What Is Covered in “Pain and Suffering” in an Injury Claim

by Staff Blogger | September 28th, 2020

What are the worst parts of living with a serious injury? Most severe injuries are very costly and debilitating. A sufferer might face a stack of medical bills. They might be unable to do their jobs.

But above all else, most people fear the pain and suffering they’ll experience after an injury. Chronic pain and the mental anguish that comes with it become a heavy burden on their lives. They’re obstacles to joy, peace of mind, and meaningful connections with others.

One could easily make the argument that pain and suffering are the worst consequences of a serious injury. Fortunately, when someone files a personal injury claim, they can include pain and suffering as part of the damages they’re owed, in addition to the “economic” damages like medical bills and lost income.

What’s Included in Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering are considered non-economic damages, as opposed to economic damages, such as medical bills, property damage, and lost income. Non-economic damages include the physical pain caused by an injury. But they can also include emotional suffering, such as:

  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Insomnia
  • Humiliation

Pain and Suffering Also Includes Disfigurement

One important form of suffering caused by some injuries is disfigurement. Disfigurement presents both physical and psychological pain. It can cause sufferers to withdraw from others and make it more difficult to form meaningful relationships.

If your case involves any form of disfigurement, it’s important to know that this type of non-economic damage should be central to your case.

The Term “Non-Economic Damages” Doesn’t Tell the Full Story

As any experienced personal injury lawyer will tell you, the fact that pain and suffering is considered “non-economic” is very misleading to injured people. There are very concrete costs of living with chronic pain and emotional suffering.

For example, chronic pain contributes to an estimated $560 billion of overall costs to society every year in the U.S. These costs come via direct medical costs, lost productivity, and disability programs in the U.S.

Meanwhile, depression racks up a societal price tag of approximately $210 billion per year. These expenses are attributed to treating the direct costs of depression and the many associated conditions caused by depression, such as sleep disorders and migraines. Studies have also shown that people suffering from depression are more likely to lose their jobs in difficult economic times.

In other words, non-economic damages can have both direct and indirect financial implications. It’s yet another reason that these damages must be factored into an injury claim.

How Are Pain and Suffering Calculated?

In many cases, damages related to pain and suffering exceed the amount of economic damages an injured person receives in a settlement or judgment. The amount of compensation you should demand for your pain and suffering depends on the circumstances of your case.

Experienced personal injury attorneys use several methods to determine the amount of non-economic damages their clients are owed. They look at precedent in other similar cases, and they’ll get to know their clients to find out how seriously their injuries have affected their quality of life.

In California, there are no caps on the amount of money a person can receive in non-economic damages in most case types. However, there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims.

Berg Injury Lawyers Helps Injured People Throughout Northern California

Since 1981, we’ve been helping injured people get the compensation they’re entitled to after accidents caused by others. We can help you determine your legal options after a serious accident, including how much you’re owed in economic and non-economic damages.

Contact our California personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation.

What Is Comparative Negligence in California?

by Staff Blogger | September 21st, 2020

Comparative negligence refers to the amount of fault assigned to everyone involved in an accident. California’s comparative negligence rule gives someone an opportunity to recover some percentage of damages from a crash, even if they were partially responsible for it. However, compensation is reduced in proportion to fault.

Understanding California’s laws regarding fault as it relates to compensation can help you better understand your legal options after an accident. Let’s look at how this law might be applied in practice.

An Example of Comparative Negligence in a Car Accident Case

San Francisco resident Steve is driving down Polk Street. Though the light is red, he turns onto Geary Street when he is struck by an oncoming vehicle. Steve didn’t see the vehicle when he turned on red, and he’d normally be considered at fault for the collision.

However, the police officer who responds to the scene finds that the driver of the oncoming vehicle that struck Steve’s car is intoxicated. Steve suffered injuries in the crash and demands compensation from the other driver’s insurance company, but the insurer refuses to pay any compensation because Steve turned on a red light without looking for oncoming vehicles.

The personal injury case Steve files goes to trial, where a jury determines that both drivers were 50% responsible for the collision. Steve’s damages total $100,000, but because he is deemed to be 50% at fault, he is awarded $50,000 in damages.

Though this is a completely hypothetical case, it illustrates how comparative fault might play out in a real-life legal dispute.

What Does Comparative Fault Mean for Crash Victims in California?

Each state has its own rules about fault in relation to compensation in injury and accident claims. California’s law is far more favorable for crash victims than laws in other states. Unless you are solely (100%) responsible for a crash, you have the right to get compensation for at least some of the damages you’ve suffered.

How Is Fault Determined After an Accident?

The police report often shapes the way fault is determined in a crash. However, once someone files a personal injury claim, the claimant’s attorney will investigate the circumstances of the crash to determine the true percentage of fault in a crash.

If you file a personal injury claim, your attorney will review the police report and all pertinent evidence that will help make your case. This evidence can often help establish a fairer percentage of fault for an accident.

After a Crash, You Can Improve Your Chances of a Successful Claim with These Steps

If you’re involved in a crash, call the police so they can send an officer to the scene. Cooperate with that officer and let them know what happened. If you see any witnesses to the crash, and you’re able to speak to them, ask them for their contact information. Take pictures of the scene and any vehicle damage you’ve experienced.

Perhaps most importantly, seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the crash. This ensures you get the care you need, and it establishes a timeline of your injuries, which is helpful when building an injury claim.

If You Need Help, Berg Injury Lawyers Is Here for You

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we represent injured people across Northern California. Our Bay Area personal injury attorneys have years of experience and extensive knowledge of comparative fault laws in California. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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.

Subrogation: Why Your Insurance Company Could Take Your Settlement Money

by Staff Blogger | September 7th, 2020

Medical bills are some of the most expensive costs associated with a serious injury. If you’ve been hurt in an accident through no fault of your own, your auto or health insurance company might pay those medical bills, especially if the at-fault party’s insurance refuses to foot the bill.

However, if you file an injury claim against the party or person who caused your injury, you will be seeking damages for those same medical bills your insurer already paid.

If you’ve ever wondered how you can seek money for bills that were already covered by your insurance company or what happens when those financial obligations overlap, then you’ve stumbled onto an important topic that plays a part in most injury claims: subrogation.

What Is Subrogation?

Subrogation is what happens when an injured person’s insurance company reclaims the money it paid out for accident-related costs. It’s how your insurance company recoups costs that the defendant (the person you’re taking legal action against) owes you.

Subrogation clauses are a part of all insurance contracts. So, insurance companies have a legal right to be reimbursed for the money they pay out if those costs are part of a successful legal claim.

Subrogation only involves recouping payments that their policyholder receives from third parties. So, for example, if your case involves only your insurance company, as it would in an uninsured or underinsured motorist (UIM) claim, subrogation would not be applicable.

Where Does Subrogation Money Come From?

Essentially, the money the insurance company wants to recoup will come from the compensatory damages you received via settlement or judgment. The insurance company will often demand full repayment of the costs they’ve paid for your care once they discover you’ve received compensation from a third party.

How Does the Insurance Company Know About Your Injury Claim?

After a doctor or emergency room visit, you likely received a letter from the insurance company. This letter might include standard language about notifying the insurance company if you file a compensation claim or hire an attorney. That’s because insurance companies often rely on self-reporting from their policyholders about potential injury claims or lawsuits.

Your insurer isn’t necessarily keeping tabs on the cause of the injury that prompted your treatment, so it might not be aware that you are seeking payment via an injury claim or lawsuit.

But insurers sometimes take steps to make sure they aren’t missing opportunities to recoup costs through subrogation. An insurance company will often work with third-party companies to identify insurance claims that are related to ongoing lawsuits or settlement negotiations.

Once an insurance company knows that your injuries are part of a lawsuit or settlement negotiation, they might again rely on a third-party company to stay in touch with you to find out how the situation is being resolved.

Do You Have to Pay the Full Amount Being Sought by Insurers?

Legally, insurance companies have every right to subrogation. In most cases, there’s little room for the policyholder to get out of paying back an insurer.

However, though insurance contracts state that the insurance company has a right to subrogation, it’s often true that attorneys will negotiate on behalf of their clients regarding the amount of money paid back to insurance companies after judgments or settlements. This can save an injured person money and help reduce the amount of settlements or judgments paid out due to subrogation.

If You Need Legal Assistance After a Crash, Get Berg!

Subrogation is one of many topics policyholders and injured people must contend with after a serious accident. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we work hard to ease our clients’ worries about their accidents and injuries. In doing so, we walk them through every aspect of their cases and deal with uncooperative insurance companies on their behalves each step of the way.

Contact the California personal injury attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with our team.

The Importance of Filing an Injury Claim Even During a Pandemic

by Staff Blogger | August 31st, 2020

While the world struggles to deal with a once-in-a-generation pandemic, we’re constantly reminded of the fact that life goes on. Despite lockdowns and outbreaks, people still have bills to pay, work to do, and injuries to deal with.

Unfortunately, accident-related medical bills won’t go away just because we’re in a pandemic, and the time in which you can file a lawsuit is still ticking down. You can’t afford to waste time waiting for the pandemic to end when you need to file a compensation claim.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we know the importance of injury claims, which is why we’ve continued to offer the same level of service we’ve always given our clients, despite the limitations posed by COVID-19.

Why a Pandemic Shouldn’t Stop You from Taking Legal Action

Even with lower volumes of traffic on our roads, crashes persist. In some cases, our roads have proven to be even deadlier during the pandemic. Workplace injuries, medical malpractice, and other causes of serious injuries also continue to affect Californians.

Though you might be reluctant to visit a doctor or take legal action during the coronavirus outbreak, you must remember how high the stakes can be if you don’t take a stand against an insurance company.

Personal injury claims are as important as ever, and you shouldn’t give up hope because times are challenging. Many businesses, including Berg Injury Lawyers, have adapted to the pandemic and still offer the same level of assistance as they did pre-coronavirus.

We Remain Committed to Our Clients

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve expanded the way we serve our clients by offering remote consultations, case updates, and more.

We know how important getting compensation is for our clients, which is why we guarantee the same level of dedication and service to those we represent whether we meet them in person or over the phone.

For someone dealing with the prospect of an injury claim during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important to know that legal options (and legal help) are still available.

The Importance of Personal Injury Claims

People file personal injury claims because it’s usually the only path to getting the compensation that they’re entitled to after an accident that wasn’t their fault. Serious injuries are costly, and insurance companies are often reluctant to offer people the payments they deserve.

By filing a claim, an injured person is seeking compensation for accident-related costs, including property damage, medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. A successful claim can mean the difference between financial ruin and the path to recovery.

Regardless of whether there are other external factors at play (like the coronavirus), you should always demand what you’re owed from an at-fault party and their insurance company. Otherwise, you risk running the chance of paying these costly expenses out of your own pocket.

The Costs of Waiting to File a Claim

Time is of the essence when you’re considering filing a personal injury claim. First, you need to be mindful of the statute of limitations in these cases. In California, you have two years from the time of your injury to file, and once that period lapses, you won’t be able to demand the payment you’re entitled to. And, if a public entity is involved, you may only have six months to file a claim with the city, county or whichever public entity is involved

Second, the longer you wait to begin the legal process, the greater the risk that important evidence supporting your claim and pinpointing the other party’s liability will be lost. The sooner you can contact an attorney and put them on your case, the better your chances of a successful outcome.

We’re Working Hard for Our Clients

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we never stopped working hard for our clients or accepting new clients to make sure they get the legal representation they deserve. We’re fully capable of meeting with clients and conducting business remotely through video conferencing, phone, and email.

We know how important it is for injured people to have their cases taken seriously and dealt with in a timely manner. If the pandemic is giving you pause from taking legal action, don’t wait any longer to seek help.

If You Need Help, We’re Here for You

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we know that injury claims stop for no pandemic. We’re still here, and we’re ready to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Learn the Most Important Thing You Can Do to Help Your Injury Case

by Staff Blogger | August 24th, 2020

There are several things you can do to improve the chances of a successful outcome in your personal injury case, but one thing stands above the rest: seek medical treatment early and consistently after your injury, and always follow your doctor’s orders.

The longer you wait to get treatment, or if you fail to attend follow-ups with your doctor, the more complicated your case can become. Let’s look at why medical treatment is so important, and why you should seek it as soon as possible.

Medical Treatment Serves Two Very Important Purposes

First, your health should always be your top priority. After an injury, you run the risk of worsening your condition or causing other complications if you don’t get medical help. Recovering from serious injuries takes time, so you should always listen to your doctor and follow their recommendations.

Second, seeking medical treatment establishes a record of your injuries. If you file an injury claim but have no official record to document how the accident impacted you, you’ll face a big challenge when demanding compensation.

However, if you go to a doctor or hospital soon after your injury and go to follow-up appointments in the days, weeks, and months that follow, you and your attorney will be able to clearly show the extent of your injury and its related costs.

Why Many People Don’t Seek Treatment

An injury might not be obvious in the immediate aftermath of an accident. The adrenaline produced during the trauma of a crash, slip and fall, or workplace injury can mask symptoms. It’s always best to visit a doctor or hospital as soon as possible after an accident, even if you’re unsure of the extent of your injury.

Another reason one might delay treatment is a general reluctance to visit the doctor or admit to being hurt. This hesitation to get help causes many problems, including the worsening of a condition and the impact on a person’s ability to get adequate compensation.

If you or a loved one is injured in an accident, remember one thing: go to a doctor soon and follow all the doctor’s orders. Consider getting a second opinion if you disagree with a physician’s assessment. But whatever you do, don’t put off seeking medical attention.

There Are Other Ways to Help Your Injury Case, Too

There are several steps you can take to make sure your personal injury case is positioned for success. For example, you should stay off social media so you don’t give insurance companies reasons to deny your claim. You should avoid speaking to the representative of any insurance company that isn’t your own. You should also contact an attorney early in the process, so they can help you avoid other common mistakes.

Need Legal Help? Contact Berg Injury Lawyers.

If you’ve been injured and you need legal assistance, contact the California personal injury attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers today. We’ve helped many injured people get the compensation and medical help they need to rebuild their lives after a serious injury.

Contact us today for 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.

How Many People Die Every Day From Texting and Driving?

by Staff Blogger | July 27th, 2020

how many deaths per day from texting and drivingEvery driver has heard about the dangers of texting and driving. The statistics speak volumes about the risks we introduce when we look at our mobile devices behind the wheel. Maybe you’ve heard a few of the following:

  • Typing or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for at least 5 seconds. For a driver traveling at 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of traveling the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
  • For every 100 drivers, 20 are distracted 5 to 10% of the time and 10 drivers are distracted 15 to 20% of the time.
  • According to a survey from, 41% of drivers admitted to reading texts while stuck in traffic, and 11% admitted to texting while moving in traffic.

The reason you see endless reminders about the dangers of texting and driving is the same reason we’re discussing this important topic today: Seeing these numbers might just prevent someone from reaching for their phone the next time they’re driving.

Knowing the Actual Number of Texting and Driving Deaths Is Difficult

Before we dive into some more numbers, let’s preface what follows by stating that there’s no way of knowing exactly how many deaths or injuries are caused by texting while driving, for reasons we’ll discuss below.

Safety advocates always say that statistics of distraction-related crashes likely underestimate the actual numbers. So, as you read the statistics, remember that the problem is probably far greater than indicated.

How Many People in the U.S. Die Every Day in Distracted Driving Accidents?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that each day in the U.S., approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that 9% of all fatal crashes in the U.S. are caused by distraction (based on figures from 2017).

Why the Numbers Are Probably Much Higher

Safety advocates like those at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Safety Council (NSC) talk at length about the limitations of crash reports. Data relies primarily on police reports, which presents several challenges.

First, if a distracted driver causes a crash, a reporting police officer might not know the driver was texting or distracted in some other way unless the driver, victim, or witness mentions it to the officer.

Second, not all crash reports that police are required to fill out have available fields for distraction, so even if an officer knows that distraction was the cause, they might label the cause of the crash as “other.”

A review by the NSC indicates that 26 states in the U.S. lack crash report fields to capture texting, while 32 states lack fields to capture hands-free phone use.

What Does It All Mean for Crash Victims?

The fact that calculating the actual number of distraction-related crashes is so hard shouldn’t deter victims of bad drivers from filing claims after an accident. In some cases, an attorney representing the injured person can prove the driver was distracted.

Even if an attorney can’t prove that the at-fault driver was distracted, they can still prove the driver was negligent. For example, if a driver who is texting while driving strikes a pedestrian, it won’t matter why the at-fault driver struck the pedestrian; it will only matter that they failed to adhere to driving laws.

If You Need Legal Help, Contact Berg Injury Laws

We’ve been helping clients in Northern California since 1981. We know what it takes to get an injured person the compensation they’re entitled to. If you or a loved one was injured by a distracted or negligent driver, we can help. Contact our California car accident attorneys today for a free consultation.