Bicycles are a popular mode of transportation in California. There are numerous advantages to riding a bicycle. For example, bicycling is an excellent form of exercise. It is also much better for the environment than traveling in a motor vehicle. However, using a bicycle also carries its own set of risks.
From 2007 to 2013, the number of bicyclist injuries in California increased by 21 percent. In addition, approximately 4 percent of those killed in traffic accidents were bicyclists.
Bicyclists are at greater risk of serious injury or death due to their exposure while riding their bicycles. They do not have the protection that traveling in a vehicle offers. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you need an experienced California bicycle accident attorney to help you obtain the compensation you are entitled to.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Bicycle Accident Claim?
Bicycle accidents, like all other personal injury claims, require that victims prove that the at-fault party was negligent at the time of the accident. Negligence claims require proof of the following elements:
- The at-fault party owed a duty to the victim;
- The duty was breached because the at-fault party was negligent; and
- Due to this negligence, the victim suffered damages.
In California, those who use public roads have a duty to do so in a manner that is safe and reasonable under the circumstances. For example, a motorist’s decision to drink and drive would certainly not be reasonable.
Most examples of negligence are also instances of failing to act reasonably. For example, texting and driving and speeding in rainy conditions would be considered negligent, as would disregarding traffic signals and failing to yield the right of way.
The victim must also show that his or her damages were the direct result of the at-fault party’s negligence (and not due to some preexisting condition). Damages may include:
- Medical expenses, including future medical costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of employment benefits
- Costs incurred to install handrails, wheelchair ramps, and similar accommodations
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Other types of damages may also be available, depending on the circumstances of the case. Your personal injury attorney will be able to identify and pursue all available damages on your behalf.
Defenses That May Be Used Against Bicycle Accident Victims
California follows a comparative negligence model. This means that a claimant’s damages may be reduced by an amount that is proportionate to the claimant’s own negligence.
Consider a claimant that is determined to be 30 percent responsible for an accident. If the claimant is entitled to $100,000, this award would be reduced to $70,000.
Therefore, those at fault for an accident have an incentive to argue that a claimant was somehow liable as well. These individuals may argue:
- The bicyclist was not following traffic laws
- The bicyclist should have been wearing a helmet
- The bicyclist was going too fast
- The bicyclist did not take steps to make himself or herself visible to traffic (blinking lights, reflective clothing, etc.)
- The bicyclist was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Without proper legal representation, bicyclists may have a difficult time defending themselves against such allegations. Experienced bicycle accident attorneys know how to fight these claims and prove that the bicyclist was not at fault for the crash.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
Thousands of bicyclists are treated in emergency departments every year for a variety of accident-related injuries. The most common of these injuries include:
- Bone fractures
- Internal organ damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Dental injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Road rash
Although many bicyclists recover from their injuries after a few weeks, some of these injuries may result in permanent disability. No matter how serious your bicycle accident injuries are, experienced attorneys can help.
At Kuvara Law Firm, We Are Prepared to Fight for You
The bicycle accident lawyers at Kuvara Law Firm have helped many accident victims obtain compensation for their injuries. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident in California and would like to learn about your legal options, contact us at 800-446-5879.