While cycling is environmentally friendly there are many dangers in bicycling on the roads. Whether you cycle to beat the traffic or get in shape, California laws give you equal rights and responsibilities as other motorized vehicles. While this may be the case, using our roadways can be a dangerous affair. Apart from the fact that some areas lack adequate bike lanes, the roads are also full of distracted and negligent motorists. If a crash happens and you suffer injuries because of a negligent car driver, consult us for a free, no-obligation evaluation. With the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney on your side, you can work on holding the responsible party accountable.
When a bike collides with a car or truck, the outcome can be catastrophic for the cyclist. Statistics show depressing numbers of cyclists either suffer serious injuries or die at the hands of irresponsible motorists. We can help you obtain compensation to get you back on your feet.
Common Bicycle Accident Causes
Generally speaking, California is not the worst place for a bicyclist. While some bicycle infrastructure improvement is always welcome, most cities are rich in biking lanes, and good weather eliminates visibility issues that typically cause accidents in other states. All the same, certain concerns have put California on top of the charts for the number of bicycle-related injuries, and fatalities suffered each year. They include:
- Distracted driving
- Traffic lights and signs violations
- Lack of adequate bike lanes and shoulders in some areas
- Uneven or damaged pavements
- Excessive gravel on roadways
- Visibility issues, especially during night time riding
- Drunk driving or cycling
Common Vehicle Vs. Bicycle Collision Scenarios
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, certain collision scenarios are more common than others.
Failure to Yield When Turning Left
California's Vehicle Code section 21801(a) states that drivers turning left are mandated to yield and give way to oncoming vehicles, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. Failure to yield is one of the leading causes of accidents involving oncoming cyclists.
Under California's Vehicle Code section 22517, motorists shouldn't open car doors next to moving traffic. If you must open the door, you must only do so if it is reasonably safe. When a door is opened abruptly, oncoming cyclists could crash into it and suffer injuries.
Motorists are required by law to exercise caution when entering roadways. Apart from checking for cars, they must also check for cyclists. Unfortunately, some motorists still forget to check for cyclists when reversing, causing injuries and sometimes deaths.
Merging and Lane Changes
Another common cause of bicycle accidents is trying to change the direction of travel without checking for cyclists. Again, such incidences deem the motorist negligent for failing to exercise caution when merging or changing lanes.
Passing Bicyclists without Leaving Ample Distance
Bicyclists have a right to cycle along some major highways and streets in California. However, they are encouraged to remain on the ride-side edge and move with the flow of traffic. Under California's Vehicle Code section 21760, automobiles should leave a three-foot distance between their motor vehicles and a bike when overtaking. When some motorized vehicle drivers get impatient and try to overtake without providing ample room for the passing cyclists, the problem comes in. This can force a bicyclist off the road or cause a crash.
Another common place where bicycle accidents happen is in intersections or near them. Again, these accidents can be avoided if motorists keep an eye out for other road users, including cyclists. Intersection collisions are often caused by dangerous driving behaviors like failing to slow down at intersections or making sudden right turns without first coming to a complete stop.
Unsafe Roadway Conditions
Sometimes, the root cause of an accident has very little to do with a motorist's negligence. There are certain instances where an incident can be blamed on road debris, potholes, or projecting objects. In case these unsafe road conditions are on private property, the property owner could be blamed. This is more so if they are aware of the hazards in question or ought to know about them. If the hazardous conditions are on a public roadway, the governmental organization responsible for controlling the area can be held liable for damages caused by "dangerous conditions of public property."
Irrespective of whether the root cause of your injuries is unsafe private or public roadways, a competent attorney can help you file a claim and obtain the much-needed compensation for damages suffered. Through detailed fact-finding and investigations, we can help prove liability against the at-fault party. We can gather information through research, site visits, and witness interviews to support your case. Our team uses targeted questioning and aggressive discovery techniques to unveil the truth and put a winning strategy together.
Types of Injuries Commonly Sustained Following a Car-Bike Crash
Riding a bike in the busy streets of Los Angeles is inherently dangerous. While using safety gear such as helmets and flashers may reduce your risk of getting involved in a crash, your safety is still not guaranteed. Some of the injuries one may suffer following a crash include:
- Internal bleeding
- Rib, arm, and leg fractures
- Concussions and major head injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Organ injuries
- Severe abrasions (road rash)
Depending on the gravity of an injury, the aftermath of a bicycle accident can be life-changing. Some conditions call for extensive diagnostic tests like X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. An accident victim may also require trauma intervention, such as orthopedic surgery.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
A crash can leave you frightened, bewildered, and confused with all sorts of emotions. While it is tempting to go bananas, point fingers, and raise your voice, there are better ways to handle a situation and generally increase your chances of making a successful legal claim.
Step 1 — Cooperate With The Police
Depending on the fall of events, police officers may want to get your statement from the scene or at the hospital after receiving emergency care. It is important to cooperate and help them investigate the case. Make sure you request for all investigative report copies and have them reviewed by your lawyer.
Step 2 — Write Down Names and Contact Information
If possible, write the contact information of the motorist and all witnesses who saw what transpired before you seek medical attention. The idea is to make it less stressful for you to locate these people and obtain their statements once investigations begin. Your attorney will need to contact witnesses and use their statements to build your case.
Step 3 — Seek Medical Help
It is not alien for the body to lockout pain after an accident. Cases where victims have shown symptoms of serious injuries hours or days after an accident are not new. The need to seek immediate medical help must hence not be underestimated. This will allow doctors to unveil hidden injuries such as whiplash and internal bleeding. Any concerns noted during the checkups will help establish the link between an accident and your injuries.
Be sure to complete your follow-up checkups as recommended by your practitioner. Also, request your doctor for professional documentation of your injuries.
Step 4 — Don't Sign a "Release" Of Claims Or Give Medical Authorizations
The involved insurance company may approach you and request you to grant them medical authorization. This allows them to scrutinize your medical history in the name of understanding your injuries better. Well, this is a trap you must dodge!
In case your medical history unveils past accidents, insurance companies will not shy away from twisting this information to blame your current injuries on past incidents. It is equally crucial not to allow an insurance adjuster to obtain a recorded statement from you without first consulting with your attorney. This is another tactic used to lure victims into getting a quick yet unfair settlement. Politely decline to speak or sign anything until you consult with your lawyer.
Statute Of Limitations for Bicycle Accidents
California's statute of limitations gives bike victims a 2-year time limit to sue for damages following a car crash. If a claim is not filed within the "statutory period," a judge can bar the claim, although exemptions apply to certain victims.
For instance, one can still file a claim after this period if injuries caused by an accident cause a serious concussion or any form of mental incompetence. In such cases, the statutory period is extended because the injured person is incapable of filing a claim. Moreover, an extension of the statutory period can be offered if injuries stemming from an accident are discovered later.
Another law that applies is that minors involved in bicycle accidents can wait until they are at least twenty years old. Once the minor is 18, the two-year statutory period begins.
If unsafe public roadway conditions cause an accident, you will, in this case, need to sue the government. Typically, victims only get six months to file a lawsuit from the date of an accident.
It's common for victims to be unsure about certain issues associated with filing a claim. If you are in Los Angeles, California, we are here to offer you all the legal advice and representation you need. With our assistance, you will have the best chances of filing on time and obtaining fair compensation.
Understanding How Fault Is Established In Car-Bicycle Accidents
The laws that govern how car-bicycle accidents are handled are different in each state. While some states automatically declare that a motorist bears the fault for a crash, this is not the case in California. In this state, the fault rests squarely on the shoulders of the negligent party. Investigations make it possible to find out who is liable for all the damages caused by a crash.
California laws deem "negligence" as the failure to act in the expected manner that a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances.
Therefore, to prove that a driver's negligence caused a crash, evidence must be tabled that shows how carelessness directly resulted in an incident. You must also prove that property was damaged or you suffered a personal injury because of the accident.
About Pure Comparative Fault in Los Angeles, California
In some instances, both parties involved bear some level of fault. This begs the question, who is more at fault?
If a cyclist bears 25% of the fault, for instance, then he/she is only entitled to receiving 75% compensation of damages suffered. This leaves the cyclist accountable for their portion of the overall damages.
Do you need a lawyer if an accident was not your fault?
So, you are riding your bike with your helmet on and a reflector jacket. Your bike is in faultless mechanical condition, and you are even hyper-aware of your surroundings, the road conditions, and other road users. Does this guarantee that you will get home in one piece? Unfortunately no!
A negligent motorist can still crash into you, leaving you with grave injuries. In case you suffer injuries that call for emergency medical attention, this means that the offending driver will get the first chance to tell the patrol officer what happened. At this point, most offenders will provide self-serving statements that leave the police convinced that you were primarily at fault.
If the Traffic Collision Report (TCR) mistakenly places you at fault, all is not lost. We can help you refute this report and table evidence showing you were not at fault, or you were partially to blame for the accident. Thanks to California's comparative fault laws, you can recover damages that amount to a motorist's fault.
How a Lawyer Can Dispute Liability Using Physical Evidence
In case liability is disputed, there is more we can do apart from merely depending on witness testimonies. A clear line between facts and falsified information can be drawn by examining physical evidence.
- Damage to a bike
- Type and extent of the injury suffered by a cyclist
- Damage to a motor vehicle
- Road skid marks
- Road scrape marks
- Road ruts
- Point of rest of the motor vehicle, cyclist and bike
- Points of impact to the motor vehicle, bike, and cyclist
- Condition of bike tires after impact
Analyzing evidence that can be used in court is hard work. While it is possible to file a personal injury claim in California without involving a lawyer, your chances of enjoying the compensation you deserve may be highly at the mercy of the legal team you have in your corner. We can reconstruct the accident and help determine your level of fault.
What Is The Expected Duration Of A Bicycle Injury Case In Los Angeles?
The statute of limitations dictates the time limit for filing a lawsuit. Once the lawsuit is filed, the trial date is set 12-18 months from then; indicating the maximum duration a case could take. Fortunately, the involved insurance company can decide to make a settlement at any time.
Within these 12- 18 months, the personal injury case goes through different phases, starting with the discovery and deposition phase. An expert witness is then introduced before the case moves to the analysis phase then settlement negotiations. Our lawyers will do their best to ensure you have optimal chances of receiving a fair settlement during negotiations. In case this is impossible, we will prepare you for trial and provide the much-needed legal representation.
Types of Compensation for a Bicycle Accident
There are two types of compensation you may receive following a successful bicycle accident claim. They include
This type of compensation covers all financial losses incurred because of an accident
This refers to the compensation offered for non-quantifiable damages such as pain and suffering.
Therefore, you can receive compensation for damages such as:
Current and Future Medical Costs
Some accidents result in minor bruises and cuts. Others leave the victim paralyzed or permanently disabled. When seeking medical attention, your doctor will provide a report of the cost of treatment received and project future medical expenses you may incur. This includes costs for rehabilitative therapy, prescription drugs, and ongoing treatment sessions. If you are still nursing injuries when filing a claim, your lawyer will be keen to include your future medical expenses in your demands.
Lost Wages and Earning Potential
If injuries caused by an incident deny you the wellness needed to resume working immediately, you are entitled to compensation for lost income. In case you are rendered permanently disabled, nothing is as crucial as working with an attorney that can provide a clear and proper estimate of the income lost in the future.
Usually, compensation for lost wages is estimated from when an accident occurred to the time of settlement. However, victims are still entitled to compensation for future loss of income. In this case, your current earnings are used to estimate the amount you will not earn because of injuries that render you incapable of holding a job.
Pain and Suffering
A bicycle accident causes more than just immediate pain and suffering. Sometimes, victims are left to suffer immense physical and mental suffering years after a crash. Pain and suffering are estimated based on the severity of injuries and the treatment or care required in the future. Your attorney's preparedness will play a leading role in determining how much you can recover, especially for non-quantifiable damages.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Injuries that leave you disfigured, maimed, or permanently disabled deprive you of a chance to enjoy your life to the fullest. These injuries may hinder you from engaging in interesting recreational activities such as sports. Because a motorist's negligence prevents you from enjoying pleasure and fulfillment in certain activities, you have a right to demand compensation.
Emotional distress damages are meant to indemnify a bicycle accident plaintiff for possible psychological issues caused by an accident's impact on their daily life. Emotional distress includes the loss of sleep, fear, and anxiety, and it is estimated based on the psychological symptoms suffered immediately after the bicycle accident. Your doctor can provide collective evidence about the changes in how you feel because of an accident. The evidence could be in the form of things such as a daily medical journal.
Any personal property destroyed during an accident should also be reimbursed. This includes items like your bicycle, helmet, cell phone, or clothing. You can claim the repair costs of damaged items or an amount equivalent to their value before an accident.
Loss of Consortium
Bicycle accidents are notorious for leaving the victim injured severely and incapable of leading his/her life as usual. If your spouse is badly injured, leaving you at a loss of care, comfort, and quality companionship, you have a right to recover damages for loss of consortium. The plaintiff's attorney has to name the affected spouse as a party to a lawsuit and prove that the couple were married/ living together at the time of an accident
Punitive damages reprimand the offender for negligence or misconduct that directly contributed to an accident that caused injuries or property damage. It will be necessary for you to table solid evidence that proves the defendant's delinquency or gross negligence before these damages can be granted.
Find a Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Attorney Near Me
A bicycle accident can leave you suffering more than just financial losses. Whether you face a lifetime of disability or immeasurable pain and suffering, you don't have to deal with your predicaments alone. We understand the true extent of even minor accidents, and that's why we are fully dedicated to fighting and winning on behalf of bicycle accident victims. If you've been involved in a bicycle accident, call us at 424-237-3600 to find the best Los Angeles injury attorney. Our years of experience in the field have left us with numerous success stories to share. We will offer you a no-fee case evaluation and help calculate the value of damages suffered. Let the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney focus on bringing home the compensation you deserve as you focus on getting back on your feet.