First, the good news: The Los Angeles Times reports that hit-and-run car accidents in Los Angeles County have dropped by 30 percent from 2002 to 2012. Now the bad news: hit-and-runs involving bicycles have jumped 42 percent over that same time period.
How could both of these trends be true at the same time? L.A. has spent the past few years encouraging bicycle riding, adding more than 120 miles of bike lanes to make doing so safer. The number of people in the city who commute by bike is increasing, according to federal data.
Despite safety improvements, getting hit by drivers who flee the scene appears to be an increasingly likely scenario for riders. Any time a person on a bicycle gets into a crash with an automobile, they are likely to suffer serious injuries. If there are no witnesses, and the injured rider is unable to call for help, a driver who fails to stop and render aid could delay necessary medical care.
Almost 20 percent of the hit-and-run bicycle crashes analyzed by the Times took place in five neighborhoods: Long Beach, Santa Monica, downtown L.A., Van Nuys and North Hollywood. About 40 percent of victims were 18 or younger, with the youngest being just 1 year old.
Thankfully, most riders survive getting hit by a car. But they frequently face long-term disabilities, such as head injuries, that could affect them the rest of their lives. When these injuries are the result of a negligent driver, such as when he or she failed to watch out for the bicycle, the driver should be financially responsible for the victim’s damages.