An injury sustained in a bicycle accident can be fatal since a cyclist is more exposed to head injury, among other severe injuries, even in safety gear like a helmet. A bicycle is also more likely to get involved in an accident because it is less stable and less visible compared to motor vehicles. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you need to speak with The LA Personal Injury Law Firm since you might have the option to bring a personal injury lawsuit for financial compensation.
Cycling Accident Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one thousand cyclists succumbed to death while four hundred and sixty-seven thousand people suffered bicycle-related injuries in 2015. In 2010, both fatal and non-fatal accidents led to medical expenses and productivity losses worth ten billion dollars.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, mortality rates in the United States increased by sixteen percent between 2010 and 2012. The state of California had the highest number of deaths, and there were 338 bike deaths involving cars between 2010 to 2012.
There are numerous ways you could find yourself in a bike collision. They include:
- Drunk driving - Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of bicycle accidents. It is because prescription medications, alcohol, and marijuana impair the capacity to drive a motor vehicle. Additionally, bicyclists are at a higher risk because they have limited protection. There is no excuse for a motorist to drive their car while drunk and should be held accountable for the conduct.
- Distracted driving - A driver who is eating, texting, fidgeting with the radio, applying makeup, texting, or checking their email while driving is likely to hit you. It is because the driver is less likely to see you in time and avoid causing an accident.
- Dooring - Dooring happens when a person opens a door in front of a rider. You can be thrown from the bicycle and get injured if a door opens in front of you without warning. These accidents are prevalent in urban areas.
- Poor lighting- You are also likely to be hit by a car if you are cycling in an area with poor visibility.
- Left and a right turn at intersections - A right-hook collision happens when a motor vehicle makes a right turn in front of a bicyclist who is going in a straight line. Left-hook collision, on the other hand, happens when a driver turns left in front of a bicyclist at an intersection.
- Reckless bicyclists - Riding a bicycle doesn't excuse anyone from acting responsibly and safely. Most bicycle accidents are due to cyclists making sudden movements into vehicles' path, failing to make themselves visible, running stoplights or stop signals, or acting aggressively and consequently putting both themselves and other road users in danger.
A careless driver, hazardous road conditions, or even careless pedestrians, can cause a bike accident. Personal injury law allows those injured to bring a claim against the responsible parties. You can also bring a wrongful death claim following the demise of a loved one.
In California, the liable parties could be:
Property Owners and City
You might be blaming yourself if you crashed due to cracks or potholes in the road. Nonetheless, under premises liability law, the property owner or city could be accountable for negligently causing accidents if they do not keep the roads in good condition. Road conditions that can cause accidents to include the following:
- Cracked cement
- Loose gravel
- Damaged road signals
- Uneven sidewalks
According to a post published in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles paid over nineteen million dollars as compensation to victims of bicycle accidents caused by hazardous road conditions. In most of these accidents, the city was aware of the road conditions. City employees and the public had complained about the situation. The city also knew of bicycle accidents in the same area. However, the city ignored the road conditions.
A Reckless Motorist Can Also Cause Your Accident
If a negligent or reckless driver caused your bike accident, you could pursue compensation through a personal injury claim.
According to VC 21209, it is illegal for a driver to drive on a bike lane. A motorist who breaks this law and thereby strikes and injures a cyclist will be found to be at fault.
To be awarded compensation following an accident, you need to establish the motorist's negligence. It involves proving:
- The motorist owed you a duty of care.
- The motorist breached the duty of care by acting negligently.
- The driver's negligence played a significant role in causing injuries or death.
According to the same LA article, most bike accidents involving motor vehicles include:
- A motorist failing to see a bicyclist and making a left-turn into the bicycle rider
- A driver opening their car's door and hitting a cyclist
- A driver hitting a bicyclist from behind
- A driver leaving a parking lot or driveway directly into a cyclist's path
- A motorist passing a cyclist on the left and turning right into the path used by a cyclist
A Pedestrian can also Cause a Bicycle Accident
If a pedestrian causes you to crash, you could be entitled to file a claim for damage against them. Most bicycle accident involving pedestrians include:
- Failing to control a dog.
- Suddenly stepping out into a bicycle lane.
- Intentionally throwing a rider off their bicycle.
- Running out in front of a rider.
- Listening to music and failing to pay attention to bicycle traffic.
- Walking while texting.
What Takes Place if a Defective Bicycle Causes an Accident?
Sometimes a faulty bicycle or bicycle part can cause an accident. The part can break, leaving you not in a position to stop or making you crash. You may not know who was at-fault or what took place. Per product liability law, the firm that designed, sold, or manufactured the faulty bicycle is accountable for the injury caused by the product.
Different from other personal injury claims, you don't have to establish the company's negligence. In product defect claims, strict liability could be imposed for:
- Design defects
- Failure to issue a warning defect
- Manufacturing defects
To recover damages in your product liability case for a malfunctioning bicycle or bicycle part, you have to present evidence that:
- The accountable party manufactured, sold, distributed, or designed the defective product
- The bicycle or part had the defect when it left the accountable party's possession
- You used the bike in a reasonably foreseeable way
- You sustained an injury due to the defect
What Happens If You are Partially Responsible for the Accident?
Most motorists don't understand the challenges experienced by cyclists every day. A rider may have several close calls when he/she rides on the street. Even if a motorist is undoubtedly responsible, the motorist blames the rider.
If the motor vehicle owner claims you caused the collision, don't admit fault. Claiming that you caused the bicycle accident may mean you'll be required to take care of all the losses incurred due to the accident. Should the driver pressure you to admit fault, tell the driver to speak with your competent personal injury attorney.
In most instances, the bike rider and driver could both be accountable for the accident. According to the comparative fault laws, should two or more parties cause an accident, the court apportions responsibility and damages. That means your percentage of accountability will reduce your total compensation amount.
For instance, Peter has not fixed faulty brakes on his bicycle hence making it difficult for him to come to a complete stop. Richard is operating his motor vehicle and passes closely to Peter before pulling in front of Peter. Richard suddenly stops because he notices he missed a turn. This causes Peter to crash with Richard's car. As a result, Peter takes legal action against Richard in search of compensation for his broken leg and bike damage.
During the trial, the court decides Peter's total compensation amount is three thousand dollars. Moreover, the court determined that Richard was eighty percent at-fault for stopping in front of Peter and failing to give Peter enough space on the road. It is also determined that Peter is twenty percent at-fault because he was aware that his brakes were faulty. In this case, Peter will be awarded two thousand and four hundred dollars.
What are the Different Damages Awarded in a Bicycle Accident Personal Injury Claim?
If a negligent driver injures you, you may be entitled to receive a wide range of compensation. The purpose of personal injury laws is to make you whole again by awarding the damages suffered so that you can go back to the position you were before the injury took place. In layman's language, you will be awarded compensatory damages.
These damages are divided into economic and non-economic damages.
Also known as special damages, these are damages that are calculated in dollar value with ease. Wage records, receipts, and bills are used to document economic damages. These damages include:
These are ambulance, surgery, medication, and hospitalization costs related to the accident. You are also entitled to receive compensation for future medical expenses linked to the accident. Your physician should be able to determine what future medical treatments are essential and the cost.
Sometimes the crash might re-injure a pre-existing medical condition or injury. If you had a disease that worsened due to the accident, you could be awarded compensation for the effects suffered.
If you are forced to take time off because of the injuries suffered, you have a right to receive lost income/wages damages.
If your injury prevents you from going on a vacation, you are entitled to compensation for the cost of the pre-planned activity.
Permanently or long-term injured persons can also be awarded compensation for the incapability to work and make a living in the future.
If your bicycle was destroyed or damaged during the accident, you could receive compensation for either:
- repair expenses, or
- the bicycle's fair market value on the collision date.
When a person is severely injured, the most disturbing effects aren't the medical costs or the injuries suffered but the consequential mental and physical anguish. Also known as general damages, non-economic damages aren't easy to quantify, are subjective, and more abstract. They include:
- Pain and suffering - Pain and suffering is the discomfort, pain, anguish, emotional trauma, and inconvenience as a result of the injuries suffered.
- Loss of life enjoyment - Loss of life enjoyment is the detrimental alternations of your lifestyle and life or not being in a position to engage in activities that you enjoyed before the accident. It also involves the knowledge that you cannot participate in your life pursuits anymore.
- Loss of consortium - Your domestic partner or spouse can also claim loss of consortium damages. Loss of consortium seeks to compensate an individual for the loss of their spouse's services and companionship, including loss of comfort, assistance, care, moral support, and intimacy.
Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are tailored to punish the defendant for their deliberate conduct as well as deter the reprehensible conduct in the future. These damages are awarded if the liable party acted heinously.
Under personal injury law, you must establish that the at-fault party acted with malice. Malice means that the responsible party intended to cause injuries, and their conduct was executed with knowing and willful disregard of the safety of other persons.
You can Receive Compensation if Your Loved One Succumbs to Death in a Bicycle Accident
If a person dies due to the accident, their surviving family members can bring a wrongful death claim. Family members who take legal action for the wrongful conduct include:
- The deceased's spouse
- The deceased's children
- The deceased's domestic partner
- The deceased's grandchildren if the decedent's children have died
- Any person entitled to the decedent's property under intestate succession law
A wrongful death claim permits the decedent's family members to recover:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Compensation for loss of support and companionship
- The income the deceased would have made if they had survived
How to Maximize Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you want to bring a personal injury claim, you need to maximize the compensation. Having an understanding of what things you need to do can assist you in being awarded the maximum compensation amount possible. Below are ways to win the personal injury claim:
The court will determine your case using the evidence presented. The defendant will also determine whether to award you a satisfactory settlement founded on your case's strength. In other words, the stronger your evidence, the higher the likelihood of winning the case.
Ensure you take pictures of the scene of the collision as well as your injuries.
If the police came to the accident scene, get a copy of a police report.
Moreover, get the names and contact details of all witnesses. Your lawyer will follow up with these details to acquire comprehensive witness statements and prepare your case.
Seek Medical Care
Winning a personal injury claim means being awarded fair compensation for your injury and losses. To realize this, you should have a clear picture of the damages. That means you will require medical experts to document the injury and develop a treatment plan. The document can also encourage the defendant to offer you a fair settlement amount.
Make sure you get medical attention, even if you are not sure about your injury's level or your injury is minor. If the physician recommends a treatment plan like treatment for post-traumatic stress or seeking physical therapy, make sure you comply with it.
Have Your Settlement Amount in Mind
Before speaking to an insurance adjuster about your demand letter, decide on your settlement figure. A demand letter is a collection of medical bills and documents that shows all losses incurred. The figure should not be revealed to the adjuster.
However, you do not have to cling to that figure. If the insurance company outlines facts you had not considered, which will make your case weaker, you can lower the figure a little bit. Also, if you get evidence that can make your case stronger, you may want to revise the figure upwards.
Do Not Accept the Initial Offer
The insurance adjuster will start negotiations by offering you a low offer. The adjuster uses this tactic as a way to check whether you know how much your claim is worth.
If the offer is reasonable, make a counteroffer that is lower than the demand letter amount. It shows the insurance company that you are reasonable and willing to compromise. A little bargaining should be able to get you the final fair settlement.
During the negotiations, do not go over the case facts again. Just pay attention to the strong points like the defendant caused your bicycle accident.
Do Not Forget Your Future Damages
Your personal injury claim should compensate for both your current and future losses. You might not have recovered before the case proceeds to trial. Therefore, it is essential to put future recovery into consideration during the settlement amount negotiations. You should work with your doctor to document the losses as well as include them in the claim.
Stay Away from Social Media
Whatever you do or say can be used against you in court. Well, this phrase also extends to what you do on your social media platforms.
If you are claiming your injuries are devastating, but your twitter or Facebook account is telling a different story, it could ruin the case. The defendant is watching. It is, therefore, wise to remain silent and let an experienced legal expert do the talking.
Moreover, don't talk about your claim anywhere or with any person until the settlement is reached.
Make Sure the Settlement is Put in Writing
Once you and the insurance adjuster agree on the settlement amount, confirm the agreement in writing to the insurance company. The letter should be short and precise.
File your Claim in Time
After your injury, you have time limits to file your claim. The time limit is known as the statute of limitations.
In California, you have two years from the date of your injury to take legal action against the at-fault party. If you fail to bring your claim within the two-year timeframe, the judge will not listen to your case, and you will lose your entitlement to compensation.
If a city's negligence caused your bicycle accident, the statute of limitations is six months. Additionally, you have to comply with the stringent procedural rules.
Engage a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney
Most bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles are complicated. Therefore, you will need to engage an attorney who understands cycling or has dealt with bicycle personal injury cases. The attorney will:
- Negotiate with the insurance provider on your behalf
- Represent you in trial
- Advise you on what to do
Do not speak with the insurance firms before talking to your lawyer. Anything you say to the insurer can be used against you. Often a letter from a lawyer to the insurer might resolve issues without proceeding to trial.
If the case allows it, the attorney can engage a bicycle collision expert to investigate the crash. The expert will acquire skid mark measurements, photos of the accident scene, talk to witnesses, and diagram the scene of the accident.
What are the Most Common Injuries Sustained in Bicycle Accidents?
Discussed below are the various injuries you are likely to suffer in a bicycle accident:
- Amputation - This is the loss of a body part like an arm, leg or toe
- Bone fractures - Wrists, legs, hips, feet, arms, or shoulders are subject to fractures in an accident. If you sustain a bone fracture, you might require more than one surgery.
- Brain injury - Traumatic brain injury can be a mild concussion or skull fracture bone fragments piercing your brain, resulting in permanent disabilities.
- Road rash - Road surfaces are abrasive, and severe skin damage can originate from friction.
Find a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
A bicycle accident can result in severe injuries that can result in hefty hospital bills as well as put you out of work. If another person's negligence has caused the accident, you might be entitled to receive compensation. Most bike accidents in Los Angeles originate from another person's failure to perform their duty of care. If you have been injured in an accident, don't hesitate to contact The LA Personal Injury Law Firm. Call us today at 310-935-0089 to schedule your initial consultation.