Cycling in Orange County continues to grow, whether you are in Anaheim, Newport Beach, or Fullerton, you’ve seen the influx of cyclists. Over the years, not only are people cycling for health and recreation, they are jumping on their bikes as a true mode of alternate transportation. Because of traffic jams and the crowded streets caused by cars, using a bicycle can often be the quickest way to travel.
The popularity of the OC loop has sent more people in bicycle shops.
Unfortunately, the increase in cycling has also caused an increase in cycling accidents in Orange County. As more bikes take to the roads in the midst of a culture of distracted driving, collisions are bound to happen.
California law clearly states that persons riding bikes have the same rights to use the roadway as any other “vehicle” (California Vehicle Code “CVC” section 21200), but this has not lessened bike accidents with automobiles.
40,000 Americans are injured in bike/car collisions every year, and 700 people lose their lives in these collisions each year.
A 20lb bike is going to lose every day in an auto accident with the average 4,000 lb vehicle, no matter the speed. According to California Highway Patrol data, bicycle accidents have risen by 40% in Orange County since 2002.
Unfortunately, if you are a cyclist in the OC, there is a chance you have been in an accident with an automobile, or you might be in one in the future.
What Should You Do if You Have Been in a Bicycle Accident in California?
If you’ve been in a biking accident, there are a handful of steps you need to take at the scene of the accident, and even after the event is cleaned up.
1. Call 911 or Have Someone Call for You
You have no idea the potential injuries you’ve sustained. Also, calling 911 will set off a chain of events for your protection. Police will arrive, and possibly emergency medical personnel. This will not only protect you physically but will protect the scene and your legal rights.
2. Seek Medical Attention
Make sure you have a doctor check you for any injuries that occur. You may not have any scratches on your body (this is unlikely), but there could be internal injuries with scary consequences. Often a biker will survive a collision, and feel “ok”, but the next morning, they can barely leave their bed because of pain and stiffness. Adrenaline and other hormones surge during trauma and often mask catastrophic injury and even blunt pain receptors.
3. Gather All Potential Information from the Vehicle and Driver
This includes the license plate info, driver’s name, and contact info, insurance information, vehicle year, make and model, color and VIN. Don’t forget to gather contact info from any witnesses to the accident.
4. Your Safety Should Be the Main Priority
At this point, you’ve called 911. Make sure the police arrive before anyone leaves the scene. The police are important. They will be a third-party neutral advocate. Even if the driver is cooperative (often they are not) the police can develop an objective official record of the incident, which can help you get compensation for your bicycle accident.
5. Take Photos of the Accident
If you have a smartphone, takes pictures, or ask a witness to take pictures of the scene. Make sure to get multiple angles of the intersection and scene as well as any damage to your bicycle. This is some of the best evidence you can have to fight for your case of not being at fault in the accident.
6. Don’t Admit Fault
As a kind, considerate individual, you might be trying to console the vehicle driver. That’s normal, you don’t want the other person to feel bad. You may try to calm them down in spite of your injuries, but anything you say could hurt you.
You may encounter a scared driver, who tries to threaten and pressure you into admitting fault. Let the authorities and potentially a jury determine fault for the accident. No matter what, as the victim, don’t say things like:
- “I should have been more careful.”
- “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.”
- “It’s okay, I’m all right.”
7. Document as Much Information as Possible
This does not include the accident only, but any follow up pain or limitations due to the injury. Preserve as much of the evidence as possible. This can be hard when you are in fight or flight mode, scrambling to understand what just happened. When you catch your breath, take the time to get your phone out and take any notes, pictures or videos you might need.
Am I Entitled to Compensation After a Bicycle Accident in California?
For Long Beach, California bicycle accidents, State Law entitles you to compensation if the driver of the vehicle is at fault.
Whether they were at fault usually depends on two major factors:
- Did they act negligently?
- Were they intentional or reckless?
Negligently caused doesn’t necessarily mean malicious. It just means the driver was not practicing careful consideration of their surroundings. They may have run a light or been distracted by something in their car like their phone. Regardless, if they were negligent in the operation of their vehicle and collided with you, you are entitled to compensation.
What can exclude you from compensation?
When trying to understand if you are at fault in the situation, and not entitled to compensation for your California bicycle accident, you want to consider the following questions:
- Did you break the law?
- Did you follow all the rules of the road?
- Were you careless?
- Were you weaving between cars, or not signaling properly?
Some of these behaviors fall into the gray area of the law. Partial fault does not exclude you from a financial settlement. This is why it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer or law firm near you who can help figure out more about what entitlements you have.
What Kind of Compensation Are You Entitled to for Bicycle Accidents?
1. Medical Expenses
These expenses include:
- Expenses present and future
- Rehabilitation expenses
This also includes some of the major injuries that can be sustained in a bicycle accident with a car:
- Bone Fractures and Breaks
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Spinal Injuries
- Rotator Cuff Injuries
- And many more
2. Mental Damages
The damages in a collision often go beyond physical damage and can include:
- Pain & suffering
- Decline in productivity
3. Property Damages
Many times you may only consider damage to your bike, but other items can be included in property damage such as:
- The bicycle (some bikes such as carbon fiber bikes cannot be repaired and must be replaced)
- Cycling shoes
- Cell phone
- Backpack contents
4. Miscellaneous Damages
These are any excess damages that can be factored into your loss, typically involving things like:
- Loss of future earnings
- Alternate travel arrangements
How to Maximize Your Compensation from Bicycle Accidents in California
Navigating the legal environment can be difficult. If you have been in a bicycle accident in California, we recommend you work with a professional personal injury lawyer in the Orange County Area who can help you seek the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
Even in the best cases, when injuries are mild, there may be much more compensation you are entitled to. The law is hard to interpret and a lawsuit can be a lengthy and arduous process. Don’t gamble with your compensation, work with a professional.
Why Work with an Orange County Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Bicycle Accident Compensation?
The insurance company for the vehicle will be fighting for them and not you. You can try to handle yourself but you will be fighting a well funded legal team.
You may not understand all the compensation you can receive.
You may be expecting reimbursement for medical costs, but do not understand the long-term implications of the damages you sustained. You may not have the time to structure a case and defend it. You may not have the negotiation ability to navigate out of court settlements
The biggest benefit is having someone in your corner to help you negotiate a settlement with the at-fault attorneys or their insurance company.
Having an attorney will let the offending party and their insurance company know you are serious and are willing to go the extra mile to receive fair compensation from your accident.
There is too much at stake for your future well-being not to contact an attorney.
We are experts with years of experience with bicycle accident cases and know exactly how to navigate the legal environment to get every dollar you deserve.
What Should I Do If I Have Been In A Bicycle Accident in California?
If you have been in a bicycle accident in the Los Angeles or Orange County area, call the experienced injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Daniel Kim immediately.
As soon as you are hit, your case becomes a clock, ever ticking away towards you not getting the compensation you deserve. You need to act quickly to get compensated for your injuries. Our California Personal Injury Lawyers at The Law Offices of Daniel Kim has helped hundreds of clients through the process of fighting the insurance companies to get the compensation they and their families deserved.
Our goal is to not just help you win your case and get the maximum amount of compensation, but to help you understand the entire legal process to give you the peace of mind to get back to your everyday life, while we handle the complicated legal landscape in order to get you the compensation you need.
Give us a call today for a free case evaluation, and one of our personal injury lawyers will walk you through each step to help you understand:
- Who is at fault
- If you are entitled to compensation
- How much your case may be worth
- What the next steps are
- What you can expect
- How long it will take
- Any other questions you may have along the way