Bicycle Accidents – What Every Cyclist Should Know

When an Insurance Agent Calls after a Bike Accident

If you’ve been hit by a car while riding your bicycle, very likely a claims adjuster will try to contact you shortly after your accident. Since California is a pure comparative negligence state, any fault assigned to you will reduce the amount of compensation you’re eligible to receive by that percentage amount. For example, if you suffered $10,000 in losses but are deemed 40% at fault, the most you could recover would be $6,000. Insurance companies know this and hope that by getting you to talk, you’ll say something they can use to shift more fault onto you. What, then, are they hoping you’ll say?

Bicyclists and Rules of the Road

Bicycles are vehicles and are expected to adhere to the same rules of the road that govern cars, trucks, and motorcycles. For example, the California Vehicle Code (CVC) lists the following requirements bicyclists are expected to follow:

  • CVC 21201 lists a number of equipment requirements including reflectors that must be seen from a distance a certain distance, mounted lights for cycling at night, brakes, handle bars of a certain height, and a permanent seat
  • Under CVC 21212, people under 18 must wear a helmet when riding a bike
  • Under CVC 27400, bicyclists cannot wear headphones while riding a bike
  • Under CVC 21205, a bicyclist cannot carry items if they prevent him from keeping at least one hand on the handle bars
  • Under CVC 21202, bicyclists are required to ride on the far right side of the road to allow the flow of faster moving traffic
  • Under CVC 21208, bicyclists are required to use bicycle lanes when they are available (except when making a left turn)

When an insurance claims adjuster calls, he may ask you where you were riding, if a bike lane was present, did you use hand signals to turn, were you listing to an iPod, do your pedals have reflectors on them, etc. Here, the intent is to determine if you failed to comply in some way with California’s Vehicle Code regulating bicycles. If you say something that indicates you were not in compliance with the CVC, attorneys for the insurance company may use that as a justification for finding you at fault, thereby reducing the amount of damages you are eligible to receive.

Cars and Bicycles

While bicyclists are expected to use common sense when riding in traffic, approaching and stopping at intersections, and signaling turns, car drivers are expected to exercise common sense as well. For instance, motorists are required to establish a safe passing distance between themselves and bicyclists – roughly a distance of four or five feet. The operative idea here is that the distance established should not create the impression that a cyclist will be – or could be – hit. Further, bicyclists have a right to enter into the left lane of traffic when making a turn. Motorists are required to establish a safe distance between their vehicle and the cyclist and must yield sufficient time and space for the bicyclist to make his or her turn.

Injured in a Bike Accident? Contact Weber & Nierenberg Today

Insurance companies want to pay you the least amount possible. Even if you were not in full compliance with the CVC at the time of your bicycle accident, the driver who hit you may still be completely at fault. To protect your rights and learn how we can help you, contact San Francisco, California bicycle accident attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg today. Our personal injury attorneys provide free consultations and are happy to evaluate whether or not you have a case.

We understand the tactics of insurance companies and how to investigate bicycle accidents – let one of our bike accident attorneys help you – call 415-788-3900.

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