The Irvine bicycle accident lawyers of Bisnar Chase understand how devastating a cycling accident can be, whether it involves a collision with a car or a pedestrian or a crash due to a poorly maintained road. That is why our legal team is dedicated to helping victims of these unfortunate and truly horrible situations.
The city of Irvine provides a network of bike paths and bike trails specifically to encourage the use of bicycles as a safe and convenient means of transportation, both for commuting and recreational purposes. Irvine has about 300 miles of bike lanes and nearly 62 miles of off-road bike paths, making it one of the most well-connected bicycling cities in Orange County and across Southern California. In fact, the city was awarded a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.
While this is all great news for bicyclists who live and work in Irvine or visit the area for recreational bicycling, it is important to remember that bicycle safety is still a major issue here. Each year people are killed and injured in Irvine and in surrounding communities as a result of bicycle accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle crash or if you have lost a loved one as the result of a tragic crash, the experienced Irvine bicycle accident attorneys at Bisnar Chase can help you better understand your legal rights and options.
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident and need to speak with an Irvine personal injury lawyer about your options, call us to receive your free consultation and case evaluation at (949) 203-3814.
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Why Do Bicycle Accidents Occur?
There are a number of reasons why bicycle accidents occur in Irvine. Here are some of the most common causes:
Impaired driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs puts everyone on the roadway in grave danger. Bicyclists are no exception. When a driver is under the influence, there is an increased likelihood that he or she might swerve or crash into a bicyclist. This could prove catastrophic or fatal for the bicyclist.
Failure to yield: Under California law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other vehicles. Therefore, the rules of the road, with regard to yielding at street intersections, also apply to bicyclists. One of the common types of bicycle accidents we see at Irvine intersections is when a motorist fails to yield to an oncoming bicyclist. The most common excuse is that the driver “did not see the bicyclist coming.” This tragic scenario often arises from motorists’ inattention or their failure to consciously look for smaller vehicles such as bicycles at street intersections.
Distracted driving: Just like drunk or impaired driving, distracted drivers can be lethal for bicyclists. Looking at a cell phone or electronic device, talking to passengers, eating or drinking while driving – are all examples of being distracted while driving. Distracted drivers also often rear-end bicyclists because they are not paying attention to the roadway.
Driving too close: Under California law, motorists are required to maintain a 3-foot buffer while passing bicyclists. Drivers often break this law, and this causes bicyclists to be sideswiped or even struck. These types of accidents could result in serious injuries for bicyclists.
Bike lane intrusion: Motorists are also prohibited from driving in or intruding into a bike lane. But, often, we see distracted, inattentive, or impaired drivers swerve into bike lanes, causing a horrific crash.
Dooring: This refers to when a person inside a car opens the door of the vehicle striking a passing bicyclist. Dooring leads to major injuries or death. It is not unusual for a bicyclist who is struck by a vehicle door to get ejected from the bicycle and be thrown into the path of another oncoming vehicle. California law requires vehicle occupants to use caution before opening the doors and exiting.
Bicycle defects: In some cases, bicycle defects or faulty parts could also lead to major injury bike accidents. In such cases, the product manufacturers or the maker of the defective product can be held liable for the injuries and damages caused.
Defective roadways: There are a number of potential roadway defects that could endanger bicyclists. A crack in the pavement, uneven pavement or rough surfaces could all make bicyclists extremely vulnerable to losing their balance and getting injured. Defectively designed roadways where visibility is poor or there is no adequate lighting after dark could also put bicyclists in an extremely dangerous situation.
Injured in a California Bicycle Accident?
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in Irvine, there are a number of steps you can take in order to protect and preserve your legal rights:
- First and foremost, make sure you get the medical attention you need. Bicyclists are often the more seriously affected in a collision because they have very little to protect themselves. Accept the medical care you get at the scene from emergency personnel. If you are injured, make sure you get to the emergency room right away. Even if you “feel fine” after the collision, be sure to see the doctor or go to a nearby hospital to make sure you haven’t suffered any internal injuries. Many crash-related injuries don’t manifest until a few days after the crash.
- File a police report. If you have been involved in a collision, police should arrive at the scene shortly to investigate. The report will typically contain details such as the date, time, location, and a brief narrative of what occurred. A police report could be a valuable tool, sometimes, in terms of determining fault and liability, especially if it categorically states who was at fault for the crash. Get a copy of this report for your own records.
- Collect as much evidence from the scene as possible. Since crash sites are cleared fairly quickly, you may lose a lot of this if you don’t get it right away. This means taking pictures on your cell phone of details from the crash scene such as your damaged bicycle, your injuries, the position of the other vehicles, etc. If possible, shoot a video. Talk to anyone who saw the incident and get their contact information and name. Their testimony could be very valuable in your claims process. If you can’t gather this information due to your injuries, ask a loved one or a friend if they could do it for you. An Irvine bicycle accident lawyer will also be able to help you with this work.
- Save all paperwork stemming from the incident and your injuries. This means every receipt and invoice, records of doctor visits and surgery and rehab bills. It is also important that you keep track of the number of days you stayed away from work.
- Contact an experienced Irvine bicycle accident lawyer who will help you avoid making mistakes during the claim process that could jeopardize your case.
What You Should Not Do During Your Bicycle Accident Case
What you do in the aftermath of a bicycle accident can also ruin your case. This is why it is extremely important that you don’t do certain things. For example, never admit fault for the accident. You never know who was at fault until a thorough investigation has been completed. It is better to be patient and get all the facts.
Don’t sign any paperwork you do not understand. Some accident victims end up signing papers and giving access to personal information such as financials and medical records. This is a grave mistake because insurance companies and defendants’ lawyers will use this information against you in an attempt to minimize the payout or settlement.
Do not rush into a settlement with other parties until you have talked to your injury lawyer. Insurance companies don’t care about what you get. They only care about their own bottom line and protecting their interests. Your injury lawyer is the only one who will be advocating and fighting for your rights and best interests. Also, if you prematurely sign a settlement agreement, you will not be able to claim compensation for other accident-related expenses that crop up later such as medical expenses or rehabilitation costs.
Do not post about your activities on social media until after your bicycle accident lawsuit is resolved. Shut down all your accounts so no one, including you, has any access. There is no such thing as privacy or security on the internet. If someone is determined enough to get to your information, they will. Insurance companies and defense attorneys have been known to manipulate information such as comments, photos, and videos found on social media sites or personal blogs to minimize a payout. So, it would be in your best interest not to engage until after you have entered into a settlement and received payment.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Bike Accident?
There are several parties that could be held liable in bicycle accident cases. Fault and liability depend on the nature and circumstances of the incident. Every bicycle accident case is unique. Here are some of the parties that could be held liable in a bicycle accident case:
Drivers: Some of the most devastating bicycle accidents are those that involve collisions with other vehicles. If the driver is determined to be fully or partially responsible for the accident, he or she can be held liable. Usually, you would go through the driver’s insurance company to seek compensation for your losses. If the driver is uninsured, you may be able to seek compensation through the uninsured motorist clause of your own auto insurance policy. This also applies when the driver who hit you does not have adequate coverage to compensate you for your losses.
Employers: In cases where the at-fault driver was on the job, his or her employer may also be held liable. In some cases, the driver operating his or her personal vehicle might be involved. In other cases, the person might be driving a company vehicle such as a delivery vehicle. As long as the driver was on the job, the employer can also be held liable for your injuries, damages, and losses.
Governmental entities: This could happen in cases where bicyclists are injured by dangerous or defective roadways. It could also happen when the bicyclist is struck by a government employee such as a peace officer or city worker who is on the job. In such cases involving governmental entities, personal injury claims must be filed within 180 days of the accident or injury.
Product manufacturers: If your bicycle accident was caused by a defective bicycle or bike part, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer seeking compensation for your losses. This is one of the most important reasons why you should preserve your bicycle after the accident. This way, an expert can thoroughly examine it for defects, malfunctions, etc.
Damages and Compensation in an Irvine Bike Accident
Injured bicycle accident victims may be able to seek compensation for a number of losses including, but not limited to:
- Medical expenses: This includes everything from ambulance costs, doctor office visits, diagnostic tests, and surgeries to medication and medical equipment.
- Lost income: When you are recovering from an injury, you may not be able to work for several days or even weeks or months. As part of your bicycle accident claim, you may be able to seek compensation for income or wages lost. If you have been catastrophically injured and cannot return to work, you may also seek compensation for lost future income and loss of earning capacity.
- Rehabilitation costs: Bicyclists often suffer traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord trauma, broken bones, and other damages that require lengthy and extensive rehabilitation therapies. This could prove costly because many health insurance policies don’t completely cover them.
- Pain and suffering: The physical pain and emotional suffering bicycle accident victims endure cannot be minimized. These can be claimed as noneconomic damages in a bicycle accident lawsuit.
- Wrongful death: Bicycle accidents are often fatal. In such cases, family members of deceased victims can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering, and loss of love and companionship.
Contacting an Experienced Irvine Bike Accident Lawyer
The Irvine bicycle accident lawyers at Bisnar Chase have had an excellent track record of fighting for the rights of victims and families. We have obtained verdicts and settlements for catastrophically injured bicyclists. Whether it’s a governmental agency or a large corporation, we have what it takes to stand up and seek justice for our injured clients. Please call us at (949) 203-3814 for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.