Across California, cycling has become a way of life for many. Gorgeous Oceanside is normally a very safe place for cycling. Not only is it very easy and convenient to get around on a bike, the city maintains several local biking trails and the city is home to a number of cycling clubs. Even so, accidents do happen and cycling can be a very dangerous activity.
According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, in 2014, fifty-five cyclists (including six young children) were either injured or killed while riding their bicycles. As compared to cities of similar size across California, Oceanside ranks 22nd out of 57 in terms of bicycle safety.
From cars and buses to pedestrians and other cyclists, there are numerous ways that collisions between vehicles and bicyclists can occur.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle owners know firsthand how dangerous California’s roads can be. Many drivers forget to look for crossing cyclists and sometimes bicycles can end up in blind spots. Riding a bicycle in the road can be hazardous. At night, bicyclists are much more difficult to see, even when all of the proper reflective equipment is being utilized. The reality is that sometimes, drivers simply do not pay enough attention to people not driving cars.
Even the sidewalks and bike trails can be dangerous occasionally. While riding a bicycle off the roads is often safer than riding in the road, accidents can happen anywhere. Bicycles have to share the sidewalk with other people including runners, skaters, and rollerbladers. Most of the time, riding a bicycle is a perfectly safe way to get around, but collisions always hurt when they happen. Even pedestrians walking slowly can cause crashes by stopping or shifting directions without warning. Either way, if a cyclist falls victim to the negligence of some other person and an accident happens, the cyclist may be able to get a legal recovery.
Driver negligence: the two most common types of driver-cyclist accidents are left turn crosses and right turn side swipes. Left turn crosses happen where a car turns left at an intersection and rams head on into a bicycle. Not only are motorists laser-focused on oncoming traffic rather than bicycles, but when making left turns, bicycles often end up in blind spots. Right turn side swipes occur where a car turns right without warning and slams head-on into a bicycle. These types of swipes are very common because drivers look less often before making right turns, particularly when turning into driveways, because right turns are normally very safe for cars.
Hit and run: These type of accidents are, unfortunately, way too common than they should be. Often, the driver will be frightened and take off without checking to see if the accident victim is injured. Talking to witnesses who saw the accident may be critical to learn the identity of the driver.
Unsafe driving speeds: Speeding is one of the most dangerous roadway habits drivers have, and it makes accidents all the more deadly. It may be hard to determine exactly how fast a car was moving just by looking at it, but often it will be obvious that a driver exceeded the posted speed limit. These crashes are particularly deadly.
Drug and alcohol use: From drunk drivers to drunk pedestrians, alcohol and drugs create a hazard for cyclists. Alcohol consumption impairs sensory perception and makes it harder to see cyclists, even when they wear reflectors.
Dooring: It happens in movies all the time, but does it happen in real life too. Drivers are always less vigilant when their vehicles are stopped than when they are moving. Most drivers open their doors without looking or thinking, creating instant sidewalk and roadway hazards. Most cyclists cannot react fast enough to avoid running into opening car doors.
Insurance issues: While many drivers have auto insurance, do not assume that everyone does. Fewer people actually have car insurance than someone would believe. Uninsured motorists and accidents involving skaters or runners can be particularly tricky because it is harder to track down a means of repayment.
Government vehicles: While government vehicles, such as city busses or roadwork construction vehicles, can be responsible for all of the same types of accidents described above, government vehicles warrant a special mention because California law requires accident victims to promptly report their claims to preserve the ability to recover. If you have been injured by a government vehicle such as a city bus, contact us immediately to preserve your right to sue.
In addition to driver-caused accidents, other types of road hazards can also be grounds to get a legal recovery. For example, other common causes of bicycle accidents include:
Faulty repair: Most bicycle repair shops are professional and do good work, but sometimes, they may use bad parts or not fully complete repair work. Busted chains and failed brakes are an accident waiting to happen and you might not realize the problem before it is too late.
Manufacturing defect: Sometimes, bicycles come out of the box with defective parts, but these types of defects create the exact same hazards as faulty repair work.
Defective equipment (including faulty helmets and reflectors): New technology is being created all the time, but sometimes, products that are extremely important for road safety are not thoroughly tested or simply do not work as advertised.
Breach of manufacturer’s warranty: Many products such as helmets come with a warranty that describes the type of protection offered. Occasionally, the product does not perform as the warranty claims, which can result in injuries.
Dog chase/bite accidents: Animals can be unpredictable, and while they may not mean any harm, they can be hazardous to cyclists. Pet owners can be held liable for any injuries caused by their pets.
Road debris and street defects: Often, no person or thing is truly responsible for an accident or fall, but the road or sidewalk itself might be to blame. Poorly maintainedbike trails or potholes in the road can cause severe injuries when cyclists run into them and fall.
While many different factors may have contributed to your Oceanside bicycle accident, you need a lawyer with an investigative team on your side that can collect and examine all of the relevant evidence and assess what is the proper basis for your personal injury claim.
What To Do After an Oceanside Bicycle Accident
If you are physically able, call the police and ask for medical assistance. Even if you and the reckless driver think your injuries are relatively minor, still ask for an officer to come to the scene of the accident so they can file an accident report. This is extremely important because this report can become valuable evidence during the injury claims process.
If possible, use your smartphone to take photos of the scene of the accident, your injuries, the damage to your bicycle, traffic signs, etc. If there were any witnesses, get their contact information. This is important because your Oceanside bicycle accident lawyer may need to contact these people and potentially depose them to establish liability on the part of the reckless driver.
Once you’ve received medical treatment, you should speak to an attorney. Most injury attorneys offer free consultations so there is no financial risk associated with simply speaking to an attorney about your legal options.
Watch YouTube Video: Safety Tips to Improve Bicyclists Visibility, Safety. This video provides some safety tips for bicyclists to increase safety.
Bicycle Accident Injuries Can Be Life-Altering
No matter what caused the accident, injuries suffered in a bicycle accident can be catastrophic given how little protection bicyclists have available. The human body is simply not designed to withstand a head-on collision with a car without any protection, or even while wearing a helmet. Bicyclists hit by vehicles may wind up suffering the following traumatic injuries:
Common Types of Damages that Can Be Recovered in Bicycle Accident Cases
Medical Expenses: Doctor’s visits, medical diagnosis, surgery, and long-term care and treatment can all be recovered under California Law.
Pain and Suffering: Accident injuries hurt. Fortunately, California Law allows accident victims to recover damages associated with the hardship of surviving an accident.
Emotional Distress: Bicycle accidents can be extremely traumatic incidents, causing loss of sleep, recurrent nightmares, and psychiatric trauma. Damages for these emotional injuries can be recovered. Additionally, if you witness a loved one who has a bicycle accident, you may be able to recover damages for your own emotional distress as a bystander.
Lost Income and Earning Capacity: Temporary and permanent disability after an accident can cause accident victims to miss work or even lose their jobs if their injury prevents them from returning to work. These types of economic injuries may also be recoverable as personal injury damages.
California Adheres to Comparative Negligence Standard
In some instances where a bicyclist is involved in a collision, there may be evidence indicating that you were partially at-fault for the accident. Do not fret. California law still allows you to recover economic and non-economic damages. This is because California adopted a pure comparative negligence standard in personal injury cases. That means you can still recover financial restitution after a percentage of fault is deducted. You could conceivably still recover some economic and non-economic damages, even if you were 95 percent at fault for the accident. This is a more generous standard when compared to other states. In fact, some states require that the injured party be no more than 50 percent at fault in order to be able to recover damages. For example, if a plaintiff seeks $200,000 in damages and a jury determines that the plaintiff was 25 percent at fault, they will recover $50,000 in economic and non-economic damages.
Benefits of Hiring an Oceanside Bicycle Accident Lawyer
The personal injury claims process can be quite intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you are injured and trying to recover. Personal injury lawsuits often involve several complex moving parts ranging from settlement negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, investigating the cause of the accident to better craft a winning legal argument, conducting pre-trial discovery and filing a lawsuit in civil court, when necessary. An experienced and skilled Oceanside personal injury lawyer will take the burden off your shoulders and build a compelling case on your behalf.
Hiring an Oceanside bicycle accident attorney is also beneficial because there is a good chance you will recover more money. Obviously, no one can guarantee an outcome to your case, but there is empirical evidence indicating that injured claimants obtain larger settlements and verdicts relative to claimants without legal counsel. This was discovered by the Insurance Research Council when it conducted an exhaustive study involving thousands of claims. Claimants represented by a personal injury lawyer received approximately 3.5 times more in financial compensation than other claimants who opted not to retain an attorney.
Take Legal Action Sooner Rather Than Later
The sooner you take action, the better. Why? Because under California law, you only have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is known as the California statute of limitations. This period is even shorter if you were hit by a city or state vehicle. If a driver employed by a local government entity is involved, you only have six months to file notice of a claim. This is why you need to speak to an Oceanside Bicycle Accident attorney about your legal case sooner rather than later.
Medical Bills Piling Up
Additionally, suffering a serious injury in a bicycle accident can have life-altering consequences. You may have bills piling up and little income coming in since you are forced to miss work to recover from your injuries. I am here to help.
Oceanside Bicycle Accident Lawyer
My name is Ed Smith, and I’m an Oceanside bicycle accident lawyer. If you or someone you love has been injured in a serious accident by the carelessness of others, please call me at (760) 509-8818 for free, friendly advice. This is a no-pressure conversation where we can discuss your situation and determine whether it makes sense to move forward with a claim.
I am a Million Dollar Advocate. Advocates are injury lawyers who have obtained case verdicts over $1 Million for past clients.
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