Legal advocacy with compassion and vigor

Northern California Pedestrian and Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Pedestrian and bicycle accidents plague the residents of Bay Area communities. Traffic congestion makes it difficult for pedestrians to cross the street safely, while bicycle riders must share overcrowded roads with impatient drivers.

If you have been the victim of a Bay Area pedestrian or bicycle accident, a personal injury lawyer at KKG Law can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our personal injury team represents accident victims in Oakland, San Jose, Fairfield, and all other Bay Area communities.

Bay Area Pedestrian Accidents

The Office of Traffic Statistics (OTS), after adjusting its comparative data to account for population and miles driven, ranks the accident rate of California’s counties in several categories. The OTS ranks Alameda County as the fifth most dangerous county for pedestrians. Alameda County also has the third highest rate of injury accidents involving pedestrians.  Unfortunately for its senior residents, Alameda County is the most dangerous California county for pedestrians who are over the age of 65.

Santa Clara County has better statistics, but it ranks 13th among California counties for its rate of nonfatal pedestrian accidents. Taken together, these two Bay Area Counties are dangerous places to stroll.

According to the California Department of Public Health:

  • Most pedestrian accidents occur between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
  • One third of all pedestrians killed in traffic accidents are over 65
  • One fifth of the pedestrians killed in traffic accidents are children
  • Almost two-thirds of pedestrian accidents occur outside of intersections

While Alameda and Santa Clara County have high rates of nonfatal pedestrian accidents, they are less likely than many California counties to have fatal pedestrian accidents. Urbanized counties tend to have faster ambulance and paramedic response times than rural counties, which might account for the difference. Even when pedestrian accidents are not fatal, however, they often result in serious injuries.

Bay Area Bicycle Accidents

Biking to work is consistent with a healthy Bay Area lifestyle, but only if the rider can travel safely. While most Bay Area communities have programs that promote commuting to work on a bicycle as a way to reduce traffic congestion, they have done too little to improve bicycle safety. About half of all bicycle accidents that result in an emergency room visit for Bay Area bicyclists involve collisions with motor vehicles.

The OTS places Alameda County at number 8 on its ranking of bicycle accidents among California’s 58 counties. Even more dismally, the OTS ranks Alameda County number 6 for bicycle accidents that injure or kill a bicyclist under the age of 15.

Santa Clara County ranks number 9 for bicycle accidents, just behind Alameda County. But Santa Clara County is the most dangerous county in California for bicycle accidents involving accident victims who are under the age of 15.

Palo Alto has an extensive network of bicycle paths, making it the most bicycle-friendly city in the Bay Area. Residents of other Bay Area cities are not so fortunate. Bicyclists often compete against cars, busses, and other vehicles on city streets. Even bike lanes do not guarantee safety when they are not separated by a median from traffic lanes.

Causes of Bay Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents

A high percentage of collisions involving bicycles and pedestrians occur at intersections. In many of those collisions, a driver ignores a traffic light or a stop sign and hits a pedestrian or bicyclist who is crossing the road. The failure to obey a traffic safety sign is always the fault of the driver.

A significant percentage of bicycle accidents with motor vehicles are “right hook” accidents, where a vehicle makes a right turn into a bicycle that is crossing the street or is occupying the lane into which the motorist turns. A similar percentage of collisions with pedestrians involve turns that a driver makes without yielding to a pedestrian who is crossing the street that the driver enters.

Whether an accident occurs at an intersection or elsewhere in a roadway, driver distraction accounts for most pedestrian and bicycle accidents. A driver who is talking on a cellphone, reading a text, putting on makeup, or unwrapping a sandwich is not watching the road. Distracted drivers cause accidents because they fail to see pedestrians and bicycles when they appear in front of the driver’s car.

Pedestrians and bicyclists are not always faultless when they are injured in collisions. Sometimes pedestrians cross in the middle of the street rather than using a nearby crosswalk. Sometimes bicyclists ride on the wrong side of the road, in a lane with oncoming traffic.

Careful drivers, however, see bicycles and pedestrians in the road and avoid colliding with them. California law allows an accident victim to pursue compensation even when the victim shares responsibility for the accident. Under California’s “comparative negligence” law, an accident victim who is 30% at fault is entitled to 70% of full compensation from the careless driver.

Bay Area Pedestrian and Bicycle Accident Injuries

Unlike occupants of a car, pedestrians and bicyclists are not surrounded by steel or protected by airbags. Their injuries in collisions with cars are usually serious and often fatal.

Catastrophic injuries to bicycle riders and pedestrians include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Organ damage
  • Spinal injuries that cause paralysis
  • Limb amputations

Catastrophic injuries usually prevent accident victims from returning to their former employment and may preclude any employment. They typically require a lifetime of care.

Less severe injuries can nevertheless be quite serious, producing disabling conditions, long-term impairments, and substantial pain. Examples include:

  • Disfigurement and facial scarring
  • Broken bones
  • Dental injuries
  • Herniated disks and other back injuries
  • Neck and shoulder injuries
  • Elbow, knee, and other joint injuries
  • Groin injuries (common in bicycle accidents)
  • Road rash
  • Nerve damage
  • Torn and stretched muscles, ligaments, and tendons

Emotional injuries almost always accompany physical injuries. Suffering, emotional distress, depression, insomnia, anxiety, and loss of enjoyment of life are common byproducts of pedestrian and bicycle accidents.

Compensation for Bay Area Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents

Catastrophic injuries require compensation that will help the accident victim cope with a seriously disabling condition. Caretaker salaries, the cost of adding wheelchair ramps to a home, vocational rehabilitation, and residence fees in an assisted-living facility are among the expenses that compensation may need to cover.

Compensation for injuries also includes:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future wage loss
  • Pain, suffering, and emotional distress

When an accident victim dies, the victim’s spouse, children, and certain other family members are entitled to wrongful death compensation. A personal injury lawyer can help families understand which members are entitled to compensation and how it is measured.

To learn how KKG Law can help you receive fair compensation if you or a loved one was involved in a bicycle or pedestrian accident, call us at 707-898-8125 or use our online contact form to send us a message. KKG Law represents accident victims in Oakland, San Jose, Fairfield, and all other Bay Area communities.