Bicycling is becoming increasingly popular for its exercise benefits, as a fun family outing, and as a means of transportation. This is especially true in California, where so many people are health- and energy-conscious. However, bicycling can become dangerous when a negligent driver causes a bicycle accident that results in a victim suffering life-altering injuries or death.
If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in one of these accidents, you may be entitled to compensation from the negligent driver. The experienced bicycle accident attorneys at Case Barnett Law have years of experience in helping our clients obtain justice and holding negligent drivers accountable for compensating bicycle victims. To find out how we can assist you, fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free consultation.
How Negligent Drivers Cause Bicycle Accidents
While bicycle riders can be involved in an accident with a motorcycle, another bicycle, or pedestrian, many crashes involve a much larger motor vehicle or commercial truck. Common ways that negligent drivers cause these tragic accidents include:
- Not maintaining safe distance. Motorists have a duty to keep a safe distance behind other vehicles—even bicycles. When drivers breach their duty, they can cause a rear-end collision with a bicycle.
- Failing to stop. Many bicycle crashes occur at intersections or stop signs when the bicyclist obeys traffic laws, but the driver of a truck or automobile does not. Another common way drivers cause intersection accidents is by failing to stop or yield the right of way to the bicyclist at a stop sign when the bicycle rider has no stop sign or otherwise has the right to proceed first.
- Speeding. When a driver is speeding, he may be unable to slow down and stop his vehicle quickly enough to avoid an oncoming bicyclist.
- Distracted driving. Many bike accidents are caused when a passenger vehicle driver does not see the bicyclist. This is much more likely when the driver is engaging in unsafe distracted driving, such as eating and drinking, looking at a GPS device, or texting.
- Open door accidents. An unsuspecting bicycle rider could be injured in an open door wreck if an inattentive driver opens his vehicle door without looking and slams the door into the bike.
- Right turn accidents. Some bike accidents happen when a driver is turning right but fails to see a bike rider who is on the right of his vehicle. In some cases, the cause is the failure of the driver to check his blind spot before turning.
- Side-swipe crashes. A driver who is passing a bicycle can sideswipe a bicycle rider if he does not leave sufficient space between his vehicle and the bike.
- Intoxication. Because drug or alcohol use impairs a driver’s vision, reaction time, and overall driving skills, an intoxicated driver is more likely to fail to see a bike rider or make poor driving decisions that lead to a crash.
Common Injuries Caused in Bicycle Accidents
When a negligent driver hits a bicycle, the results can be catastrophic for the person on the bike. This is due to both the size difference between the vehicles and also the lack of protection for the bicycle rider. He only has a bicycle helmet—we hope he is wearing one—and his clothes as protection. He lacks the protection that the steel-and-plastic shell of a car provides. As a result, the injuries he suffers tend to be much more severe than those of the driver or passengers of the motor vehicle. The bicyclist has a far higher risk of fatal injuries, too.
Common injuries caused by these accidents include:
- Broken bones and more serious fractures.
- Traumatic brain injury and other brain injuries.
- Back and neck injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries—including partial or complete paralysis.
- Internal organ damage.
- Deep lacerations and bruises.
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement.
Fortunately, victims of a bicycle accident may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses, back and future lost wages, lost earning capacity if the rider is disabled or must make a career change, and pain and suffering. However, injured bike riders need the assistance of an experienced attorney to fight for the compensation that they deserve.
What Happens in the Settlement and Litigation of Your Case
One of your first steps after a bike accident should be to contact an experienced bicycle accident attorney. In rare instances, you may be able to settle your claim on your own. If you suffered only minor injuries—such as a twisted ankle that quickly healed or a cut that needed stitches—and if you missed little or no time off work, you can probably settle your claim without an attorney. However, whenever you suffered anything but these very minor injuries, you need the assistance of an attorney in settling your claim. This is especially true when there are disputes with the insurance company or you became disabled as a result of your injuries.
While your claim for compensation will most likely be settled without the need to go to trial, this is no assurance that you will not need to fight to get what you deserve or that the process will happen quickly. At Case Barnett Law, we understand the importance of thoroughly investigating our clients’ bike accidents and preparing their cases for trial, even when we believe that we may be able to settle their claim.
Here are the basic steps our experienced attorneys could take in your case:
- Thoroughly investigating your accident and injuries, which can include interviewing witnesses, collecting pictures and videos of the accident, obtaining the police report, reviewing your medical records, and more.
- Collecting your medical bills and documentation for your lost wages to determine the financial losses you should recoup.
- Retaining any experts, such as a medical expert, who may be necessary to prove your claim.
- Sending the insurance company a demand package that outlines your right to compensation and the amount that you are entitled to.
- Attempting to negotiate a settlement of your case.
- Filing a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to settle your claim with reasonable compensation.
- Engaging in extensive discovery, such as sending out written questions to answer, demanding production of documents, and conducting depositions.
- Taking your case to trial if the insurance company will not agree to a settlement that is fair to you.
Contact Case Barnett Law If You Were Hurt in a Bicycle Accident
If you or a family member was injured in a bicycle accident caused by a negligent party, you have some important choices to make right away. Our experienced legal team is here to help you pursue your legal options so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries. Unlike some other attorneys, we are not afraid to take your case to trial if this is in your best interest. We have a track record of success in trying cases. We are committed to fighting aggressively to obtain justice for you, to keeping you informed of the progress of your case, and to involving you in important decisions concerning your case. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office or fill out our online form today.