Bicyclists are exposed and vulnerable in accidents. Motor vehicles are required to share the road with them, but some motorists don’t give bicyclists the degree of care and caution that they deserve. Because of that, In the event of an accident, bicyclists can suffer severe injuries that lead to death. Fatal bicycle accidents can be caused by cars, SUVs, trucks, buses or even the negligent maintenance of a roadway.
A Few Numbers
According to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 455 California bicyclists died in traffic accidents between 2016 and 2018. Of those, 106 fatalities occurred in Los Angeles County. That’s the highest fatality rate for any three-year period in California for about 25 years.
Common Causes of Fatal Bicycle Accidents
The majority of fatal bicycle accidents in Los Angeles County occur between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Here are some of their most common causes:
- Drivers making left turns in front of bicyclists.
- Drivers making a right turn into a bicyclist who is in a bike lane.
- Sideswiping a bicyclist by passing him or her too closely.
- Changing lanes into a bicyclist who is in a motorist’s blind spot.
- Opening the door of a motor vehicle into the path of a bicyclist.
- Rear-ending a bicyclist who is either stopped or in motion.
What is a Wrongful Death?
Like all other states, California has a wrongful death statute. A cause of action under the California statute arises when a person loses their life as a result of the wrongful act or negligence of another person or legal entity. Wrongful death cases are civil claims and lawsuits. They seek compensation for damages in connection with the loss of a loved one. Criminal courts are unable to award such compensation. If criminal charges have been brought in connection with a death, a wrongful death case can be brought at the same time that a criminal case is pending. Damages in a wrongful death case might consist of the following:
- Medical bills incurred by the decedent prior to his or her death.
- Income that would have been provided to the decedent’s survivors had he or she not met an untimely death.
- Emotional anguish and suffering experienced by the decedent’s survivors.
- Loss of the companionship, guidance and comfort provided by the decedent.
- The value of the decedent’s household services.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?
The law designating who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in California is complicated. Generally, the decedent’s surviving spouse, domestic partner or children can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Aside from those survivors, the law becomes complicated on who might be able to bring such a case. Our practice is limited to the representation of people who have been injured or lost family members in a bicycle accident. If you have questions as to who might be allowed to file, a Los Angeles bicycle accident wrongful death lawyer from our offices can advise you accordingly.
The Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Case
California has strict time limits on when a wrongful death case can be filed. The general rule is that the case must be filed within two years of the date of the accident or the decedent’s death. If the case involves a governmental entity or agency, a specific claim notice must be filed within six months of the date of the accident. Failure to file either that notice or a wrongful death lawsuit on a timely basis will likely lead to the dismissal of a wrongful death case.
The sudden passing of a spouse or family member is one of the most stressful life events that can occur. There are likely to be devastating financial losses too. When such losses are the result of the carelessness and negligence of another person or entity, you must take care of what’s left of your family. All of you deserve to be compensated. We fully understand that what survivors go through can be overwhelming, but evidence can disappear, and witnesses can vanish into thin air. Acting quickly will operate to protect the best interests of you and your family. You can do that by contacting our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys to arrange for a free confidential case consultation and evaluation. You can tell us about what happened and how it happened, and we can answer your questions too. After that, we will advise you on all of your legal options.
Contact a Bicycle Injury Lawyer
Los Angeles Bicycle Law represents bicyclists because we are bicyclists. We know first-hand how rewarding, yet dangerous, cycling can be in the Los Angeles area. Even though the law treats bicyclists with the responsibilities and rights of a motor vehicle, the road itself offers far fewer protections. That is why we actively fight to protect bicyclists in our community. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in Los Angeles, contact Los Angeles Bicycle Law today.