Who Is At Fault?
Identifying what factors caused your bike accident can prove pivotal to your case, and sometimes, more than one party may be liable for your injuries. For example, the motorist who struck you may share fault with a particular city, which failed to properly maintain the roadway. Or perhaps, a stop sign was hidden by foliage, and could have contributed to the accident. A defective part on the bike may mean the manufacturer or bike shop shares the blame. But most bicycle-car collisions are caused by the inattention of the driver. If he or she:
- Failed to obey traffic laws
- Was distracted by a cellphone
- Moved into an intersection unlawfully
- Backed out of a driveway or parking space without looking
- Didn’t check blind spots before merging or turning
- Was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Was making aggressive maneuvers or speeding
Such behavior was negligent, and you have a strong claim for compensation. A major case we handled involved a cyclist who was stuck by a truck approaching from behind, causing a spinal fracture and significant rehabilitation time. We settled for the defendant’s policy limits of $1,150,000.
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Need To Know Biking Laws In California
Part of the claim process involves figuring out who was at fault for the accident. California has a comparative negligence law, meaning that so long as you are found to be less than 51% responsible for the accident you can claim damages. But if you are more than half responsible, you will not receive compensation. In order to protect yourself from being accused of being at fault, it is important to know California laws around biking.
- Always ride with traffic. Bikes are supposed to go in the same direction as cars on the road normally would. The exceptions to this are when riding down a one-way street, taking a left turn, when roadways are too narrow, or when the right side of the road is sectioned off for construction.
- Be sure to use the bike lane. Many roads in California include a bike lane. When one is present it must be used unless you are making a left turn, or the bike lane is too hazardous to travel on safely.
- You may “take the lane”, as in drive in the middle of it as a car would, if you are moving slower than traffic and the lane is too narrow to share with a vehicle safely. This is an important law to know, because many drivers, and sometimes even police officers, don’t understand your right to take the lane and may assign you fault where there is none.
- You are not allowed to ride your bike on a freeway or highway. They are deemed to be too fast and too dangerous for conventional bikes.
- Hitching a ride with a car – meaning you grab on to the back of a car as it moves – is never permitted.
- Whether you are allowed to ride your bike on the sidewalk or not is determined by your county or your city. The state of California has no specific laws around riding bikes on sidewalks.
Most drivers assume they know the rules of the road and how to behave around bike riders, but that isn’t always the case. Biking laws can vary a great amount state by state or even county by county. Be sure you know the rules and regulations in your area in order to keep yourself safe physically and legally.
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Common Bicycle Accidents and What to do After Getting into a Bicycle Accident in Orange County
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bicycle accidents account for 2% of all traffic-related deaths. As a bicycle accident law firm in Orange County, we know how serious an injury can be when riding a bicycle and experiencing a collision. It is important to be aware of the following common causes of injuries to cyclists when riding.
Here are the common causes of injury to cyclists:
- Collision/crashed with a fixed object
- Rider error
- Roadway not in good repair
- Hit by a car
Below are common behavioral factors of people involved in bicycle accidents:
- The passenger or driver opened the car door into the oncoming cyclist
- Cyclists failed to stop for a stop sign or ran a red light
- The driver was unable to see the cyclist
Common injuries caused by a bicycle accident include broken bones, soft tissue injury, spinal cord damage, road rash, internal bleeding, and ruptured organs.
Safety is critical when riding a bicycle. However, no matter how careful you are, the chances of an accident are very high. The following steps are what you should do after getting into a bicycle accident:
- Even if you are not injured or the injury is minor, wait for the police to arrive.
- Do not negotiate with the motorist even if they apologize and accept the blame.
- Exchange essential information with the driver, including name, contact number, address, driver’s license number, make of the car, license plate, and insurance policy number.
- Collect the names and contact details of the witnesses.
- Remember all details about the accident including the traffic and road conditions.
- Take photos of the accident scene
- Ensure the police take your accident report.
- Consult a doctor as soon as possible and document your injuries.
- Preserve any damaged clothing or damaged bike parts.
- Do not negotiate directly with your insurance company.
- Seek advice from a bicycle accident attorney Orange County.
If You Have Questions, Don’t Hesitate to Reach Out
If you have suffered an injury in a bicycle accident in Costa Mesa or elsewhere in Orange County, there are certain steps you should take to maximize your chances of receiving compensation. Firstly, you should contact us as soon as possible, as there is a “statute of limitations” on personal injury claims in California, cutting off your ability to file a claim after two years, except in certain circumstances. At the scene of the accident, if possible, you should:
- Contact the police as soon as possible
- Obtain medical treatment immediately
- Obtain the driver’s name, telephone number, address, vehicle information, and the name of his or her insurance company (if you were struck by an automobile driver)
- Obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Use your cell phone to take pictures of the scene, damage to your bike, and of your injuries
If you’re missing one of these elements, or if you’re afraid you’re partially at fault for the accident, don’t worry.
Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie has won hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients over the past 40 years. We understand what to do because we’ve handled hundreds of bicycle accidents in Orange County. California has a doctrine called “comparative fault” wherein your amount of fault will diminish your verdict, proportionally. If the jury thinks you were 10% at fault after awarding you $200,000, you would take home $180,000. We always examine a claim for its strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how to get the optimal results. For a free consultation, please call (949) 752-7474 today.
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Bicycle Accident Attorneys in Newport Beach
Bicycle accidents often lead to devastating injuries for the people involved. Unfortunately, bicycle accidents are not uncommon in Orange County. Our team at Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie is here to help you if you need a bicycle accident attorney by your side.
Our goal is to carefully study bicycle claims, identify liability, and help our clients recover the potential compensation they deserve.
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How Can Our Bicycle Accident Law Firm in Orange County Help You?
Bicycle accident cases in Orange County can be difficult, especially when it comes to identifying liability. Many injury victims don’t have the necessary resources needed to understand their claim. Nonetheless, our bicycle accident lawyers can utilize our legal knowledge, resources, and skills to do the following for you:
- Fully prepare to bring the case to trial if needed to ensure our clients are treated fairly.
- Engage in good faith negotiations with every party involved to reach a fair settlement.
- Ensure the client is assessed by trusted medical professionals who can treat their wounds and injuries and help compute total losses, including future pain and suffering.
- Fully investigate the claim and present all evidence that could prove liability, including video or photo surveillance, police reports, and eyewitness statements.
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