What Steps Should I Take After a Bicycle Accident?
After a bicycle accident, there are five steps you should take:
- Call 911. The dispatcher will know by your location which first responders, emergency personnel, and law enforcement agency to send to the scene.
- Seek medical treatment, preferably at the scene, by paramedics or EMTs. Go to the emergency room if recommended. Even if you are not sure of the extent of your injuries, seek treatment at an ER, urgent care center, or from your doctor right after the incident. Documentation of injuries is vital to an insurance claim.
- Obtain information from the person who caused the accident, including name, address, phone, and insurance information. Also write down the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the incident.
- Document details at the scene, including taking photos with your smartphone of the roadway, damage to your bicycle, and damage to other vehicles or property. When you get home, write down your recollection of the event while it is fresh in your mind.
- Consult a personal injury attorney. A personal injury knows all the appropriate steps to take after an accident and while pursuing a claim.
What California Laws Apply to Bicycle Riders?
Bicycle riders, vehicle drivers, pedestrians, and entities responsible for maintaining roadways owe everyone else a duty of care.
Under California law, bicycle riders are required to:
- Wear or equip the bicycle with certain lights and reflectors to be visible in the dark;
- Wear a helmet if under the age of 18, although it is recommended for riders of all ages;
- Keep one ear free from earbuds, headphones, and other listening devices at all times;
- Ride on the roadway, not in crosswalks which are designed only for pedestrians;
- Yield to pedestrians;
- Obey all traffic signals and signs;
- Ride in the same direction as automobiles, in the lane if they are cycling at the same speed as vehicles or as far right on the roadway as they can if they are moving at a slower speed;
- Use the bike lane if one is available;
- Never ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What Laws Relate to Vehicle Operators?
Vehicle operators must always observe the rules of the road regarding compliance with traffic signals and signs, not driving too fast for conditions, yielding the right-of-way as specified by law, not using handheld phones or other equipment, and not driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What Is Involved in Filing a Claim?
California is an at-fault state for personal injury claims. This means that the person or, in the case of a dangerous roadway flaw, the entity, responsible for causing an accident that results in injuries is also responsible for compensating the victims for their damages. If a negligent act causes an accident, and the accident causes injuries to someone else, and the victim incurs damages such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering, the negligent party is at fault.
California is also a pure comparative negligence state. Fault can be assigned to more than one party and any settlement award is therefore reduced by the percentage of fault assigned. If you are 10% at fault and a motorist is 90% at fault, any award would be reduced by the 10% fault assigned to you.
There is a time limit, referred to as a “statute of limitations,” on personal injury and wrongful death claims. The statute limitations for personal injury claims is two years unless the negligent party is a governmental agency. If so, the statute is only six months. You must either settle your claim with the negligent party’s insurer or file a lawsuit against them in court within that time.
The statute of limitations is two years from the date of death in a wrongful death claim.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
Insurance companies will work hard to assign fault to you, deny your claim, or devalue your damages. That’s one of the reasons you need to reach out to skilled legal guidance. An attorney can help investigate your unique circumstances, document medical treatment and damages (both economic and non-economic, such as pain and suffering), and go to court if necessary.