Basic bicycle safety may not be enough to keep you safe in the Bay Area
You’re wearing your helmet, your outfit is bright and perfectly visible, and your bike is functioning beautifully. As you kick off, you tick off the typical safety tips in your head (look ahead, stay to the right, signal appropriately, etc.). It’s a perfect day in San Francisco, and you’re feeling safe and secure as you cruise into clearly marked bicycle lanes, right?
Bicycle-related injuries happen every day in San Francisco
Yet unforeseen — and often unavoidable — unfortunate encounters may await even the best-prepared bicycle rider. Defects in San Francisco Bay Area roads, complicated or confusing intersections, cars in the bike lane, potholes, bumps or other uneven pavement, etc. can create dangerous conditions that can be difficult to detect ahead of time, and interrupt your happy travels. Check with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to ensure you better understand the rules of the road in SF and get news on safer biking issues affecting San Francisco. Even if signage does exist (for construction hazards, for example), it isn’t always adequate. Despite all your precautions, you may end up the victim of injury or damage while riding your bike in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Take action immediately if you’ve been injured in a bike riding accident
Assessing and taking care of your immediate physical needs is clearly your first priority, but don’t stop there. Once your mind is clear and the immediate trauma of the incident is past (or at least managed), it’s important to take stock of the situation to determine if everyone else was as diligent in you in looking out for your personal safety. Some San Francisco bike riders go to great lengths to secure evidence to document their accident case, including finding security camera footage of the accident.
Who’s liable for damage to your bike and injuries you sustain?
What this means is that as you’re wondering, “What just happened?”, you should realize you’re actually asking a very relevant question! It’s absolutely critical to establish whether anything (or anyone) may have caused or even contributed to your unhappy happening, especially if you’re in San Francisco. Here (and in California in general), the entity responsible for maintaining the roadway is also liable for your injury or damages. If it can be reasonably shown that they caused, or could have prevented, the dangerous condition that led to your demise, they may also be expected to making things right for you.
Take photos of your bike crash
If you crash your bike while riding in San Francisco, take pictures right away of the site and surrounding area. If no camera is handy (or if it’s now broken), at least take detailed notes (including the time of day and weather). Return for photos as soon as possible, or better yet, ask a friend to do it for you, so that you don’t seem too involved with investigation, and try to match the position where you were as closely as you can.
Know the time limits on claims against government agencies
After a bike accident happens, promptness is especially critical because of a six-month limit on claims against government agencies. Road-related claims against a government entity (which is typically responsible for public roadways) can also be among the most involved bike-related cases. When multiple city or Bay Area county entities might be at fault, matters are further complicated.
Find a lawyer in San Francisco who knows bicycle-related laws
But back to your immediate concerns. You may been hurt. You might also be angry, and perhaps even confused. In many cases, you may have a police investigation incorrectly blaming the accident on you. In such circumstances, it always helps to talk about it with someone who understands, and who can fill you in on whatever legal information you need to know. Again, timeliness is critical, so the sooner you connect with a knowledgeable lawyer with the appropriate expertise, the sooner you’ll be happily back in your favorite biking lanes!