Understanding the legal process after a bicycle accident – Data from the Office of Highway safety planning (OHSP) in 2020 shows that 1,235 cyclists were involved in motor vehicle accidents in California alone. The number of fatalities out of this was 38, with 147 suffering severe injuries. This data shows that the number of Bicycle accidents is a regular occurrence.
The Most Common Causes of California Bicycle Accidents
The evidence and data collected over time associated with bicycle accidents involving a motor vehicle show that the likelihood of the accident resulting from the fault or negligence of the motorist is high. The reason for the occurrence is that most motorists do not know the law relating to cyclists. Some don’t care about those rights even though, in California, cyclists and motorists have the same rights and responsibilities regarding traffic rules and regulations.
The most common causes of accidents involving bicycles and motor vehicles include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs
- Running a red light
- Reckless driving
- Fatigued driving
- Impaired driving
- Failing to give the right of way to the cyclist
- Failing to maintain a distance of 3 to 5 feet while passing a bicycle
- Destructive driving, especially at intersections and while changing lanes
- Opening the door of a parked vehicle without looking out for oncoming cyclists
The most common examples of cyclist negligence that can lead to an accident include:
- Riding while on the phone
- I need to depend on the Bicycle lane.
- Failing to maintain a safe distance from a motor vehicle.
- Riding a bike under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Understanding the Legal Process After a Bicycle Accident: Suing a Government Agency in California
Residents in California generally do not have the right to sue the government. This situation is because of a legal doctrine known as Sovereign immunity imposed by a statute known as the California Government Tort Liability Act. This legal doctrine protects the government from being sued; however, the law does not extend to government employees who may be sued due to negligence. It is important to note that while the law grants the government immunity, there are certain circumstances in which the government can be sued. An example of such a circumstance is when you get into a bicycle accident due to a defective road condition. This narrow exemption allows you to sue the government agency responsible for maintaining the road for failing to maintain the road, which led to getting into an accident, causing your injuries. Another circumstance that may grant you the right to sue the government is when you are involved in an accident with a vehicle belonging to the government. In such a circumstance, you may file a claim against the government agency under which the car operates.
There are narrow circumstances in which you might sue the government for negligence. They include:
- Failing to maintain public infrastructure such as roads and sidewalks
- Failing to maintain public buildings in good condition
- Negligence and Medical Malpractice
- Negligent operation of vehicles belonging to state or local government agencies
- Failing to fix defective sewage systems
The Most Common Types of Injuries that Can Result from a Bicycle Accident
In most cases, a motor vehicle and a bicycle accident are usually catastrophic for the cyclist. A cyclist will likely suffer severe and life-threatening Injuries. Cyclists have virtually no protection besides the standard protective gear, which consists of a helmet, a few shield guards, and gloves. Most cyclists do not put on protective equipment at all. In an accident with a motor vehicle, the cyclist may be thrown off the bike, knocking on the colliding car’s windscreen or other cars’ windscreens. They may be hit by other oncoming vehicles or obstacles on the road, and in some severe circumstances, they may get run over by other cars. All these scenarios may lead to nothing short of severe injuries and, in some cases, even death.
The most common injuries you can suffer in a bicycle-motor vehicle collision include:
- Facial injuries (including contusions and fractures)
- Injuries to the neck and back
- Injuries to the spinal cord
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Crush injuries
- Traumatic amputation resulting in limb loss
- Nerve damage
- Injuries to internal organs
What You Should Do If You Are Injured in a Bicycle Accident in California
Get Medical Help
The most crucial step after a bike accident is seeking medical help immediately. Medical attention should be sought even in cases where you seem not to feel any pain or you do not have visible injuries.
The reason for getting medical attention is that, in other circumstances, pain may not manifest immediately because of the shock caused by the accident. Furthermore, certain types of accidents may not be visible or cause pain at the moment an accident occurs. Such injuries may include brain injuries, concussions, or other internal injuries that must be determined after extensive tests. This injury may prove to be fatal if not ascertained immediately. Such an injury is the reason why medical assistance is highly recommended. A medical report will the hospital will prepare a medical reportedly important when it comes to seeking compensation.
It is, therefore, essential to avoid getting medical help as your injuries may worsen and affect the chances of success when seeking compensation, as a medical report determines the level of injuries suffered. If such a report is missing, the Insurance Company of the party at fault may argue that the injuries were minor and did not require you to be attended by a medical expert. This situation will, in turn, lead them to compensate you with a small portion of the damages, which will not constitute a fair amount of compensation commensurate with the injuries you suffered.
Report the Accident
It is advisable to call the police after a bike accident. If you are seriously injured and unable to call the police, you can request people around to report the accident to the police. Once the police arrive at the accident scene, attempting to narrate what happened without including, exaggerating, or downplaying any detail related to the accident is essential. Further, informing the authorities about the information you need help remembering or are unavailable to answer is necessary. It is expected that sometimes after an accident, it is likely that your ability to remember everything may be curtailed as a result of shock.
Get the At-Fault Motorist’s License and Insurance Details
After the accident, please try to obtain the at-fault motorist’s details, such as their name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, motor vehicle Plate number, and Insurance details. It is always important to remember that while getting the details, ensure that you do not apologize or say anything that might seem to infer or imply an admission of fault on your part. In fact, after getting the details, wait for the authorities to arrive.
Get Witnesses’ Contact Information
It is essential to be aware of your surroundings at all times; once you get into an accident, try to find out if people witnessed it. The witness may be another biker, motorist, or even a pedestrian. Sometimes the witness may not have noticed the accident but may have seen an incident that eventually led to it. It is also common for bikers, pedestrians, and motorists nowadays to have cameras at all times to try and find out if any of them may have recorded the same. You should note their details, including their address, phone number, and name.
Take Photos of the Accident Scene
Ensure that you take photos of the scene of the accident. If you are unable to do so, kindly request help from people. It is essential to preserve the scene before the authorities arrive. Photographic evidence is crucial when documenting the extent of injuries sustained during the accident and determining the level of damage suffered due to the accident.
Attempt to take photos of the following things.
- Your injuries
- Your bicycle
- Personal items damaged in the accident (if any)
- The at-fault motorist’s vehicle
- The at-fault motorist’s license plate
- Nearby traffic signs (if any)
- Damage to objects in and around the accident scene
- Visible signs of the accident, including broken glass and tire marks
Contact an Experienced California Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Injuries sustained in a bicycle accident vary and may be minor injuries or, in some cases, serious injuries. These injuries may be catastrophic such lead to a wide range of disabilities. In other cases, there may be disfiguration of body parts that may require expensive medical surgeries. To wit the above, a considerable amount of post-surgical care may require thousands of dollars. You need a competent legal representative to fight for your rights and compensation. Such compensation will not include medical expenses and pain and suffering. Such representation will also include demands such as compensation for loss of income. It would be best to get a competent attorney to avoid you getting inadequate compensation or, even worse, failing to recover or getting compensated by the at-fault driver. A qualified lawyer has a broad spectrum and experience in representing victims of accidents.
File for No-Fault Benefits
California law allows injured cyclists to file a claim known as no-fault Insurance ance claims with their own Insurance companies
. These benefits might include:
- Allowable expenses (expenses related to your medical care and rehabilitation)
- Wage loss benefits (a portion of your gross pay for a period of up to three years)
- Replacement services (post-care services such as household chores)
The no-fault claim has a few setbacks; the most common one is that the compensation received would hardly cover your medical expenses. This situation is especially notable when you suffer serious injuries. It is why accident victims have the right to file personal injury claims against motorists who are at fault. It is advisable to appoint an independent bicycle attorney to seek proper compensation for the injuries sustained, loss of earning capacity, earnings, general da, and pain and suffering.
The Serious Injury Threshold in California
California law allows a case on tort to be brought if the injuries are severe. The law dictates that for the damages to be considered serious, they should be a severe impairment of bodily function, a permanent disfigurement, or death.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a California Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
Statute of limitation is when the law allows a bicycle victim to file a tort case against the at-fault. California’s statute of limitation on filing bicycle accident cases is capped at three years. This provision means that after an accident, you have three years within which you can file a claim. The three-year period covers all types of personal injury suits. It is instructive not to note that if you fail to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party after the lapse of the three years, you will lose your right to sue for compensation.
The only three exceptions to the statute of limitations are
- When the victim is a minor (under 18), the law will only start after they turn 18.
- If the injured cyclist is not sane, the deadline will begin when they are declared sane by a medical expert. In such a situation, the timeline will only be a year from the confirmation date of sanity.
- If the party that caused the accident leaves California before the claim is filed in Court, the deadline will only start after they return to California.
The above conditions are only applicable when using private entities or individuals. In cases of suing the government, a 120-day notice has to be issued to the government entity you wish to sue after the accident. Please give the information within 120 days from the accident date to ensure your suit is proper, and you will not be able to file a claim.
Compensatory Damages That Can Be Recovered in a California Bicycle Accident Claim
The following are some damages you might recover from the at-fault party, depending on the injuries sustained.
- Medical expenses (including emergency medical care, diagnostic tests, lab tests, surgery, hospitalization charges, surgeon’s charges, prescription medications, and other related fees)
- The estimated cost of future treatment (if you are not fully recovered, you might require continued treatment for the foreseeable future)
- Rehabilitation expenses (cost of physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and counseling)
- Cost of assistive devices (if you are physically or cognitively disabled and need assistive devices to perform your day-to-day activities)
- Cost of modifications at home (to accommodate your disabilities)
- Cost of long-term care and assisted living (if you are permanently disabled as a result of your injuries)
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity (estimated amount of salary, hikes, bonuses, promotions, and other perks you stand to fail due to your disabilities)
- The estimated cost of repairing or replacing your bicycle and other personal items damaged in the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life
Steps Involved in a California Bicycle Accident Claim
The personal injury attorney will ask questions to determine whether you have a case against the motorist and understand the accident’s circumstances. They will represent you if they ascertain that you have a legitimate claim.
During the initial consultation, the experienced bicycle accident lawyer will ask you several questions about the accident and try to get as much information as they can. They will agree to represent you if you have a legitimate case against the at-fault motorist.
While it is the police who will conduct a factual investigation, your experienced bicycle accident attorney will use the police report together with witness information to determine the cause of the accident; They will also examine the extent of the injuries and who was to blame for the accident.
Collection of evidence is an essential aspect of the trial, and your lawyer will ensure that they collect all the evidence relevant to the personal injury lawsuit to build a strong case against the at-fault party for the accident.
Calculating the Value of Your Bicycle Accident Claim
The nature and extent of your injuries, including disabilities, if any, the medical expenses expected to be incurred, lost earnings, and expected earnings lost as a result of the accident, will assist your lawyer in calculating the value of your claim.
When commencing a suit, the first step is to send a letter demanding the at-fault party compensate you for the medical expenses and damage to your bicycle. The demand letter will accompany the medical bills and receipts, photographs of the accident scene, and any other relevant documentation supporting your claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Negotiation will commence between your lawyer and the at-fault party’s insurance company. If the Insurance makes a reasonable offer, your advocate will likely advise you to take up the offer. If the request granted will not cover most of your losses and damages, your attorney may decide to take the case to trial.
Your lawyer will negotiate with the claims adjustor from the at-fault party’s insurance company. If the adjuster makes a reasonable settlement offer that adequately covers all your economic and non-economic losses, your lawyer will advise you to accept it. Otherwise, they might decide to take your case to trial.
During the trial, the insurance lawyer and your lawyer will each present their arguments and present evidence in Court. After considering the evidence presented, the jury will award damages to you.
Big Ben Law Lawyers
The team at Big Ben Law is immediately aware of the fear and concern that a bike accident can cause you and your immediate family members. To help you establish responsibility for your losses and look into every possible source of compensation for your personal injury claim, we shall carefully examine the circumstances of how the bicycle accident occurred and explore the best possible means of having you adequately compensated.
The sooner you hire legal representation after a bike accident, the better your prospects are of getting the maximum compensation permitted under the law. If you’re prepared to discuss your legal options with a skilled team of Big Ben lawyers, contact our team to arrange your free legal consultation.
Put your faith in Big Ben Lawyers to defend your rights. Contact our bicycle accident attorneys for a free legal consultation to discuss your options. Please get in touch with us right away to discuss your bicycle accident claim.
Is Any Bike Accident Lawyer Near Me?
Big Ben Lawyers are near you and available for compensation in any bike accident lawsuit you may want to p in California.
Contact Big Ben Lawyers Today
At Big Ben Lawyers, we appreciate that the bike accident may have many effects on you and your loved ones. With this in mind, we endeavor to ensure that the pressure of personal injury lawsuits is taken off your shoulders so that you can concentrate on getting better following the bicycle accident.
We encourage you to get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we can begin the process of putting together evidence that guarantees you the best chance of success in your bicycle accident claims.
Do not hesitate to contact our able Firm of bicycle accident attorneys, and we shall pursue your injury claim passionately and with the dedication it deserves.