What is a Right Hook Accident?
June 12, 2019
There are more than 27 million licensed drivers in California. This is more than the total 2019 population of any state, except for Texas and California. We also have the country’s highest number of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. Last year, statistics reveal of Americans, age 30 to 49 rode a bicycle.
Our legislators, in response to California’s Share the Road initiative, passed the Three Feet for Safety act mandating drivers to give cyclists a three-foot buffer zone before attempting to pass. This law is helping to reduce the number of serious, dangerous, and most common bicycle accidents, the right hook.
Definition of Right Hook Accident
A right hook accident happens when a driver travels in the same direction as a cyclist and suddenly, often without warning, turns right across the rider’s path. In this scenario, the rider is either struck from the side as the car turns or gets cut off and collides head-on with the car. In cyclist vernacular, this is called “being hooked,” and the results can be deadly.
Motor vehicle drivers may cause a right hook accident if they underestimate how fast the cyclist is traveling, and subsequently overestimate how much time they have to make a right turn. Right hook accidents frequently occur at intersections, but also happen at parking lot entrances, driveways, and private roads.
Bicyclists Have Rights and Responsibilities
For the most part, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. A bicyclist has a responsibility to:
- Obey traffic signs and signals
- Observe speed limits
- Stop at stop signs
- Ride with traffic
- Bike on the right-hand side of the road
- Yield to pedestrians
- Use lights and reflectors when biking at night
- Use Predetermined bike lanes when available.
- Wear a helmet if under 18
A bicyclist has a right to expect a motorist to:
- Watch for them and treat them like any other slow-moving vehicle
- Pass safely
- Use caution when making a right, or left turn
- Be observant when backing up
- Look before opening the car door to exit to prevent “dooring” injuries
How Right Hooks Happen
Right hook accidents can happen any time bicycles and motor vehicles are traveling on the same road in the same direction. One frequent cause is a driver being unaware of a cyclist in the car’s blind spot. Unless the driver turns his or her head to get a better visual, a collision is likely.
The inability of either the driver or the cyclist to accurately gauge the speed or distance of the other is also a contributing factor. When a motorist incorrectly assumes the biker is traveling slow enough for them to get ahead and turn, an accident is often the result. Remembering to allow a buffer zone will go a long way toward accident prevention.
Other Factors Contributing to Right Hook Collisions
Bicycle accidents can leave the rider seriously injured and in need of medical attention. Some of the causes of a vehicle vs. bicycle accidents include:
- Drowsy driving
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Dangerous road conditions
Injuries Caused by a Right Hook Accident
When a bicyclist is hit by a motor vehicle driver, commonly reported serious personal injuries may include:
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
- Burn injury
- Loss of limbs
- Internal organ damage
- Wrongful death
- Injuries to the face, abdomen, and thorax
- Multiple bruising, abrasions and lacerations
- Strains, fractures, and dislocations
- Road rash
Compensation for Injuries Suffered in a Bicycle Accident
Victims of an accident causing personal injury cases are entitled to fair and just compensation. In the case of a right hook accident, financial compensation may include the cost of:
- Past and future health care expenses
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Motorists Often Deny Liability
Insurance adjusters and even police officers may attempt to shift the blame to the bicycle rider. Similar to “dooring” accidents, it is not always obvious who was at fault. A right hooks, in theory, it is a crash that only really happens to bicyclists. It is often a complicated issue, and it can be difficult to prove which party is liable. The legal team at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn understands how to dispel any doubt, and ensure that bikers’ rights are protected.
How to Avoid Right Hook Accidents
There are steps bicyclists can take to minimize their risk of involvement in a right hook accident. A cyclist should:
- Be as visible as possible by wearing bright or reflective clothing
- Be cognizant of their surroundings
- Use hand signals to make actions known
- Be prepared to break
- Never pass a car on the right at intersections
- Practice evasive maneuvers in order to avoid a collision with a right-turning vehicle
- Pay attention to vehicles as they pass and approach an intersection
- Use extra caution around large vehicles and trucks
- Ensure the bicycle is in good repair and well-maintained
Tips for Bicycle Safety
Stay ahead of repairs and maintenance issues. Although some repairs will require a professional service provider, before every outing a cyclist should perform a visual inspection. Check the basics:
- Make certain the tires have sufficient air pressure, and they have enough tread
- Brakes must stop the bike promptly and smoothly, and the handle should be tight
- The chain should be tight and the pedals should spin easily
We found a thorough and detailed bicycle safety checklist that may interest cycling enthusiasts.
Get the Help You Need From Our Bike Accident Lawyers
Our Orange County bicycle accident team at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn can answer any questions you have about proving liability or how to obtain fair compensation for your injuries and property damage. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact us online to schedule a no-cost consultation.
Our office accepts cases on a contingency basis, which means we will pay all trial preparation costs necessary to successfully prosecute a case. Call the office toll-free today at (714) 434-1424 to see if we may be able to help you and your family.