At Paceline Law, we understand how any bicycle accident can impact your everyday life. If you’ve been hurt or lost a loved one in a bicycle accident because of a distracted driver in Northern California, contact us today for a free consultation.
What’s the Legal Process After a Bicycle Accident?
You have to be aware of so much when riding your bike in Northern California, but there’s one thing that stands out from the rest: drivers in vehicles. While you can account for your own movements and actions on the bike, what you can’t account for are people behind the wheel of a moving car.
Whenever you’re in a Northern California bicycle accident, the legal process is going to involve at least two steps:
- Filing an insurance claim with the at-fault party or parties
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit
Understanding your options and rights after any bicycle accident is crucial, but especially so when someone else caused it because they were distracted. In order to do that effectively, you’ll need important evidence like:
- Reports that cite distracted driving as a cause of the accident.
- Statements from witnesses or bystanders that saw the accident and can confirm that the driver wasn’t paying attention
- Cell phone records showing text messaging and phone call logs at the time of the accident.
- Gathering photos or videos of the scene.
- Confession from the driver of being distracted.
- Camera footage that recorded the accident.
How We Can Help
With this initial step taken care of, our team can further guide you through the process. Every case is different, but our team has extensive experience and a proven system of success that includes the following steps:
- Establishing legal liability – Figuring out who’s at fault is the first important step in handling an accident. It involves looking into the details of what happened, considering things like traffic rules, what witnesses say, and any available evidence.
- Reviewing evidence – After determining fault, the next step is collecting and carefully reviewing all the relevant evidence. A thorough analysis of this evidence is crucial for building a strong case.
- Building a case – To strengthen your case, we might talk to witnesses who can give helpful insights. In more complicated situations, we might consult experts like accident reconstruction specialists or medical professionals for their expertise.
- Managing your claim – We can help manage different aspects of your case, such as paperwork and communication with the insurance company, so you can focus on recovering.
- Negotiations – Negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company can be tough. We will handle discussions to ensure your rights are protected and you get fair financial considerations.
- Court representation – If negotiations don’t lead to a fair settlement, we will be ready to go to court on your behalf. This involves presenting your case to a judge and jury to get the outcome you deserve.
Damages in a Bicycle Accident Claim
The overall goal of the legal process allows you to recover what’s legally referred to as “damages,” which are divided into two main categories: economic and non-economic. These types of damages address various aspects of the losses you may have happened to you due to the accident.
- Medical expenses – These cover all costs related to your medical treatment, including hospital bills, surgeries, medications, and necessary medical equipment.
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation – If your injuries require ongoing therapy or rehabilitation, these expenses can be included in your claim.
- Lost income – If the accident causes you to miss work and lose income, you can seek financial considerations for the wages you would have earned during this time.
- Pain and suffering – One of the main non-economic damages involves the physical pain and accompanying emotional or psychological suffering you’ve endured as a result of the accident.
- Mental anguish and emotional distress – If the accident has caused psychological suffering, anxiety, or emotional trauma, these can be considered in your claim.
- Loss of companionship or quality of life – In cases where the accident has adversely affected your relationships or your ability to enjoy your life as you did before, that will factor into your damages.
The specific amount of damages you can recover in your bicycle accident claim will depend on the unique circumstances of your case, including the severity of your injuries and the impact on your life. Calculating these damages can be challenging, also–especially if your injuries require ongoing treatment. To improve your chances of obtaining fair financial support, you should know how to properly respond.
How Should You Respond After a Bicycle Accident Caused by Distracted Driving?
Regardless of what was distracting the driver that hit you and caused your bike accident, it’s important that you respond correctly. This means doing certain things and not doing certain things that insurance companies will try to use to devalue your claim.
As with any accident, your health and safety should be the top priority. Still, here’s what you’ll need to do after being in a bicycle accident with a distracted driver:
- Get medical care – Your health is the top priority. Seek immediate medical attention for any injuries, no matter how small they may seem.
- Call the police – Report the accident to the police with accurate details. They should create an official report of the incident.
- Collect information and details – Get the distracted driver’s contact details – name, phone number, insurance info, and vehicle details. Also, get contact info from any witnesses.
- Take pictures – Capture the accident scene, vehicle positions, damage, and relevant road signs. These pictures are crucial evidence.
- Keep any evidence – If possible, keep your bicycle and damaged items. Also, preserve relevant documents like medical records and expense receipts.
- Stay calm – Emotions can run high. Stay calm, avoid confrontations with the distracted driver, and let the police handle the situation.
- Inform your insurance company – Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide necessary details and cooperate with their investigation.
- Don’t admit fault – Avoid admitting fault or making statements that could be seen as guilt. Stick to the facts when talking about the accident.
- Don’t ignore your health – Even if you feel okay initially, some injuries may not show immediately. Insurance adjusters would try to say you weren’t as injured if you don’t get medical care right after the accident.
- Stay at the scene – Wait until the police finish their investigation. Leaving can have legal consequences.
- Avoid arguments with the driver – Don’t argue with the distracted driver or others. Focus on gathering info and cooperating with authorities.
Being in a bicycle accident is difficult enough on its own. When you factor in all of the other circumstances and the legal process itself, it can quickly become overwhelming. That’s where our team comes in. We have the experience and knowledge you need to make the process easier, and more importantly, the ability to make sure you get what you’re owed.
Can You Avoid Being Hit by a Distracted Driver While Biking?
Unfortunately, avoiding a bicycle accident caused by distracted driving in Northern California may not always be possible. After all, you can only control your actions while biking and not those of drivers. Still, there are measures you can take to minimize the risk of being involved in such an accident:
- Enhance your visibility – Make yourself easily noticeable by wearing bright clothes, using reflectors or lights, and indicating your intended path to other drivers.
- Don’t ride on sidewalks – Although it might seem safer, riding on the sidewalk at an intersection can make it difficult for drivers to spot you. Abruptly moving from the sidewalk to cross the road can catch drivers off guard.
- Don’t pass cars – Refrain from attempting to pass cars at intersections or on the road, as this often results in accidents. Turning cars from the opposite direction may not react quickly enough as you go by in front of slow or stopped cars.
- Reduce your speed – Slow down as you approach an intersection or heavy traffic to give yourself more reaction time. Also try to make eye contact with drivers in lanes to enhance their awareness of you.
It’s worth repeating that bike accidents can cause serious injuries because they don’t protect you like cars do. Even with safety gear like a helmet, bikes lack the metal frame, airbags, or seat belts found in cars. It’s crucial to do what you can to avoid accidents, but if you find yourself in one, our team is here to help guide you.
Contact Paceline Law For a Free Consultation
No matter what causes your bike accident, Paceline Law will be there to help you recover. Our legal team has the dedication and experience you need when a distracted driver causes a bike accident. If you’ve been injured and want to know what to do next, contact us for a free consultation.