Bicycles are a common sight on the streets throughout Fresno. Riding your bike through our beautiful city is usually safe, as long as everyone follows the rules of the road. Unfortunately, though, that’s not a constant. Worse yet, an accident with a negligent driver can cause serious injuries for bicyclists and can even be fatal in some cases.
Bicycle accidents with vehicles differ from normal car accidents, because bicycles do not have a body of metal protecting them from outside elements. When bicycles and vehicles collide, it is no surprise that the person on the bicycle almost always incurs more injuries. In the worst case scenario, many of these injuries-like spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries-can lead to the untimely death of you or a loved one.
Even victims who aren’t fatally injured in a Fresno bicycle accident may still require many months of medical treatment to resolve their injuries and return to the lives they led before the accident. Furthermore, you or similar victims can be permanently affected by this extremely traumatic and emotional situation.
Compassionate and Effective Representation From Fresno Fatal Bicycle Accident Lawyers
When you or a loved one has suffered permanent or fatal injuries in a bicycle accident, the compassionate and experienced team of Fresno bicycle accident lawyers at Maison Law can help. Through our years of experience in handling these types of claims, we have developed a proven system of success working against insurance companies and for you and your family.
To learn more about how we can help you, contact us for a free consultation.
Why Do Fatal Bicycle Accidents Happen In Fresno?
Unfortunately, fatal bicycle accidents are caused by many of the same factors as other car accidents. Like these other accidents, negligent and inattentive driving factor heavily into the equation. The other part of the equation is the vast difference in size and speed between a vehicle and a person on a bicycle, coupled with the relative lack of protection that a bicycle offers. Even if you’re wearing a helmet and other protective equipment, there’s little that can be done when another driver fails to pay attention or drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes an accident.
While there isn’t a singular cause of fatal bicycle accidents in Fresno, many of them involve the following:
- Negligent driving – Negligent driving encompasses a wide range of different maneuvers and actions that a person can take behind the wheel, but when they are involved in an accident with a bicycle, they can often be even more dangerous and fatal. Such actions like tailgating, shifting lanes erratically to try to get around a bicyclist, or speeding can all cause fatal accidents, especially if the person on the bike is on a major roadway. In some cases, these drivers will act recklessly or react angrily when they have to share the road with a bicycle, and this added speed or violence can also result in a fatal accident.
- Impaired driving – Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is extremely dangerous, no matter what situation you’re in. Unfortunately, this danger is increased in bicycle accidents. When driving under the influence, drivers are typically moving at much higher speeds and their reaction time is much slower, which means that they won’t be able to properly adjust to and maneuver around bicyclists on the road.
- Low visibility – A lack of visibility is among the most common causes of bicycle accidents. First, a bicycle is much smaller than a normal passenger vehicle, and often is in a driver’s blind spot near the back side of the vehicle. Also, not every bicyclist opts for reflective or high-visibility clothing and equipment to make it easier for them to be seen. There’s also the issue of distracted driving or failing to yield, which often causes drivers to collide with bicyclists. Even in low-speed collisions, fatal injuries can occur when the bicyclist is thrown headfirst off their bike or their head or chest is contacted by parts of the moving car.
- Poor weather – While Fresno has an excellent climate and weather conditions for riding a bicycle, it can also change quickly. The spring and summer months in the Central Valley can bring storms and heavy rain instantaneously, making visibility and maneuverability much more difficult for both cars and bicycles. When cars can’t adjust to these difficulties or bicyclists get caught in poor weather and don’t have the proper equipment, fatal accidents can happen.
While injuries are certainly probable in bicycle accidents, sometimes the worst case scenario happens and the injuries or accident is fatal. With that, the situation changes into something that is much more dire, and requires a shifting of responsibilities and strategy to make sure that your or your loved one’s affairs are handled in the right way.
How Common Are Fatal Bicycle Accidents in Fresno?
Anytime a bicycle accident ends up being fatal, it is an unthinkable tragedy. While Fresno’s population isn’t as large as other California cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco, there are still a number of these accidents every year.
Fresno itself has seen its number of fatal bicycle accidents fluctuate in recent years, with a five year average of 43.8 between 2017 and 2021 according to the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). Over that same time frame, distracted driving accounted for 3.4 accidents per year, and 2.6 fatal bicycle accidents over that same time period. In 2020, there were seven fatal bicycle accidents in Fresno, a high for the five year period.
Such data underlies the importance of bicyclists in Fresno to stay alert and cognizant of other drivers on the road. Doing so will at least reduce the risk of fatal accidents, although they can still happen.
Fatal Injuries in Fresno Bicycle Accidents
Fatalities in bicycle accidents are caused by a number of different injuries. The nature of riding a bicycle means that there is simply not much protection in the event of an accident, especially if you are thrown from the bicycle headfirst or if the vehicle collides with your upper body and damages your chest, ribs, lungs, or spine. Further, both younger and older riders are at further risk for fatal bicycle accidents.
Often, fatal injuries in a fatal bicycle accident include:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Severe skull fractures
- Severe spinal injuries
- Chest injuries
- Lower abdominal injuries
- Organ failure
Fatal injuries in a bicycle accident represents the worst case scenario for you and your loved ones. While this situation is difficult to think about, the fact that they can happen is reason enough to at least be prepared should your loved ones have to file a claim for damages on your behalf.
What Type of Claims Are There In a Fresno Fatal Bike Accident?
Fatal bicycle accidents in Fresno are classified as “wrongful death” claims. In California, a wrongful death must result from:
- Another person or entity’s wrongful act or negligence.
Thus, in fatal bicycle accidents, the driver that was negligent and caused the accident will likely be found liable your surviving family’s damages, which can include the following:
- Medical bills prior to and up until death
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Loss of companionship
- Any pain and suffering felt by the deceased before death
- Property damage
Like other claims in California, there is a statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. For any wrongful death lawsuit, your family would need to file the lawsuit within two years of your death in order to be able to recover damages.
Work With Experienced and Thoughtful Fresno Fatal Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Losing a loved one or your own life to a fatal bicycle accident is an unthinkable tragedy. At Maison Law, our team of experienced, thoughtful Fresno bicycle accident lawyers will be with your family every step of the way as you try to gain some measure of support in this extremely difficult time.
For more information about how our firm can help your family, contact us today for a free consultation.