If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident, you might have a real need to be represented by an experienced bike accident lawyer.
If you have been in a bicycle accident, there are things you should know beforehand and things you should do afterward that can prevent great financial and bodily harm. Involvement in a bicycle crash on a public roadway can cost you money in several different ways, and could require you to hire a good personal injury lawyer with experience in handling bicycle crashes.
Prepare for an Accident Before It Happens
Drivers of motor vehicles on the public way are required to have insurance not only by law, but also by common prudence. Bicycle riders are no different, except that motor vehicles require special types of insurance policies and special types of licenses while bicycles don’t.
Some might believe that riding a bike is not as dangerous as driving a car or riding a motorcycle, but it is every bit as dangerous, and even more so for several reasons.
- The operating of a bicycle on the public way does not require any special age or license, therefore, bike riders do not necessarily have the maturity or training to display the same knowledge of the rules of the road, of traffic patterns, or of basic vigilance that licensed motor vehicle drivers usually attain prior to getting behind the wheel.
- DUI laws that prohibit drivers of motor vehicles from driving while intoxicated are completely different from those governing the riding of a bicycle. In short, they are much less severe, and therefore provide less power of deterrence. The statute governing bicycle DUI in California is VC 21200.5, which allows for a maximum penalty of $250 and no jail time, while having no effect on subsequent drivers license privileges.
- Bicycles are less noticeable on the road because they are smaller, often lack headlights or taillights, and are virtually silent.
- Bicycles lack the ability to accelerate quickly, and this provides one fewer way to avoid an accident.
- Like motorcycles, bicycles lack the protection of steel cages and seat belts, and therefore, leave the rider practically defenseless against asphalt and steel.
To cut down the risk of not being seen on the road and therefore being hit by a car, wear reflective gear on your body and outfit your bicycle with electric lights and reflectors.
Video cameras are a great tool to help defend against false allegations of fault against you as well as provide proof of the fault of the driver who hit you in a crash. They can provide incontrovertible proof to win your case in a court of law, and even prevent the lengthy hassle of a court case before it happens.
Wear protective gear such as a helmet, at a minimum.
Wear appropriate footwear to provide proper interaction between foot and pedal.
Retain the services of a good personal injury lawyer who will not only fight for your rights to gain compensation for harm suffered in an accident, but also defend against false liability claims against you.
What to Do Immediately After a Crash
Call 911 immediately and report the incident to police. Make a police report. To ensure the integrity of the report, do your best to urge witnesses to stay and give a statement to police. If witnesses are unable to stay on scene, get their contact information and give it to police. Canvass nearby businesses or other traffic cameras to gain video proof.
Seek medical attention immediately, even if you do not feel pain. The mental shock of being in an accident, along with the endorphins and adrenaline involved in bicycling, can hide the signs of an injury, which might be severe even if you don’t realize it at the time. Once you refuse medical attention and leave the scene of an accident, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to prove that you suffered the injury as the direct result of the actions of the other driver who caused your accident.
What NOT to Do
Resist the urge to speak any phrases along the lines of, “I’m sorry,” because these utterances can be misconstrued and later presented as evidence against you. Do not display aggression toward the offending driver because this action can muddy the waters and distract from the real issue at hand, which is culpability in the accident. If it is safe to stay, do not leave the scene of the accident because this can create the impression of some kind of fault and, if it is necessary to leave the scene for safety reasons, explain these reasons for leaving to the 911 operator while initially reporting the crash.
Get Experienced Legal Representation
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident, you might have a real need to be represented by an experienced bike accident lawyer. The law allows for a legal case to be filed as late as two years after an accident, so this means you can be sued up to two years after a bicycle incident and find yourself defending against false claims against you. A common practice used by dishonest people is to wait until very close to the end of the period allowed by the statutes of limitations to file a dubious claim because after time, evidence (such as identity of credible witnesses) has a way of evaporating, leaving you defenseless against false claims.