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Lafayette and East Bay Caltrans Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Paceline Law Bicycle Injury Lawyer helps those hurt in all different types of bicycle accidents in the area. There’s many different causes of bike accidents in the area, including problems with the actual roadway itself. Potholes, uneven pavement, and poorly marked bike lanes can cause serious bike accidents. My Lafayette bicycle accident team can help with your claim, handling the process so you can focus on recovery. Contact us for a free consultation.

Should You Hire a Lawyer?

A bicycle accident that comes up because the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) failed to maintain the roadway properly can be incredibly frustrating. But answering the question as to whether or not you should hire a lawyer depends on your situation. If your accident is minor, you probably don’t need to worry about legal action.

However, accidents like these can be physically and financially challenging. You have to manage your injuries and then try to go through the legal process with the State of California. At that point, my firm can be a huge help. We have the experience and resources to guide you through this process. Better yet, we offer free consultations and work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning there’s no upfront cost to working with us.

How Does the Claims Process Work After a Caltrans Bike Accident?

Probably the biggest difference when there’s a bicycle accident caused by Caltrans has to do with the actual claims process. While you still have the same rights as any other bike accident, the actual way your injury claim plays out is slightly different when Caltrans is involved.

Much of this has to do with the fact that Caltrans is a government entity. As a result, a claim against Caltrans for a bicycle accident involves a different process from a regular accident claim.

First, you must submit a:

  • Notice of Claim to the state and Caltrans within six months of the accident.

There are two key requirements for filing:

  • Excess damages – If your claim is for damages under $10,000, you can file directly with Caltrans. For claims above $10,000, you must file with the Government Claims Program.

  • Time limit – You must file your claim within six months of the accident date, unlike the typical two-year limit for other injury lawsuits in California.

If you don’t meet these requirements, you can’t pursue a claim against Caltrans and may miss out on financial support for your injuries and property damage.

After you submit your claim, Caltrans has 45 days to respond. If they accept responsibility, they will pay for your damages within about 8 weeks. If they deny the claim, you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit against them.

Regardless of the path you choose, you can recover certain damages including:

  • Medical treatment costs.
  • Lost income and future wages.
  • Reduced future earning ability.
  • Financial support for pain and suffering.
  • Damages for impairments, disfigurement, and disabilities.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

Keep in mind California’s comparative negligence statute, which reduces your compensation by the percentage of your fault in the accident. Then, you have to think about figuring out negligence.

How Liable is Caltrans For a Bicycle Accident?

With the claims process sorted out, you can start thinking about the mechanics of your claim. The first part here, usually, is showing that Caltrans was negligent in their duty to keep the road safe, and this negligence caused your accident. Specifically, this is the legal standard for liability. However, there’s four things you need to show to establish this:

  • Caltrans had a duty to keep roads safe.
  • They failed to maintain the road, creating a hazard.
  • This negligence caused your bike accident.
  • You suffered injuries and losses.

Next, you need to confirm that Caltrans is responsible for the specific road where the accident happened, as another entity (like a city or town) might be liable.

Caltrans manages road maintenance, design, construction, and day-to-day safety. Their inaction or delays can lead to bike accidents involving:

  • Potholes
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Loose debris
  • Railroad tracks
  • Sewer grates
  • Poor lighting
  • Construction zones
  • Fixed objects
  • Rainwater and puddles
  • Narrow shoulders and lack of bike lanes
  • Blind intersections
  • Roadway deformities

 

If a bike accident is due to poor road maintenance, handling the claim is different from a typical accident. While the claims process is different, what doesn’t change is how you need to respond to protect your claim.

What Do You Need to Do After a Caltrans Bicycle Accident?

Unfortunately, roadway problems are just as likely to cause a bike accident as drivers or other bicyclists. Worse, you’re just as likely to get hurt in these accidents. While you can take steps to protect yourself, you can’t always avoid these accidents. So, if you find yourself involved in a bike accident caused by the negligence of Caltrans, here’s what you need to do to protect your potential claim:

  • Get medical help – First things first, get to safety and see if you’re injured. If you are, call 911 for an ambulance and get help at the scene. Afterward, you may also want to see a doctor for further treatment.

  • Report the accident – It’s incredibly important to report the accident to both police and Caltrans. The police can manage the scene and help you gather information. Reporting the accident to Caltrans alerts them to the issue, and should prompt them to address it. You still have to give them proper notice before filing a claim, but this creates a record of the incident.

  • Document the scene – Take photos of the accident scene, the hazard, your injuries, and any damage to your bike. Also, try to get contact information or statements from any witnesses. Lastly, keep your damaged bike and gear as evidence.

No matter how careful you are, poor road maintenance can quickly lead to a bike accident where you’re seriously hurt. But remember, you not only have legal options, but by taking these steps and working with my firm, you can put together a strong claim.

Experienced Lafayette and East Bay Caltrans Bicycle Accident Lawyer

When you’re hurt in a bike accident caused by Caltrans’ poor or negligent maintenance, it’s extremely disheartening. As a citizen, you pay taxes and other fees so that you don’t have to worry about this kind of thing. At Paceline Law Bicycle Injury lawyer, my team can help you through the process and make sure you have what you need to make a recovery. If you or someone you care about has been hurt in a Caltrans bike accident in Lafayette or anywhere else in the East Bay, contact us for a free consultation.