Bicycle Saftey: Reducing the Risk of Accident and Injury

The Importance of Bicycle Safety

Cycling is one of the most popular recreational activities in the United States. Even though there have been many efforts to promote cycling safety, bicycle accidents, and related fatalities continue to occur in alarming numbers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2019, 846 bicyclists were killed in crashes involving motor vehicles, and also that roughly 60,000 non-fatal bicycle-related occurred in the same year. To reduce the risk of accidents and save lives, it is crucial to educate cyclists and the public on the importance of bicycle safety.

The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive guide to bicycle safety, including topics such as:

  • Understanding the importance of prioritizing bicycle safety and the factors that contribute to bicycle accidents
  • Laws and regulations related to bicycle safety, including state-specific laws
  • Ensuring a safe ride, including choosing the right bicycle, proper maintenance, and safe riding habits
  • Bicycle safety for children, including education and safety gear
  • What to do in the event of a bicycle accident, including steps to take immediately and also how to deal with insurance companies

By providing this information, Dan Rose Law hopes to educate cyclists and help them stay safe on the roads, reducing the number of bicycle accidents and fatalities.

About Bicycle Safety

To reduce the risks that come with biking it is important to understand what those risks are. Some key factors that contribute to risk during cycling are:

Factors that Can Contribute to an Accident

  • Poor visibility: When drivers are unable to see cyclists on the road, it dramatically increases the chance of an accident.
  • Distracted driving: Drivers who are texting, on the phone, or otherwise distracted have a higher probability of causing an accident.
  • Poor road conditions: Potholes, uneven pavement, debris or other hazards can contribute to cyclists losing control of their bikes and causing an accident.
  • Reckless cycling: Cyclists who refuse to follow established rules of the road or who take unnecessary risks are more likely to be in an accident.
  • Lack of protective gear: The risk of injury in an accident is much higher for cyclists who fail to wear protective gear, such as helmets and reflective clothing.

Taking The Proper Steps to Reduce Risk

  • Wear a helmet: A helmet is one of the most important pieces of safety gear since in an accident, the head is the most important body part to protect. Helmets have been proven to reduce the risk of serious injury in many cases.
  • Use lights and reflectors: Making sure you are always seen by drivers by doing everything you can to make yourself visible can help reduce the risk of accidents. This is especially true at night.
  • Follow the rules of the road: It is important that cyclists should heed traffic signals and signs, ride with the flow of traffic, and use hand signals when making turns.
  • Stay alert: Cyclists should never get casual when riding and should always stay focused on the road staying aware of their surroundings at all times.
  • Avoid distractions: Just like driving a car, using your phone or getting caught up in other distractions while cycling will increase your chances of being in an accident.
  • Use bike lanes and designated paths when available: Bike lanes and designated paths, when adhered to, have been shown to reduce the risk of accidents.

The Importance of Education in Bicycle Safety

  • Many cyclists are not aware of all of the risks that come with biking and how they can reduce those risks.
  • Education on bicycle safety can help cyclists understand the importance of good safety habits, federal and local laws and regulations, and good preparation for ensuring safe riding.
  • Bicycle safety education can also help drivers understand how to safely share the road

A sound understanding of all of the factors that can contribute to cycling accidents along with proactively taking action to reduce the associated risks can literally save lives. It is important for both cyclists and drivers to be educated to maximize the chances of avoiding accidents on the road.

Laws and Regulations Related to Bicycle Safety

In the United States, there are laws and regulations regarding bicycle safety that all cyclists should be familiar with, including:

State-Specific Laws

  • Helmets: In some states, helmet use is required when riding a bicycle.
  • Bicycle Lights: Some states also require light use during nighttime riding.
  • Sidewalks: Some states do not allow cycling on sidewalks, whereas some do.
  • Passing: Many states require that drivers pass cyclists at a “safe” distance, typically this is at least 3 feet.
  • Group Riding: Some state laws have provisions for how many cyclists can ride side by side.

Federal Laws and Regulations

  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Regulations: The CPSC defines safety standards for bicycles and related equipment, including, but not limited to helmets and reflectors.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA mandates that sidewalks, roads, and public transportation must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes cyclists.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Regulations: The NHTSA has safety standards for motor vehicles, with a goal to reduce the number of accidents involving bicycles and motor vehicles.

Liability in Bicycle Accidents

  • Who is at fault in a bicycle accident can be an extremely complex issue.
  • In some cases, the driver of the motor vehicle may be wholly at fault for the accident, while in others, it may be the cyclist who is at fault.
  • Factors that can influence decisions about liability include state laws, and the specific circumstances of the accident, including the actions of both the cyclist and the driver.

To reduce risk on the road for cyclists, it is important that both drivers and cyclists have a sound understanding of and follow the laws and regulations related to bicycle safety. An understanding of liability when it comes to bicycle accidents can also be a help to cyclists by protecting their legal rights and assisting them in the process of seeking proper compensation for injuries and/or damage. A bicycle accident lawyer with a proven track record can also help in this regard.

Tips for Safe Cycling

Prioritizing safety on the road can ensure that cycling remains a fun and healthy recreational activity. Here are some tips for safe cycling:

Wear Proper Safety Gear

  • Always wear a properly-fitted helmet that conforms to state laws where applicable.
  • Increase visibility by wearing bright clothing ideally with reflective components.
  • Using quality gloves can provide a better grip on the handles.
  • Be sure to wear shoes that cover your toes for proper foot protection.

Follow Traffic Laws

  • Obey all traffic signals and signs.
  • Use hand signals for turns and stops.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Use bike lanes or designated cycling areas when they are available.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

  • Keep a sharp eye out for hazards on the road, like potholes, debris, or wet pavement.
  • Be aware of the traffic around you and try to make eye contact with drivers to make sure that they see you.
  • Watch for pedestrians and be sure to yield to them when necessary.
  • Avoid distractions like using your phone or listening to music or podcasts with headphones while cycling.

Maintain Your Bicycle

  • It’s a good idea to check your brakes, tires, handlebars, pedals, or other components regularly so that you can be confident that they are in good working order.
  • Keep your bicycle clean, especially the parts that contribute to a smooth ride, like your chains and tires.
  • Make sure your bicycle is the right size and is adjusted for your body.

Stay Alert and Defensive

  • Anticipate potential road hazards and be ready to react quickly.
  • Always assume that drivers don’t see you and always be ready to take evasive action, if necessary.
  • Avoid cycling in bad weather or at night, if at all possible.

These tips will absolutely help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries during a bike ride. Safe bicycling is about protecting yourself, and also those around you.

Bicycle Safety for Children

The best time to teach children about bicycle safety is right when they start to learn to ride. This is important for ensuring their safety on the road. The following are a few tips for parents and guardians to help keep children safe while cycling:

Proper Safety Gear

  • Children should always wear properly-fitted helmets.
  • Be sure that children always wear brightly colored clothing and reflective gear to increase visibility.
  • Use gloves to protect their hands and provide a better grip on the handlebars.
  • Children shouldn’t wear open-toe shoes but should choose shoes that fully cover their feet.

Traffic Safety

  • Teach children early to adhere to traffic signals and signs.
  • Practice hand signals with children for turns and stops.
  • Teach children to ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Have children use bike lanes and/or other appointed cycling areas when they are available.

Be Aware of the Surroundings

  • Teach children to keep an eye out for on-road hazards, including potholes, debris, or wet pavement.
  • Make sure children stay aware of traffic around them and are intentional about making eye contact with drivers to make sure they are seen.
  • Teach children to be aware of pedestrians and yield to them as necessary.
  • Be sure children are vigilant in avoiding distractions like phones, headphones, or other diversions.

Proper Bike Fit

  • Children’s bicycles should be the right size for their height and weight and be adjusted accordingly. For example, seats that are too high can pose risks.
  • Check chains, tires, brakes, and other parts to be sure they are in good condition and function well.
  • Keeping children’s bicycles clean will ensure the best ride possible. For example, excessive dirt in the chain areas can pose risks.


  • For kids, riding with an adult or in a group can be a safer way to ride, especially when they are more inexperienced.
  • It’s a good idea to have children get into the habit of asking for permission before going on a bike ride so that you know where they are at all times.
  • Establish rules for children to stay within familiar cycling areas or routes.

Proper education and training can go a long way in reducing the risk of bicycle accidents and injury for children. It may be necessary to refresh this training multiple times as children (and even adults) can forget or get into bad habits while cycling.

Bicycle Accidents: What to Do

Even when you are following all the rules, accidents can still happen when riding a bike. The following is a guide on what to do if you are in a bicycle accident.

First Seek Medical Attention

  • If you or anyone else involved in the accident is injured, your first priority is to seek medical attention immediately.
  • If needed, call 911 for assistance.
  • Even if it doesn’t seem like you’re injured, it’s still a good idea to get checked out by a medical professional just to be sure there are no injuries beyond the surface.

Document the Accident

  • If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and include pictures of any damage to your bike, other vehicles involved in the incident, and any injuries you may have experienced.
  • Get the names and contact information of any witnesses who happened to see the accident.
  • Write down all details about the accident, including the date, time, location, or any other relevant info.

Contact the Police

  • Call the local police department to report the accident.
  • Cooperate with police and provide any information they ask for.
  • If the accident involved a motor vehicle, be sure to ask the police to file a report.

Contact Your Insurance Company

  • Notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible.
  • Provide them with any information they need, including the police report and any photos or other documentation.

Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney

  • If you sustained injuries or damage to property in the accident, consider consulting with a personal injury attorney. Initial consultations are usually free.
  • An experienced attorney can help you through the legal process and be sure that your rights are protected.

The aftermath of a bicycle accident can be a confusing and stressful time. By taking these steps, you can make sure you get proper medical attention and have thorough documentation of the incident, which can be highly valuable if you end up needing to file an insurance claim or take legal action.


Riding your bicycle, rather than driving, is a great way to stay healthy, save money, and even reduce your carbon footprint. However, it’s important to prioritize safety when cycling to avoid accidents and injuries. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can minimize your risk of getting into a bicycle accident and being injured. You’ll also enjoy riding far more.

California Bicycle Laws

California’s mild climate, bike-friendly infrastructure, scenic routes, diverse terrain, and active cycling community make it an ideal place for anyone who loves to ride a bike. Unfortunately, severe or fatal bicycle injury accidents occur frequently in our state, particularly on busy roads in and around the Bay Area.  

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 60,000 bicyclists in the United States were injured in traffic accidents, and 840 lost their lives in 2016. The carelessness or recklessness of motorists caused a significant number of these collisions. When vehicle drivers are distracted, intoxicated, ignore the rules of the road, or disregard the rights of cyclists, they put everyone at risk.  

Because cyclists have little to protect them in the event of a crash, they are frequently injured or killed by drivers who do not check their blind spot before changing lanes, make right turns directly in front of them, hit them while driving on the shoulder, open doors in their path, fail to stop at stop signs, pull out from driveways or side streets without looking, or otherwise jeopardize their safety.  

Motorists and cyclists alike must understand California’s bicycle laws and the rights they extend to cyclists on public roads throughout The Golden State. It’s also vital to know your rights if a negligent motorist has injured you while riding your bike. 

California Bicycle Laws 

Under California Vehicle Code §21200 – 21213, cyclists have the following rights:  

  • You can ride where you like, as long as you are moving at the same speed and with traffic flow. 
  •  If you’re riding slower than traffic, California’s bicycle lane rules allow you to “take the lane” if it’s not wide enough for a bike and a vehicle to share side-by-side safely. Stay close to the right side of the road, as much as possible and practical. Exceptions to this are when passing, turning left, avoiding hazards, riding in a particularly narrow traffic lane, or attempting an authorized right turn. 
  •  If the road has a bike lane, you must use it unless you’re making a left turn, passing, dodging hazardous conditions, or approaching an authorized right turn. Knowing and obeying all bike lane rules in California is crucial before riding. 
  • You don’t have to use a bikeway (formerly known as a “protected bike lane”) since California’s bicycle rules of the road no longer recognize them as bike lanes.
  • You must ride with traffic and on the right side of the road unless you’re turning left, overtaking or passing another cyclist or vehicle, riding on a one-way street or a narrow road, or when construction closes the right side.
  • High-speed (28 mph top-assisted speed) e-bikes and mopeds may not be ridden on trails, bike paths, or bike lanes unless otherwise specified by California law or local laws. Operators aged sixteen or older may ride them in bike lanes or separated bikeways. Riders must wear an approved helmet at all times. 
  • Low-speed (20 mph top assisted speed) electric bicycles can be ridden wherever bikes are allowed unless expressly prohibited by local law.
  • You may not stop or park a bicycle on a bicycle path.
  •  A city or county may determine whether cyclists can ride bikes on sidewalks.
  • People may not ride bicycles (including motorized bikes) on freeways or expressways if the California Department of Transportation (CDoT) and local authorities prohibit it.
  • Bicyclists may only use toll bridges if permitted by the California Department of Transportation.

Knowing the bicycle laws in California could make a significant difference in a safe ride and one that results in a severe injury accident. Unfortunately, even the safest cyclist could still be injured if a motorist fails to respect the rights of cyclists on the road. 

What Are The Most Common Causes of Bike Accidents in California? 

Some of the most common causes of bike accidents in California include:  

  • Left-turning vehicles at an intersection – If a driver fails to see an oncoming cyclist or misjudges the cyclist’s speed, a severe or fatal injury accident could occur. 
  • Right-turning vehicles overtaking a cyclist – Motorists turning right at an intersection or driveway often fail to check for cyclists riding alongside or behind them, leading to dangerous collisions.
  • Vehicles passing too closely – If a motorist attempts to pass a cyclist and doesn’t leave adequate space, they could “clip” the cyclist or cause them to lose control and crash. Cyclists may also get hit by the vehicle if they swerve to avoid hazardous road conditions.
  • Dooring – “Dooring” accidents often happen when cyclists ride near parked cars. If a driver or passenger opens their door without looking, they could hit a cyclist riding by and cause a severe injury accident.
  • Road hazards – Not providing clean pavement, or uneven pavement, potholes, debris, and other hazards on the road can cause cyclists to lose control of their bikes and crash. When this happens, a government entity could be responsible for compensating the injured cyclist if the road was not adequately designed, inspected, or repaired.
  • Driving under the influence – Motorists under the influence of alcohol or drugs will often experience dangerously impaired judgment and coordination, making it more difficult to see cyclists, react to hazards on the road, and avoid accidents.
  • Distracted driving – If a driver is texting, talking on the phone, eating, grooming, talking to passengers, or engaging in other distracting activities, they may fail to see cyclists on the road or leave adequate space between their vehicle and the bike. Distracted driving is a significant cause of crashes in California and across the United States and causes countless severe injuries and fatal accidents each year.
  • Pedestrian collisions – Cyclists riding on sidewalks, crosswalks, or bike paths could collide with pedestrians walking, jogging, or standing on the path. If the pedestrian was in the wrong place or was not walking where they were supposed to, they could be liable for the harm they caused.
  • Mechanical failures – If a bicycle’s brakes, gears, chains, or other bike components malfunction, they can cause a cyclist to lose control and crash. If a defectively designed or manufactured part caused the collision, the cyclist could seek compensation from the manufacturer. 
  • Dog attacks – Dog owners are always responsible for their pets. If a dog is off-leash or if the owner fails to control it and it attacks a cyclist and causes a crash, the pet owner could be liable for the cyclist’s injuries.

What Type of Compensation Could I Recover After a Bike Accident? 

If someone else’s negligence caused a severe injury bike accident in San Francisco, you could be eligible to seek compensation from the at-fault party. Depending on the specifics of your crash (including whether you were following California biking laws and the other party’s actions) and the nature of your injuries, you could seek compensation, including:  

  • Medical bills, both current and future
  • Prescription medication, medical devices, therapy, rehabilitation, and other treatment costs
  • Lost income and potential earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of financial support 
  • Loss of consortium
  • Repairs or replacement of your bike and other damaged property
  • Incidental expenses for travel for treatment and rehabilitation

Even if the at-fault driver is not located or identified (such as in a hit-and-run crash), a cyclist could seek compensation from their own motor vehicle insurance policy if it includes coverage for Uninsured / Underinsured motorists. This is often referred to as UI/UM coverage.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

The following are some frequently asked questions about bike accidents in California: 

How can I stay safe while cycling on these busy Bay area roads? 

Cyclists can stay safe on busy roads in California by wearing a helmet, using bike hand signals, following California bike law, using designated bike lanes or paths whenever possible, staying visible by wearing bright clothing or yellow reflectors, white lights, or red lights, and being aware of their surroundings at all times. 

What should I do if I’m injured in a bike accident in San Francisco?  

Suppose a negligent motorist hits you while riding your bike. In that case, you should immediately contact the police, get information from the individuals involved and any eyewitnesses, seek prompt medical attention, keep a record of the incident, and contact an experienced San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. 

What information should I gather from the driver and witnesses after a bicycle accident in California? 

You should always get the driver’s name, contact information, insurance information, license plate number, and the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident occur. 

How can I preserve evidence to support my case after a bicycle accident in California? 

If your injuries allow, you could secure crucial evidence to support your case after a bicycle accident by taking pictures and video of the accident scene and your injuries, getting the contact information for any witnesses and preserving any physical evidence such as broken bike parts or damaged clothing. 

When should I contact a bicycle accident lawyer in California after a bicycle accident? 

You contact a bicycle accident lawyer in San Francisco as soon as possible after an accident, so your lawyer can gather vital evidence before it is lost or destroyed, file an insurance claim or lawsuit, and seek fair compensation for your injuries and accident-related losses. 

Is the motorist always at fault in a bicycle and car accident in California?

No, the motorist will not always be at fault for a collision involving a car and bike in California. Cyclists are also expected to obey the rules of the road and operate their vehicles with care and caution, so fault for any particular accident will depend on the specific circumstances and the actions taken by both parties. 

Could I seek compensation if I was partially at fault for the bicycle accident in California? 

Yes, you may still be eligible to recover compensation even if you were partially at fault for the bicycle accident in California. Because California follows a pure comparative negligence doctrine, the court would likely reduce the compensation you could recover based on your percentage of fault. 

Why should I hire a lawyer to represent me?  

If you’ve been injured in a bike crash, you might wonder if you can handle your insurance or injury claim without the assistance of a knowledgeable bicycle accident attorney. You might be tempted to settle directly with the other party’s insurance company, but doing so might be a big mistake. 

Remember that insurance company representatives are incentivized to maximize company profits by minimizing payouts for claims. If you’re injured in a bike crash and do not have legal representation, the other party’s insurance company might try to push you to accept a lowball settlement offer that is far less than what you deserve. That’s because the insurance company knows you are unprepared to file a lawsuit or take the case to court. 

Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you in a bicycle accident case will maximize your ability to recover the deserved compensation. You should let them handle all communications and negotiations with the insurance company and refrain from signing any papers or agreeing to recorded statements if an adjuster or another company representative approaches you. 

Contact a San Francisco Bike Accident Attorney Today 

If you have been injured in a bike accident in San Francisco, you need a skilled and experienced bike accident attorney with the skills and resources to help you seek the full and fair compensation you deserve. When the unthinkable happens, and a negligent motorist injures you while riding your bike, contact Attorney Daniel Rose immediately for help. Some of the reasons why other injured cyclists have chosen our firm include the following: 

  • We provide personalized attention to every client. Every client deserves compassionate, personalized service. When you hire us, Mr. Rose will carefully evaluate your claim and work closely with you at every step to meet your needs.
  • We have a proven track record of success. Mr. Rose has secured tens of millions of dollars in compensation for his clients. As a former partner with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, a nationally recognized law firm, Mr. Rose has built a reputation for professional integrity and efficient, aggressive, and responsible representation.
  • We have earned significant recognition and accolades.  Mr. Rose’s commitment to providing exceptional legal representation has earned him recognition from clients and peers alike. He has been recognized as a California Super Lawyer, an exclusive rating held by fewer than 5% of attorneys in California. He is also the recipient of the Martindale Hubble Client Distinction Award.

Contact an experienced San Francisco bicycle accident attorney at the Law Office of Daniel H. Rose at (415) 946-8900 for a free consultation today. 

Posted in General
February 27th, 2023 by Daniel Rose

California Bicycle Helmet Laws Overview

Most California bicyclists hop on their bikes without hesitation, take to the streets or local park and relish the opportunity to soak up the sun while enjoying a refreshing breeze. The focus is on exercise, spending time outdoors, and enjoying the Golden State’s lovely scenery.

However, there is a California bicycle helmet law every rider should know about. It is in every bicycle rider’s personal and legal interest to understand the nuances of the bicycle helmet law in California, regardless of whether they ride alone or in groups with family or friends.

An Explanation of the California Bicycle Helmet Law

Bicycle helmet laws differ by state and municipality. As an example, those who move from California to Texas are sometimes taken aback by the fact that Lone Star State does not have a statewide bicycle helmet law. In contrast, the California law on bicycle helmets is quite strict. Those under the age of 18 are legally required to don a protective helmet while riding a bicycle in the state of California.

Children aged 5 and under who ride on bicycles as passengers, be it on the back of a bike, in a bicycle trailer towed behind, or even in a stroller, are also legally mandated to don a protective helmet. Wearing a hat or other headgear will not suffice.

Every California bicyclist under the age of 18 and passenger on a bicycle under the age of 5 is to wear a protective bicycle helmet at all times, regardless of whether the bike ride takes place in the suburbs, a rural area, or an urban center. The few exceptions to the law are touched on below.

Though it is not guaranteed that officers of the law will enforce the California bicycle helmet law at all times, it is in every bicyclist’s legal interest as well as their personal and financial interest to be aware of it. Furthermore, wearing a helmet at the time of the collision solidifies a plaintiff’s legal footing all the more in the context of a California personal injury lawsuit after a bicycle accident.

Why the California Bicycle Helmet Law Is on the Books

The primary purpose of the state’s bicycle helmet law is to reduce the number of personal injuries that occur while riding through California streets. Wear a bicycle helmet to reduce the chances of a serious injury after colliding with:

  • An automobile
  • A pedestrian
  • A fellow bicyclist
  • A stationary object

A bicycle helmet protects against the impact of a potential collision as well as that of a fall, wayward rocks/pebbles, and other hazards on the road.

Mind the Subtleties of the Bicycle Helmet

Now that we’ve provided a brief introduction to the California bicycle helmet law and explained the reasoning behind it, let’s shift our attention to the nuances of the legalese. The California bicycle helmet law states that kids and even young adults are to wear a helmet. The bicycle helmet must be approved for use while riding a bicycle as the operator or passenger.

The law is also applicable to other non-automotive forms of transportation on wheels including:

  • Scooters
  • Skateboards
  • Rollerblades
  • Traditional skates
  • E-bikes

The bicycle helmet required for use must adhere to certain state standards. If the helmet does not meet the safety standards of California, do not purchase it. However, the vast majority of the bicycle helmets sold in local bike stores meet the state’s standards for safety. Such standards are either the CPSC, short for the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, or those ASTM, short for the American Society for Testing and Materials.

When in doubt, shop locally as opposed to online as web-based merchants tend to sell bicycle helmets made for the entirety of the country, regardless of their idiosyncratic bicycle helmet laws. Such universal bicycle helmets are not guaranteed to meet the standards of California’s comparably strict bicycle helmet law. When in doubt, give preference to bicycle helmets with a label that states “Safe in California.”

The Letter of the California Bicycle Helmet Law

Read through the language of California’s bicycle helmet law to obtain a better understanding of what it states, its potential impact on bike riders, and also the potential impact on a personal injury lawsuit.

California Motor Vehicle Code ß 21212 (a) states those under the age of 18 are required to wear a bicycle helmet when traversing:

  • Public roads
  • Bike paths
  • Public bikeways
  • Trails

However, the language of the law is less clear in the context of riding a bicycle on sidewalks. Though sidewalks are included in the law, some police officers will overlook helmetless riders on sidewalks as they are not in the direct path of automobile traffic.

The only exception to the state’s youth bicycle helmet law is that of riding on private property. If a child, tween, or teen is riding their bicycle on a private road, they can do so without a helmet. When in doubt, be safe as opposed to sorry, and wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.

The Penalties for Violating the California Bicycle Helmet Law

Failure to comply with the requirements of the bicycle helmet law in California can lead to a financial penalty. Examples of such penalties include fines and legal liability that carries additional ramifications stemming from civil personal injury lawsuits. It is also possible that wearing a bicycle helmet will increase the amount of money awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. An injured party who suffers a concussion or other traumatic brain injury (TBI) or even a non-brain injury will be viewed in a much more sympathetic and positive light if they responsibly wore a bicycle helmet at the time of the collision.

We would be remiss not to mention the fact that parents are responsible for their children, even when those kids are not inside the house. Though a child, tween, or teen might not be aware of the California bicycle helmet law, every adult should be aware of the law.

An individual under the age of 18 caught riding a bicycle without the proper helmet will be fined $25. Furthermore, there is also the potential for the police officer to issue a fine or warning if the helmet impedes the rider’s vision, is not properly fitted, or is not properly fastened. The parent of the minor is required to pay the financial penalty for their child’s negligence. However, if the infraction is the individual’s first, they might be excused with a warning.

What About Adult Bicyclists in California?

Adults can legally ride a bicycle in the state of California without a helmet. No state or federal law mandates adults to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. However, there is one exception to legal helmetless bicycle riding in California.

Adult bicyclists riding in Bidwell Park within the city of Chico are required to wear a bicycle helmet when traversing areas that are off pavement along the Upper Park and Middle Park spaces.


All individuals aged 18 and under are required to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle in California

  • Those aged 5 and under are required to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle as a passenger or in tow
  • There is a financial penalty for failing to comply with the California bicycle helmet law
  • Wearing a bicycle helmet helps strengthen a potential personal injury case
  • Contact an experienced San Francisco bicycle accident attorney for guidance after suffering an injury while riding a bicycle

Should You Always Call the Police After a Car Accident?

It’s such a seemingly minor accident, it gets a cute nickname: fender bender. When it happens, you might not think there are any injuries or any damage to your vehicle. It can be tempting, especially if you’re on your way to an appointment or work, to skip calling the cops and just exchange information so you can be on your way. But should you call the cops after a fender bender in the Bay Area? Yes, you should. Let’s go over the reasons why so you’ll understand why the extra time to call the police is worth it.

Why do You Need to Call the Police After a Car Accident?

Because fender benders are such minor accidents, many people mistakenly believe they don’t need to call the police. There are five good reasons to make sure you call the cops to report even a minor accident:

  • California law requires that you report the accident to the local police department in the city it happened in or to the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours.
  • Injuries may not be immediately obvious. By calling the cops and getting a police report, you ensure a paper trail to try to get compensation for your injuries.
  • Damage to your vehicle may not be visible. Like injuries, calling the police allows you to file a claim if you discover later that your vehicle has hidden damage.
  • Many insurance companies require a police report to file a claim, so it’s always best to ensure you have that report just in case.
  • The involvement of police ensures that the other driver doesn’t try to avoid responsibility by giving you false information, such as a fake name, old address, or an insurance policy number that is canceled.

How Long do You Have to File a Claim?

Ideally, you should contact your insurance company to file a claim as soon as possible after an accident. Many factors could cause you to delay filing your claim, which is why California offers a statute of limitations.

The California Courts allow you to file a claim for personal injury up to two years from the date of the injury. If the injury isn’t discovered immediately, you have one year from the date the injury is discovered. You have three years from the date the damage occurred to file a property damage claim.

It is important to know that you must file a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR 1) with the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident if any of the following occurred:

  • There is more than $1,000 in damage
  • There are any injuries (regardless of how minor)
  • Someone was killed

How Does California Determine Fault in a Vehicle Accident?

California law uses the theory of pure comparative fault. This means that more than one person can be held financially responsible for an accident. It also means that victims can be compensated even if they contributed to the accident. Financial responsibility is determined by the degree of fault and recovered compensation is reduced based on fault.

Let’s look at an example: Jane does a rolling stop at a stop sign and is hit by Joe, who is speeding. When the police investigate the accident, Joe is found to be 80% at fault because he was speeding and Jane is considered to be 20% at fault because she rolled through the stop sign. This means that Joe will be expected to compensate Jane for 80% of her damages and/or injuries and Jane will reimburse Joe for 20% of his damages or injuries.

What Happens if an Accident Isn’t Reported to the Cops?

If you are in an accident and do not report it to the cops, the best-case scenario is that you will struggle to be compensated for any property damage or injuries or may not be compensated at all. The worst-case scenario is that you could pay a fine, lose your license, or even go to jail.

Have You Been in a Fender Bender and Require Legal Assistance?

Whether you reported the accident or not, fender benders can get complicated. The apparent lack of severity can cause drivers and insurance companies to argue that your injuries or damage are not as significant as they are or that they weren’t caused by the accident. If you’ve been involved in an accident and need legal assistance to navigate your claim, our experienced San Francisco car accident attorneys may be able to help.

Examples of Reckless Driving in California

When a motorist engages in reckless driving, they willingly put others at risk of being injured or killed in a car accident. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that reckless driving played a role in more than 50 percent of car accidents in the United States in recent years. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recently reported that reckless driving was on the rise, as indicated by a related spike in car accident deaths across the U.S.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by another person’s reckless driving, you deserve to be compensated fairly for your losses. Bay area car accident attorney, Daniel S. Rose, has over 26 years of experience in personal injury law and is committed to pursuing justice for those who have been injured through the fault of another person’s actions. Contact his office today by calling (415) 946-8900 for a free consultation.

What Is Reckless Driving in California?

California Vehicle Code 23103 VC states that a person is guilty of reckless driving when they drive a vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” In other words, although a driver probably does not intend to cause injury, they are guilty of reckless driving if they knowingly drive dangerously.

Examples of Reckless Driving

“Reckless driving” is a broad term under California law that applies to any driving behavior that puts others at risk of harm. Speeding is one of the most common forms of reckless driving. However, it is not always classified as reckless driving. The circumstances and road conditions under which speeding occurs are used to determine whether this behavior qualifies as reckless driving. For example, a driver going 25 mph over the speed limit on an empty road or highway is likely to be charged with a traffic violation and not reckless driving. If, on the other hand, a driver is going 25 mph over the speed limit under dangerous road conditions while also weaving in and out of traffic, they are likely to be charged with reckless driving since they are knowingly disregarding the safety of others.

Some other examples of reckless driving that commonly occur on California roads include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Road rage or aggressive driving
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Illegal or unsafe passing, such as crossing a double yellow line or passing on a curved roadway
  • Failing to yield right of way
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road or outside of traffic lanes
  • Street racing
  • Knowingly driving an unsafe vehicle

Penalties for Reckless Driving in California

Reckless driving is treated more seriously than a basic traffic violation. It is classified as a misdemeanor offense and may involve penalties such as:

  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Up to 90 days in jail
  • Two points on a driver’s license
  • Up to a six-month driver’s license suspension

A reckless driver who causes an accident involving injuries is given even harsher penalties. If the accident caused serious injuries, the driver might be charged with a felony, which is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to three years in jail. “Serious” injuries, as defined under California law, include:

  • Brain injury
  • Concussion
  • Paralysis
  • Loss or impairment of the function of a body part or organ
  • Fractured bone
  • Wound requiring significant suturing

How a Bay Area Car Accident Attorney Can Assist

If you have been injured in a car accident in which you believe the other driver was acting recklessly, you deserve to be adequately compensated for your losses. The compensation you receive should cover the cost of past and future medical bills, as well as lost income and loss of quality of life due to the injuries you have suffered.

The first step in pursuing compensation is to file an insurance claim with the reckless driver’s auto insurance company. A San Francisco auto injury lawyer can assist you with this complicated process to help maximize your payout. They can also help you assess whether your payout adequately compensates for your losses. If it does not, they can guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit against the reckless driver, which involves gathering evidence to prove the reckless driving behavior and calculating your losses. A reckless driving lawsuit may also involve criminal proceedings heard in a California court in which you, as the victim, would need to participate as a witness.

Bay area car accident attorney Daniel S. Rose understands the trauma and shock you may be facing in the aftermath of a car accident. He has dedicated his career to pursuing justice for accident victims to help them rebuild their lives after injury. He has handled more than 1,000 cases to date and has recovered several hundred million dollars for his clients. Contact the Law Offices of Daniel S. Rose at (415) 946-8900 today to discuss your case and find out how he can help you.