What you can recover
If you are injured and require medical attention, you are entitled to recover the cost of this medical attention. Not only can you recover the costs of immediate care and treatment, such as emergency room and hospital visits, but also the costs of long-term rehab and follow-up care. This includes professional treatment like chiropractic work, physical therapy and acupuncture.
Where multiple diagnostic tests are performed, such as CT scans for head trauma, X-rays for bone fractures and MRIs for soft tissue damages, these expenses can balloon to five-, six- and seven-figure numbers. However, the minimum policy required to be carried by a driver in California is “15/30/5,” meaning up to $15,000 of coverage for each person that is injured, up to $30,000 total personal injury coverage for the whole accident and up to $5,000 in property damage coverage. Many people in California only carry the minimum policy because it is the cheapest option. That is why we recommend everyone carry “Uninsured Motorist” and “Underinsured Motorist” coverage. Uninsured Motorist insurance means your own insurance company will cover your damages if the at-fault driver did not carry insurance. Underinsured Motorist insurance means that your own insurance company will cover damages that exceed the coverage provided by the at-fault driver’s insurance.
Earnings you lost
A bicycle accident injury can also put you out of work for days, weeks, months or longer. As such, your income may become reduced or even cease entirely. Your are entitled to compensation for this lost income. We can help quantify your lost income and help you recover it.
You do not need to be working at the time of the accident to recover for lost earnings. If you were out of work but seeking employment, and injuries from the accident delayed or prevented you from obtaining work, you are entitled to compensation.
Change of career
Injuries from a bicycle accident can permanently affect your ability to perform a job you had been performing, or your ability to be promoted to a higher position. Say, for instance, you were a mid-level cook at a restaurant, and you suffered debilitating nerve damage to your arm in an accident that meant you were unable to perform any of your old duties. You are entitled to compensation for the loss of income from essentially being knocked out of your profession, as well as for the loss of the income associated with any probable promotions you would have received in the coming months and years.
If you were in an accident, chances are that your bicycle was damaged. You are entitled to compensation to get it repaired, or to buy a new one.
To help you get back on your feet, we will handle your property damage claim for you for no fee – ever. That way, you don’t have to deal with the insurance company at all, and you can focus on healing, getting back on your feet and getting your life back in order.
Physical, mental and emotional suffering and pain
Any injury can cause you pain and suffering, which can lead to a decreased quality of life. As they say, “you have nothing without your health.” Experiencing chronic and intense pain can be one of the most frustrating and miserable experiences, and you are entitled to compensation for having to go through it due to someone else’s actions. You can also recover for the inconvenience of having to manage your condition, such as frequent trips to the doctor’s office. Finally, if you end up with a permanent pain, you are entitled to be compensated for the fact that you must live with that pain every day.
Other losses unique to you
Being injured in an accident can have other domino effects on your life. While the above-listed types of compensation are available to many injured people, there are probably some harms that you have suffered from your injuries that are not listed above, and you may be able to recover for those, so long as those harms can be tied back to the accident. We can help you show those connections so that you receive full and fair compensation for all of your losses.
Experience with our office
We understand the pain, stress, worry and feelings of powerlessness that occur in the aftermath of an accident. That is why we go the extra distance to help our clients move past these feelings by providing more services to them than most other law firms.
From the moment you call our offices, our goal is to make you comfortable and confident that you will be back on your feet as quickly as possible. Our staff is friendly and welcoming, and our attorneys are available whenever you need to speak with them.
We know that lawyers have a reputation for being unavailable to speak to their clients, and we know how frustrating this can be to you. In fact, we have clients come to us to take over their cases after they aren’t given the attention they deserve from other attorneys.
Therefore, our promise to you, as our client, is that we will do our absolute best to take your phone calls and answer your emails right away.
Things that might be on your mind
What if I wasn’t wearing a helmet?
In California, wearing a helmet while riding your bike is only required for persons under the age of 18. Therefore, not wearing a helmet will not defeat your claim. However, the other party may say that, while not legally required, reasonably prudent bicyclists wear helmets while riding, and your failure to do so contributed to your injury. Of course, this is only relevant when the injury in question is a head injury.
What if I was riding on the sidewalk before the accident?
Many people do not know that riding your bicycle on the sidewalk is not allowed in some areas of Los Angeles. It varies city to city, and is not always a clear-cut “yes” or “no”.
Los Angeles: You can ride your bike on the sidewalk as long as you are being careful about it.
Venice: Like Los Angeles, you can do so as long as you are being careful.
Santa Monica: You CANNOT ride your bicycle on the sidewalk.
Beverly Hills: You can ride your bike on the sidewalk in non-business districts, which are areas where more than 50% of the buildings are business-related. “Businesses” is broadly defined to also include churches, schools and more.
Culver City: The laws are similar to Beverly Hills.
West Hollywood: You can ride your bike on the sidewalk where there is no bike lane, so long as you ride with the flow of traffic on that side of the street. Where there is a bike lane, you must use it.
If you were riding on the sidewalk immediately prior to being hit by a car, the legality of bike riding on the sidewalk becomes very important. If bike riding on the sidewalk is allowed in that area, the drivers are expected to look out for bike riders approaching from the sidewalk. However, if bike riding on the sidewalk is not allowed in the area of the accident, then a driver could claim that it wasn’t reasonable for him to expect bike riders approaching from the sidewalk because bike riding on the sidewalk is not allowed, and therefore it was not foreseeable.
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you are likely going to be stressed out and a little panicked. Here is a checklist of what you must do to preserve your claim against the other driver:
1) Call the police, especially if liability is contested. Even if the other person admits fault, you need the police to document the admission. Otherwise, no matter what, the other driver’s insurance is going to contest liability, and it is going to be a long fight.
2) Get all insurance information from the driver.
3) Don’t say much to the driver, especially regarding fault.
4) Don’t give recorded statements to anyone, especially the other driver’s insurance company.
5) Don’t say you are not injured until a doctor renders a professional opinion. Adrenaline needs to wear off for you to feel the pain of a soft tissue injury, and that can take up to 3 days.
6) Take photographs of all visible injuries.
Where to get care
There are many health care professionals and doctors who will treat you for no upfront cost to you, instead electing to be paid out of your settlement. This is nice for you because you get the treatment you need now, and the doctor gets his payment when you get paid on your case.
The law on making my claim
In California, there is a 2-year statute of limitations for personal injury in all claims except those against a government entity. That means you have 2 years from the date you were injured to file a lawsuit relating to that injury.
If your injury was potentially caused by a government agent (for instance, you were hit by a city bus), then the limitations operate differently. First, you have 6 months from the date you were injured to file a “notice of claim” with the appropriate government agency, seeking direct compensation for your injuries. The government will then review your claim and almost always deny it, or sometimes not respond at all. If your claim is denied, you then have 6 months from the date of denial to file a lawsuit relating to that injury. If your claim is not responded to, it is presumed denied after 45 days has elapsed. You then have 6 months from that 45-day mark to file a lawsuit relating to your injury.
How does the insurance company think?
Many insurance companies use a program called “Colossus” to predict the settlement value of injury claims. It is an input-output program where figures such as vehicle damage, length of treatment and reasonable cost of treatment are inputted, and a dollar-figure value for the claim is generated.
The shortfalls of this program are great, however. It only looks at quantifiable factors, and is not customizable for particular situations, such as a person’s prior lifestyle, job requirements or pre-existing injuries that are aggravated. A jury, however, would likely recognize and compensate for these qualitative injuries, so it is our job to convey that to the insurance company.
Are prior injuries a problem?
In an accident, the at-fault party is responsible for all injuries suffered by the other party. This includes new injuries as well as aggravation and compounding of old injuries. Prior injuries, whether related to a prior motor vehicle accident or something else, can weaken the tissue surrounding the injury, leaving it more susceptible to re-injury.
Even if a prior injury leaves your body more fragile than it ordinarily would be, your claim is not negatively impacted. In fact, these prior injuries often shed light on why you may be suffering so much pain even though your accident appears relatively minor.
Motorists often treat bike riders as unequals, having less of a right to the road than a car. These motorists couldn’t be more wrong, at least with respect to the laws that govern the road.
In fact, bicyclists are fully entitled to use any part of the road, including the middle of a lane, if they are travelling at a speed consistent with the rest of traffic. They can, in effect, act as cars, and travel down the middle of any lane they chose, so long as they do not hinder the flow of traffic. California Vehicle Code 21202(a).
Bike riders, however, must follow certain rules of the road that motor vehicles follow. California Vehicle Code 21200(a). For instance, bicycles must travel on the same side of the road that a car would travel, and must ride with the flow of traffic, not against it. California Vehicle Code 21650.
A bike rider travelling slower than the rest of traffic still has some entitlement to the road, namely, the right-most portion, or the bike lane. The bike lane is just that – it is a lane for bikes, not cars. Bikes have the right of way in bike lanes, period. Bicycles are also entitled to the shoulder portion of the street where no bike lane exists, and motor vehicles must pass the bicyclist at a safe distance, usually 3 feet, even if that means slowing down and waiting until there is a break in oncoming traffic to do so.
While other motorists might not give bike riders the respect and deference that they are entitled to, the laws of the state of California do, and those laws will help you recover for any injury you suffer while riding, even if you are partially at fault.
If you were injured by a road condition or hazard, you likely have a claim against whoever is in charge of maintaining the area where you were hurt. Dangerous conditions or improper maintenance can create injury-causing road hazards. If the hazard existed on a street or sidewalk, then a government entity is likely the party responsible for the negligence, and the special statute of limitations time considerations would come into play. If the hazard existed on private property, then a private entity or individual is likely the party responsible for the negligence, and the usual 2-year statute of limitations would govern the deadline to file a lawsuit.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 21650.1, bicycles traveling on the roadway must travel in the same direction as the cars are traveling.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 21212, anyone under 18 must wear a helmet while biking on the street.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 21960, ordinary bicycles are not permitted to be ridden on the freeways.
Dunn, Carpio & Turner – experienced bicycle lawyers
Since 1977, our firm has been helping those injured in bicycle accidents recover full and fair compensation. We have handled virtually every kind of accident imaginable. If you have been injured, we can help get you the recovery you are rightfully owed.
We work on a contingency basis, so there is no upfront cost to you, and no cost to you at all if you don’t recover. Also, we recognize how disruptive bicycle accidents and injuries can be, and so to make your life easier, we will handle your property damage claim at no charge to you – ever.
Our experienced attorneys and staff will keep you informed of the progress of your case, and are available to answer your questions as they may arise. Unlike many other attorneys, our attorneys pride themselves on being readily available to speak with our clients. As such, our attorneys gladly take every client phone call, unless they are in court or meeting with another client. If that is the case, they will call you back as soon as they are able to.
We offer free consultations so you can get all of your questions answered and learn about the strength of your case. Take the first step towards getting back on your feet – mentally, physically and financially – call us today!