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Bicycle Accidents Caused By Animals: Cyclists May Have Legal Recourse

Thursday, February 16, 2017

In most bicycle accidents, the cause can be attributed to a handful of things. Among the top five are driver error, cyclist error, hazardous conditions, faulty equipment and medical emergency (e.g. sudden heart attack). However, as a Florida Today reporter pointed out earlier this year, animals may cause bicycle accidents too.

Accidents Involving Domestic Animals on the Run

The cause behind the reported accident was a box turtle but other animals have been known to get in the way of cyclists as well. FOX21 News reported on one such accident that occurred this past spring. That one involved an at-large canine. Our state does have dog leash laws meant to prevent bicycle accidents. But of course, it doesn’t address other stray animals or the occasional, wayward box turtle.

Current laws dictate that canines are not allowed to roam bicycle paths or other public areas without being on a leash and under control of their respective owners. So even if a dog was tied up before it broke free and caused a bicycle accident, it doesn’t matter. The owner may be responsible for costs associated with the accident, including the cyclists’ medical bills.

Wild Animals and Their Owners Aren’t Beyond Reproach

Leash laws are not the only animal related ones that may influence the outcome of bicycle accident cases. In some cases, strict liability laws commonly mentioned during civil jury instruction may apply (See Series 400 Negligence, Section 461). For instance, let’s assume that the box turtle was a pet. Although the person may have thought of the box turtle as a pet, chances are an argument could be made against that.

If deemed a wild animal by the court, the injured cyclist could potentially sue the person under the section of law we just mentioned. So you see, in our state, there is more to bicycle vs. animal related accidents than meets the eye. To learn more about domestic and wild animals’ possible impact on bicycle accidents in California, please contact the Law Office of Gary Brustin.

Study Find Cyclists Have Higher Accident Risk When intersections Aren’t Right Angles

Friday, January 20, 2017

If you cycle every day, then you are already aware that intersections pose a huge risk to your safety on the road. If you haven’t read the statistics, then you found out firsthand how careless cars are to your rights at these junctions. However, a new study finds that not only are bicycle accidents more likely at intersections, but that statistic is only increased when the intersection is not at a right angle.

Using GPS, the study tracked 3,266 bicycle crashes throughout New York City, gathering data on intersection angles, street width, speed limits, and average traffic level. The majority of the crashes, over 60 percent, happened at intersections. When these crashes were compared to intersection angles, it found that cyclists were 37 percent more likely to crash at non-right angle intersections.

The good news, if you can call it that, is that crashes that didn’t happen at intersections were 31 percent more likely to cause serious injury. The study also found that crashes were likely to happen on narrow streets.

So what does this mean for the everyday cyclist? Well, unfortunately, you can never predict if a crash is going to happen, but at least now we know to watch out at non-right angle intersections more cautiously. This new study will also help city planners of blossoming cycling cities to better plan streets for both cyclist and car safety.

If you have been in a cycling accident at a non-right angle intersection or otherwise, contact us today. The Law Office of Gary Brustin is dedicated to representing the rights of the ever-growing cyclist community.

Bicycle Accidents on the Rise In Chicago This Summer

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bicycling is on the rise, especially among twenty-somethings. Combine the benefits -- great exercise, no fuel costs, maneuverability -- and you've got a great way to get around. But along with the benefits, there are also plenty of risks such as low-visibility, failure to wear helmets, making risky maneuvers and taking unnecessary chances in the interest of shaving a few minutes off a commute, are among the things that cause accidents between cyclists and motor vehicles. On September 4th of this year, the Chicago Tribune ran an editorial about the alarming increase in fatal bicycle accidents in an around the city, urging both cyclists and vehicle operators to be more careful and alert.

The editorial, entitled Bicyclists, be careful. Motorists be watchful. Everyone, slow down, chronicled several fatal accidents that occurred on the streets of the city this summer:

  • In June, a 29-year-old bicycle messenger headed for Lake Michigan after work was struck and killed by a tour bus on North Michigan Avenue just a few hundred yards from his beach destination.
  • In July, a 25-year-old bike-share cyclist collided with a flatbed truck and was killed.
  • In August, a 20-year-old student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was bicycling on North Michigan Avenue when a semi-truck crossed into the bike lane and fatally struck her. Just one day later, a 58-year-old man was killed by a cargo van while bicycling in Garfield Park.

The article goes on to note that these accidents are not unusual. They actually mirror a nationwide trend. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, bicycling accidents actually increased 12.2% in 2015.

Bicyclists and cars share the same roads, and both are responsible for changing these statistics by obeying traffic laws, watching out for pedestrians and pets, and respecting other drivers whether they're in a car, a truck or on a 10-speed.

If you've been injured in a bicycling accident in the State of California contact us. Attorney Brustin is an avid cyclist himself and has been protecting cyclists rights for the past twenty years and counting!

Yet Again, Tragedy Proceeds Bicycle Law Reform

Friday, September 30, 2016

In Illinois, the state laws insist that cyclists have the same rights as automobile drivers. However, a fatality and a tossed traffic ticket proves how utterly wrong that is, but for long as Illinois joins other states prompted to sure up their cycling safety laws after a poorly handled bicycle accident.

In October 2015, army veteran 68-year-old Dennis Jurs was biking in Kane County when he collided with a vehicle. The accident happened at an intersection where north and southbound traffic had stop signs, but east and westbound traffic did not have to stop. Jurs was travelling eastbound, but a northbound driver failed to yield and collided with him.

While Jurs passed away, his family still sought justice, but the court case was thrown out after conflicting Illinois laws showed just how unbalanced the rights of cyclists are to automobiles. The driver in question would also later have his sole punishment, a simple traffic ticket, thrown out as well.

However, while the driver may have gotten off, the state did not. This accident has forced them to change c cycling laws with House Bill 5912 that specifically states that all cyclists on the highway are entitled to the same rights as automobiles, effectively making it so that careless drivers will no longer be able to get off without appropriate punishment. While many state officials were willing to let this incident slide off the radar, it was only thanks to a few politicians, all avid bikers themselves, and the family of Jurs whose persistence saw the law reformed.

Are you the victim of a cycling accident due to unclear or non-existent laws for cyclists? Contact us today to see what legal action you may be entitled to.

Significant Settlement in Michigan Bicycle Accident Case

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bicycle accidents sometimes result in significant payments to injured victims. For example, in April 2016, Royal Oak, Michigan, agreed to pay $300,000 to a bicyclist injured when her bike hit an uneven part of a sidewalk.

Details of Accident

In May 2012, the 49-year-old Royal Oak woman was biking underneath the Grand Trunk Railroad viaduct along the north side of 13 Mile Road. When she reached a sidewalk section two-inches higher than the section preceding it, she fell off her bike and broke her hip.

In a 2013 lawsuit filed in Oakland County Circuit Court, attorneys for the bicyclist also alleged that the accident had aggravated previous back problems, and they sought compensation for her pain, suffering and lost wages.

City Appeals

However, after a circuit court ruled in the injured bicyclist's favor, attorneys for the city appealed the case to the Michigan State Court of Appeals. However, the appellate court refused to overturn the circuit court's decision. The case went before a retired judge who helped the parties come to a final agreement.

According to the Oakland Press News, the uneven sidewalk was repaired after the accident.

Although every case is unique, a failure to properly maintain public property may constitute evidence of negligence in certain cases. When a person suffers an injury, it is often possible to seek compensation for certain medical expenses, pain, suffering and lost wages.

If you or a family member is a victim in a bicycle accident, it is possible to review the details of your case with a bicycle accident attorney. There is no charge for this consultation. To learn more, please contact us.


Did You Go the Right Way? Find Out with Help from a Bicycle Lawyer

Thursday, June 16, 2016

In May 2016, Salt Lake City’s media began a discussion about bicycle lawsKSL reporter, Carter Williams, weighed in on the topic mid month. Up for discussion was the concept of road sharing and who, if anyone, has the most right to use the state’s open roads. Williams aptly pointed out that in his state; the rights are divvied up 50/50. We’re sure this leads you to ask, “But what about other states, including California?”

The answer is yes and no. So, let’s focus specifically on our State of California. First off, the bicycle laws don’t necessarily define bikes like cyclists. To some novice cyclists, a bike is just a bike. It doesn’t matter to them if it has an electric engine or is powered by two sneakers. However, the Department of Motor Vehicles likes to divide bikes up into categories and provide different rules for each major type. You’ll find some of these classifications referenced in Vehicle Codes 2100 through 21213.

In addition, the state’s right-of-way related laws also vary based on traffic conditions and speed. These bicycle laws are found in various areas throughout the Vehicle Code, including Section 21202 and 21208. Understandably, this can be a lot of information for new drivers and cyclists to digest properly. Thus inadvertently, people on both sides of the bicycle laws’ right-of-way provisions may get confused easily and make mistakes. If those mistakes ultimately lead to accidents, it’s best to reach out to an expert on bicycle laws for some clarification.

With that said, the Law Office of Gary Brustin is filled with just the right kind of advice injured cyclists need. We can tell at a glance which category the bike is most likely to fall under and which rules would therefore apply to the injured party’s case. To find out more about right-of-way arguments and how they work with or against bicycle laws, please contact Attorney Brustin today.

A Bicycle Accident Brings Changes to Berkeley

Thursday, June 09, 2016

On February 2nd, 2016 Megan Schwarzman was wearing fluorescent green safety gear and a helmet. She had lights on her bike, as she rode south on Fulton Street near Bancroft Way in Berkeley. She was struck from behind, trapped beneath a car, and dragged for a short distance. Firefighters had to raise the car to free Schwarzman so they could rush her to the hospital. Her injuries were so severe that almost immediately, police called in the fatal accident investigation team. She had 20 fractured ribs, a smashed pelvis, two partially collapsed lungs, complex facial fractures and a bleeding liver. She arrived at the hospital unresponsive from blood loss. Amazingly Schwarzman, a doctor and research scientist at UC Berkeley, survived. 

In 2000, the city of Berkeley designated the block where Schwarzman was hit and the next block of Fulton Street as bike lanes in the city's bicycle master plan. The master plan contains projects designed to make cycling conditions safer. Six weeks after the accident project approval for Fulton was granted. Now, 16 years later and just months after Schwarzman almost died, the new bike lane on Fulton street is open. The new southbound bike lane runs for two blocks on Fulton from Bancroft Way to Channing Way. It previously ended at Bancroft, dumping cyclists and motorists together in the intersection. Now it closes a gap in the city's bike lane network between existing bike lanes on Fulton Street/Oxford Street north of Bancroft Way and the Bicycle Boulevard on Channing Way. 

Bicycle Accident that almost took a life may save many lives, as a route that many students and faculty take to get to campus is now safer. If you are in a cycling accident, please contact us. We specialize in protecting the rights of injured cyclists. 

What to do When Bicycle Accidents Occur

Thursday, May 05, 2016

As the number of leisure and commuter bicyclists increases, bicycle accidents are also occurring at alarming rates. While some of these accidents result in only minor injuries, many are serious, life-altering occurrences. When an accident occurs, and the bicyclist is able, certain steps can help assure the bicyclist receives due compensation for his or her injuries and losses.

Seek Medical Attention First

Even in cases when the bicyclist does not feel that he or she has sustained a serious injury, it is advisable that he or she seek the attention of a trained medical professional as soon as possible after the accident. Some injuries do not reveal themselves until well after they are sustained. A physician is the best person to determine whether or not it is safe to resume normal activities without exacerbating an injury.

Documentation

To avoid discrepancies that can occur in the recounting of events leading up to an accident, it is important to provide as much documentation as possible to substantiate the bicyclist's position. As soon as possible, the bicyclist should write about any pertinent information about when and where the accident took place. If there are witnesses, their names and contact information should be collected, as well as the names and contact information for any individuals who were directly involved in the accident.

Immediately after an accident, a cell phone with a camera can be the bicyclist's best friend. Should the case go to court, it is useful to have pictures of the accident site, as well as photos of any damages to the bicycle itself and any equipment, such as a helmet. If there are cuts or bruises on the body that can be photographed at the scene of the accident, these can also come in handy for documentation purposes.

A police report is another crucial piece of documentation to obtain as soon as possible after a bike accident. However, a more important reason to telephone the police after the occurrence, is because police officers know how to administer emergency medical attention and can help alert any other services, such as those of an ambulance or paramedics, quickly and efficiently, as needed.

Filing a police report is common practice after a bicycle accident. The bicyclist should also request a copy of the report for his or her own records. The clothing worn during the accident and the helmet worn by the bicyclist can sometimes be used as evidence. It is also important to retain receipts for any repairs necessary, or for any accessories that are lost or damaged as a result of the accident.

Insurance Companies

When a bicyclist is injured by a motor vehicle, it is not uncommon for this person to be contacted by the insurance company of the driver. It is important that the injured party not make general statements about the accident, and that he or she avoid expressing opinions about who was at fault.

The injured party should obtain the name, address and phone number of the company, as well as the claim number. It is also fine to ask for information about the limits of the insurance company's medical coverage. However, discussions about settlements should be avoided. This discussion should only take place between the bicyclist and a licensed professional attorney.

If you have sustained an injury in a bicycle accident and would like to speak with a professional plaintiff attorney who specializes in handling bike injury cases, please contact us at your earliest convenience to set up an appointment for a consultation.

Bicycle Accidents: Dooring is Such Painful Sorrow

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A bicyclist is pedaling along alone in the right lane of a city street. Suddenly, he is on the ground, screaming in pain from a twisted back and broken collarbone. There are no moving vehicles other than the bicyclist. What happened?

A motorist opened their door into traffic.

Most bicycle accidents involve a bike and a car. Often, drivers are at fault in accidents that involve right turns or failure to share a lane. "Dooring" is a term used to describe what occurs when a motorist opens their door into traffic without realizing that a bicyclist is present.

Although dooring does not involve a moving car, it can result in severe injuries or even death. According to a study conducted by the City of Chicago, dooring causes between 7% and 20% of all bicycle accidents.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, forty states have laws which specifically make it an offense to open a car door without verifying the absence of traffic. The presence of these laws gives the police a way of documenting that a motorist is at fault in a dooring-related accident. If a motorist causes an accident by opening a door into traffic, they may be financially liable for the harm caused. With the right lawyer, this can be treated in the same manner as if the motorist had caused an accident via a moving violation.

If you have been in a dooring accident or any type of bicycle accident, you probably have medical bills that must be paid and have experienced pain and suffering. If you need help recovering funds, please contact us.

Are You Thinking of Biking Out of Town Once Spring 2016 Begins?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Chances are many of you are already thinking about where to go biking this spring. There’s a lot that traditionally goes into planning a trip but trail safety and surviving biking accidents are generally not two of them. However, they most certainly should be on every traveling biker’s mind. The same case may be made for regional cycling laws and bicycle insurance policies because they all have the potential to impact a person’s trip.

With that said, before loading up the bike and setting cross-country, be sure to do your due diligence. Find out what the bicycle laws are in your chosen destination and whether or not the trails are maintained. Remember, not all states have bicycle transportation accounts and bike-pedestrian plans like our state does. So in some distance locations, finding safe, clean trails that are open to visitors may be challenging to say the very least.

Next, take a second to dig out your homeowner’s, renter’s or auto insurance policies and give them the once over. Find out what coverage exists if you’re hit while cycling out of the state as well as what would happen if an accident occurs in transit to the trail heads. If you’re not happy with the coverage, update it well before your cycling vacation starts and keep meticulous records of the changes.  

And let’s not overlook bicycle theft. Check for that type of coverage too because hotel thefts seem to already be on the rise. Last year’s well- publicized, World Cycling Championship related theft is a prime example of what could happen. Thankfully that story ended well for the cyclist but such incidents don’t always turn out that way.

Finally, keep in mind that if a biking accident does occur, there are California attorneys that may be able to help. To learn more about protecting your rights no matter where your bicycle wheels may roam, please contact us today. As ardent cyclists and lawyers, we’re in a unique position to provide advice.


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