Auto Accident


How to Mentally Recover From a Car Accident

by Staff | January 18th, 2021

After a car accident, several resources are available to help you deal with the challenges you are going to face. Doctors can diagnose and treat your injuries. Attorneys can help you deal with the insurance company to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

Unfortunately, too few people find support for the emotional suffering they’ve experienced after a crash. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we’ve represented countless clients who were seriously injured in car accidents, and we know that some of the biggest challenges crash victims encounter are not the physical or financial, but the emotional consequences of these accidents.

To help you find ways to cope with the mental toll these crashes can pose, we compiled a few strategies that have helped many crash victims.

Find Support in Your Loved Ones

Isolation can make trauma more difficult to cope with. Instead of withdrawing, seek out people who care about you. If you feel like talking about your accident, rely on friends and family to listen. If you’re not ready to discuss your trauma, simply surrounding yourself with loved ones can help bring you to a better place mentally.

Take Solace in Activities You Enjoy

When your thoughts are consumed with unpleasant memories or the stress of dealing with healthcare providers and the insurance company, your favorite hobbies can offer a much-needed reprieve. Schedule large blocks of time to dig into something that brings you joy. If you don’t have a hobby you can get lost in, now is a great time to find an activity that you can do in your spare time.

Put Your Thoughts on a Page

Sometimes the best way to express how you feel is to work through your thoughts in a journal. Whether you want to write openly about the challenges posed by your car accident or something completely unrelated to the crash, taking time out your day to write down your thoughts can improve your mental state and emotional well-being.

A diary describing how your life has been impacted by your injury can also act as helpful evidence if your claim needs to go to trial.

Seek Out Stillness

When you’re suffering stress and anxiety, the best cure is often getting away from the noise and distractions of everyday life. This might mean spending time outdoors or retreating to a quiet place in your own home.

Seek Professional Help

Sometimes seeking professional help is the best way to deal with trauma. If you find that talking to loved ones or journaling about your experiences isn’t helping you recover, consider reaching out to a counselor or therapist who has experience helping people with trauma.

Above All, Be Patient With Yourself

You might be the type of person who wants to resume life as normal as soon as possible after a setback, but it’s important to remember that mentally recovering from a traumatic experience is often a lengthy process. Be patient yourself as you progress and understand that your time and effort will eventually pay off.

When You Need Legal Help After a Crash, Call Us

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we help our clients with the aftermath of car accidents. We fight to get them the compensation they deserve from at-fault drivers and their insurance companies, but we also help them arrange to get the care they need to move forward.

We know that emotional pain and suffering are important in injury claims, which is why we include non-economic damages in the compensation we demand from insurers. If you’d like a free consultation with an experienced, compassionate legal team, contact the California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers today.


8 Steps in a Personal Injury Case

by Staff Blogger | December 28th, 2020

If you’ve been injured in a serious car accident and are considering hiring a lawyer, you might want to know the steps in a personal injury case before you’re in the middle of one. The personal injury lawsuit process can seem overwhelming for those who are unfamiliar with it. But unfamiliarity should never deter you from exploring your legal options. That’s because you’re likely owed a significant amount of compensation. If you don’t take advantage of personal injury law, you might end up accepting a fraction of what you deserve. In addition, you won’t go through the process alone, as you’ll have an experienced law firm on your side every step of the way. From hiring a lawyer to resolving a case through settlement or trial, we have outlined eight steps commonly seen in the personal injury lawsuit process:
  1. Hiring a lawyer
  2. Investigating your case
  3. Presenting your case
  4. Receiving a settlement offer
  5. Negotiating the settlement
  6. Settling or proceeding to a lawsuit
  7. Preparing for trial
  8. Going to trial
Though there are some exceptions, most people can expect some variation of these steps in a personal injury case. Let’s dive deeper into each of these crucial steps.

BREAKING DOWN THE STEPS IN THE PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT PROCESS

Here are the eight steps in a personal injury case that you should know:
  1. Get a lawyer—As soon as you are able, you should call an experienced law firm to handle your personal injury claim. They will shepherd you through the personal injury lawsuit process from start to finish and be your main advocate in getting the compensation you deserve.
  2. Investigate your case—The first step your law firm will take on your behalf is investigating the case thoroughly. That includes actions such as analyzing the police report, examining the accident scene, and interviewing any witnesses to the accident.
  3. Present your case—Once your law firm has built its case, it will present its findings to the insurance company.
  4. Settlement Offer—The insurance company will do one of two things next. Either they will present a settlement offer based on the case we presented or deny your personal injury claim altogether.
  5. Negotiation—Typically, the initial offer from the insurance company is not enough to compensate you for the full extent of your injuries. At this stage, we’ll do our best to negotiate a fairer settlement from the insurance company.
  6. Settlement or lawsuit—If our negotiations yield a fair settlement agreement, we’ll advise you to take it. If not, we’ll take the insurance company to court.
  7. Trial Preparation—Preparing for a jury trial takes a great deal of time and resources. That’s why we try to settle out of court if possible. Sometimes, that’s not possible and we have to take your claim to the courtroom. We’ll prepare evidence, prep you for what to expect, and file all the necessary paperwork for your day in court.
  8. Trial—Depending on the complexity of the case, personal injury trials can take as little as one day or as long as a few weeks to be heard and decided. We’ll present our case to the court, and then the insurance company will have its turn. After both sides have presented their cases, the jury will deliberate and come back with a verdict.

Will You Need to Go Through Each Step in Your Personal Injury Case?

No. It’s often true that insurance companies will settle once an attorney shows evidence and proves that their client has a strong case. That’s one of the reasons that most personal injury cases settle without the need for a trial. Insurers know that a drawn-out trial isn’t in their best interest, and they often prefer to write a check and be done with it.

Why Step 1 Is Arguably the Most Important Step in a Personal Injury Case

Many people accept the first offer an insurance company makes. Even if they decide to dispute the fairness of the offer themselves, they likely have a limited understanding of how these claims work or how much their case is worth. That’s because personal injury law is incredibly complex, and going it alone without an attorney puts victims at a major disadvantage. Having a lawyer handle your case positions you for a more satisfactory and fair settlement. Your lawyer will not only know the personal injury lawsuit process well, they’ll also know how to deal with insurers on your behalf, allowing you to focus entirely on your recovery. It’s important to hire an attorney who has experience handling these types of cases. Take advantage of free consultations to meet with potential lawyers and get a feel for how they work and how they treat you. You can then choose the attorney you feel most comfortable with. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we believe in our team’s ability to offer exceptional service to our clients. We will fight for maximum compensation in your case. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm anytime to schedule a free, no-obligation case assessment.

TAKE THE FIRST STEP IN A PERSONAL INJURY CASE—AND GET BERG!

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, we strongly recommend you proceed to step one immediately. The sooner you get an experienced San Francisco car accident attorney on your side, the sooner you can put this accident behind you. We offer free consultations, and you’re under no pressure to proceed if you don’t wish to do so. This blog was originally published in February 2016. It has been updated and enhanced.

Legal Options When Injured by a Driver With Just a Permit

by Staff Blogger | December 21st, 2020

You might already know that you’re entitled to compensation when you’re injured by a negligent driver. You might even know that the payment you’ll receive often comes from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. But what do you do when the driver who hit you has just a permit and not a full license? It’s an important question because younger drivers are often the most dangerous, simply due to the fact that they have less experience, making them more likely to cause a car accident. Fortunately, the same rules largely apply to crashes involving a driver with a permit as those where at-fault drivers have a license. As you’ll learn below, the driver should be covered by an insurance policy—even if they only have a driver’s permit.

An Insurance Policy Is Likely Still Covering the Accident

Even when a driver has just a permit, it’s very likely an insurance policy is in place to protect them and anyone they hurt in an accident. That’s because California requires every driver to be covered by insurance. Teen drivers with permits are often covered by their parents’ auto insurance policies. The bare minimum insurance requirements in California are what’s known as 15/30/5 requirements. That means a policy must have:
  • $15,000 per person for bodily injury coverage,
  • $30,000 per accident for bodily injury coverage,
  • and $5,000 for property damage coverage.
So, if a driver with a permit causes your injury, you can claim damages to recover the amount of compensation that is covered by their policy.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident, We Can Help

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we help injured people get the payment they deserve when they were hurt by someone else’s negligence. We can review your case in a free consultation to help you better understand your legal options if you’ve been injured by a driver with a permit. Contact the California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free case assessment with our team.

California Will Halt Sales of Gas-Powered Cars by 2035

by Staff Blogger | November 2nd, 2020

California to halt sales of gas-powered cars by 2035By 2035, all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California must be zero-emission vehicles, according to a September 23 press release from Gov. Gavin Newsom. Though California is the first state in the U.S. to enact such a law, it’s joining 15 countries, including Germany and France, that have also vowed to phase out gasoline-powered cars.

Why Is California Taking This Step?

California has long been a leading state in the U.S. for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. After a difficult year of wildfires, air pollution, and mass dislocation, this initiative aims to reduce the effects of gas-powered vehicles on California’s environmental well-being. As Newsom said in his press release: “Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.” Newsom states the new rule will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35% in California.

Can You Still Own a Gas-Powered Vehicle After This Rules Goes into Effect?

Yes, the rule doesn’t prevent California residents from owning or driving gas-powered vehicles, nor does it prevent used gas-powered vehicles from being sold in California. It simply stops sales of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks within the state. The governor has also told state agencies to develop more charging stations throughout the state to accommodate the increased number of electric vehicles.

Does This Rule Face Any Opposition?

The stop-sales rule will likely be contested in one form or another. The federal government could challenge the rule in courts. It’s also possible that other legal challenges could be issued within the state, particularly if leadership changes hands in California and the new state government chooses to reverse the decision between now and the 2035 deadline.

Fracking Is Also Mentioned in the Governor’s Order

Newsom also ordered California’s legislature to eliminate new fracking licenses by 2024. Fracking is the process of injecting high-pressure mixtures of chemicals and other substances into shale rock to extract oil and gas. Some environmental safety advocates say that Newsom’s order is meant to address criticism of his administration’s willingness to give permits to companies that drill and frack. By setting a new fracking license deadline of 2024, these advocates suggest that Newsom is passing that task on to his successor.

Are Electric Cars Safe for Drivers?

Because gasoline-powered vehicles contain much more combustible fuel than electric vehicles, safety advocates generally believe that electric cars are safer than their gas-guzzling counterparts. However, electric vehicles do contain lithium-ion batteries, which have proven dangerous in laptops, phones, and other consumer products. The safety of California’s next generation of electric vehicles depends on the standards set by vehicle manufacturers. It’s important for these companies to prioritize safety in their efforts to meet California’s new standards.

If You Need Legal Help After a Crash in California, Let Us Help

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we’ve helped California residents with many different types of vehicle-related injuries. Whether you want to hold a negligent driver or a negligent vehicle manufacturer accountable for the damages you’ve suffered, we can help. Contact a California car accident attorney at Berg Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.

Intersection Crash Statistics EVERY California Driver Should Read

by Staff Blogger | October 26th, 2020

Knowing the dangers you face every day on California’s roads can make you a safer, more conscientious driver. It might surprise you to learn that one of the most dangerous and common dangers is something you probably encounter every day: intersections. Intersections, both those with traffic signals and stop signs, present unique dangers to motorists. Though most people rarely consider these dangers, doing so can help ensure drivers know how to identify and avoid risks. The following statistics illustrate just how dangerous intersections are.

National Intersection-Related Crash Statistics

  • About 40% of crashes in the U.S. are intersection-related.
  • Intersection-related crash deaths account for more than 20% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. every year.
  • Around 96% of intersection-related crashes had contributing factors related to driver behavior.
  • Nearly one-fifth of intersection-related fatalities involve motorcycles.
  • Around 41% of pedestrian collisions occur at roadway intersections.
  • Each year, an average of around 31% of intersection-related deaths occur at intersections controlled by traffic signals, and around 38% occur at intersections with stop signs.

Annual Intersection Crash Deaths by California County

In California, the most heavily populated counties have the highest intersection-related crash deaths. Here is the average number of crash deaths involving intersections for 10 of the most populous counties in California:
  1. Los Angeles County has an average of 259 intersection-related crash deaths each year.
  2. San Diego County has an average of 2 intersection-related crash deaths each year.
  3. Orange County has an average of 4 intersection-related crash deaths each year.
  4. Riverside County has an average of 4 intersection-related crash deaths each year.
  5. San Bernardino County has an average of 6 intersection-related crash deaths each year.
  6. Santa Clara County has an average of 6 intersection-related crash deaths each year.
  7. Alameda County has an average of 6 intersection-related crash deaths each year.
  8. Sacramento County has an average of 38 intersection-related crash deaths each year.
  9. Contra Costa County has an average of 6 intersection-related crash deaths each year.
  10. Fresno County has an average of 8 intersection-related crash deaths each year.

Why These Numbers Matter

Intersection crashes are common and deadly. For some of our most vulnerable road users, including motorcyclists and pedestrians, they’re even more lethal. The more drivers understand how important safety is when passing through intersections, the more we can expect these numbers to improve.

Intersection Safety Tips

  • Never assume that cross-traffic won’t be an issue when your light is green. Many intersection crashes occur when a driver runs a red light.
  • Never assume a pedestrian sees you coming. Always yield to pedestrians and drive slowly in heavily walked areas.
  • When turning left, remember that oncoming motorcycles might be traveling faster than they appear.
  • If turning right at a red light, be sure the vehicle in front of you turns safely before you accelerate. This will help you avoid rear-end collisions.
  • Always come to a complete stop at stop signs, and make sure you wait your turn at four-way stops.

If You Need Help, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

If you or a loved one is injured by a negligent driver, whether it’s at an intersection or any other stretch of road, the California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers are here to help. Contact our team today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

California Implements Daytime Headlight Law On Highway 99 Stretch

by Staff Blogger | September 30th, 2020

Running daytime headlights is a safety technique that has been utilized by motorcycles for years to make themselves more visible to other vehicles. Studies have shown that the use of headlights during the day can reduce the chances of a vehicle being in an accident by as much as 23%. In California, drivers are legally required on certain stretches of highway to run headlights during the day to reduce the number of crashes.

Daylight Headlight Section on Highway 99

All vehicles on the 29-mile length of Highway 99, between Chico and Red Bluff, California, are required to have their headlights on at all times. When the mandate was first given, officials said the area was notoriously plagued by a high number of motor vehicle accidents along the narrow, winding road. Officials worked for more than 18-months to have the initiative passed. Caltrans workers then began installing daytime headlight warning signs along the highway to remind drivers of the new measure.

Did the Daylight Headlight Section Actually Work?

Yes. In the seven years following the implementation of the daylight headlight section, the results were impressive. On the Tehama portion of this daylight headlight section, there were:
  • 2% fewer daytime crashes resulting in property damage.
  • 8% fewer crashes involving injuries.
  • No fatal crashes on this stretch from 2014-2017.
According to KRCR News, crashes decreased even while the average number of cars on the road increased by 4.2%. The success of the daylight headlight section on Highway 99 was cited by safety advocates who wanted similar requirements in other parts of California. In early 2019, a daylight headlight section was added on Highway 70 south of Oroville in hopes of achieving similar results to those on Highway 99.

Benefits of Daytime Headlights

Studies show varied results of leaving headlights on during the day, but many suggest that they do reduce the risks of being involved in crashes. That’s true for both standard headlights turned on during the day and daytime running lights, which are designed solely to be kept on during daylight. Keeping headlights on during the day is also beneficial when visibility is low due to inclement weather.

California’s Headlight Laws

California’s headlight laws state that drivers in California are required to use headlights:
  • In the dark.
  • When continuous use of windshield wipers is needed.
  • When visibility is less than 1,000 feet.

We’re Advocates of Daylight Headlight Usage

The number of California car accidents could be significantly reduced if all drivers adopted the use of daytime running headlights. That’s why the San Francisco personal injury lawyers with Berg Injury Lawyers ask that all drivers always turn on their headlights, regardless of the time of day, before driving anywhere. If you’d like to learn more about California’s road and vehicle laws, here are some more resources you might enjoy: This story was originally published in May 2012. It was updated in October 2020.

When Should You Report a Car Accident in California?

by Staff Blogger | September 14th, 2020

After a crash, the last thing most people want to do is call the police and wait until they arrive on the scene to file a report. But it’s important to know when you’re required to report a car accident in California. In certain circumstances, a failure to do so won’t just make it harder to establish fault if you decide to file a compensation claim; it could even result in criminal charges. So, when is it necessary to report a crash? Here’s what you need to know.

It’s a Requirement to Report a Vehicle Crash in California If…

  • Property damage exceeds $1000.
  • Someone was injured in the crash.
  • Someone was killed in the crash.
If you suspect one of the drivers involved in the crash is driving without insurance or while impaired by drugs or alcohol, it’s also best to call the police immediately. You are required to report a crash that meets the above requirements within 10 days of its occurrence, though reporting it immediately makes life easier if you decide to file a compensation claim.

Making the Case for Always Reporting a Crash

Now that we know California’s laws about reporting a car accident, let’s go a step further. From the perspective a vehicle accident attorney, it’s best practice to always report a crash. First, though it’s possible to file an insurance claim without a police report, proving that you weren’t at fault for the crash is far more difficult without that report. Fault matters when it comes to insurance claims, and you’ll want to be sure to have a police report that reflects the other driver’s role in causing the accident. Second, it’s incredibly difficult for someone involved in a crash to know the monetary value of damage their vehicle has sustained. A small “ding” could be just the beginning of the damage to the vehicle. Assume that any damage will be more costly to repair than it initially appears. Third, just like it’s hard to know how much damage a vehicle has sustained, it’s equally if not more difficult to know how injured a person is after an accident. Crash-related injuries are often far worse than they initially appear; the injured person usually has enough adrenaline pumping through their body from the shock of the crash to mask symptoms. If there’s the slightest indication that you’ve been hurt, report the accident and seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

What Happens If You Don’t Report a Crash in California?

By failing to report a car accident that involves significant property damage, you could have your license suspended by the DMV. If you were involved in a crash where someone else was seriously injured and you leave the scene before police arrive, you could face criminal charges, including imprisonment of up to 3 years, and up $10,000 in fines for a felony hit-and-run.

Don’t Take the Chance—Report the Crash

When you don’t report an accident in California, you accept unnecessary risks. What if someone is more injured than they appear at the scene of the crash? What if the amount of property damage is far greater than it seems right after the accident? There are too many factors at play to know when it’s okay not to report the crash. So, we suggest playing it safe and calling the authorities as soon as the accident happens.

If You Need Help, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

The California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers have years of experience handling vehicle crash claims involving serious injuries. If you need help, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

What Is the Safest Time of Day to Ride a Bicycle in California?

by Staff Blogger | August 17th, 2020

California is one of the three most dangerous states in the U.S. for cyclists, and the problem is only getting worse. Between 2016 to 2018, more cyclists died in California traffic accidents than in any three-year period since the mid-1990s. Because of the significant danger, cyclists in California should also use caution when riding on busy roads, and knowing the safest times to ride could help keep more cyclists safe.

When Are California Cyclists Most at Risk for a Crash?

Based on statistics from 2017, the latest year for which finalized data is available, 21% of all bicyclist crash deaths happen between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. During this time of day, visibility is lower, and traffic is still relatively high, making it particularly dangerous for cyclists. The next most dangerous times of day is 9 p.m. to midnight (18% of all bicycle crash deaths) followed by 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (15% of all crash deaths). Other factors also increase the chances of bicycle accidents. For example, 75% of all bicycle crash fatalities occur in urban areas. Alcohol use contributes to more than one-third of all bicycle crash deaths, and intoxication by drivers and cyclists can both contribute to the problem.

When Are California Cyclists Safest on Our Roads?

Now that we know the most dangerous times of the day, we can determine that cyclists are safest when visibility is high, but less traffic is on the road. So, ideally, cyclists should travel in daylight during non-rush-hour traffic. Unfortunately, riding only during the safest times of the day is simply not possible for many cyclists in California. To avoid increasing their risks of being involved in a crash, cyclists can take several other precautions.

How Cyclists Can Stay Safe on California’s Roads

If cyclists can’t avoid riding during times of heavy traffic when driver visibility is low, they can make sure they’re equipped with the proper safety gear. The more visible they are to drivers, the easier it will be for those motorists to see them. Cyclists can wear brightly colored or reflective clothing when riding in the dark. They should have a headlight, a red light, or a reflector on the rear of their bikes, and a white or yellow reflector on each pedal. To learn more about California’s legal requirements regarding safety equipment, check out our guide to California’s bicycle laws.

The Responsibilities of Drivers Toward Cyclists

If we want to make California safer for cyclists, drivers must make sure they’re following the law and safely sharing roads. This means:
  • Never driving in designated bike lanes.
  • Yielding to cyclists the same way you would for any other motorist.
  • Looking out for cyclists when turning at intersections or right on red lights.
  • Giving cyclists plenty of room on our roads.
The more accommodating drivers are to cyclists, the safer our roads will be for everyone.

If You Need Legal Help, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

Our Northern California bicycle accident attorneys have helped many injured cyclists get the compensation they’re entitled to. These cases typically involve crashes with severe injuries, and it’s important for injured cyclists to know that they might deserve more payment than the insurance company first offers them. If you’d like to speak to our legal team about your case, contact us today for a free consultation.

Buying a Safe Bicycle Helmet

by Staff Blogger | August 10th, 2020

Here’s a sobering concept: the bicycle helmet you’ve been wearing might not meet federal safety standards. You might assume, as many people do, that all bicycle helmets sold in the U.S. are required to meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) standards, but the reality isn’t as clear-cut. Technically, helmets are required to meet those standards, but in the online retail world, many bicycle helmets, some of which are widely sold and purchased, do not meet those standards. Consumer Reports researchers alone identified 13 helmets that didn’t include a CPSC compliance label. And many of those non-compliant helmets were offered on some of the biggest online shopping platforms. In short, be extra careful when you buy a bicycle helmet. But what exactly should you be looking for? Let’s find out.

How Do You Know Which Helmets Are Safe?

First things first, look for a helmet with a label stating that it complies with the CPSC’s standard. It’s possible that labels on some of these helmets are counterfeit, but it’s a good place to start. Next, Consumer Reports says that you should look for “the name, address, and telephone number of the manufacturer or importer issuing the certificate.” In some cases, the information will be that of the private labeler of the helmet. Next, look for a serial number or other information that identifies the production lot of the product. This will also allow you to find out the month and year the helmet was manufactured. All this information can help you verify that the helmet you purchased does in fact comply with federal safety standards. Though online shopping tempts helmet buyers through easy shipping and budget prices, the safest approach is to visit a local shop that sells reputable products. Choosing a helmet in person not only makes it easier to inspect it for quality, but it also gives you a chance to try it on. Helmet fit is vital when it comes to safety. Helmets that are too small or too big don’t protect as well as helmets that fit properly. Curious about California’s bicycle safety laws? We’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know in another blog post. 

Picking the Right Helmet for You

Now that you know how to avoid buying an unsafe helmet, it’s important to look for a helmet that fits your specific needs. This means finding a helmet with the proper fit that’s made for your style of biking (road, mountain, or recreational, for example). Take some time to research the level of protection each option you’re considering offers. Look at the weight, shielding, and straps to determine whether a helmet will be comfortable.

Caring for Your Helmet

Once you have a helmet you like, make sure you follow best practices to get the most out of it. That means cleaning it frequently and making sure the straps and buckles fit securely each time you ride. If your helmet is ever struck or damaged, even just a bit, stop using it and buy a new one. One small impact can greatly reduce a helmet’s effectiveness, so don’t take any chances. Don’t donate it or give it away, as it could put another cyclist at risk during a crash.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, We Have Bicyclists’ Backs

Our California bicycle accident attorneys have represented many cyclists in personal injury claims, and we always work hard to get them fair treatment and compensation. Whether an injury is caused by a defective product or a negligent driver, bicyclists should know that they almost always have legal options available, as long as they act fast, before the statute of limitations closes. If you or a loved one was injured in a bicycle accident, contact our team to schedule a free consultation.

California’s Bicycle Laws Explained

by Staff Blogger | August 3rd, 2020

Understanding California’s bicycle laws is essential for every cyclist in our state. From helmet laws to bicycle lane laws, California is very specific about what’s expected of cyclists. To begin our comprehensive list of California’s bicycle laws, let’s start with the required equipment.

Bicycle Helmet Laws in California

California law is clear about the helmet requirements for riders under the age of 18. Parents are responsible for ensuring that minors have proper equipment when they ride.

Cyclists Under the Age of 18

No cyclist under the age of 18 should ride a bike without a helmet. That helmet must be properly fitted and fastened. The helmet must meet the standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This also applies to any bicycle passenger in a restraining seat attached to the bicycle or in a trailer towed by the bicycle. Helmets must be clearly labeled by the manufacturer to display compliance with the safety standards of the ASTM or the CPSC.

Cyclists Age 18 and Older

There are no state requirements for cyclists age 18 and older. But, you should always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle for safety purposes. Wearing a bicycle helmet reduces your risk of suffering a head injury by more than 50%. When buying a helmet, make sure it is in keeping with CPSC standards.

More Laws Regarding Bicycle Equipment and Size

In addition to helmet requirements, cyclists in California must ensure their bikes also meet certain requirements:
  • Cyclists can’t operate a bike on a roadway unless the bicycle has a brake that will enable the cyclist “to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement,” which is the legal standard for an effective bicycle brake.
  • A bike’s handlebars should never be positioned so that the cyclist must elevate their hands above shoulder level to steer.
  • A cyclist shouldn’t ride a bike so big that its size prevents them from “safely stopping the bicycle, supporting it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restarting it in a safe manner.”
When a bicyclist rides their bike in the dark, it must be equipped with:
  • A light that illuminates the road in front of the cyclist and is visible from 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle. This light can be attached to the bike or the bicyclist.
  • Either a red reflector, solid red lights, or flashing red lights visible from 500 feet to the rear of the bike.
  • A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from 200 feet to the front or rear of the bicycle.
  • A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle. Bicycles that are equipped with reflective front and rear tires are exempt.
  • All reflectors or reflective tires should meet state requirements.

Rights and Responsibilities of Cyclists in California

California law states that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. This means that the same rules (adhering to traffic signs and signals, watching out for pedestrians, signaling when turning) apply to bicyclists as they do for car drivers. It’s illegal for cyclists to ride a bike while they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Bicyclists traveling at speeds slower than the normal flow of traffic must ride as close as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway UNLESS:
  • They are passing another bike or vehicle.
  • They are turning left.
  • Conditions of the road make traveling on the right-hand side dangerous.
  • They are approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
  • They are traveling on a one-way street with two lanes, in which case riding as close to the left-hand side of the road as possible is allowed.
The same rules apply to bicycle lanes. If a designated bicycle lane is available, stay in that lane unless:
  • It is unsafe to do so,
  • You’re turning, or
  • You need to pass another cyclist.

Don’t Attach Your Bike to Other Vehicles to Hitch a Ride

Bicyclists, along with every other vehicle type, are forbidden from attaching their bike to another vehicle for travel purposes. In other words, you can’t hitch a ride with other vehicles. This obviously doesn’t apply to cyclists who are simply loading their bikes on vehicles for hauling purposes.

Ride Only on the Designated Seat

California law states that cyclists must ride on the designated seats of their bikes. This also applies to passengers. Unless a bike is equipped to seat two people, it should only be ridden by one person. In other words, no sitting on handlebars or standing on pegs.

Don’t Haul Items That Restrict Your Ability to Safely Operate the Bike

When carrying items attached to a bicycle, cyclists must be able to keep at least one hand on the handlebars. So, no hauling items that restrict your ability to control the bike.

California Laws Concerning Parking or Storing Your Bicycle

Cyclists shouldn’t leave their bikes lying on their side on sidewalks. They shouldn’t park bicycles on sidewalks in any position that obstructs the path of pedestrian traffic. Local authorities can prohibit bicycle parking in designated areas of the public highway, but it must place signs in these areas that clearly indicate these restrictions.

What About Motorized Bicycles?

Motorized bicyclists also have many of the same rights and responsibilities of people riding or using other vehicles, though these vehicles are considered closer to motorcycles than bikes. For example, a motorized bicyclist can’t travel on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway. Local ordinances might allow exceptions, but it’s best to reference those laws to make sure you’re following them.

Don’t Loiter or Obstruct Bike Lanes

California law requires other road users (drivers, pedestrians, etc.) to keep bicycle lanes unobstructed. This means that people shouldn’t loiter, obstruct, or drive motorized vehicles in designated bicycle lanes.

Cities Can Mandate Their Own Bicycle Laws, Too

These are just California’s bicycle laws, but each city has the right to impose stricter laws regarding bicycle use on roadways. Reference your city’s specific laws to see if any additional laws apply to bicyclists.

Vehicle Drivers Have Responsibilities Toward Cyclists

Whether it’s staying out of bike lanes or giving cyclists plenty of space on our roads, motorists have an obligation to keep bicyclists safe. When they fail to follow the law, they can be held responsible for the harm they cause others. If you’re injured by a negligent driver in California, the law gives you the opportunity to hold that driver responsible for the injury-related costs you face. Through a personal injury claim, you can get compensation for medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering.

If You Need Legal Help, Contact Berg Injury Lawyers

At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California bicycle accident attorneys help injured cyclists get the compensation they’re entitled to by law. If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent driver, contact our team to schedule a free consultation.