Imagine yourself traversing the beautiful California landscape, whether it’s the serene mountains, breathtaking beaches, or the many awe-inspiring bike trails, feeling the wind through your hair and the freedom that only cycling brings. But what if the unthinkable happens and an accident turns your world upside down? According to People Powered Movement, “In an average year, about 11,000 bicyclists get injured and about 160 bicyclists die across California. About one-quarter of these injuries and deaths happen in Los Angeles County. For example, in 2019, 36 bicyclists were killed in LA.”
In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one is injured in a bicycling accident, you need to know what steps you need to take to preserve your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve. This article provides actionable steps so you know exactly what to do in the event of a bike accident in California.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
The first thing you should do in the event you or a loved one was struck by a vehicle while bike riding, is to seek medical attention right away. This is one of the most important steps you can take for several reasons.
Early diagnosis: One is that injuries can sometimes manifest symptoms slowly. In some cases, it could take days before you start to notice symptoms from certain injuries such as whiplash or hairline fractures. Adrenaline can delay the feeling of pain and so can shock. Getting an early diagnosis means treatment for your injuries can begin sooner, and this means that your recovery journey can start sooner rather than later.
Prevention: Two is that seeking medical attention right away can sometimes help to prevent injuries from worsening or even becoming permanent. Waiting to get treatment for pain is a mistake. Pain is a sign that something is wrong in our bodies. It can come from breaks, soft tissue damage, nerve damage, and even brain damage. Waiting can make it harder to recover, take longer to recover, or make a total recovery impossible. And in rare cases, an undiagnosed injury could lead to death.
Creating a record: Three is that seeking medical attention quickly after a bicycle accident creates a medical record of the event. This record is time sensitive and help you during settlement negotiations or litigation if your case goes to trial. It proves that you suffered the injuries you claim and creates a causal link between the accident and your injuries.
Get a Lawyer
It is critical that you get yourself legal representation right away. An experienced bike accident lawyer in California is critical in these situations because they already have experience in these matters. They understand the processes involved and understand how to navigate the legalities involved. From filing a claim and representing you during negotiations to filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial, a qualified personal injury specialist knows exactly what it takes to get you the biggest settlement the law will allow.
When it comes to any personal injury claim, gathering as much evidence as possible is paramount to building a strong case and getting the most compensation possible. Gathering evidence began with seeking medical attention and creating a medical report. But it doesn’t end there. The strength of your case depends on having as much evidence in your favor as possible.
This includes police reports, eyewitness statements, expert testimony, pictures or video of the damages and injuries, rehabilitation records, documentation of missed work and lost wages, loss of opportunities, and proof of a decrease in quality of life. Loss of quality of life can result from ongoing treatment, disabilities resulting from the accident, and loss or impairment of limbs.
Proving Negligence in Bicycle Accident Claims
Under California law, there are four parts to establishing negligence. The general standards are:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- The defendant breached this duty
- The defendant’s breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries
- The plaintiff suffered damages
Duty of care
A duty of care is the legal obligation one has to protect the health and safety of others. Any time you are behind the wheel of an automobile, you have a duty of care toward everyone else you share the road with. You must be aware of those around you. You must take care not to endanger others. There is a level of reasonable expectancy here. For example, you are expected to not drive impaired; you are expected to drive slowly and carefully through neighborhoods; you are expected to watch for bicyclists – especially during times of low visibility.
Breach of duty of care
A breach of this duty is when an individual does not take reasonable precautions or acts in a way that could put others in danger. For example, driving fast through a neighborhood with kids; driving under the influence of a controlled substance; or speeding around corners with low visibility – these are examples of activities and behaviors that could lead to an accident, and it is because of a breach of care of duty.
The breach resulted in injuries
A causal link must be established between the accident caused by a breach of duty of care and the injuries you suffered as a result of the breach.
Damages were sustained
Last, damages have to be proven. This can be established via medical records and police reports – evidence in your favor.
Bicyclists are Motorists, Too
The fact that bicyclists in California are considered motorists under the law does not take away from the fact that drivers owe you the same duty of care they owe pedestrians as well as fellow motorists. If you were following all applicable laws and a driver struck you out of pure negligence, your case may be handled quickly. But even if you weren’t aware of certain requirements you still may be entitled to compensation under California law.
Comparative Negligence Laws
This is because the state of California abides by comparative negligence standards. This means that even if you were partly at fault, the amount of compensation you are entitled to is compared to the percentage of fault that was yours. In other words, if the awarded settlement is $100,000 and you were found to be 30% liable for the accident, your share of the award would be $70,000.
In conclusion, seeking medical attention should be the first thing you do after a bicycle accident in California in order to treat injuries and create medical records of the incident. Get a good personal injury lawyer that specializes in bicycle accidents and knows what to do. Gather as much evidence as you can to build a strong case in your favor, establishing you as the victim of someone else’s negligence. Establish that the defendant owed you a duty of care, that the defendant breached this duty, that the defendant’s breach caused your injuries, and that you suffered damages.
Taking reasonable steps and following the advice of your attorney can result in accountability for the negligent driver, a substantial settlement award, and the justice you deserve. If you or a loved one were involved in a bicycling accident in California, contact Pyramid Legal today for a free consultation. We will discuss your legal options and provide you with a clear path forward. You deserve to be compensated for your damages and we’re ready to fight to preserve your rights and get you the biggest settlement allowed under the law.