Category Archives: Bicycle Accidents

Cyclist Michael Hatch Mourned as Latest Bicycle v Shuttle Bus Collision Victim

It is clear from my representation of bicyclists who are victims of collisions with commuter related shuttle buses that shuttle bus drivers are grossly inadequately trained with respect to bicyclists on the road. This latest fatality in Santa Clara involving a 49-year-old cyclist in a bike lane with a green light is an example of driver gross negligence and simply should not have happened.

We are Presenting Sponsor of Bike East Bay’s Biketopia 2018 Member Party and Fundraiser

As we do every year, we are proud to once again be the Presenting Sponsor of Bike East Bay’s Biketopia 2018, taking place on Thursday, November 8, 2018 6:30 – 10:00 p.m. The event, which is always a lot of fun, is at a new location right next to the Ashby BART Station at Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline Street, Berkeley. Hope to see you there.

A Primary Cause of Injury and Death to Pedestrians and Bicyclists Traveling on Sidewalks is Vehicles Exiting Parking Lots and Driveways

One of the primary ways in which pedestrians and bicyclists traveling on sidewalks are injured or killed is by motor vehicles exiting parking lots or driveways. A recent example is the Bay Area case of an 84-year-old woman killed by a vehicle exiting a parking lot on W. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale. Based upon my experience as a pedestrian and bicycle accident lawyer, it appears that the most common way this occurs is when the pedestrian or bicyclist is traveling on the sidewalk in the opposite direction that the cars on the adjacent road are traveling.

Because the driver of the vehicle exiting the parking lot is most concerned with entering the traffic traveling in the direction the driver wishes to go, the driver quite often neglects to look for potential sidewalk traffic coming from the opposite direction. Sometimes contributing to the failure of the driver to notice pedestrians and bicyclists is the presence of things which obstruct the driver’s vision such as hedges, walls or commercial signs. Pedestrians and bicyclists injured in such collisions often report that they mistakenly believed that the driver acknowledged or noticed them before driving into them or across their path. While drivers under these circumstances are almost always held to be negligent, it would appear to be safe practice for pedestrians and bicyclists to be aware of this potential driver behavior when approaching driveways and exits.

Scooter Accidents in San Francisco Bay Area | Liability and Insurance Issues

Motorized scooter use in the San Francisco Bay Area is rapidly becoming a primary form of local transportation. Electric scooter on-demand rental companies such as Bird and LimeBike have infused the Bay Area with thousands of scooters to fill an ever-increasing consumer demand heightened by over-burdened and inadequate mass transportation services.  As a San Francisco pedestrian, bicycle and scooter accident lawyer, I see many liability insurance issues raised by the increased use of scooters.

By FASTILY [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia CommonsAlong with this increased scooter use inevitably comes an increase in injury accidents involving scooters. Such accidents may involve collisions between scooters and pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, automobiles, or other scooters. Although scooters are prohibited by law from driving on sidewalks pursuant to California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 21235(g), news reports indicate that scooters are being ridden to a very large degree on sidewalks, raising the risk of injurious collisions between scooters and pedestrians. Unless local law otherwise more strictly prohibits, California State law allows scooters to be operated in bicycle lanes, and in fact mandates they be ridden in Class II bicycle lanes if such lanes exist, and where such bicycle lane does not exist the scooter may be operated on the road as long as the speed limit on the road is 25 mph or less. (CVC 21229, 21230.) Thus, scooter ridership also raises the risk of injurious collisions between scooters and bicycles, and scooters and motorists. San Francisco trauma hospitals have noticed an increase in scooter related serious injuries and are setting up a scooter-related injury tracking system, as reported by the New York Times.

Unfortunately, there are some significant gaps in liability and uninsured motorist insurance coverage for accidents involving scooters. In California, there is no requirement that motorized scooters (as distinguished from mopeds) be registered or that the scooter or scooter operator carry liability insurance. Based upon my research, I am not aware of any scooter rental companies which provide their users with any significant liability insurance. This would leave someone injured due to a collision with a scooter to look to the scooter operator’s homeowners or renters insurance, as is the case when someone is injured due to the negligence of a bicyclist, or perhaps to the scooter operator’s personal assets if they are substantial.

While pedestrians, bicyclists and scooter operators may utilize whatever uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance they may have on their motor vehicle policies should they be injured in an accident for which the operator of a motor vehicle is at fault, their UM/UIM coverage almost certainly will not apply when injured by the operator of a scooter. This is because California law requires only that insurers offer, in their motor vehicle policies, UM/UIM coverage for liability arising out of the use of a motor vehicle, and the Insurance Code limits its definition of “motor vehicle” to include only those vehicles which are required to be registered under California State law, and scooters are not required to be so registered. (California Insurance Code 11580.2, 11580.06.)

Another potential source of recovery for those injured in scooter accidents are the scooter rental companies or manufacturers where the accident was caused by a scooter’s mechanical defect or malfunction, or where the scooter was illegally rented to an unlicensed and un-permitted driver.  (An operator of a motorized scooter must possess a valid drivers license or instruction permit [CVC 21235(d)].)

Study Shows Hit-And-Run collisions injuries and deaths at highest levels

A recently released AAA study reveals a record amount of hit-and-run injuries and deaths, the majority of which are to bicyclists and pedestrians. This raises a confluence of issues related to a lack of adequate bicycling and pedestrian safety infrastructure, the prevention of DUI driving, public video surveillance, and uninsured motorist coverage.  According to AAA, there were 2,049 hit-and-run related fatalities in the United States in 2016, and 65% of those were bicyclists or pedestrians.  Twenty percent of all pedestrian deaths were hit-and-run related. The reasons that a driver may flee the scene often relate to the fact that many of the drivers are intoxicated with prior DUI records. The study notes that a large percentage of hit-and-run collisions occur in the hours between midnight and 4 a.m. when drivers are more likely to be intoxicated, it is easier to flee the scene due to lighter traffic, and there are fewer witnesses out at that hour.

The Reason NHTSA Released 2016 Traffic Fatality Data but Not 2016 Injury Data

In past years, the NHTSA has released annually an overview of motor vehicle crashes for the prior calendar year which includes both injury and fatality data. However, the NHTSA recently released its overview of 2016 fatality data without including the 2016 non-fatal injury data. I contacted the NHTSA to find out whether the 2016 non-fatal injury data is currently available and if not when it will become available. The response from NHTSA was as follows:

In a nut shell, there is no 2016 injury data at this time. NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) redesigned the nationally representative sample of police-reported traffic crashes, which estimates the number of police-reported injury and property–damage-only crashes in the United States. The new system, called the Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS), replaced the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System (GES) in 2016. However, the 2016 estimates are not currently available. NHTSA is currently processing the file to ensure the data is accurate and complete and is finalizing the new weighting and calibration procedures to produce national estimates. Once completed, NHTSA will release the data and publish the estimated number of police-reported injury and property-damage-only crashes that occurred during 2016.

 

 

Our law firm is Presenting Sponsor of Bike East Bay’s Biketopia 2017

We are proud to once again be the Presenting Sponsor of Biketopia, Bike East Bay’s member party and fundraiser.  This year’s event will be held November 9, 2017 from 6:30 – 10:30 p.m. at the same location as last year, The Impact Hub at 2323 Broadway in Oakland (a short walk from BART station).  Don’t miss this always exciting well-attended party.

Bicycle vs Pedestrian Injury Accidents – Insurance Coverage

Sometimes there are collisions between bicyclists and pedestrians which result in injuries, such as a recently reported collision between a bicyclist and teen pedestrian at Market and Third Streets in San Francisco.  I am often asked whether there is any liability insurance which may cover the bicyclist or pedestrian in such circumstances.  While motor vehicle liability or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage applies when a pedestrian or bicyclist is injured by a motorist, such insurance does not apply to a bicycle vs. pedestrian accident.  However, the bicyclist’s or pedestrian’s Homeowner’s or Renter’s liability insurance may cover the at-fault party in a bicycle vs. pedestrian accident.