Most cyclists ride alone, especially commuters and daily riders. However, some cyclists prefer to ride together in groups. Riding in a group can be more enjoyable than riding alone, and some say its actually safer.
Five Reason why Riding in Group is Safer
- Two or more cyclists are easier to see than one.
- A group can control a lane better than one.
- Leaders can call out dangers, debris.
- Cyclists behind can call out traffic.
- Cars are likely to give group wider berth.
However, even though there are safety advantages of riding in a group, a single accident can injure more people. Riding in a group is not going to help if the driver is detracted, driving recklessly or is impaired.
Multiple-Injury Bicycle Accidents
Two Cyclists Injured by Drunk Driver in Petaluma
For example, on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, a mother with a young child in her car struck two cyclists in an intersection sending one to the hospital. The accident happened around 3:30 p.m. when the driver of a Chrysler Pacifica SUV ran a red light at the intersection of East D Street and 1st Street and hit both cyclists.
According to a Petaluma Police officer at the scene, the cyclists were riding southbound on 1st Street and entered the intersection as the light turned green when the SUV entered the intersection westbound on East D Street and struck one cyclist on the east side of the intersection and the other on the west side.
So even though cyclists travel in groups of two or more and follow the rules of the road, they can still be hit by a drunk driver or any number of scenarios where the motorist is being careless.
Not all group accidents come from impaired or distracted drivers, however, sometimes they just happen.
Two Cyclists Hit by SUV in “Right Hook” Accident
On July 15, 2019, in San Jose, two cyclists were struck in a right hook accident killing one of the cyclists. The accident happened when the SUV was turning right into the Vistapark shopping center and struck two cyclists who were in a bike lane riding the same direction as the SUV.
Police at the scene say the driver was distraught and said that she just didn’t see the cyclists when she turned.
Accidents like these where the driver wasn’t distracted or impaired and was trying to look out for others happen all the time even to those riding in a group.
However, sometimes a group of bikes can actually increase the likelihood of an “accident.”
A common tension in many communities has risen between some motorists and cyclists. For decades, motorists haven’t had to share the road much with cyclists, but today—especially in larger cities—cycling is becoming a lifestyle for many. Add in scooters and e-bikes, and it’s common to see roads and streets with two-wheeled vehicles traveling among the cars and trucks.
As the population grows, many cities and urban areas see more and more traffic congestion and some motorists see the cities spend millions of dollars on cycling infrastructure—which often means reducing the number of motor vehicle lanes—and they become irritated and blame the cyclists for the increased congestion.
Cyclists are always aware that motorists often don’t see them and don’t respect their right to be out on the roads with motor vehicles. In many cases, this tension turns into violence as some drivers have intentionally hit a group of cyclists.
Driver Swerves into Group of Cyclists in Marin County
In October of 2017, a Dodge Ram pickup truck swerved into a group of cyclists in a seeming attempt to hit them, according to witnesses. The incident happened during the Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin, a fundraising ride for the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. The driver then sped off but not before a passing motorcycle with a GoPro cam got a shot of the vehicle’s license plate.
The crash seriously injured four male riders with one being airlifted to a local hospital. Police arrested the man who was later charged with attempted murder.
Who Pays for Injuries in a Group Bicycle Accident?
Another problem that arises in group bicycle accidents is the issue of liability. On one hand, it could be simple: the at-fault driver pays for all the injuries and economic losses. However, if the driver has the minimum insurance, which in California is only $`15,000 per person for bodily injury and $30,000 for the accident, then there may be only $30,000 to divide between multiple people.
Another problem happens when the “accident” was intentional. Most insurance policies won’t pay for intentional injuries because the purpose of an insurance policy is to cover the losses of the driver who accidentally injures other people or property.
Thus, when a group of cyclists is injured intentionally, they can’t collect compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. They can still sue the driver and get a judgment for damages, but if the person doesn’t have the money, then suing would possibly be a waste of time and resources.
However, if there isn’t enough insurance to go around, or the driver doesn’t have any insurance, then the injured cyclists can use the uninsured and underinsured provision of their own auto policy—if they have one. This can also be used in an intentional accident because the injured person didn’t injure themselves intentionally.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you have been injured while riding in a bicycle group, you should at least talk to an attorney to let you know your rights under the law. There may be complicated issues with an insurance policy, or it might take an experienced attorney to find where the compensation is going to come from.
At the Bay Area Bicycle Law, we have experience in group accidents and can help you even if the accident was intentional or if it doesn’t look there is any insurance coverage. The insurance companies and their lawyers know how to keep you from getting the compensation you deserve, so you owe it to yourself to get someone on your side.
Bay Area Bicycle Law is the only firm in northern California that deals exclusively with bicycle law. A consultation is free, and if you decide to have them represent you, there are no fees paid until you get paid by the insurance company.
Start putting someone on your side, call us at (415) 466 8717 or click here to contact us online. If you still wonder if we’re the right firm for you or even if you need an attorney, read this for help answering these questions.