Similar to a personal injury lawsuit, a bike accident lawsuit allows an injured victim to seek damages against the individual believed to have caused the collision and ensuing injuries. A bicycle accident lawsuit can be filed against all parties who may have caused the accident, such as a reckless driver, a bicycle parts manufacturer, or a government entity.
Most bicycle injury claims can be settled through the at-fault person’s insurance, but bicycle accident lawsuits can be filed if a settlement cannot be reached. However, legal action must be taken as soon as possible. Here is what to know before filing a lawsuit.
Understanding Fault and Why Bicycle Accidents Occur
In Los Angeles County, more than 2,600 victims were injured or killed in bike-related accidents in 2020. This can be attributed to regular traffic congestion throughout Southern California, distracted driving, road defects, poor weather conditions, and reckless riding.
Understanding common causes of bike accidents can prevent a crash. This awareness also fosters a shared responsibility of road users to drive and ride defensively.
If a bicycle accident does occur, an injured cyclist may file a personal injury claim to seek compensation. However, it must be indicated that the accused liable party is guilty of negligence. If proven, that person would be found at fault and liable for damages.
How to Determine Liability Before Filing a Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
Under California law, proving fault for a bike crash is based upon “negligence.” Essentially, this means one or multiple parties were not careful enough to prevent the accident from occurring, resulting in harm to another party.
Common examples of negligence include distracted driving, speeding, ignoring traffic laws, and swerving into bike lanes. To prove a negligent act, the following four factors must be indicated:
- A duty of care was owed to act in a reasonable manner
- The duty of care was breached because of the other party’s actions
- The breach of duty led to the bicycle accident
- The bicycle accident resulted in injuries and damages to the bicyclist
Proving a negligent driver was reckless is fairly straightforward. However, it gets complicated if a bicyclist also shares fault or if the bicycle accident resulted from unmaintained roadways.
Suing the city of Downey or filing a personal injury claim when fault is shared will be challenging, but it can certainly be done.
A California bicycle accident attorney will construct a strong case proving that the other party's negligence played a greater role in causing the crash and why a maximum compensation is owed.
When Can Bicycle Accident Lawsuits Be Filed?
In California, individuals have two years from the date of injury to sue the alleged responsible party per the state’s statute of limitations. In addition, some accidents are only given a 6-month window to file bicycle accident lawsuits. If the deadline is missed, the legal right to compensation is relinquished.
If fatal bike accidents occur, surviving family members have two years from the date of death (not the accident) to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Two years may sound like a lot of time, but obtaining evidence, building a case, and negotiating with the insurance company will take much longer than most expect.
Additionally, it is vital to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to prevent California bicycle accident cases from becoming compromised. Insurance companies can interfere, confusing victims and convincing them to accept low settlement offers. Once an offer is accepted, it cannot be undone or re-negotiated.
What Is the Average Bicycle Accident Settlement?
Ultimately, the value of a California bicycle accident settlement is based on medical bills, ongoing costs, lost wages, future earning potential, pain and suffering, and even the extent of how the injuries impacted a victim.
Additionally, various factors, such as the severity of the injury, the complexity of the legal issues, the availability of evidence, the willingness of both parties to negotiate, and the possibility of a trial also affect bicycle accident settlements, ranging between thousands to millions of dollars.
As a result, there is no average settlement amount for bicycle accident lawsuits. This is because all California personal injury cases are unique and require careful evaluation by an experienced bicycle accident lawyer who can advise on legal options and chances of success.
If you have been involved in a bike accident, consult with Promenade Accident Attorneys as soon as possible to protect your rights and interests. Our law firm offers a free consultation and thoughtful assessment of bicycle accident cases.
What to Do After a Bike Accident to Secure a Settlement
Because insurance companies aim to reduce settlement claims by as much as possible, it is important to take necessary precautions, including the following.
Seek Medical Attention
Following a bicycle accident, prioritizing well-being is paramount. Regardless if minor injuries or serious injuries are sustained, it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Even if immediate pain or visible injuries are not apparent, a medical evaluation is still necessary for a few reasons.
- Neglecting medical attention can cause undiagnosed injuries to worsen or even become fatal, resulting in long-term ailments.
- Insurance companies may interpret failing to seek immediate medical care as an indication that injuries were not serious or even sustained.
- Medical bills from doctors' visits indicate how much compensation can be recovered in a bicycle accident settlement.
Therefore, seeking medical attention is both prudent and essential to a victim’s health and well-being.
Do Not Admit Fault
After a bicycle accident, the natural reaction to apologize is normal. Although well-intentioned, saying “sorry” or any type of apology can be misconstrued in court as an admission of fault.
Instead, it is best to interact as little as possible. In fact, the only conversation that should be had is to obtain the other party’s insurance information.
In addition, do not speak to the other party’s insurance company. Any conversations with an insurance adjuster without legal representation run the risk of bicycle accident lawsuits becoming compromised.
This is why it is best to consult with experienced bicycle accident attorneys, as they advocate on clients’ behalves and prevent insurance companies from taking advantage.
To prove fault, identify the other involved parties, document the accident scene, retain medical records, and preserve personal documentation. More specifically, the following evidence should be obtained:
- Vehicle information: License plate numbers, makes, models, colors, and any visible damage
- Driver information: Names, contact information, and driver's license numbers
- Witness statements: Names, contact information, and eyewitness accounts from anyone who witnessed the bike accident
- Police report: an accident report from a police office, documenting crash details
- Photos of the bike accident: The overall scene, damaged vehicles, injuries (if any), and any skid marks or debris
- Photos of road conditions: Potholes, uneven pavement, broken traffic lights, etc.
- Medical records: Copies of all medical bills and reports of diagnoses
- Personal account: Detailed account of the date, time, location of the event, and what happened, including the events leading up to the collision
The Top Downey Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Being injured in a bicycle accident can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. You're dealing with physical pain, medical bills, and the emotional stress of the incident. In the midst of it all, filing a bicycle accident claim to recover fair compensation can be a challenge.
However, a Downy bicycle accident attorney from Promenade Accident Attorneys can offer guidance to get you the settlement you deserve. Working with a skilled legal advocate can make a world of difference in the outcome of California bicycle accident claims.
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