Riding a bike is a great form of exercise, an environmentally-responsible way to commute, and a lot of fun. But it can also be dangerous, particularly when cyclists share the road with careless motorists. This is particularly true in California, which has one of the highest rates of pedal cyclist fatalities, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If you have been hurt in a bike crash, you may be able to seek financial compensation for your injuries from the at-fault driver. Through an insurance claim, you can recover money for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. A seasoned Santa Rosa bicycle accident lawyer can help with the process.
At the Kuvara Law Firm, we help injury victims get maximum compensation for their injuries. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. Reach out today to talk to a member of our legal team about your case.
Who Is Responsible for a Bike Crash?
Bicycle crash cases fall into the broad category of personal injury law. Generally, these cases are based on a theory of negligence. If you can demonstrate that the driver who hit you acted negligently (or carelessly), then you will be able to recover money for your losses.
In California, anyone who travels on a public road or highway has a duty to drive in a reasonably safe manner. If they violate this duty, and their violation causes harm to another person, then they may be considered negligent. The driver can then be held financially responsible for any injuries that they caused.
Negligence can take many forms. A driver may be considered negligent if they:
- Run a red light
- Fail to yield
- Back up without looking
- Change lanes without signaling
- Engage in distracted driving (texting while driving)
- Violate traffic laws
Driver negligence can cause all types of injuries, such as broken bones, bruises, sprains and strains, organ damage, soft tissue injuries, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). If a bicycle accident causes fatal injuries, then the survivors may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Because California follows the rule of comparative negligence, you can still recover for your injuries in a bicycle crash, even if you were partially responsible. Your total recovery will be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault.
Determining fault in a bicycle accident can be complicated. If you have been hurt in any type of collision as a biker, your best bet is to reach out to a seasoned Santa Rosa bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible for a free consultation.
Compensation for Bicycle Accident Injuries
After a bike accident involving a motor vehicle, you may be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You may be entitled to three types of compensation (damages): economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are designed to compensate accident victims for their financial losses. There are often invoices, estimates, pay stubs, and bills that can be used to prove economic damages. Examples include:
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses
By comparison, noneconomic damages compensate an injury victim for intangible losses, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
These types of losses can be harder to prove. An experienced Northern California bike accident attorney will use their knowledge of similar cases and will work with experts to develop a claim for non-economic damages.
Finally, punitive damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer for intentional or grossly reckless conduct. Because most personal injury claims are based on a theory of negligence, rather than intentional or reckless conduct, they usually aren’t an option. However, in certain cases – such as drunk driving accidents – you may be able to recover punitive damages.
Most bike accident cases are resolved without having to go to trial. Instead, the process starts when your bicycle accident attorney sends a demand letter to the insurance company. This letter will outline the facts of the case, the reason why the insured is responsible, and then make a demand for compensation.
Insurance companies usually respond to demand letters with a counteroffer. This starts a negotiation process, where the parties go back and forth until they reach a settlement. If the insurance company refuses to offer you fair compensation, however, then your lawyer may recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit.
This does not mean that your case will go to trial. Instead, it is an opportunity for your Santa Rosa injury lawyer to continue negotiations and gather more evidence to support your personal injury claim. The majority of personal injury cases are resolved outside of court.
How a Santa Rosa Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Insurance companies are in the business of making money. They accomplish this goal by minimizing the amount that they pay out on claims. The best way to protect yourself and ensure that you get maximum compensation for your losses is by hiring an experienced Santa Rosa bicycle accident attorney.
Your lawyer will protect you from shady insurance company tactics like trying to get you to admit fault or going on a fishing expedition through your medical records. They’ll handle all communications with the insurer on your behalf so that you can focus on your health and well-being.
Studies show that people who are represented by counsel recover significantly higher compensation compared to people who represent themselves. The reason why is simple: insurance companies work hard to pay as little as possible on accident claims. They have armies of adjusters and lawyers on their side. Having a lawyer is the best way to level the playing field and get the money that you deserve for your bicycle accident injury.
Most Santa Rosa accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing upfront. Your legal team will only be paid if they recover money for you. For this reason, there is no risk in hiring a lawyer for your case.
The best way to get top dollar for your bicycle accident case is by working with an aggressive, experienced personal injury lawyer. The insurance company is not on your side and doesn’t have your best interests at heart. An attorney is duty-bound to represent your interests – and will fight to get you maximum compensation. In Santa Rosa and beyond, contact the Kuvara Law Firm to schedule a free initial consultation with a seasoned bicycle accident lawyer.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for My Bicycle Accident?
For personal injury claims, the statute of limitations is 2 years. With a few exceptions, this means that you have 2 years from the date of your accident to file a claim against the at-fault party. If you don’t file a lawsuit within that time period, then your case will likely be barred.
2 years may seem like a long time, but it can go by quickly when you are dealing with doctors, physical therapy appointments, and other issues. To preserve your legal rights, reach out to a Santa Rosa bike accident lawyer as soon as possible after your crash.
What Should I Do If I Was Hurt in a Bike Accident?
The most important thing that you can do after any type of accident is to seek medical attention. Call 911, or have someone call for you. This is particularly important after a bike crash, where you may have sustained serious injuries after being struck by a motor vehicle.
If you are able to do so, you can also gather information at the crash scene. Take pictures and videos with your phone, and jot down contact information for the driver and witnesses. Finally, call a Santa Rosa bike accident attorney to schedule a free consultation.
I Was Hurt in a Bike Accident Because of a Road Defect. Can I Sue the City?
Possibly. Cities, towns, and municipalities have a duty of care to maintain roads. If they fail to do so, and someone is hurt as a result, then you may be able to file a claim against them.
Lawsuits against government entities are different from other types of personal injury claims. There are specific rules that must be followed, including much shorter timelines for filing a claim. Contact the Kuvara Law Firm to schedule a free consultation with a seasoned Santa Rosa personal injury lawyer.
How Our Law Office Can Help
After a bicycle accident, you may not know where to turn for help. The Kuvara Law Firm is here for you. We’ll fight for your right to full compensation for your injuries.
Based in Northern California, our firm is dedicated to helping accident victims get the money that they deserve after a bicycle crash, motorcycle accident, slip and fall, truck collision, or another type of accident. We offer free consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a Santa Rosa bicycle accident attorney, call our law office at 707-571-0405 or fill out our online contact form.