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What To Do After A Bicycle Accident Involving a Dog

The San Francisco Bay Area is known for its love of dogs. Some rumors even suggest that there may be more canines in the region than children. Given all of the amenities available to our four-legged best friends, like parks and pup-friendly patios, there’s also an increased chance that they’re the cause for bicycle accidents and injuries.

The hazards cyclists usually look out for on busy Bay Area streets involve vehicle drivers, obstructed bike lanes, pedestrians, and construction. Biking accidents involving dogs may not seem as common, but they can happen in a blink of an eye. 

Unleashed dogs can rush toward cyclists, causing the rider to try and swerve out of the way. Dog attacks can also happen, which may lead to even worse injuries than a crash alone. If you’re involved in such an accident and have an injury, seek out medical attention as soon as you can. This might prevent long-term damage.

When a dog-related bicycle crash does happen, it can be a confusing event. There may not seem like an obvious place to turn to get medical bills or damages taken care of when the cause of a crash doesn’t necessarily have insurance, but there are some things cyclists and owners alike should know about incidents involving dogs and bike crashes. 

Does insurance cover a dog-related accident?

The short answer: Maybe. 

Bicycle accidents involving dogs and cyclists are much different than cases involving a car. In vehicle crashes, auto insurance coverage will often cover damages and medical bills, but with dogs, it’s likely that homeowners or renters insurance will cover those costs, as long as there aren’t dog exclusions in the policy.

If you are bit by a dog while riding your bicycle, California law does allow for the injured person to sue the dog owner. The law is specific to bites, so any other type of dog-related injury might be more complex. You must prove that the dog owner was negligent in some way that led to the accident and injury. If you’re attacked by a dog while riding, this could be easier to prove.

Should you contact an attorney after a dog vs. bicycle accident?

Navigating these kinds of cases for cyclists can be tedious, but attorneys at Bay Area Bicycle Law are dedicated to working through the legal intricacies of bicycle accidents, even when they involve a dog. Contact the firm for a free consultation today to find out more about how our legal team can assist you and your case.

If you have a claim, many factors may be reviewed, so keep as many notes as you can about the case, including: 

  • Medical bills 
  • Receipts for damages
  • Evidence of financial loss 
  • Insurance correspondance

How often do dog vs. cyclists accidents happen?

Only about 1 percent of bicycle injuries involve dogs, but when they do happen it can be a potentially traumatic encounter. It only takes a quick internet search to see how serious a crash with a dog can be. 

Last summer, a London cyclist broke their pelvis when they swerved to avoid hitting an unleashed dog. Another unleashed dog caused havoc during the Tour de France in July. Excited by the cyclists, the young dog darted into heavy cycling traffic. Several cyclists swerved and crashed to avoid the dog. 

As a result, race officials asked attendees to keep a closer eye on their dogs and keep them leashed at all times.

Whether it’s an attack or a dog roaming without a lead that causes the accident, the injuries can be serious, ranging from broken bones to head injuries and sometimes even death. Even though the dog-involved crashes are more rare, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken seriously, especially as dogs and cyclists are both increasingly common on San Francisco area streets. 

What can dog owners do to prevent crashes with bicycles?

At Bay Area Bicycle Law, we are dog lovers, and want you to keep both cyclists and your furry friend safe! It’s important for dog owners to always abide by leash laws. Different municipalities have different requirements. In South San Francisco, for example, dogs must be on a 6-foot leash (or shorter) when in public places. In some places,

the leash limit is 8 feet. 

Dog owners or walkers should also keep aware of their surroundings, especially in busy or high-traffic areas. Dogs can be unpredictable in unfamiliar areas, so it’s important to pay attention. Keep them close to you when cyclists are around. It can be appealing to let a dog have a longer lead on a walk, especially near a park, but it might end up being more dangerous for the dog, cyclists, and others nearby.

Joggers or walkers with dogs may have to occasionally share the road with cyclists. In these cases, it can be helpful for cyclists to give a friendly warning that they’re coming up behind a person with a dog. If it’s safe to move over, do so.