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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.

Study Suggest Idaho Stop is Safer for Cyclists

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Idaho Stop – It may be a strange colloquialism to many, but for many more it is used to describe rolling through a stop sign instead of stopping fully. While many cyclists are guilty of engaging in an “Idaho Stop,” a new DePaul University study suggests it might actually be safer than coming to a full stop.

The term Idaho Stop comes from the change in Idaho cycling laws that changed the rules from cyclists, being one of the first states to deviate from the rules that govern motorists. A year after Idaho enacted different rules for cyclists including their rolling stop, injuries and cyclist accidents were down 14 percent.

While it is the law in Idaho, in other states, cyclists are still required to come to a full stop, but you are likely among the many law breakers that don’t. Rolling stops allow cyclists to get ahead of traffic and gain better visibility among the mass of cars. Instead of punishing cyclists that want those benefits even though it means breaking the laws, why not just change the laws? That is a question that many cities, like Chicago, are now asking themselves as the safety benefits of Idaho Stops come to light.

Have you been in an accident because the law requires you to make a full stop at red lights and stop signs? Were you hurt by the negligence of a motorist? We can help. The Law Office of Gary Brustin is dedicated to representing the rights of cyclists that were hurt doing what they love and just trying to get around.

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.

Could the Way You Turn Be an Accident Waiting to Happen?

Friday, January 13, 2017

If you are just starting off with biking in high traffic areas, there is so much to learn. However, people rarely think that the way they ride their bike is one of them. This has led to even seasoned veteran cyclists not focusing so much on how they ride so long as they follow the rules of the road. However, could it be an accident waiting to happen?

No matter whether you like to ride fast or are a dedicated slow rider, the way you turn on the road could be a set up for a major accident, if it hasn’t caused one already.

But how could a turn make such a difference? You just turn the handlebars, right? Unfortunately, just turning with only your handlebars is a slow and unsteady process that definitely won’t allow you to respond in an emergency situation. Turning this way is so old-fashioned, and while it works fine in less crowded area, in the city, you need a more responsive way.

Before heading out into high traffic areas, go find yourself an empty parking lot and practice this new way. Instead of awkwardly jerking your handlebars to turn, try slightly shifting your weight to the right or left depending on which way you are turning. Notice when you lean into it, the bike follows and you don’t really need to use your handlebars. This turn allows you to not only turn faster and with more stability, but you can easily snap back in the event of an emergency situation.

No matter whether the turn was to blame or not, if you were in a cycling accident, contact us today. The Law Office of Gary Brustin is dedicated to fighting for the rights of cyclists.

Should You Be Using Bicycle Mirrors?

Friday, December 02, 2016

No matter where you do it, bicycling allows for a lot of freedoms. You can modify your bike and any accessories to make it uniquely yours. However, one of the lesser used bicycle accessories is bike mirrors. These can be attached to your handlebars or poking out from your helmet.

Ideally, these mirrors allow you to see behind you in your blind spots so that you don't need to shoulder check yourself all the time. After all, cars have mirrors for just that purpose, why shouldn't bikes? Unfortunately, bikes and cars are two different vehicles. In a car, no one can see you checking your shoulder so you use mirrors and signals to do it. On a bike, you have your proper hand signals, but the act of looking over your shoulder is a good indicator that you might need to scoot over a bit to avoid a parked car. Mirrors take away the need for that.

However, bike mirrors are not without their benefits. Particularly during night-time driving, the reflective nature of the mirrors make it easier for cars to spot you.

But do you need bicycle mirrors as an accessory? Probably not. They have their uses, but more often than not, they make us forget the crucial shoulder check, and that can be dangerous. This lack of bicycling habits that have been formed for safety can cause terrible accidents. If you have been the victim of a bicycle-related accident on the part of another vehicle, you may have some legal action available to you. Contact us today to find out what options you have.


The Importance of Witnesses in Bicycle Accidents

Monday, November 28, 2016

Being hit while on your bike is a pretty traumatic experience, and hopefully it will never happen to you. However, if it does, after checking if you and the driver are alright, you need to make sure you have a witness available to you if any injuries or damages occur. 

Ideally, in the event of an accident, you and the driver want to wait for the police to arrive. If the drive tries to flee the scene, there really isn't much you can do to stop them accept write down their license plate number as well as the make, model, and color of their car. If the driver is cooperating, ask anyone that was witness to the accident and is still around the area to write down their version of events as well as providing their name and number.

Having a written record as well as a few witnesses to call on makes the version of events pretty clear, especially once the adrenaline wears down and you start to get foggy on the details. By having at least one witness to the scene of the crime, it prevents the accident from both parties claiming they were not at fault. If you end up in court seeking damages, it makes the case pretty cut and dry, allowing you to avoid a long court battle.

If you have been the victim of a bicycle accident and want to know if any legal recourse is available to you, witnesses present or no, contact us today.

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!

How to Avoid Bicycle Accidents at Intersections

Friday, August 26, 2016

Most bicycle accidents involve only the person riding the bicycle.  In fact, according to Nolo.com, only 11% of bicycle accidents occur with an automobile.  Of these collisions, however, nearly half happen at an intersection, making these traffic areas particularly hazardous for people on bikes.

Why are traffic intersections so dangerous for cyclists?   Cars may not come to a complete stop at the traffic signal, or drivers may only be looking for oncoming cars and trucks before proceeding through a turn.   Traffic intersections are usually busy, with many cars traveling in different directions.  This alone increases the chances of a bicycle-car collision.  

When approaching a traffic intersection, cyclists should proceed with caution.  In all 50 states, bicycles are vehicles, and they must follow the rules of the road. This means following the same traffic laws as automobiles.  Cyclists should come to a complete stop at stop lights and stop signs.  They should not run through yellow lights.  They should wait for a green light before proceeding through an intersection and look both ways to ensure that no traffic is barreling toward them.

Cyclists must also follow traffic laws that apply to intersections without a traffic signal.  If a bicycle and an automobile arrive at such an intersection, then the vehicle that arrived first has the right of way.  If a bicycle and the automobile arrive at the same time, then the vehicle to the right has the right of way. 

Carefully follow intersection traffic laws, and you will decrease your chances of being involved in a bicycle-automobile collision.   Yet accidents do happen.  If you are a cyclist and have been in a car collision that was not your fault, then contact us.  We are the Law Office of Gary Brustin and are here to protect your cyclist rights.


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