If you or a family member have been in a bicycle accident, you know how challenging the post-accident period can be, between physical recovery and insurance settlements. That’s why many bike accident victims elect to work with a bicycle accident lawyer. An attorney who is experienced in these kinds of crashes can help victims get the compensation to which they’re entitled, whether that’s from a motorist’s insurance company or via legal damages pursued in court.
If you need help after a bicycle accident in Lancaster or the Antelope Valley, reach out to Kuzyk Law today. You can call us 24/7 at 661-945-6969, or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Bicycle Injury Facts From Your Antelope Valley Bicycle Accident Attorney
Bicycle accidents can be very serious when they occur in high automobile traffic areas. There are thousands of bicyclists injured in California every year, and very often, this is because motorists failed to obey the right-of-way laws designed to protect them.
A bicycle is no match for a large, heavy motorized passenger vehicle. Auto accidents involving bicycle riders can produce extensive injuries to the bike rider in even the simplest accident at slow speeds.
Bicycle versus vehicle collisions are often devastating to the rider and his or her family and can result in catastrophic injuries, huge medical bills, and even wrongful death.
California Is the Most Dangerous State For Cyclists
Studies show that after a welcome decline in 2010, bicycle accidents have consistently risen across the nation. California has seen an even faster rate of expansion and is now the deadliest state for cyclists.
From 2016 to 2018, 455 bicyclists lost their lives on California roadways.
Contributing reasons for the spike in accidents include, but are not limited to:
- Significant expansion in bike riders in the state
- Sustained rise of automobile use and embrace of larger vehicles
- Distracted driving remains a danger to others on the road regardless of what they drive
- Either automobiles or bicyclists not taking reasonable care or following traffic laws
One of the biggest problem areas for cyclists lies in intersections. In many cases, drivers never see the cyclist
Injured in a Bike Accident? Call the Antelope Valley bicycle accident attorneys at Kuzyk Law Right Away For a Free Consultation! (661) 945-6969
Common Hazards Causing Bicycle Accidents In California
Bicycle accidents happen most often as a result of specific hazards. Unfortunately, we can’t control the actions of others using the road. Even when operators drive carefully and responsibly, accidents happen, and people suffer injuries.
Some of the most common hazards include:
- Distracted driving for any reason
- Alcohol or drug use by drivers
- Excessive speeds from any vehicle involved
- Inability to see cyclist in the night or poor visibility conditions
- Drivers failing to yield before making left turns
- Unable to see bicycles in close proximity to the vehicle
- Excessive gravel or poorly maintained roads
- Lack of shoulder or bike lane
If you have experienced an injury in one of the above or countless other cycling situations, make sure to contact the professional and experienced Antelope Valley bicycle accident attorneys at Kuzyk Law.
While bikes are often lumped in with pedestrian traffic just like individuals who are walking, many individuals who suffer injuries in a bicycle accident can have more difficulty collecting damages than someone who is struck by a vehicle while walking.
A primary issue with bicycle accidents is that bikes typically move much faster than walking pedestrians, and the speed of the bike can impact the degree of injury to the rider. In addition, instances of hit-and-run collisions involving a bicycle are also common, so even identifying a negligent party can also be problematic.
Bicycle Accidents in California Are an Ongoing Problem
Unfortunately, bicycle accidents in the state of California have been an ongoing problem for the last few decades. In fact, according to the most recent data collected, bike accident fatalities are growing, and deaths in California lead the nation in number.
Data that have yet to be released indicate bike accidents in 2020 were still high, even with fewer people on the road due to coronavirus restrictions and an increase in remote work. This is likely due to a combination of several factors:
- Cycling for fitness is continually increasing nationwide.
- Bicyclists can ride throughout most of the year in much of California.
- People have been replacing carpooling and public transit with cycling due to the pandemic, in order to practice social distancing.
Bike Versus Vehicle Makes for Serious Accidents
While it’s common to have a “fender bender” type of minor accident between two motor vehicles, it’s not usually possible when a vehicle is involved in an accident with a bike. When a motor vehicle hits a bicycle, the size difference between the two typically means the bike (and its unprotected rider) bears the brunt of the impact. This is even more significant as more people are driving vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks instead of compact cars.
Beware These Common Causes of Bike Accidents
At Kuzyk Law, we find many of the same contributors cause bike accidents:
- Distracted drivers talking or texting on their cell phones
- Driving under the influence (includes alcohol, recreational drugs, and prescription medications)
- Speeding or drivers going too fast for conditions, like rain and fog
- Drivers not yielding to cyclists as dictated by law
- Lack of bike lanes or shoulder room on the roadway
- Drivers not following the Rules of the Road in the California Vehicle Code (not signaling, ignoring traffic signals, tailgating, etc.)
- Bicyclist not visible to drivers due to heavy traffic, weather, or the cyclist not having a light and reflective clothing
Follow These Steps If You Are in a Bike Accident
Sometimes, despite taking protective action, you still wind up in a bicycle accident. These are the steps you should take if that happens to you:
- Get out of the flow of traffic if possible.
- Call 911 for assistance. Let the operator know your name, mobile number, and location, as well as if you need an ambulance. You may want to ask for an ambulance even if you feel okay, as shock can mask injuries that can flare up later. Law enforcement can help decide who is at fault, which is essential if you need medical care or reimbursement for your damaged bike.
- Let bystanders help you if you need assistance.
- Exchange contact information with the party who is involved. You will also need their license plate and insurance information.
- If a motorist tries to flee the scene, snap a photo with your mobile if you can or write down the license plate number. Enlist the help of witnesses who saw what happened and get their contact information.
- Get any needed emergency medical care and make sure your injuries are well documented.
- Do not say more than is required to anyone at the scene of the accident, including police. Don’t admit to fault, as you may be mistaken or have cloudy judgment due to the trauma of the moment.
- Contact a bicycle accident attorney if you need help with an insurance settlement or need legal representation.
What to Do If I Am Injured In a Bicycle Accident
In almost any case of a bicycle collision with a motor vehicle, you should call 911. Make sure to get examined by first responders. They can check for injuries, such as head trauma, that the victim may not be aware of.
Also important, in any possible lawsuit, the police report can serve as one of the most vital documents. It’s imperative to get law enforcement involved any time you are in a vehicle accident.
If able, or if someone else can help, try to gather contact information from witnesses. Write down or record their description of events. Take, or have photos taken.
When communicating with anyone at the scene, never admit fault. Even if you believe your actions caused it, objective evidence may prove differently. Premature admission of fault undercuts a number of otherwise viable cases and will cost you money in an eventual suit. This is especially true when speaking with insurance representatives.
Your first step, when able, should be to contact a respected Antelope Valley bicycle accident attorney with decades of experience in assisting clients suffering from bike accident injuries.
Comparative Negligence and Insurance Companies
The real issue when attempting to recover damages for injuries resulting from a bicycle accident is the degree of comparative negligence the injured bike rider may be assigned when evaluating the case. This is why it is so important to have an experienced Antelope Valley bicycle accident lawyer representing your case.
All insurance company claims adjusters use the comparative negligence law as a tool to reduce the total settlement value when they are faced with providing insurance coverage for the negligent driver. Even when the adjuster cannot outright deny a personal injury claim, they can still attempt to lessen the value of the claim by expressing to the court that the injured bicyclist was the actual cause of the accident. Having an experienced team of personal injury attorneys handling your case means you will receive maximum compensation owed—usually by settlements, or in rarer cases, in court.
Laws Governing Bicycle Use In California
Limiting communication concerning fault is not disingenuous. Besides the fact that the victim often has the worst perspective on what caused the accident, the law defines fault and other issues differently than a layperson.
The issue and definition of fault under the law also vary from state to state.
Many states automatically assign fault to drivers of automobiles when they collide with bicycles. California employs a different method of finding fault in such incidents.
In California, the fault lies with the operator, regardless of the vehicle, found to be negligent or not operating their vehicle in a reasonable fashion. As part of proving negligence, the accident must have caused property damage or personal injury.
California law also permits the court to establish percentages of fault to determine the ultimate award. For example, the court may find that the bicycle operator had 25 percent culpability and the car driver 75 percent. In this case, the bicyclist would receive only three-fourths of the potential award.
These aspects of the law make non-admission of any fault at the scene or after imperative.
Statute of Limitations Laws Apply
Statute of Limitations laws provides a vital reason to reach out to an attorney as quickly as possible after an accident. Close family members of victims left unable to communicate should do this on behalf of the victim.
In California, vehicle accident victims have two years to file suit to recover damages. After that, the court can deny the plaintiff’s ability to file except under extenuating circumstances.
Remember that an attorney has to perform a great deal of work laying the groundwork for a case before filing. Waiting until right before the statute of limitations expires can limit your attorney’s ability to prepare. We encourage victims to reach out as soon as possible, or at least well before the statute of limitations expires.
Minors can wait until they turn 20 to file a suit for damages.
Contact The Antelope Valley Bicycle Accident Lawyers at Kuzyk Law Today!
When looking for representation in a bicycle accident case, consider which attorney gives you the best chance at obtaining fair compensation for damage and injuries.
Optimally, you should retain a firm with decades of experience covering vehicle and bicycle accident cases. Such a firm should analyze your case and communicate an honest assessment from the very beginning, but not expect payment for services unless you receive an award.
Importantly, the best firms will fight just as hard for clients in smaller cases as in those potentially involving multi-million dollar settlements.
Kuzyk Law has spent almost five decades helping clients receive over $900 million in settlement money combined. Our team of Antelope Valley bicycle accident attorneys strives to get the best settlements possible for our clients. Their inspiration to fight comes from the idea of helping the most vulnerable get what justice demands.
There is a statute of limitations, however, to pursue a legal case, so you want to make sure that doesn’t expire by waiting too long to obtain legal help. If you need assistance with your bike accident case in Lancaster or the Antelope Valley, reach out to Kuzyk Law before it’s too late. Call us 24/7 at 661-945-6969 or contact us online today to set up your free consultation.
What are some ways to avoid bike accidents?
If you ride frequently, especially as a daily commuter, use these tips to stay safer:
- Always make yourself visible to traffic by wearing proper reflective gear on your torso and feet/ankles and by using a light in low-visibility conditions (dawn, dusk, after dark, and in bad weather).
- Wear a bike helmet to protect your head if you take a fall, and dress appropriately for cycling.
- Ride in bike lanes whenever possible. Be aware of cars to the right of the bike lane that may be opening their doors in your path.
- Stay alert to traffic and other cyclists around you. Don’t use your phone while cycling, and don’t bike with earphones that block out sound.
- Signal well in advance of turning, stopping, and changing lanes.
- Ride defensively and never assume a motorist sees you or will make the right decision in traffic.
Do cyclists have to obey the same rules of the road as cars?
In most cases, yes. Since you are on the same roads and sometimes even going the same speed as vehicles, it makes sense to observe the same traffic lights and signal when turning. If you don’t obey traffic laws and are in an accident, you could be deemed at fault or partially at fault.
What is dooring?
“Dooring” is a slang term meaning a driver or vehicle passenger opens a door into the bike lane, either hitting a cyclist or causing them to veer into traffic. Dooring is a significant cause of bike accidents, especially in urban areas.
What types of compensation may cyclists be entitled to after an accident?
- Emergency medical treatment
- Ongoing medical care
- Long-term disability
- Lost wages at work
- Emotional distress
- Damaged bicycle
- Other personal property damaged in the accident
What are the benefits of calling a bicycle accident lawyer?
Most people don’t have the time or resources to negotiate with insurance companies for a settlement. At Kuzyk Law, we have staff to do this, not to mention the experience to come out on top. If you have to go to court to get what you’re entitled to, it’s essential to hire an attorney that’s familiar with litigation and knows what to ask for in damages. You don’t have to have serious injuries or loss of life to engage a bicycle accident lawyer, although if you do need help following a bad accident, a personal injury attorney is definitely the path to take.