Have you been injured in a bicycle accident and are not sure what to do next? Contact Dehghani and Associates for a free case review. You may be entitled to compensation.
When a bicycle is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, the cyclist usually loses. A bicycle is physically unable to withstand the impact of a bigger, more powerful vehicle during a crash. Unfortunately, this means that cyclists are extremely vulnerable to severe and even fatal personal injuries while the vehicle’s driver often walks away unscathed.
The California bicycle accident lawyers at needaninjuryattorney.com are committed to holding at-fault drivers liable for serious bicycle accidents. We have represented injured bicyclists throughout California and worked hard to protect their rights and ensure they receive fair financial compensation through settlement awards or jury verdicts.
If you or a loved one were recently injured in a bike accident caused by a negligent driver, contact an experienced California bicycle accident lawyer at our personal injury law firm to schedule your free consultation.
How a California Bicycle Accident Attorney Can Help
A personal injury lawyer can help you secure the largest settlement possible from an insurance company. We will advise you throughout the entire legal process and, should it become necessary, represent you in court.
Choosing the right California bike accident lawyer to handle your bicycle injury case can provide multiple benefits when it comes to the outcome of your bicycle accident claim. Our attorneys will:
- Negotiate with the insurance company until a favorable settlement is reached
- After a bike accident, the negligent driver’s insurance company will reach out to you and urge you to agree to a lowball settlement that does not even cover your medical expenses. Our bicycle accident attorneys can ensure that you do not fall for any of their tricks and do not say or do anything that could potentially damage your claim.
- Keep you up-to-date with every step of your claim’s progress.
- Provide you with aggressive and skilled legal representation.
The vast majority of personal injury claims settle out of court, but this does not mean your case won’t go to trial. At Soliman Law Group, we handle every case as if we are preparing it for court.
Insurance Claims vs Personal Injury Lawsuits
An insurance claim is a financial remedy that does not involve the court. If the initial claim is reduced or rejected by the insurance company, your case may evolve into a personal injury claim in which you pursue financial compensation for your injuries and other damages through a civil lawsuit.
Dealing with insurance companies is tricky. They want to protect their profits, not pay you what they owe. For this reason, it is usually better to let an attorney to handle any dealings with the insurance company. Taking legal action by filing a lawsuit is generally the next step when an insurance provider is simply trying to minimize or deny your valid claim.
California Bicycle Laws
In recent years, bicycle riding has become increasingly popular as more and more people opt for healthier and more ecologically friendly modes of transportation. Throughout California, additional bike lanes are being constructed, and bike-sharing platforms that allow cyclists to rent bicycles by the minute are springing up seemingly overnight. However, this drastic increase in bike accessibility has been accompanied by a rise in bike accidents as well.
Due to this, California has enacted several regulations amending state biking laws that govern issues such as where cyclists are allowed to ride and how drivers and cyclists should interact. They also dictate the responsibilities of drivers and bike riders to keep bicycle riders safe in case of an accident.
California law also states that bicycle riders are afforded the same rights and responsibilities as those who drive motor vehicles. In other words, anyone riding a bike is beholden to the same laws pertaining to pedestrian rights-of-way, driving under the influence, and obeying all traffic signs and signals just as if they were behind the wheel of a car.
In 2014, California passed laws that require all drivers to keep a minimum of three feet of space when passing or driving alongside a cyclist. Additionally, no one is allowed to block a designated bike path by parking or a vehicle or another bicycle in it.
Our bicycle accident lawyers can help those who have been injured in bicycle accidents due to driver negligence. Our comprehensive knowledge of California bicycle laws lets us do the best job possible when it comes to keeping the cycling community safe.
What Does it Mean When Cyclists “Take the Lane”?
One of California’s cycling laws that a lot of drivers do not fully understand is that bicycle riders have the right to“take the lane even when if they are traveling slower than surrounding traffic under certain circumstances, such as:
- When passing
- When preparing to make a lefthand turn
- When avoiding an obstacle in the roadway
- When a lane is not wide enough to share
- When nearing a location where righthand turns are permitted
A Bicycle Rider’s Responsibilities
California bicycle laws also contain several other rules that responsible riders should be aware of. For example, the law requires that all bicyclists ride in the same direction as vehicle traffic unless they are passing, riding on a one-way street, or when the righthand side of the roadway is closed for construction.
Additionally, if a designated bike lane is present, then riders who are traveling slower than the speed of surrounding traffic are required to use the lane unless they are turning left, passing, avoiding road debris, or preparing to make a legal righthand turn.
Hit-and-Run Bicycle Accidents
A hit-and-run accident is one in which a driver strikes a cyclist and then flees the scene to avoid liability. Although this is, of course, against the law these accidents still occur because drivers feel like they can escape quickly without getting caught.
Both local law enforcement and experienced California bicycle accident lawyers have resources that make it possible to locate a hit-and-run driver even if you do not get their license plate numbers. Any bystanders, like other drivers, shopkeepers, or pedestrians who were in the area may have noticed useful details. Footage from security cameras in the area or along the driver’s route may have picked up the license plate or even caught the whole incident on camera.
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Common Causes of California Bicycle Accidents
In 2019, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reported that a total of 843 cyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents. As anyone who regularly rides a bicycle in California can tell you, drivers frequently fail to respect their rights. They are too busy sending texts, making calls, speeding, and generally not leaving cyclists enough room while allegedly sharing the road.
With drivers looking out for no one but themselves, bicyclists have no choice but to be alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. After, all, paying attention could be the difference between life and death.Data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association shows that the leading causes of bike accidents in California are:
- Poorly-designed crossings
- Limited visibility
- Failure to comply with driving laws
- Reckless or distracted driving
- Hazardous roadway conditions
- Insufficient space between cyclists and drivers
Drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol increase the odds of a serious bicycle accident occurring and were determined to have played a role in roughly 35% of all fatal bike accidents. Both cyclists and drivers are held to the same duty of care when it comes to operating their vehicles while intoxicated.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
Bicycle accidents often lead to very serious injuries ranging from spinal cord injuries and paralysis to traumatic brain injuries and death. Given that bike riders have virtually no protection, a collision with the pavement, a fixed object, or a motor vehicle could result in a wide array of physical injuries. Bicycle riders are also more likely to sustain catastrophic injuries.
A Sacramento bicycle accident lawyer will have extensive experience helping bicycle accident victims with all types of injuries, including:
- Concussions/Traumatic brain injuries
- Skull fractures
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Injuries to the lower extremities
- Contusions and lacerations
- Avulsion injuries (i.e.; road rash)
- Internal bleeding/Internal organ injuries
- Disfigurement/Permanent scarring
Permanent and catastrophic injuries are not uncommon in serious bike accidents. Survivors are often forced to live with the consequences of a negligent driver’s actions for the rest of their lives. In addition to physical injuries, the trauma of a bicycle accident can also cause riders to sustain psychological damage. Working with a qualified bike accident attorney in California can help ensure you receive the maximum amount of financial compensation for your bicycle accident claim.
Steps to Take Immediately After a California Bicycle Accident
If you are struck by a car while riding your bike, it is important to take steps that will ensure your physical safety and protect your right to financial compensation. Whether you simply want to be prepared in case of an accident or have already been involved in one and are looking for guidance, you should take the following actions:
- Get to a safe location: A bicycle accident can leave you feeling disoriented and scared. The first thing you should do is move to a safe location if you are physically able to do so. By migrating to the roadside or a nearby parking lot, you can prevent a secondary collision from occurring.
- Seek prompt medical care: Many bicycle accident victims initially think they are unharmed. This is because the adrenaline rush they experience temporarily masks any pain caused by their injuries. A professional medical assessment is essential to identifying and getting medical treatment for any internal bleeding, broken bones, lacerations, sprains, or bruised joints and limbs and will help prevent any future complications. Seeing a doctor immediately after your bicycle accident also creates a paper trail that will be useful when calculating your damages.
- Notify local law enforcement: Call 911 and inform them that you were in a bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle. Tell them where the incident took place and stay on the line until you are instructed to do otherwise.
- Document the accident scene: Using your phone, take pictures or videos of the accident scene from every conceivable angle. Write down the details surrounding the crash before you forget them. Be sure to include who, what, when, where, why, and how. If the vehicle that hit you remained on the scene, make sure you take a picture of the license plate. If possible, get the driver’s name and insurance information. Your insurance company, responding police officers, and your legal counsel will all benefit from this information.
- Talk to any witnesses: If anyone rushed to your aid or was in the area, talk to them if you can. Ask them what they saw and get their names, and contact information, and ask them if they mind being contacted to give a statement at a later date. Again, your attorney, insurance company, and law enforcement may benefit from this information.
- Be patient: Once you have taken the above steps, the best thing for you to do is sit and wait. Let first responders and law enforcement deal with the situation. Once the investigators have all the information they need, you will be allowed to go.
- Call a friend or family member: Call someone who will be willing to come pick you up. Riding your bicycle again after a car accident could make any serious injuries worse, and your bike could have been damaged, making it dangerous to ride. Your safety and not exacerbating any injuries should be your main priority.
- Get your bicycle checked: Along with going to the emergency room to have your injuries treated by a doctor, your bicycle should be looked at by a qualified bike mechanic. Your bicycle could be damaged in a way that is not immediately obvious.
- Review your insurance policy: Your personal insurance coverage might help you mitigate some of your damages. If you were unable to obtain the driver’s information or the police issued you a citation even though you were not at fault, you need to contact a reputable bicycle accident attorney right away. Although it is never advisable to dispute a police report at the scene, you and your attorney can review it later, along with the evidence you gathered after the incident.
- Hire an experienced bicycle accident lawyer: While California certainly has no shortage of personal injury attorneys, you want to work with one who has prior experience in handling bicycle accident cases. A bicycle accident attorney from needaninjuryattorneycalifornia.com will ensure that the unique circumstances of your bicycle accident case are taken into account in order to achieve the best possible outcome for your situation.
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Compensation for California Bicycle Accidents
Depending on the events leading up to your bicycle accident, injured cyclists can be different for multiple forms of financial compensation. Some of the most common are:
Special damages cover all fixed expenses arising from the accident, such as medical bills and repair bills. In California, projected damages like being unable to work and lost future earnings are also taken into consideration. Providing pay stubs, receipts, and invoices is important in proving special damages. Bicycle accident victims typically seek compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Damage to personal property
- Bicycle replacement or repair costs
General damages are harder to quantify than physical damages because they deal with losses that have no specified dollar amount attached to them. Your bicycle accident lawsuit will be affected if you experience post-traumatic stress disorder, an inability to ride a bike, or the disruption of your daily routine. The consequences of a bicycle crash often include unforeseen effects that you deserve compensation for, including:
- Pain and suffering: Physical pain and mental anguish
- Reduced quality of life: An inability to participate in the hobbies, activities, routines, and pastimes you once enjoyed
- Emotional trauma: Conditions such as anxiety, fear, and depression related to the accident
- Loss of fellowship: In cases of wrongful death, when a spouse sues for losses including guidance, affection, financial marital relations, and caregiving
Bicycle Accident Coverage and Your Auto Insurance Policy
If you were injured in a California bicycle accident, your car insurance policy or the policy of a family member could potentially cover your injuries, The California tort system might even offer additional Med-Pay coverage between $5,000 and $10,000.
Legal representation is necessary for any insurance claims that involve an uninsured motorist. These bike accident claims deal with a lot of minute details and strict policy regulations, especially if a significant amount of financial compensation is on the line.
Proving Negligence in a California Bicycle Accident
Establishing negligence in a bicycle accident is crucial to receiving the full amount of compensation you are entitled to. In California, there are four elements to proving negligence in any type of personal injury case. Those four elements are:
- Duty: The driver had a legal duty of care to ensure the safety of those around them
- Violation: The driver’s negligence or maliciousness violated the duty of care
- Causation: The driver’s violation caused the bicycle accident.
- Damages: The accident was the direct cause of the bicyclist’s injuries or damages
Negligence is the cornerstone of every personal injury case. The elements listed above may seem simple enough, but the legal process is rarely as straightforward as it seems. The well-established track record of our firm here at Soliman Law Group proves that we know the most effective methods for proving liability and achieving a successful outcome to your bicycle accident case. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.
California Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accident Cases
The statute of limitations is a deadline imposed on how long injured victims have to initiate a personal injury claim after a bicycle accident. In California, the statute is set at two years from the cause of action. If you fail to file your claim within this timeframe, you will lose your right to compensation and will not be permitted to file a second claim.
How long the case takes to initiate hinges primarily on the injured party. Negotiations with the negligent party and the insurance carrier generally begin once the victim is on the road to recovery.
For severe injuries that require significant surgery or complex medical follow-up, legal proceedings are typically delayed until a substantial portion of the victim’s medical treatment has been completed. Depending on the specifics of the accident, post-crash treatment could encompass numerous therapies including mental health evaluation, plastic surgery, and physical therapy.
At some point, healthcare professionals will determine when the recovery phase has begun, meaning there is a decreased need for further medical treatment. In legal parlance, the victim has reached maximum medical improvement. Once this happens, the legal process can continue.
Liability in California Dooring Accidents
The term dooring refers to an accident that takes place when someone inside a vehicle opens the car door without looking and hits a passing bicyclist. Liability in dooring accidents is fairly apparent if a driver opens their car door without first checking for traffic. It becomes much more complex, however, when a passenger in a parked vehicle is involved in the incident. In most cases, liability typically falls on the driver or passenger who opened their door since doing so without checking their surroundings constitutes negligence.
There are some dooring accidents for which vehicle occupants might not be entirely to blame. For instance, if a bike rider admits to being distracted when the collision occurred, a strong argument could be made that the cyclist contributed to the accident. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, the bicyclist’s injury compensation would be affected.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Bike Accident Attorney
If you want to ensure that your rights are protected while going up against a major insurance carrier after a bicycle accident, work with a California bicycle lawyer from our firm. We can assist you in handling common insurance issues, such as the at-fault driver contesting fault or the insurance provider undervaluing your claim. We will fight for the maximum amount of financial compensation using our resources, experiences, and knowledge. Contact our Sacramento personal injury law firm today at (213) 296-1802 or fill out the form on our website to schedule your free bicycle accident consultation.