Bicycle accidents are some of the more common injury accidents in San Francisco. This is despite all the work that has been done by the city and the bike coalition to create designated bike lanes in many parts of the city and take other steps to make the roads safer for bicyclists.
A very typical bicycle accident scenario is where a bicyclist runs into the open door of a parked car, when the driver doesn't look or doesn't notice the upcoming bicyclist. Under these circumstances, the driver of the car who opened the door is almost always found to be negligent and liable for the bicyclist's injuries. This is the case even if the bicyclist didn't have the lights on, didn't have a helmet on, or was going much faster than he/she should have been going under the circumstances. Such bicycle accidents often result in serious injuries, including disk bulges and fractures to both legs and arms.
The insurance companies usually do not dispute their insured driver's liability under the circumstances, realizing that out of the two parties involved the driver of the car should be the one making sure that when he opens his car door, that side of the road is free and clear of upcoming traffic, including bicyclist.
If you are a driver, you should train yourself to always look back when you open your car door, no matter how unlikely you think the bicycles is to come down near you. If you are a bicyclist riding down the long street of parallel parked cars pay, take a glance inside the cars that are parked in front of you. Often, you will be able to tell that someone has just parked or is about to open the door of their vehicle. This will save you from suffering serious and often permanent injuries.
If you have recently been involved in an accident where you were hit by a car while riding a motorcycle, and the driver's insurance company is trying to deny liability, you are welcome to contact us to discuss your situation.
Many people in California do not realize that if they are hit by an uninsured vehicle while riding a bicycle, their claim may be covered by the victim's own uninsured motorist coverage or the coverage of the member of his or her household. For instance, a claim of a teenage hit by an uninsured driver will usually be covered by the uninsured motorist coverage of his parents' vehicle, if in fact they purchased the UM coverage, and it's part of their policy at the time of the accident. The same coverage would apply of the driver at fault has fled the scene of the accident after hitting the bicyclist.
The law says that the occupant of insured vehicle "or otherwise" is covered by the uninsured motorist policy. The phrase "or otherwise" provides broad coverage to this class of insured. They need not be occupants of a car involved in a collision. They only need to demonstrate that they were injured as a result of the uninsured motorist's neglect. (E.g., a relative in the named insured's household is covered if struck by an uninsured motor vehicle while a pedestrian.) See Lopez v. State Farm & Cas. Co. (1967).
California Vehicle Code Section 11580(b)(2) mandates coverage for the named insured, spouse or relative residing in the same household "regardless of whether the individual is in a motor vehicle or on a horse, motorcycle, bicycle or stilts, when injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, so long as one of the statutory exclusions does not apply." Daun v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co. And it doesn't matter that insured was not in the insured motor vehicle, but was riding a non-owned motorcycle at time of accident.
Bicycle Accidents in San Francisco - Running into an Open Car Door is Usually Not the Cyclist's Fault
One of the common types of car-bicycle accidents in San Francisco occurs when the driver of a car opens his door without making sure that there are no upcoming bicycles coming his way, causing the coming bicyclist run into the door of his car and either be violently thrown back from the bike or fly forward. In many such cases, the bicyclist suffers serious injuries, including arm/leg fractures, knee injuries, and various back injuries, including bulging or protruding discs and contusions. Many such injuries take months or longer to heal, and often the deeper pain never goes away, despite lengthy chiropractic treatment and many sessions of physical therapy, among other kinds of treatment.
Generally, the driver of the car in this case would be liable for the injuries caused to the bicyclist. However, the insurance companies sometimes like to argue that the bicyclist was in part or in whole responsible for the collision, and therefore should not be compensated or should be compensated only partially for the injuries suffered. They make the same two arguments over and over: (1) the bicyclist was going too fast and therefore didn't have the opportunity to stop when he saw the car door open; and (2) the bicyclist should not have been going that close to the right to avoid the risk of running into a car door. An experienced injury lawyer will know how to deal with these arguments and how to prove that the driver is at fault for the accident, and not the bicyclist.
Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your injury claim at (415) 295-4730