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Truck driver negligence: Bicyclists no match for trucks in collisions

Legal remedies for the victims of bike-truck crashes may include personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits.

Riding a bicycle in traffic alongside motorized vehicles has certain inherent risks raising the chance of a bicycle crash. Bikes in the traffic flow are also harder to see than larger vehicles and the narrow wheel tread makes them relatively less stable. In the case of a collision with a vehicle, the cyclist’s body is unprotected against strong impact with steel, glass and other hard materials. When that other vehicle is a truck, the body is obviously much more vulnerable.

Because of the disparity in size, power and vulnerability, truck drivers must take care to drive safely and cautiously in traffic to avoid contact with bicycles. Drivers of semis, garbage trucks, delivery trucks and other heavy trucks have the legal duty to follow traffic laws and to drive with reasonable care to protect bikers from negligent or reckless injury or death.

In addition, trucking companies must properly repair and maintain their vehicles as well as insure that they are safely loaded. Such companies also must carefully screen and train their drivers to lessen the likelihood that employees would drive while fatigued, after drinking alcohol, or consuming drugs or dangerous medications; get less than the legally required amount of sleep between shifts; or fail to make smart decisions on the roadway that could endanger others.

Los Angeles-based nonprofit health and safety news organization FairWarning wrote an important piece in June 2015 about modern issues of truck-bicycle crashes, including the following:

  • Heavy trucks are disproportionately involved in fatal bicycle and pedestrian accidents.
  • Safety experts are concerned about the increase in trucks in residential neighborhoods because increased use of Internet shopping requires more deliveries to homes at a time when bicycle use is being promoted for its healthy and environmentally friendly aspects.
  • Safety advocates are pushing for new requirements in the U.S. already present in the European Union and some other countries that large trucks install truck side guards consisting of metal bars or panels between the side wheels, similar to the kinds of guards now required on the backs of trucks. These guards in theory would keep bikers who collide with the sides of trucks out from under the heavy wheels. Some local governments in the U.S. have started to require side guards on their own truck fleets.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended large trucks be equipped with side guards, better mirror systems and pedestrian detectors, but no laws have been passed in response.

If you or a loved one as a bicyclist has been in a collision with a large truck, it is important to contact an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Legal counsel can launch an investigation of the matter that may include analysis of the road design, accident reconstruction and interviewing of witnesses.

The lawyer can work with the insurance companies involved in the matter and advise the victim or the victim’s family in case of death about potential legal remedies like a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Our founding attorney, Scott J. Corwin, has more than 30 years of experience in representing victims of DUI and drunk drivers injured in all forms of motor vehicle, motorcycle, truck, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and throughout the state of California

Keywords: bicycle, truck, bike-truck crash, personal injury, wrongful death, lawsuit, negligence, collision, semi, truck-bicycle crash, side guard