New State Law Could Impact Personal Injury Claims for Bicyclists in California

A Comprehensive Overview of the New AB 1909 Provision

The Old Law: Following Traffic Signals

Previously, bicyclists in California were expected to adhere to traffic signals meant for vehicles. This meant stopping at red lights and only proceeding when the light turned green. While this rule was straightforward, it often failed to account for the challenges and vulnerabilities cyclists face when sharing the road with cars.

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The New Law: Following Pedestrian Signals

Under the new AB 1909 provision, bicyclists may now cross intersections when the pedestrian “walk” signal is illuminated. This new rule acknowledges that cyclists often navigate roads using pedestrian pathways, giving them more opportunities to cross with a reduced risk of accidents.

Exceptions to the Rule

It’s important to note that cyclists must still adhere to bike-specific signals when present. These signals are typically found at busy or complex intersections where the movement of bicycles must be more carefully managed. If a bike-specific signal contradicts the pedestrian signal, cyclists must follow the bike signal.

How AB 1909 Could Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

To understand the impact of AB 1909 on personal injury compensation claims, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario. Imagine a bicyclist is hit by a car while crossing an intersection. The driver had a green light and was making an unprotected left turn while the bicyclist was following the pedestrian “walk” signal.

Under the old law, the cyclist would likely be deemed at fault for not adhering to the vehicle traffic signal, reducing the chance of receiving compensation for injuries and damages. With the new law in effect, the cyclist’s actions are legally protected if they were following the pedestrian signal. This shifts the liability to the driver, who should have yielded to the cyclist, just as they would to a pedestrian. Consequently, the cyclist would have a stronger case for receiving personal injury compensation.

Factors Affecting the Settlement of a Bicycle Accident

Offering an average bicycle accident settlement amount is difficult because every incident is unique. The factors influencing the outcome of your claim include:

  • Severity of injuries: More severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or multiple fractures, often require extensive medical treatment, rehab, and long-term care. The pain, suffering, and other emotional impacts can also be significant. These factors are considered when calculating both economic and non-economic damages. The goal is to ensure that the compensation reflects the true cost of the injury to cover immediate and future needs.
  • Financial losses: Not all costs associated with a bicycle accident are caused by hospital fees and medical treatments. If your injuries prevent you from returning to work, part of your settlement amount should cover the lost wages you would have earned had you not been injured.
  • Clear liability: California is a pure comparative negligence state. It allows injured parties to collect damages even if they are more than 50% at fault. Even so, the court subtracts the percentage of fault from the injured party’s compensation. If the driver is found mostly or entirely responsible for the bicycle accident, the settlement amount will likely be higher.

Common Damages in a Bicycle Accident Settlement

Bicycle accident claims fall under personal injury law, meaning the same kinds of damages that can be collected for other personal injury cases also apply to bike accidents, including:

  • Medical expenses related to emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and ongoing medical care
  • Property damage to the bicycle and any other personal property involved in the accident
  • Lost wages if the cyclist is unable to work due to their injuries
  • Pain and suffering experienced due to the accident
  • Long-term disability to cover ongoing care and lifestyle adjustments needed to accommodate the disability

We Help Injured Californian Cyclists Obtain the Maximum Settlement

At Bakerink, McCusker & Belden, we support injured cyclists in California. With over 35 years of legal experience, our bicycle accident lawyers provide the expert guidance you need to obtain the maximum settlement. Consistently ranked among the “Best of Tracy,” as published in the Tracy Press, our firm reflects the highest ethical standards and professional expertise. Contact us today at (209) 835-9592 to request a free, no-obligation case evaluation. We’ll help you seek justice and compensation for your injuries.