Article Updated: August 3, 2021


Bicycle Accident Lawyer


 

If you are searching for a bicycle accident lawyer, the Injury Advocates Group legal team is intimately familiar with litigating bicycle accident cases.

One of our lawyers previously settled a bicycle accident case where the claimant had approximately $5,000 in  medical expenses.  The insurance company tried to use the low medical bill total to limit the value of the case, but we’ve handled that argument dozens of times before.

Using aggressive negotiating, we convinced the insurance company to offer $50,000 to settle the case, despite the fact the client only had a few months of symptoms and medical treatment.

Keep reading to see more bicycle accident settlement amounts, liability information, and strategy for your case.


Table of Contents



Bicycle Accident Liability


What are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?Bicycle Accident: Cyclist being doored

This is not an exhaustive list, but the available research shows that most bike accidents happen due to one of the following reasons:

  • Car door opened into path of bicycle
  • Distracted driver side swiped cyclist
  • Car driver did not do head check when bicycle was in blind spot
  • Impatient driver tried to squeeze by bicyclist
  • Driver failed to see the bicycle
  • Car or cyclist did not make a full stop at stop sign
  • Dog ran into cyclist’s path
  • Dangerous pothole in bicycle’s path
  • Car backed up into bicycle
  • Car tried to pass bicycle when it was unsafe
  • Left turning vehicle did not yield the right of way
  • A Right turning vehicle cuts a cyclist off
  • Car parked illegally in bicycle lane
  • Pedestrian stepping into bicycle’s path from between parked cars

These are not just common causes of bike accidents.  These are situations where the cyclist is likely entitled to compensation because someone else was negligent and is responsible for any injuries the bicyclist suffered in the accident.

Insurance adjusters have a checklist of items they look for when trying to deny bicycle accident claims.  These are not as common sense as they are in car accident cases.  For bicycle accidents, it is even more important to speak with a bike accident lawyer before you speak with the negligent person’s insurance company.

The above are common causes of bicycle accidents.  For more comprehensive research on bicycle accident statistics, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s page on National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior.

What Laws Do Bicycles in Los Angeles Have to Follow?

Table of California Bicycle Laws

Bicycles are Vehicles

Although it is not the case in California, in many states, a bicycle is considered a vehicle.

Even in California where bicycles are not considered vehicles, they are statutorily required to follow all motor vehicle laws.  That means if you are riding a bicycle in Los Angeles you must follow the same rules that cars have to follow on the road.

This is important because if a cyclist has the same responsibility as a car on the roadway, and doesn’t follow a rule like stopping fully at a stop sign, it can reduce the bicyclist’s compensation for a bike accident.

No Bicycles on Sidewalk

Because bicycles are considered vehicles, that means, just like a car, a cyclist cannot ride a bicycle down a sidewalk.

For example, if you ride a bicycle down a sidewalk and are hit by a car backing out a driveway, you may be entitled to no compensation or less compensation because you broke the law.  In that scenario, the driver backing up expects fast moving cars and bicycles in the road, but not coming down the sidewalk.

Stay in Right Lane 

Typically, cyclists must stay in the far right lane except when it is unsafe to do so or when making a left hand turn. That general rule is described in different ways, with more specific exceptions, in each state’s transportation statute.

State Biccyle Laws

You can read here for a good summary of each state’s bicycle laws.


Bicycle Accident Statistics and Data


75% of bicycle accidents happen in urban areas

How Common Are Bicycle Accidents?

In 2018 alone, there were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in the United States.  The majority, 75%, occurred in urban areas.  A staggering 89% of cyclists killed in bicycle accidents were males.

The number of bicycle related deaths and injuries have risen since 2009, when the fatality total was 628.

This highlights that bicycle accidents occur too frequently and cause more harm than if the occupant was protected in a car.  This background should help your understanding of the bicycle accident information below.

What Are the Most Dangerous Cities for Bicyclists?

As of 2020, these cities are known to be the most dangerous to ride your bike in:bicycle accident lawyer helping los angeles cyclists

  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • San Jose, CA
  • Columbus, OH
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Memphis, TN
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Los Angeles, CA

What Are the Safest Cities for Bicyclists?

As of 2020, these are the top ten safest cities to ride your bike in:

  • Oklahoma, OK
  • Boston, MA
  • El Paso, TX
  • Dallas, TX
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • Seattle, WA
  • Detroit, MI
  • Washington DC
  • New York, NY

What 4 Things Should I do after a Bicycle Accident?


Here is a quick check list of the four things you must do after a bicycle accident, and the order you should do them in.

This is what we’ve learned, not just as injury bicycle accident lawyers, but as avid cyclists who ride over a thousand miles every year in Los Angeles and who have, unfortunately, been involved in a bicycle accident.

1.   If you are involved in a bicycle accident, the first thing you should do is take pictures of the license plate of the vehicle that hit you.  Do this before doing anything else!

2.   After you take pictures of the license plate of the car that hit you, get pictures or a short video of the driver that hit you.  A scared driver that strikes a bicyclist may be tempted to drive away.  Even after stopping and checking on you, there is a risk that driver will get back in the car and drive away.  You may have problems proving who the driver is, especially if the driver is not the owner of the vehicle.  A video will eliminate that issue.

3.   Call 911.  You need an officer on the scene to help ensure the driver does not try to drive away, and to get an official report of what happened for insurance purposes.

4.   Retrieve any bicycle equipment that was knocked off your bicycle, such as headlights, taillights, bells, or other safety equipment.  You should show these to the police officer to demonstrate your high visibility, which the officer may include in any written police report.

These are things you should do after a bicycle accident.  We also provide general information on what to do after any vehicle collision.


Can I get a Bicycle Car Accident Settlement if the Car Drove Away?


If you were involved in a hit and run bicycle accident where the vehicle that hit you drove away without stopping, there are ways you can get a settlement or financial recovery.

In the legal world, these hit and run drivers are often called “phantom” vehicles.  Here are some options.

How Can I Find a Car that Hit me While Riding My Bicycle?cctv-cameras can catch hit and run bicycle accident defendants

As mentioned above, most bicycle accidents happen in urban cities.  In contrast to rural areas, cities are littered with surveillance cameras.

New York City, for example, is reported to have over 9,000 surveillance cameras linked to an NYPD central command system.  There are an untold number of thousands additional cameras not linked to that system.

Before seeking alternate avenues of recovery referenced below, a proper investigation should be completed in search of video surveillance that can identify the hit and run driver.

At Injury Advocates Group, our legal team has successfully recovered video surveillance from gas stations, car washes, and nearby buildings which helped us identify who the other driver was, including in a hit and run accident.

Without filing a lawsuit, the companies that have this surveillance will almost never hand it over.  In the rare cases where we got this surveillance without filing a lawsuit, it was because the police collected from the company with a subpoena as part of their investigation.  This only happens in very serious accidents.

You should speak with a bike accident lawyer immediately if there is any chance nearby surveillance could exist.  Many of these surveillance devices record over old recordings every few days or weeks.  Unless a lawyer sends the company with the surveillance equipment a very specific letter, the key evidence in your case could be destroyed and unrecoverable.

What is an Uninsured Bicycle Accident Case?

If a car hit you while you were driving your bicycle but the driver didn’t stop, you could be entitled to uninsured motorist benefits.

These are benefits you can recover from your own car insurance company.  This often applies despite the fact you were not driving the car for which you purchased insurance.

We have helped a client recover money for this type of bicycle accident case.  How much you can claim for a bike accident from your own car insurance company for a bicycle accident where you were hit by a car will depend on a variety of factors, but will be limited by your car insurance policy limits.

Can I Get a Bicycle Car Accident Settlement for a Hit and Run Bicycle Accident?

In some states, you can get a bicycle car accident settlement from a specific state fund if you were in an accident caused by an uninsured vehicle or a vehicle that hit you and drove away without stopping.  These are some of the most complex hit and run accident cases.  They have strict statutory claim and filing requirements.

If you were hit by a car on a bike where the car that hit you drove off, you should call an attorney immediately to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines to recover from sources such as available state funds.

Just be forewarned, in a hit-and-run, a cyclist hit by a car will not get a fast settlement.  These are time-consuming cases, so be prepared to wait for your payout.

If I am Partly at Fault, Can I Still Get a Bicycle Car Accident Settlement?

Even if you are partly to blame for your bicycle accident, you could get a recovery as long as the accident did not happen in the Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia, North Carolina, or Alabama.  Those jurisdictions have a rule called contributory negligence that won’t allow you to get any compensation for a bicycle accident if you were even 1% at fault.

In every other jurisdiction, if you are partly to blame for a bicycle accident, your compensation will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.  For example, if a jury determines you were 10% at fault, and you are awarded $100,000, you would only recover $90,000.

It can be more complicated depending on what type of comparative fault your state follows.  This is because, aside from looking up your state’s comparative fault law, you need to prove your degree of fault is minimal to help ensure you get the most complete compensation available.


How Much is My Bicycle Accident Case and Injury Worth?


Real Life Settlements & Verdicts

Sample Verdict: WEBB v. FARM BUREAU PROP. & CAS. INS., $25,000.  This was a death case, where a young child riding his bicycle was killed.  The $25k represents what appeared to be the entire policy, so I wouldn’t use this case to value a bicycle accident wrongful death case.  The lawsuit was a breach of contract action against the plaintiff’s insurance company to compel them to pay uninsured motorist benefits.

Sample Settlement: WEBSTER v. MCGHEE, $25,000. The defendant driver struck a child who was riding her bicycle. The child was 13 years old, and suffered a fractured bone in her chest with related surgery.  Again, this was the full policy settlement.

Sample Verdict: MULROONSY v. ALLSTATE, $00.00.  A car swerved to avoid an accident with another vehicle, and in the process struck a cyclist.  The bicyclist suffered soft tissue injuries, and a hip injury.  He argued one of the vehicle’s was negligent, but the defendant argued the bicyclist failed to keep a proper lookout.  The fact finder agreed with the defendant, or at least agreed that the plaintiff failed to sufficiently prove his case.  This resulted in a $0 verdict and no recovery.  This is an unfortunate result, but is always a possibility when you roll the dice and go to trial.

Sample Verdict: LYONS v. LIBERTY MUT. INS. CO., $39,592.  A bicyclist suffered injuries to his hip, knee, shoulder, hand, wrist, finger, and leg following this bicycle accident. This was an intersection accident, with the other driver having insufficient insurance, leading to an underinsured motorist claim against plaintiff’s own insurance company.  The defendant admitted to causing the accident, but fought the plaintiff on what the injuries were and the extent of those injuries.  The verdict was approximately 50/50 for economic damages (e.g., medical bills) and non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering).

Sample Verdict: DUERR v. HAN, $34,600. This is a left turn case where a car turned into the bicyclist plaintiff.  The plaintiff injured his head, legs, knees, shoulders, back, ribs, neck and arms.  This seems like a terrible result for all these injuries.  However, from what I reviewed it was a soft tissue case with no surgery, no spinal injury, no intrusive pain management, and a potential liability issue.

Sample Verdict: JACQUES v. WILSON, $22,948.  A car was rear-ended, which pushed it into a bicyclist who was riding on the sidewalk.  The plaintiff’s injuries were to the neck, back, knee, and head.  The plaintiff had about $12k in medical bills.  The jury found in favor of the plaintiff, but awarded only $1,650 for pain and suffering! Ouch, that might hurt more than the accident.  Not sure what happened at trial that made the jury give almost $9k for lost wages, about $12k in medical expenses, but so little in pain and suffering.  This usually means something went wrong at trial.  Maybe the bicyclist plaintiff was impeached on an issue, or surveillance or social media caught him exaggerating symptoms.  We don’t have more information on that, but I would not call this a representative verdict for even a soft tissue injury case of this type.

What is Typical Compensation for a Bicycle Accident Claim?

For soft tissue injuries, based on a sample of reported cases, bicycle accident settlement amounts can be worth as little as $5,000 and as much as $180,000.  This is an approximate range, and not an average.  Depending on a host of variables, your case could be worth more or less.

The key variables that will make your case value go up or down within this range is whether you have additional, more serious injuries, such as fracture or a permanent injury.  The injuries you suffered in a bicycle accident will heavily impact your recovery.

One thing to be wary of are bicycle accident settlement calculators.  We wrote a detailed article about why you should avoid lawyers who advertise any settlement calculator, and bicycle accident settlement calculators are no exception.  They are highly inaccurate, and do not even partially capture an accurate range of what should be your bicycle accident settlement amount.

Is a Bicycle Accident Worth More if I Hit My Head?

Bike accident cases are usually worth more than car accident cases because they have more serious injuries.  Even if wearing a bicycle helmet, head injuries, including mTBIs and TBIs are common injuries for bicycle accident victims.

These brain injuries will increase the value of your case, but will require more diligent case workup to prove, which we can help you do.  Absent proper workup by a skilled attorney, many adjusters will refuse to offer a fair settlement for these head injure claims because they will argue your symptoms and complaints are subjective and not provable.

That said, once the injury is sufficiently proven, generally, if you have a head injury after being hit by a car while on your bike, your settlement will be worth more than if you have, for example, a neck or back sprain.

Is a Bicycle Accident Worth More if I Broke a Bone?

Broken bones are also common in bicycle accidents. Even if the broken bone did not require surgery and was a non-displaced fracture, it will increase the value of your bicycle accident claim.  This is often the case even if the medical bills are small, but only if the lawyer knows how to negotiate cases where the injuries and medical bill total do not correlate.

For example, in a bicycle accident case involving a non-surgical, non-displaced hairline fracture bicycle accident case that a member of our team handled, $50,000 was recovered despite very low medical expenses.  If this was a more severe fracture, the case would be worth over $100,000.

Is My Bicycle Accident Worth Less if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?

bicycle accident helmet after crash

Maybe, depending on the facts of your case and what state your accident happened in.  Some states have a law that makes it irrelevant, or inadmissible, whether you were wearing a helmet when the accident happened.

So the answer will depend in part on whether your state required you to wear a bicycle helmet.  In California, bicyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet.

If the jury never knows that you were not wearing a helmet, they can’t penalize you for thinking you did something unsafe.

On the other hand, if the jury learns that you were not wearing a bicycle helmet when the accident happened, they may feel unsympathetic and think you are to blame for being as injured as you are, which could result in a lower case value.

This could happen despite an instruction from the judge to not consider this evidence.  This is where case framing becomes incredibly important, and is a skill the legal team at Injury Advocates Group has mastered.


What Will Make My Bicycle Accident Case Worth More?


Is My Bicycle Accident Case Worth More if I Bike a Lot?

Yes, if you are an avid cyclist and are involved in a bicycle accident, you case could be worth more.  This is because two components of damages that you can recover after being in a bicycle accident are pain and suffering and lost income.

Regular cyclist bicycle accident Recovery 28k

If you ride professionally or semi-professionally in races, competitions, or any other bicycle events, and earn money doing so, you can make a claim for income that you were unable to make due to your bicycle accident injuries.  You can also make this type of claim if you are a bike messenger and are hit by a car.

For bike messengers, you could have a substantial lost wage claim.  Due to the nature of how bike messengers are paid, those claims are more difficult to prove than someone who gets paid a flat salary.

If you are a bike messenger that was injured in a bicycle accident, you should call us to develop a plan on how to maximize your recovery.  We have friends who are bike messengers.

We take these bike messenger claims seriously, are familiar with these claims, and can help you prepare your lost wages documentation to ensure you are reimbursed for all of your losses.

If you don’t ride professionally, but you are an avid cyclist who rides a lot, you still have a strong pain and suffering component to your case value related to bicycle riding.  Pain and suffering takes into account how your unique injuries impact you specifically.  This includes an avid or regular cyclist not being able to ride as frequently as before a bicycle accident.

One of our lawyers handled one such case where the cyclist had a soft tissue injury that resolved after a few months, but still recovered $28,000 for the injured claimant.  The uniqueness of the pain and suffering – that the plaintiff’s life limitations were tied directly to a specific form of exercise/movement that he could not do due to the accident – helped achieve this great result.

Is My Case Worth More if I’m in a Bicycle Accident in a City?

Where you were in a bicycle accident has an impact on what your bicycle accident case and injuries are worth.  This is because different jurisdictions will be more liberal or conservative in terms of verdicts.  Beyond that general understanding, the general population in different jurisdictions will have different experiences and biases.

Whether you will get more for a bicycle accident in San Francisco or Los Angeles will depend on how the general population in that city views bicyclists.  That general view has a higher likelihood of appearing in your jury pool, who are the people who could decide how much money to give you for your case.

For example, consider these questions:

  • Do bicyclists in Seattle generally follow traffic signals?
  • Do bicyclists in Baltimore have large group rides that stop traffic regularly?
  • Are there a lot of bike messengers in D.C. who are running red lights?
  • Is the general view in San Francisco that bicyclists think they’re above the law?

A good bike accident lawyer will help get answers to these questions, not just generally, but also from the specific potential jurors that could be on your case.

If a juror’s bias can be revealed, they could be kicked off the jury.  But that could prove difficult if there is a lot of anti-bicyclist sentiment in your city.  If the opposite is true, you could get a large pool of sympathetic jurors who will improve the value of your settlement, and potential verdict.

Must the Other Driver Pay for My Bike if it’s Damaged in an Accident?

If you are involved in a bicycle accident, you or your lawyer must prove that the vehicle that hit you is at fault.  If that hurdle, often called liability, can be proven, then you are entitled to recover money for all the financial losses you suffered due to that bicycle accident.

That includes the damage to your bicycle.  If you are an avid cyclist, that could be several thousand dollars.  We understand this, because one of the lawyers on our team owned and rode a Cannondale CAAD10.


Bicycle Accident Q&A


What should I do if I have been in a bicycle accident?

You should wait for the police and get a report and you should immediately get medical attention at the scene or right after the incident.

Is it possible to get serious injuries in a bicycle accident?

Yes, a bicycle injury can be very serious and range from damage to your back, bones, muscles and even serious head injury.

Are head injuries common in bicycle accidents?

Yes, head injuries are one of the most common injuries sustained in a bicycle accident, especially if a person was not wearing a helmet.  These injuries are still possible if you wear a helmet!  Do not brush off the likelihood of a head injury if your head hit the ground while you were wearing a helmet during a bicycle accident.

I wasn’t wearing a helmet, can I still get a settlement for my bicycle accident?

Yes, you can still get a settlement but it might be more of an uphill battle as the insurance company may attempt to deflect the liability and burden onto you for the injuries you sustained.  The likely result is you will get a smaller settlement.  If that doesn’t sit well with you, you can take the case to trial.

Is there pain and suffering included in my bicycle settlement?

Yes, there is the ability to have pain and suffering included in your bike accident settlement amount and can range depending on the type and extent of your injuries.  Pain and suffering is very fact specific, a lot of time has to be spent developing this properly.

The insurance company is saying my bicycle accident was my fault, is this possible?

It is possible for the insurance company to try and use your actions and take fault away from their clients and themselves. Everything from the time of day you were bicycling, location you were in your accident, if you were wearing a helmet and more, will all be used to say that you were at fault.

This is not to say that the insurance company is right, but that you should be prepared for such attacks against you. Do not take a liability denial personal, but do take it serious. It is a clear sign you should retain an advoate to fight the insurance company for you.

Should I get witness information?

If anyone is around when you get into such an accident, make an effort to get witness contact information as this can help you strengthen your own case.

What does liability mean in the context of my bicycle accident?

Liability means who was at fault and who has the responsibility for the situation. This factor will affect your settlement payout.  Anytime there is a liability dispute, it waters down the value of your settlement.  The more teeth the liability dispute has, the less your settlement value.  This often rolls over into verdicts, too, as jurors will hedge their bets and lower their verdict amount if they think you were partly to blame for the accident.

Is there compensation generally for bicycle accidents?

Yes, very often there are settlements for pain and suffering injuries and for medical costs and lost wages associated with bicycle accidents, so long as you can prove someone else caused the accident.


When Should I Call a Lawyer After a Bike Accident?


Bicycle accidents are not your typical minor rear-end collision that you could sometimes resolve yourself.

While it is possible to settle a bicycle accident claim yourself, these are claims for which you are highly likely to get the short end of the stick if you negotiate a settlement directly with the insurance adjuster.

You need a bike accident lawyer to help you get fair compensation for these claims.


Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Lawyer


Wherever you are, including in Los Angeles, you are invited to call us for a free consultation.

Our Los Angeles based bicycle accident lawyers are on standby to help, and invite you to call us at (800) 484-0779, we are here to help you 24/7.

We understand you are in a difficult situation, and we encourage you to get help and ensure you get a fair result.

IAG Los Angeles Injury Lawyers

NHTSA (2021). National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior.

The League of American Bicyclists. (2021). State Bike Laws.

NHTSA (2021). Bicycle Safety.

NHTSA (2019). Bicyclists and Other Cyclists.

Frohlich, T.C. (2019). 32 Most Dangerous (and Safest) Cities for Cycling.

McDonough, A. (2019). How New York City is watching you

Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (2021). Bicycle Helmet Laws.

Peng, Y., Chen, Y., Yang, J., Otte, D., & Willinger, R. (2012). A study of pedestrian and bicyclist exposure to head injury in passenger car collisions based on accident data and simulationsSafety science50(9), 1749-1759.

Nie, J., & Yang, J. (2014). A study of bicyclist kinematics and injuries based on reconstruction of passenger car–bicycle accident in ChinaAccident Analysis & Prevention71, 50-59.

Duthie, J., Brady, J. F., Mills, A. F., & Machemehl, R. B. (2010). Effects of on-street bicycle facility configuration on bicyclist and motorist behavior. Transportation Research Record2190(1), 37-44.

About the Author

Article Author:  This law article was written by attorney Ray Benyamin, Esquire.  Mr. Benyamin received his Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and his license to practice law from the State Bar of California.  His law license number is 277263.  He has been practicing law for 10 years.  Mr. Benyamin is a registered member of the following legal organizations: Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA), the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association (ABA), and the American Association for Justice (AAJ).  Mr. Benyamin has personally helped his clients recover over $10,000,000 dollars in vehicle accident insurance claims in the State of California.

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