Bikes are a great way to get around, enjoy California’s beautiful weather, and even get in some healthy exercise during the course of your day. The downside to bikes, however, is that they leave you exceptionally vulnerable in the event of an accident. When you enter the flow of traffic on your bike – even when you’re in a designated bike lane – your safety can be seriously compromised by a negligent motorist with whom you share the road, and there are plenty of them out there. While there are a range of primary steps you should take if you suffered an injury in a bike accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, one of the most important is reaching out for the professional legal guidance of an experienced California bike accident attorney early in the process.
A Note about Bike Accidents
One of the most important points to make about bike accidents is that they are all too common – and all too dangerous. Consider the following related statistics shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Only 1 percent of all the trips in the United States are bike trips, but bicyclists account for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities.
- Almost 1,000 bicyclists are killed in traffic accidents each year.
- More than 130,000 bicyclists suffer an injury in a traffic accident each year.
- The costs associated with bicycle accidents exceed $23 billion each year.
While bike accidents are often the result of driver negligence, the risk is so great to you when you’re on your bike that proceeding with the utmost caution is always well advised.
Step One: Seek Immediate Medical Attention
The impact of even a relatively minor bike accident can leave you seriously injured, and you may not be immediately aware of this fact. The stress and shock associated with being in a violent traffic accident can leave you dazed and uncertain about whether or not you’re injured. When you add to this the fact that the adrenaline rush you experience can mask injury symptoms and the fact that some injuries are slow to present with symptoms, it amplifies the risk that you won’t receive the medical attention you need when you need it.
Improved health outcomes are so closely associated with early diagnosis and treatment. Seeking immediate medical attention after a bike accident is always in your best interest, even if you don’t think you’ve suffered a severe injury. If you’re offered emergency medical care and transportation at the scene of the bike accident, accept it. If you’re not, seek out the medical care you need as soon as it is possible for you to do so.
Step Two: Reach Out to the Skilled Legal Guidance of a Bike Accident Attorney
You’ve suffered an injury in a bike accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, and your mounting medical bills and lost income related to hours lost on the job are likely to leave you overwhelmed. The idea of finding a dedicated bike accident attorney at this juncture may seem like more than you can handle, but the truth is that doing so can free you up to focus on regaining your health while you allow your attorney to skillfully guide your claim toward a favorable resolution that honors your rights and supports your fullest recovery.
Your Attorney’s Role
Your practiced bike accident attorney will skillfully take on a wide range of tasks that are critical to your ability to obtain just compensation, including:
- communicating with the insurance company to ensure that you don’t have to
- building your strongest claim by compiling all the relevant evidence, including statements from eyewitnesses, the testimony of expert witnesses, professionally created accident models, the accident report, and beyond
- ensuring that your complete losses – or legal damages – are well represented in your claim
- ably negotiating with the insurance company for a settlement that fairly addresses your losses
- being well prepared to file a lawsuit against the insurance company handling your claim in the event they do not engage in fair negotiations and a just settlement is not forthcoming
What You Need to Know about the Insurance Company
Another driver’s negligence caused you to be injured in a bike accident, and you may think that the involved insurance company is required to cover your complete losses and that it will simply proceed to do so fairly. The truth is, however, that the insurance company is a for-profit enterprise that employs an arsenal of techniques to keep settlements like yours as low as it can manage, including:
- making early settlement offers that are too low, but that desperate claimants are willing to accept
- denying claims from the very beginning in the hope that claimants will simply give up and move on
- artificially prolonging the already lengthy claims process
- artificially complicating the already complicated claims process
- denying their policyholder’s responsibility or denying the extent of the policyholder’s responsibility in the case at hand
- shifting fault in the case at hand onto the claimant
- denying the extent of the claimant’s physical, financial, and emotional losses
The insurance company has extensive resources and is not afraid to pour considerable time and effort into keeping your settlement low, which makes having a trusted bike accident attorney in your corner that much more important.
Step Three: Follow Your Doctor’s Orders Carefully
The injuries you sustain in a bike accident are likely to be extensive and may affect every aspect of your life, making following your doctor’s instructions and advice paramount to regaining your health and well-being to the best of your ability. It is not only the best plan in relation to your health but also leaves the insurance company with the strong message that your injuries and legal damages are just as extensive as you claim and that they should take them as seriously as you do.
Step Four: Recognize the Extent of Your Losses
The physical injuries you sustain in a bike accident that was caused by a driver’s negligence are fairly easy to recognize – once you’ve received the medical attention you require and come to terms with them – but this is far from the end of the matter.
Your Medical Expenses
Serious injuries often lead to the need for ongoing medical attention and can result in secondary health concerns that further complicate the issue. Failing to account for your complete medical needs, including future requirements, in your bike accident claim can leave you without the resources necessary to pursue your most complete recovery.
Your Lost Income
Your Pain and Suffering
In addition to your financial losses, there is also your pain and suffering to assess. These emotional challenges can amplify the effects of your career losses and medical expenses, thus making the situation that much more difficult.
Failing to address every category of loss you experience in its entirety can leave you at a serious disadvantage when it comes to your recovery.
Step 5: Help Your Attorney Help You
Your bike accident claim will be specific to the unique circumstances involved, but the nature of your injuries does not alter the fact that every bike accident victim can take certain steps to help their own claim, including:
- Don’t wait to obtain the medical attention you need – even if you don’t believe you were badly injured – and follow your doctor’s instructions closely.
- Consult with a formidable bike accident attorney early in the process.
- Remember that the insurance company is more than happy to twist your comments to their own benefit and leave the communication with them to your attorney.
- Refrain from posting on social media for the same reason as above.
- Don’t accept a settlement offer before you’ve discussed it with your bike accident attorney – who is up to speed in relation to your unique claim.
Understanding the Role that Driver Negligence Often Plays in Bike Accidents
When motorists exceed the speed limit or drive at speeds that fail to safely consider the condition of the road or the effects of bad weather on it, they significantly increase the risk that they will cause traffic accidents, including bike accidents. The danger associated with speeding is twofold, including:
- The motorist has less time to react to whatever they encounter on the road, including bicyclists.
- The impact of the accident is amplified, which increases the risk that it will prove deadly.
The adage that speed kills remains true.
While most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the danger associated with drowsy drivers, the truth is that they experience many of the same impairments experienced by drunk drivers. While the statistics related to drowsy drivers are alarming enough, experts tend to agree that this brand of negligence is significantly underreported.
Distraction is one of the most dangerous forms of driver negligence for bicyclists. A big part of sharing the road safely with those on bikes is seeing them in the first place, and a driver who is distracted by their phone or anything else is far less likely to do so.
If you’ve suffered an injury in a bike accident that was caused by a driver’s negligence, having the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions can help.