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Personal Injury Law Blog | Bicycle Law Blog | Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Attorney

Redondo Bicycle Death: A Needless Tragedy

The Pain of a Parent

I have two kids, and live less than a mile from the terrible scene. As a parent, and a lawyer, I want to address these rear view mirrors on buses. It is my contention that these commercial sized side view mirrors cause countless deaths to pedestrians and cyclists. The death of an innocent 13 year old is a terrible event. The same happened in Redondo Beach last week in an avoidable incident. The event included a city Metro bus and left a massive hole for the girl’s parents.

NBC Los Angeles reported on the tragedy. The accident happened near the Pacific Coast Highway and Knob Hill Avenue. Ciara Smith of Parras Middle School was the unfortunate victim. She and a friend rode nearby when one was struck and killed by a Metro bus. The police state she was in the number two bus line. It is unclear if she was crossing the street or accidentally entered the road. The horrible tragedy is a grim reminder for every parent.

Below is video of the aftermath of the incident:

CBS Los Angeles reported on the aftermath in Ciara’s school. Many students came out to mourn her death. Some dressed in bright colors– her favorite– and others wrote her name in memorial. If you’re interested in helping, here is the GoFundMe page set up helping her family.

Action to Avoid Further Tragedy

As a parent and resident of Redondo Beach, I feel a special obligation to prevent such tragedies from happening again. There is something that each one of us can do. In addition, it is our chance honoring Ciara’s legacy. This event happened right near my house– I have children that deserve protection. We have an obligation to do so.

There are many factors to consider in this event:

  • Was there proper signage and lighting in and around this area? Furthermore, was it obvious that the area where she was hit was a bus lane?
  • Was there an appropriate bike lane in the area?
  • In addition, was the driver under the influence? Were all of his licenses up to date?
  • Are the bus side view mirrors safe for the smaller lames of Redondo Beach?

These and other questions are vital. They establish a baseline for concerned parents and citizens. All residents concerned about what happened have an opportunity to make it right. Furthermore, we prepare for a safer greater Los Angeles area.

We here at the Ehline Law Firm will do everything we can to avoid these types of events. Come join our cause.

Bicycle Accident Lawyer’s Lawsuit Center

Thanks for stopping by. First, let us introduce our lead counsel. Michael Ehline. Since 2005, he has actively led Ehline Law Firm in aiding victims of bicycling accidents.

Bicycling is a common form of portage, amusement and fitness from one end to the other in California State. But bicycles afford very limited protection from the day to day perils facing bicyclists on the roadways of the Golden State. Riding bikes can, and often does, pave the way to moderate injuries to riders on the small range. But it also leads to death and tragedy on the high range.

The catastrophic injuries to bicyclists from roadway accidents are tragically higher among kids. As a matter of fact, school-aged children face great risks due to their smaller height. Because of this, they are less visible to a distracted driver.

Victims of bicycle smash-ups face unique challenges. Notably, this remains the case both medically and legally. As they convalesce, they also seek payment from the person(s) who caused their injuries. Plus, due to the laws of California and local municipal codes, their legal representatives must have specialized training and experience. Skills must include knowledge of the duties, rights, and obligations of bicyclists throughout the state.

Types of Fact Patterns Most Often Arising.

The vast majority of bicycle accident claims Ehline Law faces, comprise of fact patterns where there is contact between riders and passengers. Others involve drivers guilty of failing to yield the right-of-way at an intersection. For example, cyclists can get cut off due to an un-telegraphed turn by a vehicle directly into the path of an oncoming bicyclist.

  • Poor Judgment By Car Drivers.

Typically car drivers misjudge the speed of the bike or do not see the bike. So they misjudge the safe space they should allocate for safe passage. Often, motorists fail to share the road equitably. On other occasions, a large vehicle like a bus or truck is not paying attention to smaller objects like bikes.

  • Blind Spots of Big Rigs?

In particular, larger vehicles can kill anything that remains unseen in their blind spots. This has forced many a rider into a curb, or onto a sidewalk, or fixed object, to their doom. This visibility issue is a huge danger to passengers. So we advise riders to avoid buses and big rigs like the plague.

Forces In Bicycle Wrecks.

Bicycle mishaps can be due to other forces. And many of them remain particular to the utilization of this unique machine for transportation. Bicycle accidents may become exacerbated by coincidental factors. These include poorly designed roads, negligent repair, signage or maintenance.

These factors often lead to a limited or severely impaired vision of the poor road and path conditions. Other adverse conditions riders face things like loose gravel, trash, oil spills, potholes, and other road debris. Riders make easy targets for loose dogs, and many a fallen rider has fallen victim to packs of dogs pulling the down and tearing them to pieces.

One of the atypical twists facing California riders occurs after an unreasonable motorist negligently opens their car door into the path of a bicycle rider. Another stroke of bad luck common in the major cities like Los Angeles are people on foot getting slammed by bicycle delivery riders. Examples include process servers, legal messengers, and food delivery services. These service businesses hire out riders.

Other Facts About Rider Injuries.

In California, bicycle riders are subject to the same obligations and restrictions as cars, except where specifically provided for by law, such as bicycle lanes. In fact, some municipalities allow bikers to ride on the sidewalk, such as parts of Los Angeles. LA County may also allow sidewalk riding, subject to the restrictions laid out in the Vehicle Code here, and County Code here. But as discussed, riders need to obey the rules of the road just like operators of all other traditional motorized conveyances. (See safety tips here). But there is not rule requiring a cyclist to have liability insurance.

Bicyclists under age 18, are also subject to helmet laws codified in California Vehicle Code §21212. In California, children under four-year-old, or weighing 40 pounds or less, remain prohibited from being passengers on bicycles. But they can ride if in a seat which holds the child in place. But it must protect the youngster from moving parts. The child must also wear an approved helmet. (Source CHP “Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents.”).

But helmets are not designed to stop all injuries. Rider awareness is the key to staying safe. Speeds and impacts of 15 to 20 miles per hour or under, may allow a helmet to lessen or prevent serious head injuries. But that isn’t always true. And it does next to nothing at higher speeds.

Helmets are a Mere Implement.

It is just a safety implement, not a guarantee or insurer of safety. Bicycle helmets are tested in 2-meter drops under U.S. benchmarks. In fact, they travel at drops of approximately 14 miles per hour (or 22.5 kph) on a flat, anvil.

However, the New England Journal of Medicine said in a famous piece, that individuals wearing a bicycle helmet had at least an 85% lessened chance of a serious head injury. In fact, it says there was an 88% reduced chance of brain injuries. (See also, “A Case-Control Study of the Effectiveness of Bicycle Safety Helmets”, Robert S. Thompson, M.D., Frederick P. Rivara, M.D., M.P.H., and Diane C. Thompson, M.S. N Engl J Med 1989; 320:1361-1367, May 25, 1989).

The experts have concluded that inconsequential skull and brain housing group injuries, typically arise from linear acceleration. So that occurs when the head impacts with another physical barrier to free movement. Wearing a bicycle helmet helps prevent and mitigate serious, or traumatic head injury. This is because a helmet can reduce of spread the inertia through the device.

Rotational Acceleration.

Alternatively, greater, and more devastating types of harm, typically arise from angular as well as rotational acceleration. This can result in a diffuse axonal injury (DAI) or even subdural hematoma (SDH). The above are the standard head injuries afflicted upon unfortunate riders. And these have been known to set the stage for the loss of life upon spill victims.

Bicycle helmets are not engineered to reduce rotational injury. And the available scientific research does not look promising in a helmet’s safety capacity improving anytime soon. (See also “Curnow WJ. The efficacy of bicycle helmets against brain injury.” Accident Analysis and Prevention, 2003,35:287-292.)

Ehline Law Firm is a legal advocate. And its attorneys are also riders of all types of cycles. We put ourselves in the shoes of victims, and we feel their pain. When victims become our clients, they can take pleasure in the confidence they have that we are fighting for them. We go the extra mile to get them a comprehensive financial recovery.

Getting Windfall Results in a Bicycle Wreck Case.

We fight for the windfall like results. Mostly, we do this by putting fear in the hearts of the opposition by showing them we are the real deal. But we hire the right experts, investigators and legal researchers to seek out the strengths of your case, and the weaknesses in the defendant’s case.

Let Ehline meticulously prepare your case for settlement, mediation, and trial. If you or a wage earner are devastated and feeling the pain of serious loss or death from a spill on a bike, call us. Why not get a detailed analysis of your potential injuries claims with a real lawyer? (888) 400-9721.

Is It Legal To Ride Bikes on Sidewalks?

Old Cracked Sidewalk
Old Cracked Sidewalk

Anyone whose riding a bicycle for a length of time knows the rules. They, of course, heard they shouldn’t ride on the sidewalk. For some reasons, it’s easier to crash. In some cities, it is illegal for a bicyclist to ride on sidewalks. In fact, one is the state of California. This includes Sacramento County, Fulsom and Galt Counties. So in these counties that bikers, in fact, cannot ride on sidewalks at all. But other cities that do allow it (See “Sidewalk Riding Laws Here.”). As a matter of fact at the same time, some streets within neighborhoods differ. It’s common of course to see cyclists on the sidewalk. But, in general, these are either children or inexperienced bicyclists. Adult cyclists may have an unawareness of the risks riding on the sidewalk.

Bike safety advocates have some reasons why this could be dangerous and result in being harmed including:

  • Automobile Dangers: Adult cyclists by and large in this case remain unaware of the bike rules. In some cases, the driveway may have an obstruction from the biker’s view. These, of course, include bushes or other obstacles. The driver, of course, doesn’t in general stop at to check and look. That’s before reaching the edge of the road. They’re looking for traffic so they can pull out onto the road. So they aren’t looking for other bicycles. This could mean a collision in which the bicyclist would suffer harm.
  • Pedestrians: Sidewalks are made for pedestrians to be safe while walking. They listen to music with earbuds, eat, drink and even play while walking. They aren’t looking for a bicyclist. So they don’t always move out of the way. If a bicyclist hits a pedestrian, it can cause serious injuries. Also, it causes injury to the person walking and the person riding a bike.
  • Intersections: Intersections are a dangerous place for the bicyclists. If the rider is on the sidewalk it is possible parked cars obstruct their view. Also, the driver’s view of the bike may become blocked. This reason and other obstructions like bushes or trees can cause problems. So they can obstruct the motorist’s view giving them little or no time to react. It can mean a collision between a car and bicyclist. That of course, causes serious injury to the bicyclist.

When the Sidewalk is Safer to Ride

In some situations, riding on the sidewalk becomes a more secure option. But not all roadways have bicycle lanes or areas for the rider. So they need places the biker can ride in safety with speeding traffic. Areas with numerous potholes and grates or other dangerous elements are risky. In these cases, the cyclists feel safer riding on the sidewalk.

So in some cases, it’s safer to ride on the sidewalk. Though, this doesn’t mean the bicyclists should violate the law. But it may avoid the high risk of riding on the road. Of course, the rider needs to follow some ground rules. These rules can help keep them safe and pedestrians permitted to use the sidewalk.

The Rules for Bicyclists and Pedestrians to Stay Safe:

  • Ride your bike slow. It’s an essential rule that shouldn’t become broken. Also, riding on the sidewalk isn’t the same as the road for speed. So go slow.
  • Yield to pedestrians, because on the sidewalk they have the right-of-way. Like on the road riding, there are rules to protect people from harm. So bikers, of course, have rules on sidewalks.
  • The rider might need to walk the bike. This could make it safer for you and other pedestrians.
  • Use extreme caution approaching driveways, or areas with bushes. After all, they could hide an entrance from view.
  • Use caution riding on the outside of the sidewalk within the area parked cars sit. Because in fact, a car door opening can cause serious harm.
  • Be cautious at intersections.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks on a bike like pedestrians should.

Ehline Law Firm is the Southern California bicycle injury attorney firm. (Read More). We hope bicyclists will find this useful information on sidewalk use. Though we don’t advocate bicyclists violating the law, the possibility exists it’s legal to ride on them in your area.

Further Reading  Sidewalk Cycling Laws | Bike East Bay  California Bicycle Coalition California Bicycle Laws

Man with helmet cam on his bike Man with helmet cam on his bike Man with helmet cam on his bike Man with helmet cam on his bike

Is A Helmet With A Camera Really That Important For Bicycle Riders?

Man with helmet cam on his bike
Duluth, GA, USA – August 2, 2014: A male cyclist wearing a Go Pro helmet cam races down a Duluth street as he competes in the Georgia Cup Criterium event.

Are you someone who has a bicycle and who likes to ride it often? If you do, then you must be aware of the many dangers of riding a bike. Bike riders are the most vulnerable people on the road. And this is because even the slightest hit from a motor vehicle can push them off the road and injure them severely.

While not every accident is a fatal one, most do result in bad injuries. The drivers of motor vehicles are safe in their metal cages. And too often they don’t pay much attention to bicycle riders.

If you ride a bike frequently, you need to take measures to ensure your safety. Wearing pads on the legs and elbows along with a helmet is the best you can do when riding a bicycle. Even with that equipment, you will not be the safest one on the road.

A camera on your bicycle helmet is something you should use for several reasons. This gadget can save you from many scenarios. For example, what if a car driver is trying to prove you as the negligent party. And what if this remains true despite the fact he was at wrong in that particular situation.

A Recent Incident Where Helmet Camera Inadvertently Saved The Cyclist


As noted in the above helmet camera video, Alan Crocker was collected by the camera on his bicycle helmet. When he was riding, a pickup truck driven by “Johnny” passed him carefully.

Noticing the danger, he flipped on his helmet cam. The truck driver once again came close to Crocker’s bicycle and dodged him from a very close distance. So he was trying to drain his anger in this way, even when he was wrong.

The name of the truck driver was Johnny. Putting Crocker to test by passing by him from a very close distance in his motor vehicle was not enough for Johnny. So he pulled over his truck a few meters ahead. When Crocker reached that point, Johnny grabbed him and started to beat him down.

As soon as the police arrived at the scene, Johnny had made up his mind that he would get Crocker in trouble. He told the cops that Crocker was the one trying to harass him in his truck. So the police were going to take action against Crocker.

That’s when Crocker showed police the camera footage on his bicycle’s helmet. Police had seen the truth. So Johnny was jailed for his act. We can already see how difficult it could have become for Crocker to prove his innocence if he had no camera on his bicycle helmet.

Thousands of such incidents take place in the country every year. A helmet camera is important for them.

Other Ways Head Cams Can Protect.

A smart provider or wage earner should always be aware that his or her absence from being the breadwinner due to injury or death, can put the entire household in the poorhouse. Helmet cams can help find hit and run drivers. Also, it helps determine fault if hit or run over by a car or another object or person, etc.

Using direct evidence like this, subject to authentication, can mean the difference between leaving your family destitute. Or it could leave them in the same position economically they would have been had the accident not occurred. Of course, the defendant would argue that this is of little probative value. Or it could be this evidence is unduly prejudicial.

But most courts would probably allow this type of proof into play to prove things like notice, control, and to lead to other evidence that is admissible, etc.

Three Feet For Safety Act And Camera.

The California Vehicle Code was just updated. Now motor vehicle drivers must maintain a distance of at least 3 feet from the bicyclists when passing. According to the new enactment, the motor vehicles have to slow down before passing bicycles if it was impossible for them to maintain the safe distance of 3 feet. If you are involved in an accident where the motor vehicle driver did not maintain this distance your helmet camera is the only way to prove your point.

How Serious Can Bicycle Accidents Get?

As discussed above, bicycle riders remain unsafe among the flood of vehicles on the roads. 48000 bicycle riders got injured in 2011. Not to mention the 700 who lost their lives in these accidents. We are talking about a vehicle that does not have any engine. But the facts are:

  • If the bicycle rider receives injuries in his spinal cord, he could become paralyzed forever. The only way for this person to move about would then be to use wheelchairs and other similar equipment – a saddening change of lifestyle.
  • If brain injuries happen, the rider could lose his life. Trauma and disabilities are other consequences.
  • If the accident has resulted in broken bones, then the bicycle rider will have to stay in the hospital for a long time. He has to spend an extended period in the bed, and during this time he won’t be able to work. He will lose his income and have to incur huge medical costs from the hospital.
  • If a limb is lost, the person will go through immense mental stress. And the use of prosthetics will require a lot of money and training as well.
  • Spine and lower body injuries could affect the marital life of a person and loss of companionship might be depressing.

Such injuries translate to enormous medical costs. And they go from the pocket of the bicycle rider if he does not seek help from a personal injury lawyer. How else can you get paid if you don’t pursue a settlement from the negligent party?

The Costs That Bicycle Rider Will Have To Bear

Stays in hospitals can be extremely expensive. Even if you have a sound healthcare policy, you could easily end up with huge mountains of debts. Of course, this depends on your injuries.

But the treatment of brain and spine injuries is extortionate. Paralysis and loss of limbs could result in the permanent need for medical care. Such medical care for life is expensive. Here is a list of damages a bicycle rider could incur after a motor vehicle accident.

  • The cost of hospital stays.
  • Fees of doctors and surgeons.
  • Costs of special procedures and therapies.
  • Permanent medical care costs.
  • Loss of income.
  • Costs of rehabilitation.
  • Loss of quality of life.
  • Mental agony.
  • Physical pain.
  • Loss of companionship etc.

Look For The Best Lawyers

Look for help from a lawyer as soon as an accident takes place. Make sure to get in touch with experienced lawyers only. Free first consultations and contingency fee plans can help you initiate the legal process. If you live in Los Angeles and need relentless representation for your case, go for Ehline Law Firm. Let these experienced lawyers arrange a settlement that covers every single penny from your pocket and more.


ABA Journal Article“Bicyclist’s helmet cam video persuades a police officer to ticket driver in a road-rage incident” (Source.)



New Bike Regulations Introduce Fines for Close By Drivers

Injured rider
Man fallen

Bicycling in California can be a sheer pleasure. The great topography and weather year round has made the Golden State one of the premier biking regions. Bicyclists from across the country come to the state to compete or just ride around for fun. With the many bikers from and around the state, there are many actions that the state legislature has done intended to make the roads safer.

There were 124 bicycle fatalities on California’s roads in 2012 according to the state Office of Traffic Safety. This figure is higher than 2011’s figure. And in turn, this was higher than in 2010. The increase led to the state doing multiple things to try and protect riders on the road.

CVC Section 21760.

One of the chief parts of legislation was CVC Section 21760, the Three Feet for Safety Act. The act, which became effective in September 2014 according to the DMV’s website, causes drivers to give bicyclists at least three feet distance when passing.

When violated, drivers must pay a $35 fine and if a collision is involved, the fee increases to $220. Coupled with administrative fees and local fines, the real price paid by drivers can be significantly higher.

With the high number of cars on the roads, riding a bike must always come with special cognizance of who or what is on the road. Many parts of the state are extremely bicycle friendly and others, like the Los Angeles area, are not. This is because it can be more difficult to ride in traffic. No matter what the case, pay attention remains vital to your surroundings and ensuring your safety.

If you have any questions about this law and how it could affect you or about bicycle law, Los Angeles’ premier personal injury and bike accident attorney Michael Ehline stands to help. Ehline Law has helped many clients that have had issues with bikes. Our team of experts will be able to assist you and get you back on your feet — both literally and figuratively. Call or email us today for a free consultation.

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Ehline Law Firm
Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC

633 W 5th St #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071

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