Lodi Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Many of us love riding a bicycle for pleasure and exercise. However, no matter how careful we are as cyclists, the risk of an accident always remains. Unlike occupants of motor vehicles, cyclists have no safety features to protect them from harm’s way in a crash. As a result, some cyclists may suffer injuries such as internal trauma, dental damage, facial scarring, cervical sprain, spinal cord injuries, bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries, or even fatal injuries in some extreme cases.Common Reasons for Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle safety is everyone’s responsibility. Cyclists, like drivers, must exercise due care both on and off the road. However, a cyclist’s right-of-way is not always respected by all drivers. When driver error is attributed to a bicycle crash, the driver may be held financially responsible for the accident. Some of the common reasons why a bicycle collision is caused by a motorist include:
- Distracted Driving: Drivers are guilty of distraction at times. Texting and talking on a cell phone, applying makeup, and adjusting the stereo are common forms of distractions.
- Drunk Driving: The use of alcohol and drugs is a significant cause of bicycle crashes. Certain drugs, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, can also affect the ability of a motorist to drive safely.
- Failure to Stop: Disobeying traffic signals and signs is also a common reason for bicycle crashes. Approximately 40 percent of all traffic collisions occur at intersections. A majority of these accidents are attributed to drivers running a red light or stop sign.
- Road Defects: Bicycle accidents can be caused by road and sidewalk hazards. These can include debris such as fallen leaves and tree limbs, potholes, lack of bicycle lanes, and areas where roads have irregular surfaces. Sidewalks can be hazardous due to tree roots and heaved or broken curbs and sidewalks. When the government entity responsible for maintaining the roadway or sidewalk fails to do so, it can be held financially liable for a bicycle crash.
- Speeding: Motorists who drive above the posted speed limit or too fast for weather or road conditions have less time to react. This is one of the common causes of bicycle collisions.
- Time of Day and Weather: Most cyclists avoid riding in inclement conditions or during certain times of the day. A cyclist who is out in the rain is less likely to be seen by motorists due to poor visibility. Conversely, the glare of the late afternoon sun can also make it difficult for drivers to see cyclists.
The types of damages awarded in a personal injury claim vary upon the specifics of the case. Following are the damages that are generally recovered in a bicycle accident:
- Medical Expenses: Any costs of past and future medical care that is reasonable and necessary may be claimed. These include ambulance bills, trips to the emergency room, physician visits, laboratory tests, physical rehabilitation, surgical procedures, and more. Out of pocket expenses such as the cost to travel to and from medical appointments may also be reimbursed.
- Lost Wages: Injured cyclists often miss time at work and struggle to return to a normal life after suffering a bicycle-related injury. The amount of time a person is off work to recover from an injury, including any commissions, bonuses or other financial incentives may be reimbursed.
- Future Wage Loss: If the injured party cannot return to the same job or is unable to earn wages due to the severity of the injury, wages lost in the future may also be recovered. This is usually determined by the age, health, life expectancy, skills, history of earnings and training of the injured person. An injury attorney may hire life care planners, accountants, and vocational experts to make sure future lost wages are accurately documented and recovered.
- Disfigurement: Scarring and other unsightly marks commonly result from a bicycle accident. Even with protective equipment such as helmets and knee pads, a cyclist is still susceptible to suffering burns, lacerations and road rash. These injuries can lead to permanent scarring and other damages. A scar in an area of the body that cannot be easily covered such as the face can lead to a loss of self-esteem. Conversely, facial scarring can also come with a high cost from affecting your ability to work in certain professions to thousands of dollars to correct with cosmetic procedures and surgery. When this happens, an injured cyclist is entitled to recover for the disfigurement, emotional suffering, and costs of cosmetic surgery.
- Loss of Consortium: An injured cyclist and/or their spouse may seek damages for loss of consortium. They include the loss of society, assistance, comfort, protection, affection, care, love, and enjoyment of sexual relations. Moreover, the inability to conceive children may also be considered. This type of damage can be quantified by an experienced bicycle accident lawyer in Lodi.
- Pain and Suffering: This non-economic damage takes into consideration the intangible harms suffered by an injured cyclist. These include emotional and mental suffering caused by an injury such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An ascertainable value cannot be placed on this type of damage as the extent of trauma endured by an injured person varies.
- Property Damage: If a bicycle and other personal property such as glasses, watches or clothing are damaged in an accident, the injured cyclist may be able to seek reimbursement for the replacement of those possessions.
- Punitive Damages: In cases of egregious conduct such as drunk driving, punitive damages may be sought from the at-fault driver. These are intended to punish the negligent party from committing such acts ever again.
- Wrongful Death: Losing a loved one in a bicycle accident can cause immense emotional suffering and mental anguish. The loss of that loved one’s income and support are also often lost, especially if he or she was the primary provider for the family. In these cases, the costs of a loved one's end-of-life medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, loss of household services and future income for the family, lost inheritance, and loss of companionship, love, and affection may be claimed. While no amount of money can ever replace a loved one, monetary compensation from a wrongful death claim can help provide a family with the financial resources needed to move forward from their loss.
In some instances, a driver will provide a statement with his or her own version of the accident. This may contradict what happened and apportion liability to an injured cyclist. Since California operates under a system of comparative fault, this can reduce the amount of compensation an injured party would receive otherwise. This means the financial compensatory damages available for the injured cyclist would be reduced by his or her share of fault. For this reason, it is essential to retain an experienced bicycle accident lawyer in Lodi. An experienced attorney can ensure your right to fair compensation is protected while you recover from your injuries.Is There Enough Insurance?
It is essential to understand that the amount of compensation you can recover in a personal injury case will depend on the amount of car insurance coverage available. If the negligent motorist has little to no insurance coverage, your uninsured/underinsured motorist protection may be used to cover the remainder or entirety of your losses. This type of insurance may also be used in a hit and run bicycle accident. If you do not have such coverage, you may use your own health insurance to pay your medical expenses. While you may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault driver for not having auto insurance, the chances of obtaining that compensation are slim to none unless he or she has independent wealth.Statute of Limitations
In California, a person who is injured in a bicycle accident only has two years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury claim. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. If an injured person waits to file after two years have elapsed, the case is likely to be dismissed by the court. Time is also of the essence in a personal injury case as the statute may be shorter than two years. For instance, if a cyclist suffered an injury due to a road defect or was hit by a city or state vehicle, a notice with the intent to file an injury claim must be provided within six months or 180 days from the date of the incident.How a Lodi Bicycle Accident Attorney Can Help
After a bicycle accident, it is common for drivers and their insurance companies to dispute liability for the incident. In other instances, insurance companies may also extend an offer for a settlement that is unreasonably low. An experienced bicycle accident attorney in Lodi can help in these cases by properly evaluating your claim and compiling evidence that proves the liability of the responsible party. This way, the injury lawyer can build a strong case for fair compensation of damages incurred. To learn what to look for in an attorney, watch the below video.Bicycle Accident Injury FAQ
My child was injured in an accident while riding a bicycle. What are our options?
Drivers have a higher duty of care to exercise when children are on the road. This means that motorists are expected to drive more cautiously when there are children riding bicycles or walking in the area. Even if the driver involved in the accident was determined not to be at fault, you may still be able to claim damages on your child’s behalf. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations is often “tolled” or extended for a period until a minor turns 18 years old. From that time, the injured person has two years to file a claim for personal injury.
I rode my bicycle over a pothole which caused me to fall off and suffer a serious head injury. Am I able to pursue a claim for damages?
Yes. You will usually be able to file a personal injury claim if you can prove that the roadway was not properly maintained by the government entity and that it was foreseeable that a cyclist would be riding in that area. It must be shown that the government entity was aware of the road defect and failed to issue a warning or repair the hazard. Conversely, if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, responsible parties may hire experts such as biomechanics to dispute your head injury claim. These experts are often used to testify that a head injury was attributed to a lack of helmet use. It is essential to speak with an experienced injury lawyer promptly following a collision to protect your best interests.
What if I can’t afford an attorney to handle my case?
Most attorneys handle bicycle accident cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning you will not be required to pay any fees upfront. Attorneys’ fees and costs are only to be paid if your lawyer can obtain fair compensation for you.Lodi Bicycle Accident Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a Lodi bicycle accident lawyer. Injuries in a bicycle accident can be traumatic due to a cyclist’s lack of physical protection. If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident caused by the negligence of someone else, you may benefit from the insight of an experienced injury attorney. Please feel free to give me a call at (209) 227-1931 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.
Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 12.29.20]
Other Photograph Sources: By "Claimaccident" and "JamesDeMers" via Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons
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