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 internal trauma, dental damage, facial scarring, cervical sprain, spinal cord injuries, bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries, or even fatal injuries in extreme cases.Common Reasons for Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle safety is everyone's responsibility. Cyclists, like drivers, must exercise due care 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, talking on a cell phone, applying makeup, and adjusting the stereo are common 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. Most 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, heaved or broken curbs, and sidewalks. When the government entity responsible for maintaining the roadway or sidewalk fails, 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. A cyclist 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 damages awarded in a personal injury claim vary depending on the case's specifics. Following are the damages that are generally recovered in a bicycle accident:
- Medical Expenses: Any costs of past and future medical care that are 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 traveling to and from medical appointments, may also be reimbursed.
- Lost Wages: Injured cyclists often miss work and struggle to return to everyday life after 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 earn wages due to the severity of the injury, wages lost in the future may also be recovered. This is usually determined by the injured person's age, health, life expectancy, skills, history of earnings, and training. 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, cyclists are still susceptible to 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 from the disfigurement, emotional suffering, and cosmetic surgery costs.
- 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 considers the intangible harms an injured cyclist suffers. 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 replacing 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 and mental anguish. The loss of that loved one's income and support are also often lost, especially if they were 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 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.
Sometimes, a driver will provide a statement with their own version of the accident. This may contradict what happened and apportion liability to an injured cyclist. Since California operates under a comparative fault system, this can reduce the compensation an injured party would receive otherwise. This means the financial compensatory damages available for the injured cyclist would be reduced by their share of the fault. For this reason, retaining an experienced bicycle accident lawyer in Lodi is essential. An experienced attorney can protect your right to fair compensation while you recover from your injuries.Is There Enough Insurance?
It is essential to understand that the compensation you can recover in a personal injury case will depend on the car insurance coverage available. If the negligent motorist has little to no insurance coverage, your uninsured/underinsured motorist protection may cover the remainder or entirety of your losses. This type of insurance may also be used in a hit-and-run bicycle accident. You may use your health insurance to pay your medical expenses if you do not have such coverage. 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 they have independent wealth.Statute of Limitations
In California, a person injured in a bicycle accident only has two years from the incident date 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 court will likely dismiss the case. 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 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 an unreasonably low settlement. An experienced bicycle accident attorney in Lodi can help in these cases by adequately evaluating your claim and compiling evidence that proves the responsible party's liability. This way, the injury lawyer can build a strong case for fair compensation for damages incurred. Watch the video below to learn what to look for in an attorney.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 motorists are expected to drive more cautiously when children ride bicycles or walk in the area. Even if the driver in the accident was determined not to be at fault, you might still be able to claim damages on your child's behalf. Remember that the statute of limitations is often "tolled" or extended until a minor turns 18. 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 severe head injury. Am I able to pursue a claim for damages?
Yes. You will usually be able to file a personal injury claim to prove that the government entity did not properly maintain the roadway 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 during the crash, responsible parties may hire experts such as biomechanics to dispute your head injury claim. These experts often testify that a head injury was attributed to a lack of helmet use. To protect your best interests, speaking with an experienced injury lawyer promptly following a collision is essential.
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. Attorney's fees and costs can only be paid if your lawyer obtains fair compensation.Lodi Bicycle Accident Lawyers
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 someone else's negligence, you may benefit from the insight of an experienced injury attorney. Please call our experienced Lodi bicycle accident attorneys at (209) 227-1931 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.
Editor's Note: updated [cha 7.12.21] Image :ab, "Claimaccident" and "JamesDeMers" on Pixabay ds cha [cs 1878]