What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Bicycle Accident
Protect Your Rights with Help from a Bicycle Accident Attorney Every year, around 720 bicyclists die due to crashes, as any bicycle accident attorney will tell you. Although cycling only accounts for 1% of all modes of transportation in the U.S., deaths related to cycling account for a total of 2% of all fatal vehicular accidents every year. Statistics also show that 11% of all road accidents involve hit-and-run drivers. People flee from the person they injured because they can get away with it, especially in areas where there are no witnesses. They flee the scene because they are hiding something. Maybe they are drunk driving or have contraband and illegal drugs with them. Some people do not have a driver’s license, have too many traffic violation tickets to deal with, or are in the country illegally. Some are just completely inhumane and refuse to take responsibility. Whatever their reasons are, hit-and-run is a crime. Anybody who leaves the scene of the accident without stopping to offer aid is committing a crime. They are legally liable to go to jail. But the question remains: if you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, what should you do? Call the Police and Gather Evidence Unless you are severely injured, the first thing to do is to call the cops. In all states, a hit-and-run is a criminal liability. And because of this, the police force has to provide assistance. However, the reality is that the case is not going to be a priority. It is very likely that they will assign your case to the traffic enforcers or CAPERS (crimes against persons). If you are lucky enough to know the car’s plate numbers, the police will quickly identify the owner and apprehend him. In this case, it makes sense to contact a bicycle accident attorney to help you with the legalities. If you do not have the car’s details, you better start talking to witnesses. Eyewitnesses are critical to an investigation and conviction. Even if you have the plate number, you must positively identify the driver. What you have to do is to start talking to people who live around the crime scene, or were there at the time of the accident. If the accident happened in an urban location, you have to talk to business owners and ask for their camera footage. If they refuse, your bicycle accident attorney can help you get a subpoena. In a smaller neighborhood, start asking people. They may know who the driver is if you tell them the car’s color. Some of them may even volunteer information – that they saw the driver speeding away, for instance. Call Your Insurance Company You need to do this within 24 hours. In most states, you only have a 24-hour window to report an accident. By filing a claim, you can recover your medical expenses and the damages to the bike. In some insurance policies, they will cover your lost wages and repair bills. Do not worry about your rates going up when it is time to renew because the accident is not your fault. On the other hand, you may be successful in identifying the driver. In this case, the insurance benefits will come from the driver’s insurance company, not yours. This claim is called a personal injury compensation claim. This claim should easy. If the driver refuses, just tell him that you will sue. However, if the driver has no insurance at all, a lawyer can help you make a claim with the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). It is an organization that deals with cases of damage and personal injury for uninsured drivers (at fault) or victims of untraced drivers. Although you can deal with this organization yourself, the process is complicated, so it is best to ask for a lawyer’s help. Call Your Health Insurance Even if you are not severely injured, you should go to the hospital and talk to a physician. Medical tests will ensure that your bones and internal organs are fine. Ideally, you should do this also within 24 hours of the accident. A lot of bicycle accidents involve serious injuries that only manifest later on. It is best that you also ask your doctor to recommend a brain or skull x-ray if your head is in pain or feels off at all. This test is to ensure that a headache you are feeling is natural and it is not due to the accident. Internal bleeding can also happen and will only show signs and symptoms a few days after the crash, so it is best to get medical help as soon as possible – before it is too late. Conclusion Accidents happen. You can’t do anything about that fact. However, you can take steps to strengthen your claim after a crash happens. It is ultimately up to you to hold the driver accountable. Remember, if you do not take the right steps, and you only report the accident a few weeks later, insurance companies and the police will find your statements doubtful and your claim won’t have any legs.
Bicycle Accident FAQ
Common Questions about Bicycle Accidents How long do I have to file a bicycle accident claim? In most cases, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations. Since the window to file your claim can vary depending on the circumstances (e.g. the statute of limitations for cases involving government employees is six months), it is best to consult with a trustworthy attorney ASAP. Otherwise, you may miss the opportunity to pursue compensation for your damages. How long does a bicycle accident case take? A typical bicycle accident case in California can take anywhere from a few months to several years. There is no clear answer, though there are a few guidelines. More serious injuries usually lead to longer cases, as do liability disputes and other complicating factors. While no attorney can give you an exact figure regarding the length of your case (and don’t trust those who tell you otherwise), he or she can extrapolate an estimate from the facts of your case. What if I was partly at fault for my bicycle accident? Bicyclists are subject to the same rules of the road as motorists, and thus have a general duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of themselves and others. However, bicycle accident victims who are partially at fault can still get compensation for their injuries, albeit reduced by their percentage of fault. For instance, if the jury awards you $100,000 in damages but determines that you were 30% at fault, you would still be entitled to recover $70,000 ($100,000 – 30%). What damages may I claim for bicycle accident injuries? If you have been injured in a bicycle accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for the following damages: Past and future medical expenses Lost income and loss of earning capacity Pain and suffering Loss of enjoyment of life Property damage Only by getting an experienced legal professional on your case can you ensure that the value of your case is preserved. The faster, the better. What if my child was injured or killed while riding a bicycle? There are a few major differences to claims where a child is injured. First, a guardian ad litem is appointed by the Court to act on behalf of the child. Second, the child’s personal injury compensation is placed into a blocked account that is made accessible only once the child turns 18. For more information, reach out to a lawyer experienced in these cases. Do I need an attorney after a bicycle accident? Yes, only a qualified bicycle accident lawyer can protect your rights and make sure the insurance company does not take advantage of you. To discuss the specifics of your bicycle accident claim with a dedicated legal expert, call Wilshire Law Firm at (800) 522-7274. We represent bike crash victims all throughout California.
Cyclists in Los Angeles Face Dangerous Roads
Dangerous Roads in LA Don’t Benefit Cyclists It’s no secret that being a cyclist in Los Angeles can be very dangerous. This is nothing new for cyclists, but was something that was brought to attention when Mayor Villaraigosa broke his elbow in a cycling accident in 2010. In Los Angeles, pedestrians accounted for about a third of all traffic fatalities, or nearly triple the national average of 11.4%. About 3% of the fatalities were bicyclists. That compares with 1.7% nationally. The study, which compared crash rates in Los Angeles, New York and nationwide, examined data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, California Highway Patrol and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. The database included 449,498 crashes within Los Angeles city limits, with 2,086 crashes that involved at least one death during the eight-year period of 2002 through 2009. These are scary numbers for anyone who enjoys cycling in Los Angeles. To compound the problem Governor brown recently rejected legislation that would have required motorists to give cyclists at least three feet of room while passing, or slow down — citing concern that it could cause more car accidents. Brown said he worried about requiring motorists to slow to 15 mph when passing bicyclists if there is not three feet between them. Cycling injuries can be devastating, costly, and have tremendous impact on the cyclists life. Traumatic brain injury is major problem for cyclists and can occur even when the cyclists wears his or her helmet. The problem is there hasn’t been proper education for cycling safety for automobile drivers or for cyclists. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Metro have begun to offer cyclist safety courses but a small percentage of cyclists ever sign up and participate in these programs. The Metro has also committed to an auto awareness campaign called “Share the Road” which reminds drivers that cyclists have just the same amount of rights on the roads as automobiles. None of this matters if you’ve been injured in a cycling accident or know someone who has been injured in a cycling accident. The important thing to remember is that if you have been injured in a cycling accident, you need good representation in order to get full compensation for your injuries and damages to your bike. Often times cyclists ride away from an accident thinking that they are OK, but later on realize they have had injuries that weren’t accounted for when the accident occurred. Even if you feel like you are OK and your bike is undamaged it’s very important to get the names and information of the automobile involved in the accident. When your body hits asphalt it can cause major damage to your bones, and organs. Often times the cyclist is in shock and doesn’t realize the extent of his injuries until much later. Most importantly to remember is follow the rules of the road, wear your helmet, and remember that you are no match for a several ton vehicle.