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Bicycle Safety and Negligence Questions Largely Remain Unanswered

Thursday, March 16, 2017

It’s a well-known fact that accidents involving distracted or otherwise negligent drivers happen often. Sometimes the drivers hit other vehicles or pedestrians. Other times, it’s an unsuspecting cyclist that ends up injured. There are laws and bicycle safety measures in place to help prevent these types of occurrences but none that address self-driving vehicles. That’s one of the reasons why we find the whole Uber movement disconcerting.

In December 2016, it was revealed in The Guardian that the ride sharing company was using self-driving vehicles in some areas of our state. Further, reporters noted that those vehicles were seen committing traffic infractions. Understandably, this begs the question as to who will be responsible should one of these vehicles injure someone. Will it be the ride-sharing company, the vehicle’s owner, software programmers or the car's manufacturer that’s to blame?

That’s a question yet to be formally addressed by our nation’s courts and lawmakers. And we’re not the only ones who are asking it. As far back as 2015, The Washington Post and CNN started delving into these issues. They didn’t come up with definitive answers to the bicycle safety questions self-driving cars propose and neither did The Guardian staff in a subsequent article that appeared in January 2017. However like some polled, we envision these types of cases will bring up issues of comparative and contributory negligence.

As such, all of the people we mentioned in our initial question could find themselves being named litigants. For instance, the software programmers and manufactures have a duty to ensure that the vehicles are safe for their intended use. The same may be said for ride-sharing companies and the people who purchase such vehicles. Of course cyclists must practice bicycle safety as well. Otherwise, they could find themselves on the wrong end of contributory or comparative negligence claims too. To continue discussing the additional impact self-driving vehicles may have on bicycle safety, please contact the Law Office of Gary Brustin today.

Biking’s Benefits Exceeds Expectations When Accidents Aren’t a Factor

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Everyone knows biking is beneficial to one’s health but do you really know how advantageous it can be? Until recently, even the scientific community didn’t fully understand the benefits. But, thanks to a long series of studies, they’re starting to appreciate the scope and breadth of the activity’s positive aspects.

In 2016, scientific journals published the results of studies conducted in the U.S. and abroad on continued bicycle use. There was one study conducted in China that showed biking could reduce depression, hospitalization and premature death in some segments of the population. It was published by Dove Press during the month of December. As avid cyclists, we know what a good ride can do for one’s mood.

One month before, PLOS One also published a study. This one was completed in Belgium and showed that cycling at work could increase cognitive function and overall work productivity. It was similar in spirit to cycling research published in BMJ Open in April 2016. That one focused on having bed-ridden, ventilator dependent people use specialized equipment to cycle in bed. It also revealed that cycling in place could improve the health of critically ill individuals.

Of course we prefer bicycling that involves going places. So, we were also pleased to see the study released in July 2016 by PLOSMedicine. It compared various forms of cycling to one another and found that although all were good for us, some forms could be better. Tops on the list were recreational and commuter rides. No surprise there. Of course the studies we’ve mentioned didn’t take into account bicycle accidents.

They can turn an otherwise healthy ride into a nightmare for all involved. Thankfully, there are ways cyclists who’ve been involved in accidents can turn things back around. To learn more about successfully recovering after a cycling accident and how having a legal team in place can help, please contact the Law Office of Gary Brustin today.

Proposed New Law Would Allow Cycling on Sidewalks in Sacramento

Thursday, March 02, 2017

If you already didn’t know, cycling on sidewalks is illegal in most cities. Many even have fines ready for cyclist that break that law, but in Sacramento, the cycling residents of the city came to city council to discuss a new law that would allow more cycling on sidewalks to provide a safe environment for cyclists.

As it stands now, cycling is illegal in Sacramento everywhere except for residential districts. This is defined by California State Vehicle Code as areas with more than 50 percent housing. In areas that are more than 50 percent housing, cyclists are welcomed to ride on sidewalks, but in some areas in the city, police officers often find it hard to identify the percentage of housing in the area when considering whether or not to fine a cyclist.

However, it is not in residential areas that cyclists need to worry about. It is in the highly trafficked streets of the city where bicycle lanes disappear that cyclists feel they are in the most danger and want to move off the street and onto the sidewalk where the worse case is they hit a person or fall off their bike.

The proposed new law would still ban sidewalk cycling in certain areas such as commercial districts or areas where bike lanes are already present, but cycling advocates just want looser sidewalk laws in a city where traffic can be vicious and not enough cycling infrastructure is in place.

Were you forced to cycle in a busy street because of the lack of bike lanes and restrictive sidewalk laws? Contact us today. No matter what your accident was or who caused it, the Law Office of Gary Brustin fights hard for the rights of the growing cycling community.

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. 


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We handle cases throughout California, including the cities of:  

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