If you are lucky enough to live in scenic Orange County, you know that riding a bicycle to avoid the stress of the overcrowded Southern California roadways or for exercise, riding a bike can be dangerous. Without warning, a driver’s negligence can cause a collision that leaves the cyclist with massive injuries. It is essential that you speak with an Orange County bicycle accident lawyer regarding your case as soon as possible.
From head, neck and back injuries to broken bones, the devastation resulting from a bicycle accident can be quite overwhelming. Knowing what to do in the moments, weeks and months following an accident is vitally important.
Bicycle Accident Representation in Orange County, CA
The attorney team at Duque & Price has handled thousands of cases representing victims of accident cases all across Orange County and its surrounding areas. We work with diligence to provide aggressive representation to our clients in order to obtain favorable outcomes in their injury cases. Our wide experience enables us to develop effective strategies for securing comprehensive compensation and just resolutions.
Our qualified and skilled accident attorneys can investigate your case, gather evidence, interview witnesses, negotiate with insurance companies, help you file personal injury claims, and represent you in court, including trial preparation and litigation. We offer personalized representation and a commitment to recovering the maximum available compensation for each case. To begin discussing the details of your case, reach out for a free consultation.
How Common Are Bike Accidents?
The rate at which riders engaged in bicycling in the United States had previously remained fairly steady for the first two decades of the twenty-first century. However, with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the number of bike riders took a sharp and immediate upswing. This remained true across nearly every city in America, with hundreds of cities adapting their roads to accommodate the increasing number of cyclists.
However, no matter how cautious you are as a rider, accidents with other motorists can still occur. Most bicycle collisions with motorists happen because drivers fail to see riders or yield to their right-of-way. Most accidents, therefore, occur at night, when visibility is even more difficult. Statistically, male cyclists are overwhelmingly more likely to be struck by a motorist, sustain serious injuries, and die in a bicycle accident than female bike riders.
When riding, especially in traffic and in highly populated urban areas, it is essential that cyclists exhibit proper safety precautions by:
- Riding only a properly fitting bike for their size
- Wearing appropriate clothing that is not loose or easily caught
- Keeping watch over traffic, weather conditions, and potential roadway hazards
- Obeying all local ordinances and traffic laws and observing pavement markings and posted signage
- Wearing reflective clothing if riding at night
- Installing front and back lights on the bike for visibility both ways
- Always wearing a properly fitting helmet
Even with these precautions, accidents can inevitably occur. If you are involved in a bicycle accident, it is essential to know what to do in the minutes, days, and weeks that follow.
Minutes After the Accident
The confusion and mayhem following a collision with a motor vehicle can leave a bicyclist unsure of the next steps. You are likely to see damage to your bicycle and feel pain, though pain may come later. If you’ve been hit by another vehicle or have otherwise been involved in a bicycle accident, it is important to follow these steps, if possible:
- Call the police. Regardless of your pain level or immediate assessment of your injuries, your first step should be to call the police, even if you do not feel injured right away. Filing a police report of the damages is critical, especially since your injuries and pain may grow more severe over time.
- Gather evidence. As you wait for the police, begin to document the accident with photos and notes if you are capable. If you are unable to take photos yourself, have someone else do this for you. It is most important that you gather as much detail as possible that demonstrates the location and details of the accident scene, including vehicle positions, property damage, intersections, road signs and pavement markings, weather conditions, and road hazards, if any.
- Watch what you say. Once the Orange County police have arrived, be sure to speak with them directly. You want your story written down in detail and you need the police to acknowledge your injuries on site and include them in the police report. However, you should not admit fault or describe your own actions or inaction, as it may be used against you later in order to lessen the liability of the other party. It is also good practice to refrain from using social media following an accident.
- Collect information. This is also the time to gather the contact information of witnesses and the driver involved with the accident. Make sure to capture the driver’s license, insurance information, and license plate of the driver.
- Seek immediate medical attention. However you may feel, and regardless of how severe you perceive your injuries, it is important that you receive an official evaluation by a medical professional immediately following the accident. It is possible you sustained injuries that have not yet manifested themselves, and X-rays and MRIs are vital medical tools for ascertaining the extent of your injuries.
Following these steps immediately after an accident will help protect you legally from any challenges that arise during your case.
Days After the Accident
In the days following the accident, there are further steps you can take that can aid you in your efforts to pursue rightful compensation for your damages. They include:
- Keeping careful records. In addition to obtaining the contact information of witnesses and the registration information of the driver, it is important to maintain copies of all medical records and expenses. You can also obtain a copy of the police report following the accident. Lastly, it is helpful to keep a log of your condition, making sure to include any changes to your health or recovery.
- Contacting an experienced accident attorney. If you are able, call your personal injury lawyer immediately. Document all the details you remember about the accident, including injuries, dates, and times. Your memory of the event is sharpest immediately following the accident.
- Our experienced attorneys at Duque Law Group will likely recommend that you seek medical attention as evidence of the damage caused. Documenting your injuries, no matter how small you think they are, is a vital step.
- Holding off on making repairs. Resist the temptation to fix your bike; preserve as much physical evidence as possible. Leave your bicycle in the same condition as it was when you left the accident. If you have any other damaged property from the accident (including a helmet or clothing), keep that available as well as our attorneys may request photos of the pieces.
Unfortunately, effectively upholding your rights in your case and pursuing fair and just compensation requires constant diligence throughout the process from the very beginning.
This is largely because many of the opposing parties, such as the insurance company or the at-fault driver themselves, will be actively opposing your efforts, looking for any opportunity to undermine your case and challenge either the legitimacy of your injuries or the extent of their liability for them.
Partnering with a qualified and experienced attorney can mitigate these issues, as your attorney can largely take care of these tasks for you. By collecting documentation and providing legal guidance and counsel from the start, your attorney can ensure you have all you need to present your full case and recover fair compensation for all damages.
Weeks After the Accident
By this time, you will most likely have met with your attorney and discussed the accident and which circumstances will allow you to earn the maximum compensation that you deserve. If you are contacted by an insurance company, direct them to your attorney to discuss the issue. Your attorney may wish to hire an independent expert to step in and analyze the situation before you communicate with insurance agents.
Your accident attorney will conduct interviews with these independent parties as well as with eyewitnesses to the accident. They will then collect all necessary evidence as part of the investigation. With a comprehensive ensemble of data, your attorney can then negotiate the terms of your settlement on your behalf by speaking with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
How Do Bicycle Accidents Occur?
In almost all cases, bicycle accidents happen as a result of other drivers’ negligence. When a motorist is not paying proper attention to riders or is driving in an unsafe or reckless manner around riders, one of several kinds of accidents is likely to occur:
- Right cross collisions. These occur when a motorist makes a right turn into traffic, pulling in front of a cyclist traveling with the flow of traffic in that direction. It is common for motorists to fail to see bike riders, especially if they are hasty in their attempt to join traffic.
- Left cross collisions. This occurs when an oncoming motorist makes a left-handed turn in front of a cyclist who is traveling with the flow of traffic. These collisions account for nearly half of all motorcycle accidents but can also occur with cyclists despite riders traveling at a lower speed.
- Right hook collisions. This happens when a vehicle traveling in the same direction as a cyclist makes a right-hand turn into or across the lane in which the rider is traveling. Motorists have a tendency to forget about their blind spots, within which cyclists can become easily hidden.
- Sideswiping. When a vehicle attempts to overtake a cyclist and go around them, they risk sideswiping or clipping the cyclist, especially if they misjudge how close they are. This occurs especially at night.
- Dooring. This occurs when a motorist is exiting a parked car that abuts a street and opens their door into traffic just as the cyclist is passing. Slamming into either side of the door is dangerous for the rider, especially at higher speeds.
Types of Injuries Sustained in a Bike Accident
Cyclists, despite having an equal legal share of the road, experience a drastic disparity in safety when compared with drivers. Without the natural protection afforded by the vehicle and its various safety features, cyclists remain extremely vulnerable while traveling on California roads. If a cyclist is struck by a vehicle, it can lead to any number of serious injuries. These include, but are not limited to:
- Head injuries. Head injuries include concussions, injuries to the skull, and brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries represent some of the most serious injuries that can occur, and all head injuries can lead to lasting symptoms that continue to affect a person’s daily life. Though California law does not require the use of a helmet, it is highly recommended that all riders wear modern, properly fitting helmets with all the current safety features.
- Spine injuries. Spinal injuries include bone fractures, damage to the discs, and nerve damage. These types of injuries are quite serious and can have lasting impacts on riders. While helmets can offer protection from head injuries, there is no protective gear to protect riders from spine injuries, leading many to suffer paralysis, such as paraplegia.
- Face injuries. After a cyclist is hit by a vehicle, there are several places onto which they could strike their face, such as the front of the bike, the pavement, or the impacting car. Face impacts can lead to broken facial bones, a broken nose or jaw, eye trauma, or dental injuries. Facial injuries often lead to permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- Fractures. Exposed body parts are vulnerable to injuries caused by impact. This includes broken bones, such as the feet and ankles, femurs, hips, ribs, arms, hands, wrists, fingers, and collarbones. Riders can often break several bones at a time during an accident. Fractures can also subsequently puncture internal organs, causing further damage. Compound fractures are those in which the broken bone pierces the skin.
While many injuries cyclists suffer are not permanent and just require enough time for recovery, there are several types of injuries that are longer lasting, are permanent, or lead to wrongful death. If you’ve suffered an injury from a bike accident, no matter how mild or severe, it is imperative that you work with your attorney to secure the proper compensation to which you are entitled.
What Types of Settlements Are Offered to Cyclists in an Accident?
Whether you are negotiating with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or are pursuing a personal injury claim against a negligent driver, the following represents the types of compensation to which you are legally entitled:
- Medical bills. The at-fault driver and their insurance are responsible for covering any and all medical expenses associated with treating the cyclist and their injuries that resulted from the accident. These include emergency services, hospitalizations, medical treatment and procedures, medication, and follow-up services, such as physical therapy, doctor visits, and assistive equipment.
- Property damage. Bicycles are not constructed to withstand the impact of a motor vehicle, and collisions most often result in completely damaged or ruined bicycles. The at-fault driver is liable for covering the property loss caused by the accident, which includes both the bicycle and any equipment worn or carried by the rider.
- Lost income. The time spent recovering from injuries, whether that represents days, weeks, or months, will leave riders unable to work, resulting in unearned income.
- Riders are entitled to recover these losses for work already missed, the estimated amount of work expected to be missed, and even for the loss of future earning capacity when an injury results in a long-term or permanent condition that prohibits the rider from returning to work in the same manner as they had previously.
- Pain and Suffering. In addition to the tangible losses caused by the accident, pain and suffering represent the intangible, but nevertheless real, costs the accident inflicted on the cyclist. These include the physical pain, emotional anguish, mental distress, and loss of quality of life resulting from the accident and its ensuing injuries.
- Wrongful death. When an accident or its injuries lead to the death of a cyclist, surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death case against the at-fault party. The family is entitled to recover the same damages the cyclist would have been owed had they survived, as well as some additional compensation.The added damages are intended to cover funeral costs, burial fees, and loss of consortium, which seeks to compensate for the loss of the companionship, love, support, and care that was provided by the decedent.
Talking to a Lawyer about Your Case
Personal injury cases are difficult and require a skilled attorney. Do not try to take on the insurance company lawyers by yourself. The Orange County lawyers at Duque & Price want to get to the bottom of the case and help you receive any compensation for injuries, damage, or pain and suffering that you may deserve.
Be sure to bring all evidence to your consultation, including photographs of the damages to your person and property, as well as any medical documentation if you have that. Our team offers a free consultation to discuss the details of your case so you can have a proper understanding of what to expect for both compensation and time frames for your case. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, don’t hesitate. Contact our office today to get started on your recovery.