Road Rage – Does it affect my car accident?

Road Rage – How does it affect my accident?

I often get calls from people involved in car accidents wanting to know how “road rage” or other aggressive driving actions affects an accident. While each situation is different, there are some things to know about road rage; what it is, how it’s codified in California as a criminal offense, and how to avoid being a victim of road rage.

Definition

Aggressive, angry, rude, or confrontation actions or behaviors by drivers of vehicles.

Common Road Rage Actions/Behaviors

  • Tailgating, honking, flashing lights
  • Yelling, threatening, making obscene gestures, throwing projectiles
  • Cutting off a driver, intentionally making contact with another driver’s vehicle
  • Exiting a car, assaulting other drivers/passengers/cyclists

A Little History

The term “road rage” originated in the late 1980s, right here in Southern California when a rash of shootings occurred on the freeways of Los Angeles (in case you were wondering, the shootings occurred on the 405, 110, and 10 freeways).

Aggressive Driving v. Road Rage

Aggressive driving generally involves one or more traffic violations. Drivers may be fined up to $200 and receive points on their driving record for each moving violation associated with aggressive driving and could even spend time in jail. When a traffic incident escalates into a more serious situation, that’s road rage. If road rage results in violence, a collision or injury, it is a criminal offense (California Penal Code Sec. 245(a)).

How to Avoid an Incident with an Aggressive Driver

  • Be a confident, courteous, and calm driver
  • Allow aggressive drivers to pass, do not “brake check” them
  • Do not make eye contact, yell, or make gestures
  • If you still feel unsafe, you may want to call 9-1-1 or begin driving toward the local police station

Legal Action

California is one of few states that has legalized the term “road rage”. There are many laws and protections for the victims of road rage. If you think you may have been the victim of a road rage induced assault or battery, you may be able to take legal action. Consult a local attorney to figure out the next step you should take.

The author, Joshua Bonnici, is the managing attorney at BONNICI LAW GROUP, APC, who represents injured and disabled individuals fight for fair and just outcomes. Feel free to learn more and reach out for a free case evaluation, at: the firm websitehelp@bonnicilawgroup.com, or at: 619-259-5199.

Disclaimer: while the jokes may be corny and the tone casual, none of the above is intended to be legal advice, and does not amount to any attorney-client relationship. Should you wish to investigate attorney representation, please contact us for a consultation to discuss a possible attorney-client relationship. Thank you!

Ignore these key words: san diego accident lawyer, san diego accident attorney, rear end lawyer, san diego car accident lawyer, car accident attorney, san diego lawyer road rage, road rage lawyer san diego.

Leave a comment

Uninsured Motorist Coverage – What is it, and do I need it?

Should I Purchase Uninsured Motorist Insurance?

Think about how many miles you travel by car per day. Think about how many other drivers you encounter throughout a given day. Now think about how many of those drivers do not have insurance.

In 2011, the Insurance Research Council estimated that chances are approximately one in seven that a driver in the United States is uninsured. Chances are probably even greater for Southern California drivers, who share the road with many uninsured drivers from Mexico every day.

Getting into a car accident is stressful, no matter what the circumstances. Being involved in an accident where the other driver is uninsured can be life changing. Luckily, there are some preventative measures you can take to protect yourself – and one of those things is purchasing uninsured motorist insurance. This article presents some commonly asked questions and answers about uninsured motorist protection.

What typically happens if the other driver is at fault for the accident?

If the other driver has insurance, you usually will be able to recover only the amount of insurance the other (at fault) driver decided to purchase. It is important to note that California requires drivers to purchase only $15,000 of liability insurance ($15,000 per injured person, and $30,000 per total occurrence).

What types of damages can I recover from the other driver?

The amount you attempt to recover typically needs to cover your medical expenses (x-rays, treatments, physical therapy, etc.) and lost wages resulting from your injuries. Often times, the amount recovered from the other driver (if anything) is not enough to cover damages resulting from the accident.

What is uninsured motorist coverage?

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage can help cover costs resulting from a car accident when the uninsured motorist is at fault. This includes a hit and run driver. UM coverage is an add-on coverage that is not mandatory by the state, and is not included in the “minimum” policy insurers offer. Generally, a small UM coverage add-on is very inexpensive; sometimes as low as an extra $5 per month.

What type of costs does uninsured motorist protection typically cover?

Medical damages, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

How can I buy uninsured motorist coverage?

You can purchase uninsured motorist coverage from the same provider you bought liability insurance from. I

Will uninsured motorist coverage protect me, whether I was at fault or not?

No. Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you only if you were not at fault in the accident.

Do I have to be the driver of the vehicle for uninsured motorist coverage to protect me?

No, you do not have to be driving to be protected by uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist protection will cover your injuries if you were injured while walking or riding a bike. The only requirement is that you were physically touched by the uninsured vehicle.

Does UM only apply when I’m in a car? 

Depending on your policy, some coverage extends to injuries sustained to a rider when riding a bicycle on a roadway. Check with your policy, or your insurance professional, to see if your coverage extends beyond your vehicle.

Will uninsured motorist insurance cover expenses if the other driver has insurance, but not enough to pay my bills?

No. In this scenario, the other driver is considered under-insured rather than uninsured. An underinsured driver has some liability insurance but it may not be enough to cover your injuries and/or damages. A different type of insurance, underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, can be used to offset these costs. (Keep an eye out for an underinsured blog coming soon!)

How does this affect my car accident?

It’s important to understand how each facet of your insurance policy can help you during an auto accident claim – especially if there are injuries involved. It is helpful to speak with an insurance professional and a local personal injury attorney to understand your rights and how to use your insurance coverage.

The author, Joshua Bonnici, is the managing attorney at BONNICI LAW GROUP, APC, who represents injured and disabled individuals fight for fair and just outcomes. Feel free to learn more and reach out for a free case evaluation, at: www.bonnicilawgroup.com, help@bonnicilawgroup.com, or at: 619-259-5199.

Disclaimer: while the jokes may be corny and the tone casual, none of the above is intended to be legal advice, and does not amount to any attorney-client relationship. Should you wish to investigate attorney representation, please contact us for a consultation to discuss a possible attorney-client relationship. Thank you!

Leave a comment

What to Do After a Car Accident

You Were in a Car Accident…What Now?

We know that car accidents occur every day. Unfortunately, many people do not know where to begin after being in one. It can be an extremely emotional and stressful situation. This article provides a quick reference including preparedness tips; what to do immediately after an accident occurs’ and how to handle the days and weeks following the accident.

BE PREPARED

  1. Carry a set of reflectors or flairs, to inform oncoming traffic of the accident.
  2. Keep a pen and relevant medical information for you and your family in your glove compartment or console.
  3. Have your mobile phone with you and charged at all times; you may need it to call for emergency assistance, the police, or to take pictures of damage. (But remember, a mobile phone should never be used while driving a car!)
  4. Make sure you always carry proper identification and insurance information.

IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE ACCIDENT

  1. Try to relax and not become overly excited or stressed.
  2. Check for injuries on yourself and others. Some common resulting injuries include: Whiplash, concussions, PTSD, and broken bones. Obviously there are numerous additional injuries that can occur, and it is very important to remember that many injuries cannot be seen by the naked eye and do not present immediate symptoms. Very often, people experience pain, confusion, weakness, and/or other symptoms hours or even days after the accident. It is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to having possible injuries evaluated and ruled out.
  3. If someone needs medical attention, call 911. Do not attempt to move the person unless they are in immediate danger.
  4. If the accident is relatively minor, move vehicles to a safe place (if possible, and reasonable safe) and turn on hazard lights. Use traffic cones or other things to signal there is an accident ahead to oncoming traffic.
  5. Call the police to request an accident report.
  6. Gather information from other driver(s).
  7. File a claim with your own insurance company as soon as you can.

DAYS AND WEEKS FOLLOWING THE ACCIDENT

  1. Get a property valuation determination from your insurance company. The state of CA allows for you to take your vehicle to any registered auto body shop of your choice. If you cannot come to an agreement on your car’s value, consider obtaining an attorney.
  2. If anyone was injured, keep track of medical records, doctor visitis and expenses. This includes any doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, or any other medical professional who treated you or others for injuries after the accident. Make note of treatments, payments, and referrals. Request copies of medical records and bills. It is also important to keep a record of “pain and suffering” — how the injuries affect your daily routine or make life more difficult.
  3. If anyone was injured, you may want to consider hiring an attorney. Many attorneys will offer a free consultation, where you relay basic information about the accident, injuries, and damages sustained. A local attorney may also be able to connect you with a doctor at no immediate cost if you cannot afford to see a doctor.

Quick Reference of Do’s and Don’ts

Do Don’t
Call 911 if anyone is injured.

Make immediate notes about the accident, including:

  • Driver’s name & contact info
  • License plate number
  • Make and model of both cars
  • Insurance policy number for other driver
  • Where accident occurred with cross streets
  • Witness contact info
  • Damage on both vehicles

Call the police to request an accident report.

Take pictures of vehicle damage and location (street signs).

File an insurance claim with your insurance company.

Seek medical care if injuries arise.

Consider consulting with a local personal injury attorney.

Tell anyone that you were at fault for the accident.

Sign any documents or take any money at the scene of the accident.

Discuss your insurance details beyond exchanging insurance company name and policy number.

Attempt to move an injured person.

Leave the scene of the accident.

Ignore signs of bodily injury (which may arise days after the accident).

Fail to report accident to your insurance out of fear or request by other party.

 

The author, Joshua Bonnici, is the managing attorney at BONNICI LAW GROUP, APC, who represents injured and disabled individuals fight for fair and just outcomes. Feel free to learn more and reach out for a free case evaluation, at: www.bonnicilawgroup.com, or at: 619-259-5199.

Leave a comment

Personal Injury Recovery – Civil & Criminal? Restitution?

Restitution and Personal Injuries – Are Clients Leaving Money on the Table?

YOU’RE REAR ENDED BY A DRUNK DRIVER ON THE FREEWAY.

 The at-fault driver is arrested, but you’re whisked away to the hospital to check for serious injuries. Months later you get a call from the local district attorney’s office asking if you would like to appear at a criminal restitution hearing regarding the accident. Should you appear? Does this bar you from further recovery in civil court?

If the civil defendant (at-fault driver, in our example) is convicted of a crime – be it an infraction, misdemeanor or felony – and that crime caused the injuries that were a subject of the civil suit, victim restitution comes into play. As a victim, the plaintiff is entitled to restitution. While it is true the victim/plaintiff cannot recover twice for the same injury, restitution can still make a huge difference in the take home for the plaintiff. The reason: a victim may recover restitution for the attorneys’ fees incurred in his or her civil case against the defendant. People v. Pinedo (1998) 60 Cal. App. 4th 1403, 1406, 71 Cal. Rptr. 2d 151. An example will make the financial impact of this right clear.

Let’s continue with the example above: after your accident, you hire a local personal injury attorney on a 40% contingency fee. The defendant pleads guilty to driving under the influence. There is a $100,000 civil settlement, comprised half of economic (medical bills, therapy, lost wages) and non-economic (emotional distress) damages. The attorney will receive about $40,000 as their fee. After you receive the civil settlement, you can later go to criminal court and seek a restitution order for one-half of the contingent fee, $20,000. This amount is sought because one-half of the civil settlement was for economic losses. The victim had to pay attorney fees to get that part of the civil settlement, and you are therefore entitled to recoup the same from the defendant as restitution. The criminal court can order $20,000 restitution. That means your net civil recovery of $60,000 ($100,000 less the $40,000 contingency fee) will increase by 33% to $80,000. That is a huge increase which may be left on the table. 

Realistically, to get a $20,000 restitution order will certainly take an independent wealthy defendant as well as multiple appearances in criminal court. Representation in criminal court, however, usually requires an hourly charge. The defendant is entitled to, and will, oppose the restitution. There will be briefing in addition to hearings.

 

A natural question is who pays for this excursion into criminal court. The answer is in a statute: Penal Code §1202.4(f)(3)(H) allows recovery by victims (as part of restitution) of their “actual and reasonable” attorneys’ fees. So the victim may recover, from the defendant, any fees expended in criminal court to get fees in the civil case.

Although it may take several appearances to get to the restitution hearing, that hearing stands in stark contrast to a civil trial and its antecedents: no discovery, no depositions, proof may be made by declaration and live witnesses are not required. A restitution hearing can be put on calendar within weeks in most criminal courts. Most hearings take less than an hour, if appropriate preparation and briefing has been done.

But you, the savvy client, ask about the release you signed as part of your civil case. “[T]he settlement of a civil action and release of the defendant by the crime victim does not discharge the defendant’s responsibility to satisfy the restitution order.” People v. Vasquez (2010), 190 Cal. App. 4th 1126, 1133. There are several reasons for this. First, one of the oldest laws on the books instructs: “When the violation of a right admits of both a civil and criminal remedy the right to prosecute the one is not merged in the other.” Code of Civil Procedure §32 (1872), entitled “Civil and Criminal Remedies not Merged.”

Another reason is that the parties are not the same in a civil case and a criminal case. A victim is not a party to a criminal prosecution. The only parties are the People and the defendant. A third reason the civil settlement release cannot spill over into a criminal case is because restitution has a unique criminal law purpose: rehabilitation. Making criminals pay restitution to the victim is part of the learning experience for a defendant; a learning experience intended to direct the defendant away from illegal activity. Hopefully.

Once restitution has been ordered, additional tools are available to enforce payment. The criminal system has its own garnishment procedures. If the trial court determines that the defendant has the ability to pay restitution, it must enter a separate order for income deduction once restitution has been determined. Penal Code §1202.42. Also, when the court grants probation and orders the defendant to make restitution, timely payment is a condition of probation. Willful failure to pay restitution can result in revocation of probation and imprisonment. People v Lawson (1999) 69 Cal. App. 4th 29, 39, 81 Cal. Rptr. 2d 283. Thus, creating the urgency to pay the restitution order.

While this restitution tool may not apply to every case, it is a powerful tool to utilize when restoring an injured Plaintiff. Make sure to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable injury attorney before getting intimidated by a request to testify in criminal court.

 

The author, Joshua Bonnici, is the managing attorney at BONNICI LAW GROUP, APC, who represents injured and disabled individuals fight for fair and just outcomes. Feel free to learn more and reach out, at: www.bonnicilawgroup.com, or at: 619-259-5199.

 

1 Comment

Medical Malpractice and Settlement Caps

Is $250,000 Adequate Compensation For the Loss of A Loved One?

By Jillian Devlin
 

Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported about a campaign collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would significantly increase the medical malpractice cap in California, which is currently $250,000.  Supporters have until March 24th to submit signatures.  The increase could significantly affect you and your loved ones.  This blog is intended to provide an objective overview of the current med mal law, and the proposed changes to it.  Our goal is to educate people, especially those who could possibly be voting for this major reform next month.

History of Medical Malpractice in California

In 1975, California legislature enacted the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, or MICRA.  MICRA mandates that all awarded pain and suffering damages (emotional/physical harms) related to medical malpractice shall be no greater than $250,000, even in the case of death.[1]  That amount has not been adjusted for inflation at any point in the law’s nearly 40-year existence.[2]  Pain and suffering damages are considered “non-economic damages”, which are damages/harms that are intangible and difficult to calculate.  This is opposed to tangible “economic damages”, such as medical bills, lost wages, or property damage, which have easily ascertainable values.  Both economic damages and punitive damages (damages designed to punish the defendant in a lawsuit) are unlimited under MICRA.

Importance of Pain and Suffering Awards at Trial

Quite often, the jury awards given for non-economic damages by a jury verdict make up the largest portion of any jury verdict.  Additionally, the awards given by the jury symbolize the jury’s desire to hold a defendant financially accountable for their mistakes, besides future medical expenses and lost wages (economic damages).  Most importantly, a large award for pain and suffering is habitually an impetus to amendment, adjust, or completely reform policies and procedures, which protects medical consumers and promotes public policy.[3]

In California, a jury may award you millions of dollars in regard to non-economic damages/pain and suffering; but because of MICRA, the award will automatically be reduced to exactly $250,000, no matter how much negligence or malpractice occurred.[4]

Which People Are Most Negatively Impacted by MICRA?[5]

Women, children, and the elderly.  Why?  We have to look at the type of damages that MICRA limits, and those damages it does not.  Because MICRA does not limit economic damages (lost wages and medical bills), women, the elderly, and children, have less loss wages (if any) to be reimbursed.  Generally, women tend to earn less than men, many elderly do not work, and children cannot work.  Therefore, the unlimited amount of economic damages available to them does not mean much.

Also, women may be more affected because a number of injuries only women can sustain result in more non-economic, rather than economic damages.  For example, if medical malpractice causes a miscarriage or loss of fertility, this could cause a huge amount of non-economic damages (pain and suffering), but minimal economic damages (medical bills, lost wages). 

Award caps also negatively affect most victims’ ability to sue because tort attorneys will be hesitant to take a medical malpractice case.  Attorneys practicing tort litigation tend to work on a contingent basis; typically clients pay nothing upfront, and the lawyers receive a certain percentage of the damages awarded to their client at the end of litigation.  Because non-economic damages are limited to $250,000, many attorneys may reluctant to take on cases with a small chance of significant payouts in relation to the amount of work put into it difficult and expensive malpractice cases.

What Would the New Ballot Initiative (NBI) Do?

The ballot initiative would raise the limit on medical malpractice damages to $1.1 million in California and also allow for continued adjustments for inflation.  Additionally, the ballot measure would mandate all physicians to check a prescription drug tracking data before prescribing controlled substances to patients; undergo randomly administered drug and alcohol testing throughout the year, and mandated drug and alcohol testing after an unexpected death or injury occurs; report any medical negligent or substance misuse by other colleagues; and lastly, automatic suspension if physicians test positive for alcohol or drugs while on duty.[6]

Critics of the NBI

Critics of the NBI claim that all the ballot initiative would increase health care costs, lawyers’ fees, and meritless lawsuits; and decrease access to care and possibly the quality of medical care.[7]  People who support MICRA, the current law in place, also state that MICRA helps attract physicians to the state.

Many people in the medical community argue that in relation to higher health care costs, a raised cap will lead to higher medical practice insurance rates, more hesitant doctors prone to performing extra tests, and physician shortages for community clinics.[8]

Proponents of the NBI

People who are in favor of raising the medical malpractice claim, argue that if the NBI passes, it will be beneficial for many different reasons.  First, people’s access to counsel for medical malpractice claims will greatly increase.[9]  Supporters of the NBI also claim that the research is mixed on whether medical malpractice caps actually decrease soaring healthcare costs, and even if a decrease is shown, it is often a trivial percentage.  Proponents of the NBI also have an emotional argument; often if parents lose a child as a result of a physician’s malpractice or negligence, the most they can recover for their pain and suffering is $250,000.  Although no amount of money can ever replace losing a child, other parts of the ballot initiative, such as mandatory drug testing and automatic suspension, could help other parents avoid the unimaginable hurt and suffering of losing a child.[10]

Conclusion

As with any political discussion, it is important to be informed.  There are many more in depth articles, opinions, studies, and research to review and educate yourself in order to make the best choice for you and your family, in regards to the raising of the medical malpractice cap.  Whatever your opinion, I hope you enjoyed this blog and learned a few new things about an important topic.

*About the author: Jillian Devlin is a third year student at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.  Her interest in personal injury law stems from working with injured athletes and patients at the University of Iowa, where she received a degree in Sports Medicine and minored in Psychology.

Want to learn more about the author or get legal advice? Click here and contact Bonnici Law Group, APC today.


[1] Planned Ballot Measure Would Raise State’s Medical Malpractice Cap, California Healthline, February 19, 2014

[2] Planned Ballot Measure

[3] California Consumer Advocates Seek to Raise Medical Malpractice Caps, Cutter Law, September 11, 2013

[4] California Consumer Advocates

[5] Raise the cap on malpractice awards, Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2013

[6] Planned Ballot Measure

[7] Hope dimming for changes to California medical malpractice awards cap, ABC News, August 16, 2013

[8] Reality Check: Does Malpractice Reform Carry Price Tag?, NBC Bay Area, August 17, 2013

[9] Raise the cap on malpractice awards

[10] Raise the cap on malpractice awards

Leave a comment

Homeowner Liability – To warn or not to warn…

Home Possessor’s Liability for Injuries on His Land: California’s Exceptional Rules!

            You’re having a big party for 4th of July, you spent all day cooking and cleaning in preparation for your guests and everyone is having a wonderful time until. Mary slips over the snag in the carpet you meant to get fixed the following week.  Mary breaks her arm and sues you for all of her medical expenses including pain and suffering.  What now?!?

            Beyond bringing Mary flowers at the ER, you need to start thinking about who’s at fault. California generally enjoys specific and unique laws as compared to other states, and laws regarding home possessor’s liability for injuries on their land are no exception.  Most states distinguish the type of guest the injured party is and establish the duty of care accordingly.  For example, in most states, land possessors owe a higher duty of care to people who come onto their land for the purpose of business dealings (legally defined as invitees) as compared to trespassers who enter the home without permission of the land possessor.  California, however, has become part of a minority of states who do not to follow common-law principles.

            In accordance with a California Supreme Court case, Rowland v. Christian[1], California has eliminated all distinctions between types of guests and instead established a blanket standard.  The Court in Rowland determined that the appropriate test for land possessor’s liability is pursuant to California Civil Code Section 1714[2].  This section bases liability on whether the landowner acted reasonably with regard to care of the property.  The Court established several elements that juries may consider when establishing liability.  Some of these considerations are: whether or not the landowner could foresee the harm (could you foresee that someone would slip over the snag in the carpet?); moral blame of land possessor’s conduct (was it morally wrong for you to not fix the carpet before having so many people over?); extent of burden to the land possessor (how burdensome would it be for you to pay Mary’s medical bills?) and so on.  At first glance, these standards don’t seem too unreasonable.  It seems that a logical jury could come up with a fair and responsible verdict in accordance with these elements.  But, there’s a catch: the deletion of distinctions means you may even be liable for trespassers who come onto your land and harm themselves!  The only exception, in accordance with California Civil Code Section 846[3] is if a trespasser enters another’s property for recreational purposes (such as hiking, hunting, camping, sightseeing etc.), and even the exception has loopholes.              Many critics of the California law argue that the only effect of the transformation from the common-law standard is as an invitation to trespassers and/or intruders into private property without deterrence. However, the courts that have adopted this standard believe that while it may over-deter in some cases, it is an effective way to encourage land possessors to ensure their property is free from any known dangers. 

            So how do you avoid being liable for other people’s injuries? No, you don’t have to ban all people from coming over.  If you are having a party at your home, remember to warn all of your guests of any dangerous condition that may potentially cause an injury.  These include anything where anyone can trip, any slippery conditions or lose knobs that may potentially fall off, etc.  Get creative – better to over-warn than under-warn!  Additionally, regularly inspect your property for anything that could potentially cause liability for trespassers.  If the danger is unknown you may be penalized for not discovering the danger, so be thorough!  If by chance you are in a situation where a trespasser is injured on your property, proof of regular inspections may work to your advantage and take away from any moral blame on your end.  Lastly, purchase a good home insurance liability plan so that in case you are found at fault, you won’t be forced to pay out of pocket expenses.

            As it turns out, the incredibly high cost of living is not the only penalty for the universally envied weather and location California enjoys.

The guest author of this blog, Emilia Arutunian, is a second year law student at University of San Diego, School of Law.  She is passionate about helping people understand the law so that they will have an easier time following it. Want to learn more? Become a guest blogger? Contact BONNICI LAW GROUP today!

 

, , ,

Leave a comment

Bike riders drive me crazy!

Bicyclists – where do they belong?

While on vacation in Germany with my wife, I had the opportunity to have some time to myself while we were visiting friends. She was out wine tasting, and I stayed in to get some work done and relax. I found myself at a local park a few blocks from our friends’ apartment. After noticing the beautiful European streets, it was apparent that parking was a problem. Cars driving on century-old roads were forced to park either partly, or at times completely on the sidewalk, and very few Germans in the town had their own personal garage or driveway for vehicle storage.

This necessitated the large population of people using bicycles for local transportation (not to mention the nearly $8 per gallon prices for gasoline…). While walking through the park, I observed people riding on the streets, sidewalks and walking paths. My friends told me that it is great having people ride their bikes to keep the neighborhood “greener” and also help the congested parking situation, but they were frustrated with how they perceived the cyclist’s ownership of the road mentality.

While I won’t attempt to try and interpret German law (or anything German, really), California’s Vehicle Code sections 21202 deal with these issues squarely. Unbeknownst to many motorists, cyclists have many of the same rights and requirements as do motorists. To start, they are entitled use of the entire traffic lane if there is no clearly marked “bike lane.” This right entitlement, however, also comes with the requirement of abiding by the same laws as vehicles. Cyclists must signal turns and stops with the appropriate hand signals, must follow speed limits (if applicable), street directions and traffic controls (stop signs, traffic signals and others). 

While minors are required to wear a helmet while riding their bike, it is only suggested for adults. No matter the rider’s age, however, bicyclists are generally not allowed to ride on sidewalks as a safety precaution to pedestrians. (One of my personal pet peeves is when an inexperienced cyclist rides on the sidewalk and you have to do some sort of amateur ballet move to avoid being struck). Some cities have begun hanging signs advising riders that they cannot ride on the sidewalk, and enforce the violation through fines.

Whether you’re attempting to break Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France records (valid or not), or riding to work to save on parking, it’s best to know the rules and stay safe. Riding bicycles is a great way to explore our great city, get exercise and also save money and help reduce pollution.

As my German friends I stayed with would say: Nicht auf dem Bürgersteig parken, mit dem Fahrrad fahren! (“Don’t park on the sidewalk, ride a bike!”)

, , , ,

1 Comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.