Protecting the Rights of Bicyclists

As more members of our community bicycle to work, school, and for exercise, there's been an unfortunate increase in fatalities and serious injuries to bicyclists.  Many motorists do not realize that bicyclists have the same rights under the California Vehicle Code to occupy the roadway as does a motor vehicle.  Further, many motorists are inattentive and even unaware of the presence of bicyclists on the roadway.

A recent bicycle injury case handled by Michael Crowley of the Janssen Law Firm illustrates the problem.  Mr. Crowley represented a 46-year old apartment complex maintenance worker who was riding her bicycle home from work on Union Street between Henderson and Harris Streets in Eureka when she was struck by a flatbed-semi driven by a trucker employed by a commercial trucking company.  The driver left the scene of the accident, and was later found by the police, stating he was unaware that he had struck anyone.

The bicyclist was struck from behind by the flatbed-semi, thrown from the bicycle, sustaining an occipital skull fracture and traumatic brain injury.  The trauma severed her olfactory nerve, which resulted in the complete loss of her sense of smell (anosmia).

The matter settled for $500,000 the day before a mandatory settlement conference in superior court, and ten days prior to the commencement of trial.

The initial police report concluded that the bicyclist was at fault; further investigation and accident reconstruction analysis of the damage to the bicycle showed that the bicyclist was proceeding properly in a southbound direction as was the flatbed-semi, and that the truck driver was simply inattentive and caused the impact.

The case involved experts in neurology, neuropsychology, accident and accident reconstruction.  This case example illustrates some of the challenges for injured bicyclists in obtaining just compensation for serious injuries.

The Janssen Law Firm currently has five other cases involving injured cyclists in litigation and our lawyers are advocates on behalf of bicyclists and their families.  Mr. Crowley is a member of the Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters Association and an avid cyclist in the Kneeland area, where he resides.

Information on Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters Association (HBBCA) - can be found at www.humbike.org.

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