As per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the number of bicyclists killed in collisions involving bicycles and cars on public roads in 2015 rose by 12.2 percent to 818 from the prior year. In 2014, 729 bicyclists died in such accidents on public roadways. In the last decade, more than 8,000 bicyclists have died in collisions with motorists. The average age of those who died in these accidents was 45, but about 33 percent of all bicyclist road fatalities involve riders up to 20 years old. About 70 percent of all fatalities occurred in urban areas with more than 60 percent of them occurring at locations without intersections. Evening hours between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. were the most dangerous hours for bicyclists.
Some Common Bicycle Accident Scenarios
Regardless of where a fatal bicycle accident occurs, they’re often the result of the carelessness and negligence of drivers of motor vehicles. The general rule in California is that bicyclists have the same rights on the roadway as motorists, but given the narrow profile that bicycles present on the road, many motorists either fail to see them, don’t see them until it’s too late or simply forget about them after seeing them. Some common scenarios in fatal bicycle accidents involve motorists who:
- Turn left across traffic and crash into a bicyclist
- Turn right and into the path of a bicyclist
- Overtake bicyclists and rear-end or sideswipe them
- Open car doors into an oncoming bicyclist
The Statute of Limitations
You must act quickly to protect any rights that you might have in a wrongful death lawsuit. Evidence can disappear or be tampered with and witnesses can vanish. The general rule in California is that you have two years from the date of the accident or death to file a wrongful death action. If a public entity is involved, a claim must be filed within six months. These are strict rules, and there are very few exceptions.
Frequently Asked Questions
If my spouse dies in a bicycle accident, can I sue the driver?
The surviving members of a family—usually those living with and/or dependent on the deceased—have the sole right to file a lawsuit if their loved one was killed in a bike accident. This is called a wrongful death claim, and it allows family members to be compensated for the loss of a loved one.
How long will it take to settle my wrongful death case?
Once all the records and documents are gathered, a case can be settled with the insurance company. In California, it is required to attempt to settle a personal injury case before going to trial. If the case doesn’t settle, then it will take much longer because of the number of lawsuits filed.
How much money can I get if my spouse was killed in a car accident?
The amount of a settlement or an award in a wrongful death case will depend on how much the survivors lost with the death of their loved one. If the person who died wasn’t providing support for the family, for example, the less the compensation will be. However, if the family was dependant on the deceased, then their losses are greater.
Contact Bay Area Bicycle Law
Years of advocacy for injured cyclists have seasoned our attorneys with the necessary skills to handle bicycle accidents cases with the level of professional expertise.
We’re compassionate, and we understand what you’re experiencing with your loss. Work through the grief long enough to contact us to arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation. The California legislature has set short time limits on bringing claims and wrongful death lawsuits, especially if a governmental entity was involved. If we’re retained, no legal fees are even due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you. Bicyclists have the same rights on the road as drivers of motor vehicles. We are the only firm in Northern California to specialize exclusively in representing bicyclists, and we’re here to help your family in your time of need. Our goal is to maximize the compensation that you deserve for the wrongful death of your loved one. Contact us as soon as you can, and we can discuss your options on how to proceed.