Dealing with the aftermath of a bicycle accident can be overwhelming, especially when it results in serious injuries. Bike accident injuries can cause physical pain, psychological distress, and financial stress due to medical bills and lost income. However, you don’t have to navigate this difficult situation alone. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP offer expert legal representation for injury victims like you. We will evaluate your case and gather the necessary evidence to assist you in seeking compensation for your injuries.
Contact us today at 661.327.9661 for a free consultation and learn how an experienced bicycle accident lawyer in Bakersfield can help you.
What Are the California Bicycle Laws?
If you ride a bike in California, you should be familiar with the following bicycle laws and understand how they apply to cyclists and pedestrians statewide:
- Cyclist Rights And Responsibilities – California bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists on the road. This means cyclists deserve the same respect and consideration as other road users and must obey traffic laws and signals.
- Riding on the Right-Hand Side of the Road – Cyclists must ride as close to the right-hand side of the road as possible. There are some exceptions, such as when passing, preparing for a left turn, avoiding hazards, or riding in lanes too narrow to share.
- Riding in Bicycle Lanes – When a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway, bicyclists traveling slower than the speed of traffic must use designated bike lanes. The exceptions are when making left turns, passing, avoiding hazardous conditions, or approaching lawful right turns.
- Cycling Helmet Requirements for Riders Under 18 – Cyclists under 18 must wear safety helmets that meet the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
- The “Three Feet for Safety Act” – Motorists must maintain at least three feet of distance from cyclists when passing them on the road. If this isn’t possible, motorists must slow to reasonable and prudent speeds and pass only when doing so will not endanger the cyclist’s safety.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Bakersfield
Awareness of the common causes of bicycle accidents can keep you safe and allow you to understand your rights as a cyclist. Here are some of the most common causes:
- Distracted Driving – Distracted drivers who are paying attention to their phones, GPS displays, or other devices instead of the road can easily overlook cyclists or fail to avoid collisions with cyclists.
- Dooring Accidents – These incidents happen when a motorist or passenger opens a vehicle’s door directly into a cyclist’s path. This is an unexpected and dangerous hazard for even the most alert cyclist and a frequent cause of urban cycling accidents.
- Failure to Yield – Many drivers fail to yield the right-of-way to cyclists at intersections, whether out of neglect or a misunderstanding of traffic laws. This is a common cause of car-bicycle collisions, especially at four-way stops and roundabouts.
- “Left Cross” and “Right Hook” maneuvers – Some bicycle accidents happen when a vehicle turns left or right directly in front of a cyclist, cutting off their path and leaving no room to avoid collisions. Many such accidents occur when drivers fail to monitor their blind spots or rush into turns.
- Speeding – Motorists going over the speed limit pose significant risks to cyclists. The faster a vehicle moves, the less time a driver has to notice and react to cyclists in their path. Because of an increased impact force that comes from a higher velocity, speeding accidents often result in severe or fatal injuries.
- Driving Under the Influence – Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs have slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and poor coordination. This significantly increases the likelihood of accidents with cyclists, whom intoxicated drivers might not see until too late.
- Reckless Driving – This umbrella term can cover a variety of dangerous driving behaviors, including tailgating, sudden or erratic lane changing, overtaking in risky conditions, and ignoring traffic signals. These actions threaten the safety of cyclists and can easily lead to serious accidents.
- Failure to Notice – A widespread problem is that drivers don’t look for or see bicyclists and therefore crash into them.
What to Do After a Bike Accident
Taking the appropriate steps following a bicycle accident can significantly improve your ability to seek compensation for your injuries. Here’s what you should do:
- Seek Medical Attention – Your health is paramount. Immediately after an accident, get medical attention right away, even if your injuries seem minor. Some injuries don’t present symptoms immediately but can lead to long-term health problems without appropriate treatment.
- Follow Through on Medical Advice – Adhere to the treatment plan that your healthcare provider recommends. Not doing so might give insurers or the at-fault party’s attorneys a reason to claim that your injuries are not as serious as you say.
- Start a “Pain Journal” – Record your physical symptoms, emotional states, pain levels, and how your injuries affect your daily life. This information can be instrumental if you make a claim for pain and suffering.
- Document Everything – Collect evidence from the scene, including photographs of your injuries, the accident scene, the involved vehicle(s), and any potential hazards that contributed to the accident. Gather contact information and statements from witnesses, too.
- Preserve Evidence – Keep your bike, helmet, and the clothing you wore when the accident happened in the same state after the crash. These can serve as substantial evidence in your case.
- Inform Your Insurance Company – Report the accident to your insurance company immediately. Give them basic information, including the time, place, and parties involved. However, avoid admitting fault or discussing details about your injuries until you consult a lawyer.
- Avoid Negotiating on Your Own – In the aftermath of an accident, insurance companies often attempt to offer quick, lower-value settlements, hoping victims will be desperate enough to accept far less than they deserve. It’s crucial to consult a bicycle injury lawyer before engaging in negotiations or making statements to insurers.
Common Types of Injuries from Bicycle Accidents
Unlike motorists, who have the structural protection of vehicle frames, seat belts, airbags, and crumple zones, cyclists have virtually no protective barriers between them and the forces of a collision. Even with protective gear like helmets and pads, cyclists are still highly vulnerable to crash injuries, including the following:
- Traumatic amputations
- Fractures and dislocations
- Soft tissue injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Recoverable Compensation in a Bakersfield Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
After the traumatizing experience of a bike accident, understanding the types and amounts of available compensation can provide some relief. Depending on the specifics of your situation, you could be entitled to seek compensation for the following crash-related losses:
- Medical Expenses – You can seek compensation for all past, current, and future medical costs related to your bicycle accident injuries. This includes the costs of ambulance rides, emergency room care, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and any required assistive devices.
- Lost Income and Earning Capacity – If your injuries have kept you from returning to work, you could also get compensation for your lost income. Moreover, if your injuries affect your ability to work in the future, you could be entitled to compensation for diminished earning capacity.
- Subjective Losses – Money for subjective losses like pain and suffering aims to compensate you for the physical pain, emotional distress, lost enjoyment of life, and other psychological consequences of the accident and the injuries it caused.
Why You Need a Bakersfield Bicycle Accident Attorney at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP
The legal and insurance landscape can be complex and intimidating, especially when you’re already reeling from a bicycle accident. An experienced Bakersfield bicycle accident lawyer can provide guidance, protect your rights, and champion your cause for rightful compensation by:
- Providing Legal Advice – Our attorney will answer your questions clearly and offer dependable advice that aligns with your unique circumstances. They can help you understand the nuances of your legal rights and make informed decisions accordingly.
- Calculating the Value of Your Claim – Our lawyers have the knowledge and experience to determine a fair value for your bicycle accident claim, considering all current and future costs from the accident.
- Building Your Case – From analyzing evidence and interviewing witnesses to securing expert testimonies and filing legal documents, your lawyer can meticulously construct a robust case on your behalf from the ground up.
- Handling Insurance Negotiations – Our lawyers advocate for your interests during negotiations with insurance companies, demanding a fair settlement that reflects the actual cost of the accident now and in the future.
- Representing You in Court – If your bicycle accident case goes to court, your lawyer can represent you and argue compellingly to pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.