A bicycle accident can be a devastating occurrence. A person being hit by two tons of metal when they have nothing to protect them but a helmet and some elbow pads can cause numerous injuries and even death. In 2017 alone, there were 783 fatalities in the United States due to bicycle accidents, and the number of traffic fatalities in the United States has increased over the last decade. The proliferation of cell phone use and the larger size of personal vehicles has contributed to this increase. So, If you have been injured in a bike accident due to another person's negligence, you may be able to recover damages for medical bills.
Bicycle Accidents in California
California is a comparative fault state when it comes to auto insurance. That means that if you are hit by a car when you are on your bike, the driver is responsible for a percentage of damages you incurred as a result of the accident based on the degree to which the driver was responsible for having caused the accident. For example, if the driver is determined to be 80 percent responsible for an accident, you can recover 80 percent of the costs associated with your medical bills and damages to your car from their insurance company.
When you are in an accident, it is important to remain at the scene and wait for the police to arrive. Be sure to get the driver's contact and insurance information. Collect the names of any witnesses that might have seen the accident occur and take pictures of the accident scene if you can. Moreover, you should go to the doctor after an accident, even if you feel it is not absolutely necessary, because there are some types of injuries that may not be immediately apparent.
If you do have medical bills, be sure to save a copy of each one of them. Keep the receipt for all prescription and nonprescription drugs that you may take due to your accident, and make sure you document any time you missed from work as a result of the accident. Moreover, try to document any other expenses related to the collision such as bills for housekeeping or childcare, and be sure to call the driver's insurance company as soon as you can to report the crash.
Determining Fault in a Bicycle Accident
As you can imagine, who is to blame for an accident in comparative negligence states can be hotly contested. There are a few things that insurance companies use to determine who is at fault.
The Police Report
When you have an accident, the police will fill out a form detailing everything that happened before, during, and after the crash. Although it is not always admissible in court, insurance companies may use the report to decide who was at fault. The accident report will list such things as what time the accident occurred, the date of the accident, and the weather conditions at the time of the accident. It will also list the configuration of the cars when the crash occurred, and it should include the names of any witnesses. Make sure that all the details are correct on the report, especially the time and date. You have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim in California. If the officer accidentally listed the wrong date, your case may be affected. If a traffic ticket was issued to one party, it may be considered a strong piece of evidence as to who was at fault.
Your Conversation with The Insurance Company
When you call the other driver's insurance company after an accident, they will have plenty of questions for you. They will ask you about every single detail of the incident. Many of their questions are designed to trip you up, so they don't have to pay you what you are owed. They may ask to record the conversation, but you can always say no. They will also ask you to provide any evidence that you have in your possession, such as medical bills and auto repair bills. Just remember, what you tell the insurance company will play a major part in their determination of fault.
Why Your Claim May Be Denied
If you were riding against traffic, not wearing the proper safety protection, or if you did not obey traffic lights, your claim may be denied, or you may not be able to get the amount of compensation you normally would in a similar accident. Be sure to always wear a helmet, stay in the bike lane on the appropriate side of the road, and stop at every red light or stop sign.
It is unlikely that a driver of a car would be injured when they hit a person on a bike. However, if you were fully or partially responsible for an accident, the other driver may sue you. For example, if a car swerves to avoid hitting you and crashes into another car, you may be considered partially responsible.
Should I Hire an Attorney?
As you can imagine by the answer to the above question about working directly with an insurance company, hiring an attorney is one of the best steps that you can take to make sure that you get the compensation that you rightfully deserve after your accident.
Many people think that they need to wait until their claims investigation is concluded before starting to work with a lawyer, but the best way to build a strong and aggressive case is by partnering with a law firm before you even file a claim. This way, you will be able to take every possible step to hopefully maximize your settlement amount in your California personal injury case.
Frequently Asked Questions about Orange County Bicycle Accidents
The following are just a few examples of questions that we will be happy to answer about your specific situation during your free initial consultation. Of course, the answers to these questions depend on a lot of information that we will need to gather about your case, so the best way to get the answers to your own questions is by contacting us as soon as possible.
Who is at fault for my bicycle accident?
Determining fault in an accident, whether it is between two or more vehicles, a cyclist and a car, a car and a pedestrian, or even a single-car accident requires a lot of investigation into the moments leading up to the crash. This could include details such as the speed that the driver was traveling, whether or not there were any citations issued as a result of the crash, eyewitness accounts, and more.
We will gather all of the information about your accident, including the accident report and any eyewitness statements, as well as possible surveillance tapes or other evidence that can help us determine who is at fault. It is important that fault is clearly assigned because it impacts the amount of money you will ultimately receive for a settlement.
Should I work directly with the driver's insurance company to settle my claim?
Working directly with an insurance company is a typical way to get an accident claim settled, but it is important that you understand how to properly handle these negotiations. Insurance companies are focused on limiting the amount of money that gets paid out for any specific accident claim involving their clients, meaning that when you are working with the adjuster, they are looking for every possible way to reduce your payment.
After the investigation of your claim is completed, the adjuster will come back to you with a settlement offer. In exchange for this settlement amount, you will be required to waive your ability to seek any additional compensation for this accident, regardless of any new information or developments that may arise. This is why it is ABSOLUTELY essential that you consult with a personal injury attorney before agreeing to any type of settlement or signing any sort of document with an insurance company.
How much is my bicycle accident case worth?
As with the rest of these frequently asked questions, the answer to this question depends on a lot of the specifics about your situation, including the amount of your medical bills, the severity of your injuries, and how big of an impact this accident has had on your earning capacity. Contact us now to discuss these specifics in greater detail so that we can start to formulate an accurate settlement amount and start working on an aggressive negotiation tactic.
When Should I Contact a Bicycle Accident Attorney?
If you've been injured in a bicycle accident, contacting an experienced bicycle accident lawyer is in your best interest. Greedy insurance companies do not want to pay out injury claims to those who have expenses arising from their collision. They are a business that is trying to maximize their profits, resulting in many bicycle accident victims being taken advantage of.
Those who would like a free consultation from our bicycle accident lawyers in Orange County can call (714) 898-4444. We'll evaluate your claim for free with no obligations to retain our services. We've helped injury victims recover over $1 Billion since 1981 and have a no win, no fee policy.