The California Bicycle Accident Guide was created by our attorneys to help residents obtain maximum compensation from the negligent party. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a bicycle crash, contact our office for a free consultation.
After a bicycle accident, it is not uncommon to be in shock. You may have been thrown from your bicycle onto the road, had the wind knocked out of you, and possibly even been knocked out. It’s a terrible situation and we are so sorry that you had to go through it.
We understand that you may be feeling scared. You’re most likely hurt, and looking at getting expensive treatment. Perhaps your insurance isn’t covering your treatment and you’re scared about how you are going to make this work. That is where having an experienced lawyer is so helpful. You won’t have to go through the legal process alone. They will be there to help you through all of it. Our California bicycle accident lawyer, Mindy Bish, has the experience you need to win.
Types of Bicycle Accidents
If you are a cyclist in Los Angeles, you will know how frustrating it is to ride in the city. It certainly is dangerous and Los Angeles is the deadliest city in America for these types of accidents. While the city is attempting to improve bike lanes, it’s slow moving. Drivers in any big city, particularly this one, are in a big hurry to get where they’re going and are often careless.
Some examples of the causes of these accidents include:
- Drivers unlawfully using the bike lane
- Drivers throwing open their door in front of a cyclist
- Pedestrians stepping into the bike lane
- Distracted, drowsy, or drunk driving
- Bad road conditions
That last cause is an interesting one, because at that point, you might be bringing a claim against the city of Los Angeles because of the road conditions. These cases are very particular and you should get to an attorney right away to discuss what needs to happen because you may have less time to get this claim together.
Mistakes to Avoid
There are several mistakes that you could make in a bicycle accident case. The biggest error relates to medical attention. It is of no interest to you to not seek medical attention. You need your injuries looked at. You need to get treatment for them so that you can start to get better. We also want you to get examined so that we know what your injuries are, how bad they are, and how long they are going to affect you. All of this goes into how much your case is worth. If you fail to go to the doctor and get your injuries evaluated, we are going to have a hard time putting together a claim for you. You may even be at risk of having your claim thrown out by the insurance company.
It is very important that you interact with the insurance company appropriately. Sometimes that means not interacting with them at all. The adjuster that will be assigned your claim has been trained to ask you particular questions that will put you in the place to incriminate yourself. You do not want to play into their games. It is a losing battle and will only be a disadvantage. It is almost guaranteed that they will reach out to you after the accident. If they call you, you do not have to answer. If you do answer, you can tell them that you have an attorney and if they have any questions, they can talk to that attorney and not you. That’s our biggest job. We take over communications between you and the insurance as it is likely they will try to do everything in their power to make the accident seem like it was your fault.
How Fault Affects Compensation
In California, if you are at fault for any portion of the accident, you don’t have to worry about being barred from getting compensation. You can only not receive any compensation whatsoever if you are entirely responsible for your accident, which is highly unlikely in bicycle accident cases. Most of the time, these accidents happen because cars do not see you and do not yield to you. The way compensation works in California is by the rules of pure comparative negligence.
You will be found at fault for some percent of the accident. Sometimes that percent is zero, and sometimes its more. If it is more than zero, your compensation will be affected by it. Let’s say for example, you have been awarded $10,000 for your damages and injuries, etc. Let’s say you were also found to be 30% at fault for the accident. The way that fault affects your award is it gets reduced by that amount of fault. You would be barred from collecting 30% of the award, leaving you with $7,000.
Our goal is to keep the insurance company from being able to pin the fault of the accident on you. We want you to win full and fair compensation. The insurance company uses bullying tactics that are designed to keep you from getting just compensation.
Frequently Asked Bicycle Accident Questions
How Do I Pick the Right Bike Accident Attorney?
When dealing with issues of bicycle incidents versus cars, you want an attorney not only who’s good at personal injury lawsuits, but specifically knows what they’re talking about with respect to bicycles and is capable and has done previous trials involving bicycle versus car, bicycle versus sidewalks that have disrepair. The reason is because those cases, those incidents, have to be framed differently than the standard car versus car. People perceive bicycles in a different light than they do car drivers, and if you don’t have the experience of dealing with bicycle incidents, you will not approach it from the right perspective and your chances of prevailing at trial are reduced.
What is the Difference Between Bike and Car Accidents?
When I meet with people who were injured in bicycle claims, as opposed to car accidents or truck accidents, typically the injuries are more severe because bicycle incidents usually occur between a person on a bicycle and a car, and the person on the bicycle doesn’t have the same luxury of protection that a car driver does. You’re exposed to the elements, the streets, and the vehicles that whiz past you, so it’s important to understand that the injuries are more severe, the claims tend to be larger, but with that comes more fight from the other side, because there’s more to be concerned with the exposure that they face. Find a lawyer you trust, follow their instructions and guidance, and they can guide you through the difficult process.
Should I Speak to the Insurance Company?
When first meeting with a client, they have usually been contacted by an insurance company at that point, and the natural inclination is to cooperate because there’s nothing to hide; you’re just going to tell the truth. The problem is this may be your first bicycle collision or incident and it’s the insurance company’s one-thousandth that week. They know what they’re doing. They know how to set you up for the wrong answer that can be then used against you in a way to reduce your claim, dismiss your injuries, or to get your case thrown out. It’s important that you consult with an attorney. My suggestion is to never give statements to the insurance company without first talking to an attorney you trust and coming up with a game plan and strategy. I personally do not let my clients speak to insurance companies. If they want to do it, they do it through me, with my presence, and usually in writing.
Do I Have a Claim if a Pothole Caused My Accident?
If your bicycle injury occurred as a result of a pothole, uneven pavement, sidewalk, or concrete, the claim depends on where the incident happened. The answer is yes, you do have a claim. The issue is determining who is responsible; that can be a private landowner, if it happened on a sidewalk where they made alterations to the sidewalk without government approval. Most sidewalks are controlled and operated by the municipality where you were in. Just because the incident did not happen with another car, but it happened on a sidewalk or on the street, does not prevent you from having a claim. The issue is just determining who the claim should be made against, which governs how much time we have to make that claim.
How Much is This Case Worth?
The answer is not always simple. The easiest answer I can give you is it depends on the severity of the injury. A lot of the value of the claim depends on your participation, meaning you have to start right off the bat finding a lawyer you’re comfortable with. Follow that lawyer’s advice. Seek medical attention for all the injuries that you have. Listen to the doctor and what they recommend, even if you don’t think that you suffer from those injuries, because they know best. As long as you follow all the steps, and follow instruction and guidance of your attorneys and doctors, your claim will be bolstered to its maximum value.
How Long Will This Case Last?
There is no easy answer. This is specifically true for bicycle incidents because the injuries are severe, the treatment may last years, and it is important to complete the treatment or at least get a sense from your doctors on how long it will go on. Your doctors will serve as experts at trial to give an idea of what the future holds for you as their patient and as a witness and a party to a lawsuit, so there is a finite amount of damages that we can present. Depending on the severity of injuries and the evidence available, that can take a few months or it that may take a few years.
Is There a Time Limit to Filing a Claim?
When a client asks, after they were involved in a bicycle incident, how long they have to file a claim, I tell them that it depends. If it’s against a private citizen or a company, it’s the typical two-year statute of limitation. If the incident occurs with a government entity, perhaps a bus or a DWP employee driving a company car or truck, we have a six month government claim window, which makes the initial steps much more critical and important to start off on the right foot, with the right tempo and the right tone.
Call Our California Bicycle Accident Lawyers Today
If you’ve been seriously injured in a bicycle accident, and you want competent legal representation, please call our lawyer today. Our experienced California bicycle accident lawyer, Mindy Bish, is here to help guide you through the challenges and obstacles of an injury claim. When you sit down for a free consultation, you will feel supported and prioritized. You are not just another case to us, we want to help you get full and fair compensation.
About the Author
Mindy Bish made the best decision of her life when she decided to attend law school in her thirties. She has been practicing law since being licensed in 1993, and specifically been fighting for injured people since 1995. She has always strongly believed that injured people should be awarded fair compensation both for their medical bills, but also their pain and suffering. This belief was strengthened when Mindy suffered from her own collision, when driving 50 miles per hour on the highway, she was struck by a semi-truck. This led to multiple surgeries and an even stronger conviction to helping clients after being on the other side of a lawsuit.
Mindy has devoted her life to the practice of law, staying up to date on the new ways of practicing and how she can assist clients. She has graduated from the Trial Lawyer’s College and is co-dean of the Keenan Trial Institute and is qualified to teach seven of their twelve available courses. Mindy also monitors a California Listserve for trial attorneys, as well as a national one.