.
Under Los Angeles County Code § 15.76.080, cyclists in the county are prohibited from riding bicycles on sidewalks except in areas in which the county has determined it is appropriate and has placed signage. If you live in the county or in a different city than Los Angeles, you will need to check your city's ordinances to determine whether you can legally ride your bicycle on the sidewalks.Responsibilities of Cyclists When Riding Bicycles on Sidewalks
Riding a bicycle on the sidewalks does not obviate your need to follow all of the laws contained in the California Vehicle Code. Under Cal. Veh. Code § 21200, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities when operating their bicycles as motorists do. Some of these responsibilities include the following:
- Obey all traffic signals under Cal. Veh. Code § 21462, including when approaching intersections while on a sidewalk
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks under Cal. Veh. Code § 21950
The provision in the Los Angeles Municipal Code that states that you must not ride your bicycle in a willful or want manner on a sidewalk means that you should ride at a slower speed, yield pedestrians the right of way, and watch for doors or vehicles entering from side streets and alleys. You also cannot ride your bicycle on the roads or sidewalks while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.Common Types of Bicycle Accidents on Sidewalks
Bike vs. vehicle accidents sometimes occur on sidewalks in Los Angeles. Some of the most common scenarios include motorists crashing into cyclists when the motorists are exiting parking structures or parking lots. Motorists exiting garages, driveways, and alleys also sometimes crash into cyclists on sidewalks when they fail to notice them or check before driving over the walkways.
Bike riders also sometimes are hit by motor vehicles when they are crossing the road at an intersection in the crosswalk after coming off of a sidewalk. Drivers are supposed to yield to pedestrians and cyclists in crosswalks at intersections when the pedestrians and cyclists have signals to cross.Liability in Bike Accidents on Sidewalks
Following a bike accident involving a motor vehicle, the cyclist might be seriously injured. In many cases, the responding police officer will cite the cyclist instead of the motorist. However, the fact that police officers placed the blame on the cyclists in their accident reports does not necessarily mean that the cyclists will be found to be at fault in their accident claims. An experienced injury lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation of what happened to determine liability. Insurance companies also conduct investigations to make liability determinations in accident claims.
Under Cal. Veh. Code § 20013, accident reports prepared by responding police officers cannot be admitted as evidence in any civil or criminal trial arising from the collisions. The police officer's opinion about who was at fault is considered to be hearsay. However, an attorney can use the officer's report to refresh his or her memory when testifying at the trial or to impeach the officer's testimony if he or she testifies to something different than what is written in the report.
Your injury lawyer might work with an accident reconstruction expert to help determine what happened in the moments prior to the collision and who was at fault. This can help to support the basis for claims when negotiating with the insurance companies following bike collisions with vehicles on sidewalks.
Insurance companies typically dispute their insureds' liability following bike crashes. Having the help of an experienced attorney when dealing with your claim might make the difference in your ability to recover compensation for your losses and injuries.What if the Cyclist is Partially at Fault?
Under Cal. Civ. Code § 1714, every person is responsible for the injuries he or she causes to others because of his or her negligent or willful acts. California adopted pure comparative negligence in Li v. Yellow Cab Co., 532 P.2d 1226 (1975).
Even if you are found to be partially at fault for your bike crash, you will not be barred from recovering some compensation for your losses. Pure comparative negligence means that you could theoretically recover a percentage of your damages even if you were 99% at fault. However, your damages award would be reduced by your percentage of fault, so in that type of scenario, you would be limited to recovering 1%. Because of that, filing an injury claim when you were primarily at fault will likely not be economically feasible.
For an example of how comparative negligence might work, imagine that a jury determines your damages to be valued at $100,000 but finds that you were 20% at fault. Your gross verdict award would be reduced by 20%, so you would then recover a net verdict award of $80,000.
Even when a motorist was clearly at fault, the insurance company will likely still try to dispute liability and argue that the cyclist was at least partially at fault. Insurance companies do this to try to reduce the amount that they might be forced to pay to bike accident victims. Retaining an experienced attorney to handle your claim can help you to gather evidence to support your claim of liability against the motorist. Your lawyer should understand the types of evidence that you will need and present it in such a way that the insurance company might decide that settling your claim instead of risking a potential loss at trial is in the company's best interests. Your lawyer should also be willing to fight for your rights at a jury trial if the insurance company fails to extend a reasonable settlement offer.Schedule a Consultation With the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC
If you have sustained serious injuries in a collision while riding your bike on Los Angeles's sidewalks, you should consult an injury attorney at the law firm of Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC. Mr. Sweat has fought for the rights of negligence victims in California since 1995, and he can help you understand the legal merits of your claim. Call us today to request a free consultation at 866-966-5240.