Bike riding can be a fun and efficient way to get around, but cyclists are incredibly vulnerable to serious injuries. Even if you’re riding safely in the bike lane, the slightest brush from a car or truck can cause a devastating accident. If you were in a sideswipe bicycle accident, it’s important to understand your legal rights.

When Does a Sideswipe Bicycle Accident Occur?

It only takes a second for a car to veer off the road and clip you — or for the back of a semi-truck to swing too far to the right and swipe you. A sideswipe bicycle accident can be just as dangerous as a direct hit, because it can throw you off your bike or even cause you to crash into oncoming traffic.

Most sideswipe accidents are unintentional. They occur when the side of a vehicle collides with the side of a bicycle when they are going in the same direction. When two cars sideswipe each other, they typically only cause minor damage. However, when a car sideswipes a bicycle, this can lead to serious or even fatal injuries. Even a light graze can cause you to lose control, and cyclists typically have very little protection, you are likely to sustain severe injuries.

Common Causes of Sideswipe Bicycle Accidents

There are often only a few feet between bicycles and the vehicles around them. This small distance can easily be closed by a vehicle, even in traffic. And even though California law requires cars to stay three feet away from cyclists, this doesn’t always happen.

By understanding the common causes of sideswipe bicycle accidents, you may be able to avoid some of the most dangerous situations:

  • Vehicles that are wider than normal: Trucks with dual wheels, wide set rear-view mirrors, cargo trucks, and vehicles pulling trailers and motor homes can take up an entire lane or more. One small move to the right can cause them to fade into the shoulder and hit a bicycle.
  • Trailers that are turning: Semi-trucks and other vehicles with trailers attached can swing too wide or too narrow, causing an accident with bypassing cyclists.
  • Distracted driving: Distracted drivers often swerve on the road, out of their lane and into a passing bicycle.
  • Illegal behavior: Fatigued driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and road rage, can all cause people to drive erratically and hit a passing cyclist.

How to Avoid a Sideswipe Accident

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for a bicycle to predict or avoid a sideswipe accident. Cars move faster and take up more space on the road, and when a driver allows their vehicle to move outside of the lane, this is almost never a conscious action. A bicyclist can only take the following precautionary measures:

  • Keep an eye out for swerving vehicles
  • Avoid riding at night
  • Ride as close to the right hand side of the road as possible
  • Do not ride abreast with wide or turning vehicles

Additionally, bicyclists should always wear helmets and other protective gear to prevent as much harm as possible in case of an accident.

Common Injuries in Sideswipe Accidents

Sideswipe accidents can cause minor to severe injuries — some of which can last a lifetime and lead to disabilities and enduring post-traumatic stress disorder. Common injuries suffered by cyclists in sideswipe accidents include the following:

  • Broken bones
  • Contusions
  • Lacerations
  • Traumatic brain injuries (even when helmets are worn)
  • Head injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Broken teeth
  • Limb amputations
  • Paralysis

Contact a Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today

If you were involved in a bicycle sideswipe accident, we can help you navigate the insurance claims process to make sure you obtain just compensation for your injuries. You may be able to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. TO learn more about how we can help, contact Los Angeles Bicycle Law today. Let us focus on the legal issues involved in your bike accident claim so that you can focus on recovery.