San Francisco Bicycle Accidents Caused By a Driver’s Lane Change

Do I Have a Case?

Visibility is a huge concern for most bicyclists across San Francisco. When you’re riding your bike through the Mission District or Fisherman’s Wharf, you want to make sure that other drivers or pedestrians can clearly see you and account for your maneuvering.

However, especially in more crowded areas of the city, this can be difficult. Whether you’re riding in a bike lane or along the side of the road, drivers may have trouble seeing you. When this happens, they may shift lanes and cause an accident, leaving you with injuries and various other damages you’ll have to deal with.

Dedicated Legal Support From San Francisco Bicycle Accident Lawyers

Being injured in a bicycle accident is always difficult. But when it’s caused by the negligence of a driver, it’s even more challenging. At a minimum, you’ll be dealing with injuries that could cause you to miss work and spend time with your family.

At The Law Office of Matthew J. Quinan, our team of San Francisco bicycle accident lawyers is dedicated to making sure your recovery goes as smoothly as possible. With that in mind, our legal support can make this tough situation much easier for you. If you’ve been injured in a San Francisco bicycle accident, contact us today for a free consultation.

Why Are Lane Changes Dangerous For Bicyclists?

Unfortunately, one of the most dangerous actions a driver can take from the perspective of someone riding their bike is changing lanes. Moreover, it’s also one of the most common and routine parts of driving a car in San Francisco. Thus, there are numerous times this happens throughout the course of a day. This, in turn, means there’s a high probability that this will cause an accident. While this is the most consequential outcome, there are other reasons that lane changes are dangerous for San Francisco bicyclists:

  • Visibility – Bicycles are smaller than cars, making them less visible to drivers, especially in their blind spots. When a car changes lanes without noticing a nearby cyclist, it can lead to a collision.
  • Speed difference – Bicycles are generally slower than cars. When a car suddenly changes lanes in front of a cyclist, the cyclist might not have enough time to slow down or react, resulting in a rear-end collision.
  • Driver inattention – Drivers may not always pay close attention to their surroundings or check their mirrors before changing lanes. This can make it easy to miss a cyclist who is sharing the road.
  • Sudden movements – Drivers might make abrupt lane changes without signaling or without allowing enough space for a cyclist to adjust. Bicyclists might need to swerve or brake suddenly to avoid a collision.
  • Road positioning – Bicyclists need to choose their road position carefully to be seen by drivers and avoid hazards. When a car changes lanes into the same space a cyclist is occupying, it can lead to a dangerous situation.
  • Road infrastructure – Poorly designed roads or lack of designated cycling lanes can force bicyclists to share lanes with fast-moving vehicles, increasing the chances of accidents during lane changes.

To stay safe while sharing the road with vehicles, bicyclists should always stay alert, follow traffic rules, and communicate their intentions clearly. Drivers can’t always see you on your bike, particularly if you’re in their blind spot. That’s why it’s important to make yourself as visible as possible when beside a car. Still, this can’t always prevent an accident.

Where Do Lane Change Accidents Happen in San Francisco?

Obviously, certain areas of San Francisco are more likely to see lane change accidents than others. While they can happen at any point on the road where a driver shares the area with you and your bike, it’s important to understand where these areas are and when you’re likely to encounter them so that you can be more prepared:

  • Highway interchanges – Lane change accidents are more likely to happen on highway interchanges where multiple lanes converge. Drivers may struggle to navigate the merging lanes and might abruptly change lanes without proper warning.
  • Busy streets and avenues – Busy streets and major avenues in San Francisco can also be hotspots for lane change accidents. As traffic congestion builds up, drivers might feel pressured to change lanes quickly, increasing the likelihood of collisions.
  • Intersection approaches – Lane change accidents can occur when drivers are approaching intersections, especially if they’re trying to make last-minute lane changes to turn or avoid missed turns.
  • Construction zones – Construction zones can introduce lane closures and shifts, leading to confusion among drivers. Abrupt lane changes in these areas can result in accidents.
  • Blind curves and hills – San Francisco’s hilly terrain can create blind curves and hills that limit visibility. Attempting lane changes in these areas without proper caution can lead to accidents.
  • Public transportation routes – Near bus stops and streetcar tracks, drivers might need to change lanes to navigate around stopped public transportation vehicles. These situations can increase the chances of collisions if not executed carefully.
  • Tourist and downtown areas – Areas frequented by tourists or located in the downtown district can have a mix of pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles. This complex environment can contribute to lane change accidents as drivers navigate through the diverse traffic flow.
  • School zones – Near schools and educational institutions, drivers might need to change lanes to accommodate reduced speed limits and crosswalks. Failing to do so safely can lead to accidents, especially in school zones.

Again, accidents when a driver changes lanes can happen at any point on the road. However, being aware of the prevalence in these areas can make you more vigilant and alert should your bike route go through any of these areas.

Liability in San Francisco Lane Change Bicycle Accidents

Every person that gets behind the wheel of a car in San Francisco has a duty to drive in a way that keeps others safe. So, when there’s an accident caused by a lane change, that driver would be considered “negligent” under the law. Negligence, at least in terms of California car accident law, has four elements:

  • Drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles in a safe and sensible manner.
  • The driver breached this responsibility by driving in an unsafe and unreasonable manner.
  • This breach of responsibility was the direct cause of the accident and resulting injuries.
  • The accident itself led to various damages and injuries.

Once you determine negligence, you will have the liable party that’s responsible for covering your injuries and other damages. This also is the jump start to you entering the legal process, which is how you can actually receive these damages.

Legal Options For San Francisco Bicycle Accident Victims

In terms of the legal process, you have two main options for filing a claim for damages against the responsible party: filing an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit. Both of these options differ slightly in terms of the procedure but ultimately involve a very similar process:

  • You’ll file either the insurance claim or lawsuit
  • The insurance company will investigate the incident, using the evidence you submitted and evidence they gather themselves
  • The insurance company will offer you a settlement.

Once an offer is made, you can either accept it, take the settlement and close the claim or decide to file an actual lawsuit in civil court. Our team can help you in either respect, but you’ll need to be represented by one of our lawyers if you decide to file the lawsuit. Regardless of the option you choose, we can help you recover the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Property damage
  • Loss of enjoyment of life or companionship
  • Punitive damages, in certain cases
  • Wrongful death expenses, in the event of fatal injuries

Just like with any claim, what you can get after your accident depends on what happened and how you handle the process. That’s why it’s smart to work with our experienced car accident lawyers in San Francisco. We know how to help you through the steps and make sure you get the money you should.

Support and Guidance From MJQ Law

There’s no sugarcoating it, a bicycle accident in San Francisco is usually really stressful. Not only do you have to deal with being hurt, but also trying to talk to an insurance company while you’re getting better can be too much. Don’t let that happen to you. Our skilled San Francisco bicycle accident lawyers at The Law Office of Matthew J. Quinlan can handle the process for you.

We can guide you every step of the way, so you can focus on getting better and still get the financial support you’re owed. Contact us today to set up your free consultation.