What is Negligence in Cycling Injury Cases?

If you can believe it, one of our team members was behind a car getting on the freeway when one of the rear tires flew off of the car, narrowly missing another vehicle and causing a lot of mayhem on the onramp.  Someone failed to put the tire back on the vehicle with proper care.  This is negligence.  And negligence is often a point of dispute in cycling injury cases. 

What is Negligence?

Negligence is a term you may have not heard before if you haven’t been involved in a legal dispute.  In California, negligence is defined as “the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others.  A person can be negligent by acting or by failing to act,” (CACI No. 401).  This means when someone fails to take proper or reasonable care in doing something or doesn’t take steps or precautions necessary to proceed safely, and this failure to act or negligent act injures someone, the injured party can recover monetary damages from the negligent party.

What’s Considered Reasonable Care?

The argument for what’s “reasonable” as a step or procedure is often debated.  “A person is negligent if that person does something that a reasonably careful person would not do in the same situation or fails to do something that a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation” (CACI No. 401).  A “reasonable person” is also sometimes referred to a prudent or rational person.  Often violating a California law, such as laws applying to drivers and cyclists found in the Vehicle Code is determined to be negligence.

What is Negligence in Cycling Injury Cases?

When cyclists are struck by cars, the most common types of a driver’s negligent behavior include distracted driving, like texting while driving, driving too fast for the surrounding conditions, and failing to obey traffic signs and signals. 

A company, like bicycle manufacturer or bicycle repair shop, can also be found negligent if their product or repair is unsafe. We handle a lot of cycling injury cases as personal injury lawyers, but we also represent cyclists in product liability cases.  If you were cycling and a weld suddenly broke loose on your bicycle causing an accident, the question would arise if there was any negligence on the part of the manufacturer or repair shop. 

Insurance Companies Fight Liability to Avoid Paying Compensation

Remember that in all legal cases, gathering the evidence to establish another party’s negligence and liability can be a complicated process.  Insurance companies fight very hard to try and show the injured person was negligent, not their driver.  Things may not always be black and white, which is why it is so important to hire a cycling injury lawyer as soon as possible.  We’re here to help fight for your rights and we bring years of experience in handling cycling injury cases, plus… we ride, too!  We know what it’s like to cyclists out there.  If you have been injured or had property damage to your bicycle, give us a call; consultations are free.  You may also contact us online here.

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Bicycle Safety: How the Speed Limit Factors into Cyclist and Pedestrian Injuries

Most cyclist fatalities in urban and rural areas occur in 45 mph zones (link to other blog on fatalities); however, the likelihood of sustaining a survivable injury as a pedestrian or cyclist in a 45 mph zone is not the same. 

What is the same is the speed limit where the most injuries occur: 25 mph.

Part of the reason most injuries occur for cyclists and pedestrians in 25 mph zones is the survivability factor.  The likelihood of sustaining a serious or fatal injury in a collision with a vehicle as a pedestrian or cyclist goes up dramatically from 18% at 20 mph to 77% at 40 mph (AAA Foundation).  Another reason for more cyclist and pedestrian injuries at lower speeds is the increased exposure as there are likely going to be more pedestrians in a 25 mph zone than a 75 mph zone.  

The speed limits where the most cyclist and pedestrian injuries occur according to the NHTSA are 25 mph, 35 mph, and 30 mph (in that order).  This data is combined for urban and rural areas.  Keep in mind that the data for injuries comes from serious injuries which are reported.  There may be more injuries occurring than what are reported and would likely be in lower speed zones because of the lack for the need of medical care.

bicycle safety, pedestrian injury, cyclist injury
bicycle safety, pedestrian injury, cyclist injury

Speeding is Also Responsible for Cyclist and Pedestrian Injuries

The information gathered by the NHTSA, NCSA, FARS, and ARF between 2010 and 2015 relied on speed limits to assume speed for much of their data.  Speeding (going over the speed limit) factors into approximately 30% of all motor vehicle fatalities in the United States and is the leading cause of about 8% of pedestrian fatalities.  The most common speed limit zone for pedestrian and cyclist fatalities to occur as a result of speeding is 35 mph.  Specifics on the number of cyclist and pedestrian injuries that were a direct result of speeding was not published; however, 35 mph is the zone with the second-most injuries for both pedestrians and bicyclists, making it likely that there are a portion of injuries occurring as a direct result of speeding.  The unfortunate reality is that speed kills.

Pedestrian Safety

The California Legislature enacted the Pedestrian Safety Act in 2000 which includes new requirements for driver education on pedestrian safety among other items.  California Vehicle Code sections 21950-21954 provide legal measures for pedestrian safety and protection, including that drivers have a higher duty of care than pedestrians.  And in San Francisco, pedestrian safety is going even further with Vision Zero to bring the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities to zero.  These measures are looking to increase pedestrian safety through more awareness and enforcement in California, including speed-related pedestrian safety issues.