What are the Most Important Bicycle Laws in Los Angeles?

Statutes and Codes - Sidewalk Bicycle Accidents

Woman hitting cyclist
Woman driving and texting, not paying attention, and about to hit a man on a bicycle.

Riding a bicycle in the rain gutter, or even the designated bike lane on many narrow city streets can seem like a death sentence in heavy or even light traffic. For this reason, a few cities have established municipal codes allowing riders to get out of the traffic and onto a barrier that includes the curb. I am talking about making it legal to traverse the sidewalks on a bike.

Important: Yes, it is true, in Southern California communities such as Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Venice, Santa Monica, each city has differing laws for bicyclists. Apparently, these are to help keep riders safe from traffic. But this also creates problems for knowing uniformity of laws as you pass from city neighborhoods and riding lanes.

Think about it. How does a rider know exactly what laws apply to each locale? How does the rider even know exactly what city he or she is in? It's all disconcerting to a rider just trying to get it done!

So in the event of a crash, the person riding the bike can suffer serious bodily harm. Most of all, these will require medical care. When a motor vehicle, hazardous bike lane or flawed design hurt a rider, the at-fault party remains responsible for the damages.

What are the Best Big City Bicycle Riding Rules?

Beautiful distractions cause wrecks during lane changes in a car
Beverly Hills, California side swipes are common with pedestrians, bicycles and other vehicles

As discussed above, bicycle riding laws vary from one city to another. So where in some cities it is legal to ride on the sidewalk and in others, it is not. Riding on the sidewalk or if it is prohibited or not, may become a major factor in a claim where the bicyclist becomes harmed in a collision with a motor vehicle. Motorists must watch for bicyclists. When bicyclists can ride on sidewalks, drivers must be alert to riders leaving or approaching sidewalks.

Important: If a bicyclist cannot ride on the city’s sidewalk and gets in a collision, the motorist has a negligence per se defense. Now he or she can say it was unreasonable or unforeseeable to expect the cyclist to leave the sidewalk into traffic. After all, it remains prohibited to ride on the sidewalk, or even in a crosswalk for that matter.

What to do After a Sidewalk Riding Accident.

  • After a bicycle crash anywhere, including a sidewalk, there are steps to take that help preserve your claim against the driver or another responsible party. Being involved in a mishap can cause panic and anxiety. But knowing what to do after an event of this type remains invaluable. Call the police and ambulance if injuries arise. Do so even in situations where the driver admits fault. It is still needed to ensure a police report gets filed. And always document when the driver has admitted fault. (Even when the driver admits fault the insurance company will fight to deny or reduce the claim).
  • Do not have conversations about the accident with the other driver or admit any fault.
  • Never admit fault. Only answer direct questions for the police, but to not offer opinions. (Ex: "Yes," "no," "I don't know").
  • Obtaining Information is essential. So that means getting the driver’s name, address, telephone number, vehicle insurance information, make, model, color, and license plate.
  • Get the name, phone number, and address of any witnesses to the collision.
  • Do not provide the insurance company or anyone with written statements about the collision.
  • Seek medical care even if you do not believe you have sustained any harm since adrenaline can prevent feeling some types of damage. In some cases, injuries can take hours or days to become apparent.
  • Take photographs of any injuries, the scene of the collision, the vehicles involved, and the bicycle.

The following cities in Southern California have enacted bicycle regulations:
  • Los Angeles: Bicycles are permitted to be ridden on the sidewalk. But they must use caution and avoid pedestrians using the public walkway.
  • Beverly Hills: In Beverly Hills, bicyclists are permitted to ride on sidewalks in residential areas, or non-business districts. But this can be confusing for the bicyclists. After all, the term “business” is used in a broad sense. Under most statutes, it includes churches and schools. In any event, the city is considered to have over 50% of buildings being business related. So here, bicyclists may not ride on the sidewalks.
  • West Hollywood: In this city, if no bicycle lane, riders can ride on the sidewalk. But if a bike lane exists, it must get used. In all events, if they decide to ride on a roadway with no bike lane, they must ride with the flow of traffic.
  • Venice: This city permits bicyclists to ride on sidewalks. But riders must use caution towards pedestrians.
  • Santa Monica: This city also prohibits the use of bicycles on sidewalks.
  • Culver City: This town has similar bicycle riding rules as Beverly Hills. So no riding bikes on sidewalks in business areas.

Other California Laws Involving Bicycle vs. Vehicle Collisions.

Many drivers treat bicyclists as though they do not have equal rights on the roadway. However, the law in California Vehicle Code 21202 (a) outlines bicycle riders and motor vehicle drivers.

VERY Important.

Bicycle Riders Have the Same Rights, Duties, and Obligations as Motor Vehicle Drivers With Limited Exceptions.

In California, bicycle riders have the same rights as drivers on the road. This includes the fact that they are entitled to use any part of the roadway. So this includes using the middle lane. But this remains true for only as long as their speed is consistent with the flow of traffic.

The vehicle code states that the bicyclist is permitted in traffic lanes. But it may not impede the flow of traffic. Bike riders under this code have the same rights as motorists. But riders must adhere to traffic laws. So they must ride with the flow of traffic. Also, they should use signals and adhere to traffic signs.

California Vehicle Code Section 21650 outlines bicyclists are traveling slower than the flow of traffic. It demands they ride on the roadway. But riders must ride in the furthest right portion of the road.

What are the Exceptions and Prohibitions to Riding in the Bike Lane?

The exception would be whether or not a designated bike lane exists. When a rider is in a bicycle lane, they have the right of way. Motorists may not travel in the bike lane. Bicyclists may also ride on the shoulder of the roadway.

This is according to the California Vehicle Code. It says if no designated bike lane exists to use the shoulder. Also, car drivers must maintain a safe distance of generally of 3 feet. This requirement for drivers may mean the driver must slow down or wait until it is safe from oncoming traffic to pass the bike.

  • California Vehicle Code Sec 21960 establishes that bikes are prohibited from being ridden on freeways in the state.
  • California Vehicle Code Sec 21212 requires that anyone riding a bicycle on the road under the age of 18 must wear an approved bicycle helmet.

What are the Steps to Filing a Bicycle Accident Claim?

The State of California has enacted laws to protect the rights of bicyclists. This remains true even though all motorists do not share the roadway equally with bike riders. In the event of a collision with a motor vehicle, the law protects the rights of the bicycle rider to recover damages. So this would include money for any harm related to the mishap. And this remains true even if the biker is partially at-fault.

The steps would be to treat medically, hire a lawyer and let the lawyer make it happen for you.

Hazards on the Road - Government Claims and the Statute of Limitations.

When the crash is from roadway conditions or hazards, the bicyclist may seek damages from the agency in charge of maintaining the road, sidewalk or bicycle lane. This will be a local government, state or local entity liable for the negligence. Here, there is a statute of limitations or time limit in which to file the claim for damages.

It remains 6 months. If the crash was on private property or involved a private party, the statute of limitations in California is two years from the date of the mishap. So this is the time in which the claim or lawsuit must become filed.

What are the Time Limits on Filing Bicycle Injury Claims or Lawsuits?

In the State of California, who was negligent determines the time limit to file from the date of the incident. In the event, the negligent party is a state, local or government agency the time limit remain different than for a private party. Claims must become filed within six months of the accident.

So the “notice of claim” gets filed with the appropriate government agency. This notifies the entity the injured party is seeking compensation. (Read More). Once this notice is filed, it will be reviewed by the agency. But usually, it gets denied. And in some cases, the entity may not respond to the claim within 45 days.

Whether denied or unanswered, the injured party has six more months of claim denial or the 45 days the claim went unanswered to file a lawsuit. If the accident was due to a private party, the injured victim has two years to file a legal claim under the statute of limitations. This remains two years from the date the mishap occurred resulting in harm to the plaintiff.

Recovering Compensation.

When injured in a bicycle crash, not your fault, you are entitled to monetary compensation. Because you became harmed, negligence law allows you to recover damages from the mishap. These include:

Medical Expenses.

The injured victim is entitled to recover compensation for medical costs for immediate care. So this includes money for treatments and ongoing health care. Also covered are emergency room visits, hospital stays, and follow-up care. And things like therapy, long-term rehabilitation, chiropractic treatment, acupuncture and other types of required care are expensive.

Diagnoses tests will be necessary to determine the damage. This includes X-rays and MRI’s for soft tissue damage. Also, CT scans for head trauma remain costly. The costs for testing can increase rapidly. Also, in California, drivers must maintain auto insurance. In fact, it must have at least 15/30/5.

So that means $15,000 coverage for each person injured in an accident. And this adds up to $30,000 personal injury coverage. Then it also has $5,000 for property damage coverage. This is the least expensive insurance policy. Also, if the driver is uninsured, the only protection is with an uninsured and uninsured motorists policy addition.

This is insurance on your own policy that will cover damages. But this only kicks in when the other driver had no insurance coverage or was uninsured.

How do You Get Paid for Loss of Wages?

Bicycle accidents can result in serious harm. Sometimes victims are unable to work for days, weeks, months or even longer amounts of time. Income becomes reduced or lost from an inability to work. Also, it includes paying for the lost time before the crash.

Most of all, it can cause financial stress. So victims may always seek money for lost wages. It may also be possible to recover compensation if you were not working at the time of the mishap. But if you were seeking employment and were prevented or delayed in obtaining employment, you have a case.

Can you Recoup $$ for Retraining for Employment?

In some situations, the extent of the injuries may cause a disability. So in that case, the bicyclist is unable to continue working in their chosen career. In any event, this requires retraining in another type of employment.

Examples would be a job where their injuries will not hamper their ability to work. When the bicycle accident was caused due to negligent actions, the rider has the right to seek compensation. So he or she may request dollars for the loss of income. After all, the victim is unable to return to the same type of employment.

So this may include compensation for possible promotions and other forfeited benefits. In some situations, the ongoing chronic pain will result in the inability to return to most types of employment permanently. So if this was from the actions of negligence, compensation is deserved.

What About $$ for Pain and Suffering?

Injuries caused by bicycle accidents for some rider’s results in serious injuries that can be a temporary or permanent pain. The victim may suffer chronic pain. So this decreases their quality of life. Also, it affects their ability to enjoy daily activities.

Along with the pain is emotional and mental suffering. Also, this often accompanies serious injuries. Most of all, they can inhibit the ability to live life to its fullest. Monetary compensation cannot change the fact the accident took place. But it can help to relieve some of the stress.

How do You Get Paid for Bicycle Property Damages?

After a bike accident, it isn’t uncommon for the bike to become damaged. Compensation is allowed for repair or replacement of the bike. And we will assist in your property damage claim against the insurance company.

In any event, we can help you recover the repair or replacement cost. Because this is what you deserve to get your bike back to the condition it was before the accident.

What About Exclusive Losses?

Every accident is different. So this means it can have effects on the life of the injured individual and their family. The most common types of compensation are medical expenses, loss of wages and other damages. But unique circumstances sometimes exist. No matter what, these must become addressed.

What are the typical questions asked after a bicycle mishap?

  • What happens if I was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash? If you are over the age of 18 and not wearing a helmet, it will not affect your claim. But in all cases, the defense may argue not wearing a helmet caused a worse injury. This remains true even when not required by law.
  • What happens if there were prior injuries? Many people have previous injuries. So after a bike mishap, the at-fault party must pay for the injuries directly related to the accident. In fact, they must also cover the worsening old wounds. Old injuries are often more vulnerable to re-injury. So they remain susceptible to re-injury. This is because the tissue has been weakened at the site of the injury. Even if a prior injury affects the body, it does not harm the claim. Also, it may even help show the amount of pain and suffering in a minor incident.
  • How to get medical care without out of pocket expenses? Medical attention and treatment after a bicycle accident remains essential. And while some health insurance will cover the costs, not everyone has health care coverage or an insurance policy. And if they do, it won't always cover every expense. Entitlements include out of pocket expenses for the hurt person. Because they needed proper medical treatment, they went out of pocket. There are health care professionals that will provide the necessary treatment for the injured individual. Many will do so without any upfront fees. Because they recover their cost later, they are "contingency fee attorneys."
  • How do insurance companies handle claims? Insurance companies use a computer program called Colossus. It values injury claims with a lowest amount and highest. So information goes into the computer. Items input will include the type of injury, the length of treatment, and costs of medical care and vehicle damage. This data generates a dollar value. One of the issues with the use of this software program is that it is not able to be customized. And every accident is different with its unique elements. So it won't account for different employment requirements. And it fails to consider preexisting injuries made worse. Nor does it consider the person’s lifestyle. So this can make the dollar value incorrect for the particular claim. We negotiate. Most of all, this ensures a proper settlement.

Where are The Bicycle Attorneys with Experience?

After an accident, it is not uncommon to be in pain. Also, you will have concerns leading to stress. And not knowing what to do to change the situation can place you in fear. But we can help. And we have the experience and resources to protect your rights and recover the monetary compensation you deserve.

In all events, we strive to make the legal process as easy as possible for the first consultation. Until settlement, we are at work helping you get your life back on track. Our legal professionals will answer every question and keep you in the loop. We'll let you know about every development in your case.

And this is why we are unlike other attorneys. We take the frustration out of the claims process. Most of all, we give our clients the personalized attention they deserve. We rapidly respond to phone calls and emails.

Ehline Law Firm.

Ehline Law Firm specializes in sidewalk riding accidents. Our commitment remains to protect the rights of law-abiding victims. And we make it possible for everyone to have a fair chance of recovering the maximum amount of compensation.

And we do this by offering a free consultation and working on a contingency basis. We take no legal fees unless we are successful in negotiating or litigating a settlement. Also, our experienced lawyers will work hard on your behalf.

So we fight to recover the financial damages you deserve to get your life back on track. We will also handle property damage claims. Bicycle repair or replacement is part of your case. Also, we keep you up to date on your case. Plus, we work diligently to ensure obtaining the settlement you deserve.

We are prepared to take the case to court to recover fair compensation on your behalf. Call the law firm today to schedule a free consultation toll-free at (213) 596-9642.

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