Bicycle Accident Lawsuits: 9 Frequently Asked Questions
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), despite the government’s best efforts, bicycle accidents are on the rise. In 2018 alone, 857 bicyclists were killed in road accidents in the US.
When a bicycle accident occurs, most of the time, it is merely a self-inflicted injury that results from a fall. However, there are cases when a car driver or a truck driver is to blame for the bicyclist’s injuries.
If you think that another party is responsible for your bicycle accident that led to your injuries, you may be able to file a bicycle accident lawsuit against them. In this post, our personal injury attorneys will answer some of your commonly asked questions about bike accident lawsuits.
I was hit by a car while I was riding my bicycle. What should I do after the accident?
The most important thing to do right after the accident is to call 9-1-1 if you are injured. If you are in no condition to place the call yourself, ask a passerby to call for you. Most bicycle accident injuries involve back, neck, or head trauma, and these injuries must be evaluated by a medical professional.
Next, gather detailed information about the incident, if possible. For example, make a note of things like:
- Name and contact details of the driver in question
- The vehicle identification number (VIN)
- The color, model, make, and year of the vehicle
- The license plate number of the vehicle
- Contact information of any witnesses
If the driver refuses to cooperate and tries to leave the scene, simply call 9-1-1 and report the incident. If you are carrying a smartphone, it’s recommended to take clear pictures or video of the vehicle in question, the accident scene, your injuries, and your bike.
Note: If the driver is being aggressive and forcing you to admit the accident was your fault, tell them to contact your lawyer and do not make any statement that could later be used as your admission of guilt.
Can I sue a driver who was responsible for my bicycle accident injuries in California?
Yes, you can. If another person engaged in careless driving behavior that resulted in your cycling accident, you may seek compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against them. An experienced attorney may help you recover damages for your physical injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and bicycle damage.
Make sure you get in touch with a seasoned personal injury lawyer before talking to the insurance company of the responsible driver. The insurers will do their best to try to settle your claim for as little as possible. Having a diligent attorney by your side will help you receive your compensation without dealing with a mountain of paperwork and other legal obstacles.
There is another reason to hire a bike accident attorney: if your accident was caused by a pothole, an off-leash pet, or cracked cement, you might not be sure who is liable for your injuries. A personal injury attorney will help you determine who is to blame and how to receive the compensation in the most hassle-free way possible.
If my accident was caused by poor road conditions, can I sue the city?
Negligent conditions like potholes, uneven sidewalk, cracked cement, damaged road signs, and loose gravel are known to result in bike accidents. If your bicycle accident injuries were also caused by such a factor (on public or city property), a lawsuit could be filed against the city.
What damages can I recover from a bicycle accident lawsuit in California?
The type and extent of damages available may depend on the severity of the situation – is the victim injured and alive, or was the accident fatal?
Generally speaking, an injured cyclist can recover the following damages in a lawsuit:
- Medical expenses
- Occupational therapy
- Loss of limb or disfigurement or scarring
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (of a registered domestic partner or spouse)
In some cases, the accident victim (plaintiff) might also be entitled to punitive damages if the defendant (responsible party) has shown extreme disregard and disrespect during the trial, or it is proved that the defendant caused the accident with an intention to injure the plaintiff.
What to do if a careless driver was responsible for my bicycle accident?
If a negligent or reckless driver is found to be responsible for your bike crash, you can hold them liable for your injuries. In these cases, the bike accident victim or their surviving family members need to prove the negligence of the driver.
As a plaintiff, you will need to show that:
- The duty of care was owed to the cyclist by the driver
- The driver was negligent and thus, breached that duty
- The negligence of the driver was mostly responsible for causing the injuries or death of the cyclist
The driver’s slackness can be demonstrated by inattentive driving, traffic violations, and other actions of such nature. For example, if the driver runs a stop sign, not maintains a safe distance (3 feet), texts during driving, or is intoxicated, it all will be construed as negligent behavior.
Can I file a lawsuit if my spouse or child was killed in the bike crash?
The surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit and sue for damages since the deceased victim cannot file a personal injury lawsuit.
With the help of wrongful death lawsuit, family members may be able to recover damages for:
- Financial earnings or income the deceased victim would have received if they had survived
- Loss of support and companionship
- Funeral and burial expenses
However, only certain family members are eligible to file a wrongful death claim:
- Surviving domestic partner or spouse
- Someone who would be entitled to the deceased victim’s property (as per the intestate succession laws)
- Grandchildren (only if the dead victim’s children are also deceased)
What should I do if my defective bicycle caused the accident?
If a faulty bike part caused you to crash, you might be able to file a lawsuit against the company that designed, manufactured, or sold you the bicycle (or that specific bike part).
This is known as a product liability claim, and in these cases, you will need to prove that the defendant (company) sold, manufactured, or designed a defective product. You will also need to establish that your injuries were caused by this defect.
However, you won’t need to prove that the company was negligent.
What should I do if the driver says I (the cyclist) caused the bike crash?
First of all, do not admit fault to the driver. If you do that, you will be forced to pay for your own medical expenses (and more) even if the driver is found to be later at fault.
However, if the driver is being extremely aggressive and is forcing you to admit the accident was your fault, don’t say anything to them except “contact my attorney.”
Can I file a bike accident lawsuit against a pedestrian?
Sometimes, another cyclist or pedestrian is one who exhibits careless behavior that causes a bicyclist to crash and become injured. This includes:
- If a pedestrian fails to control their dog (or other animals)
- If a pedestrian listens to loud music on their headphones and fails to hear the surrounding traffic
- If a pedestrian text while walking, and fails to pay attention to others on the road
- If a pedestrian runs out in front of a bicyclist
- If a pedestrian steps out suddenly into a bicycle-only lane
- If a pedestrian intentionally and deliberately pushes a cyclist off their bike
In these cases, the victim (plaintiff) will have to prove that the pedestrian was inattentive or had malicious intent.
Watch YouTube Video: Bike Safety – Sharing the Road. This video discusses some bike safety rules to stay safe on the road.
Rocklin Bicycle Accident Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a bicycle accident lawyer in Rocklin. If you or a loved one has suffered severe injuries in a bicycle crash, and you believe it is someone else’s fault, you should pursue your claim for damages. Call me today for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.
Photo by DepositPhotos.com
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