One of the more serious types of bicycle accidents in Northern California involves dogs chasing you while you’re riding your bike. Dogs are naturally drawn to moving things, and when a cyclist goes by quickly, it’s like an exciting game for them. However, this can lead to the dog chasing you and either biting you, which might make you fall off your bike, or causing you to try to avoid the dog and end up in an accident.
In these unfortunate situations, it’s important to know that you have legal rights. Not only do California’s laws about bicycle accidents apply, but so do its laws about dog bites. These accidents can have big effects on you, both physically and emotionally.
Free Consultations for Victims of Dog Chase Bicycle Accidents in Northern California
As you work on recovering from your injuries and losses after a bicycle accident, you might need help from our team of experienced and dedicated lawyers at Paceline Law. We have extensive experience in handling all different types of bicycle accident claims, including those caused by a dog. When you’re hurt, our team can look into your situation and figure out the best steps to take so you can get the financial support you should receive for what you’ve been through.
To get started with a free consultation, contact us today.
What Leads to Dog Chase Bicycle Accidents in Northern California?
When you consider all the factors that go into a bicycle accident caused by a dog chasing you, it’s really no surprise that these happen as frequently as they do. Still, the situation is a bit unique as far as bicycle accidents go, since they can usually only happen in certain areas of Northern California where dogs are known to be. That said, it’s important to understand the underlying factors of these incidents:
- Unleashed dogs – Dogs that are not properly leashed and under control can suddenly run onto the road, surprising cyclists and causing accidents.
- Aggressive behavior – Aggressive or territorial dogs may perceive cyclists as threats and attempt to chase them away, leading to potential collisions.
- Lack of training – Dogs that haven’t undergone proper training may not respond to their owner’s commands to stay or come back, increasing the risk of chasing behaviors.
- Curiosity and instinct – Dogs have a natural instinct to chase moving objects. Bicycles, with their rotating wheels, can trigger this chasing behavior.
- Sudden movements – Cyclists moving at a faster pace might trigger a dog’s prey drive, leading them to give chase.
- Unfamiliar sights and sounds – Dogs might be more likely to chase cyclists if they are not used to the sight and sound of bicycles, especially in less urban areas.
- Owner negligence – Owners who allow their dogs to roam freely without supervision contribute to the likelihood of these accidents.
- Lack of awareness – Cyclists who are not attentive to their surroundings might not notice a dog approaching until it’s too late to avoid a collision.
- Erratic riding – Cyclists who weave or make sudden turns could provoke a dog’s chasing behavior.
Regardless of the cause, a dog chase bicycle accident carries the risk of not only injuries from the bicycle but from the dog. As such, knowing what potential injuries you could face can help you prepare should you find yourself involved in one of these accidents.
Common Injuries Resulting From Northern California Dog Chase Bicycle Accidents
Riding your bicycle in Northern California can is usually an enjoyable experience despite it also being risky. But when a dog chase is involved, the riskiness factor obviously increases. This situation can, and often does, lead to double trouble–you could get hurt from the dog’s bite and the bike accident. Both of these injuries can be really bad, and when they happen together, it can be really overwhelming. Some common injuries from these accidents include:
- Injuries to the hands, arms, legs, and feet, as well as accompanying bites and scratches.
- Abrasions, nerve impairment, and cuts on the skin.
- Fractured bones due to falls, particularly in the hands and arms as they instinctively shield the body.
- Injuries resulting in disfigurement due to falls or dog bites.
- Head trauma due to ejection from the bicycle.
- Infections from open wounds.
- Spinal injuries, which can also impair limb functionality.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and instances of concussions.
- Fatalities, in the most severe instances.
What Should You Do?
After a dog chases you on your bicycle in Northern California and causes an accident, there are things you should do right away to make sure you can get the help you need. Here are some things to do, if you can:
- Get medical help as soon as possible.
- Do what your doctor tells you to clean your wounds.
- Tell your local animal control about what happened.
- Don’t fix your bike or things that got damaged.
- Find out who saw the accident and get their contact information.
- Figure out who owns the dog and get their insurance information.
- Take pictures and videos of your bite wounds and everything else that happened.
- It’s also a good idea to let the animal control department in the city know about the accident. They’ll look into it and see if the dog has done this before to other people.
How Does California Law Handle Dog Chase Bicycle Accidents?
While a dog chase bicycle accident is somewhat unique, California law approaches it in much the same way it does similar accidents involving either a dog or a bicycle. In both cases, the dog’s owner is responsible for covering your injuries and damages–but it’s important to understand the particular circumstances of the accident first.
Generally, in California, dog owners are held accountable for bite attacks caused by their dogs in normal circumstances–a concept known as “strict liability.” This implies that the owner is responsible for injuries resulting from a dog bite, except when the person provoked the dog or was trespassing on the owner’s premises.
However, if you are cycling and a dog starts chasing you without biting, strict liability might not be applicable. Yet, this doesn’t exempt the dog’s owner from responsibility if the chasing leads to an accident. In such cases, California’s negligence law comes into play.
To establish negligence on the dog owner’s part, all these aspects need to be proven:
- The dog’s owner has a legal duty to prevent accidents and injuries.
- The owner breaches this duty.
- You or someone else sustains injuries due to a biking accident.
- A clear link between the owner’s breach of duty and the resulting injury, known as “proximate cause.”
In the given scenario, where a dog chases and causes a biking accident, the owner is liable for covering your injuries and losses. They are obligated to keep their dog on a leash or within a fenced area to prevent harm to cyclists and the public, as they owe a duty to ensure their dog doesn’t cause harm. And in these types of accidents, your damages can be extensive.
What is the Process For a Dog Chase Bicycle Accident Claim in Northern California?
Depending on the unique details of your accident, you might be able to file a double claim for damages, addressing both the dog bite and the bicycle accident. It’s important to understand that this type of claim is distinct from the usual scenarios involving dog bites or bicycle accidents. Nevertheless, it’s usually the homeowner’s insurance policy of the dog owner that the primary coverage is responsible for handling the costs associated with your losses.
If you choose to proceed with a claim through an insurance route or decide to take legal action by means of a lawsuit, there are established protocols that you need to follow. Just like any other legal process, there’s a specific timeframe, often referred to as a statute of limitations, within which you are allowed to file your claim. In California, this time limit is two years from the date when the injury happened.
No matter which route you decide to take, the potential damages you can recover include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Physical pain and emotional suffering
- Loss of companionship or enjoyment of life
- Property damage
- Punitive damages
Obviously, if your injuries from the accident are more severe and long-lasting, you might be able to get more financial support. Also, even if you already had a health issue before, you can still ask for compensation if the dog bite or the bicycle accident made that health issue worse. That said, in order to make sure you receive the full range of your damages, consider working with our experienced team.
Standing Up For Dog Chase Bicycle Accident Victims in Northern California
Being involved in a bicycle accident in Northern California is always stressful, but even more so when it’s caused by a dog chasing you. These incidents can cause severe, long-lasting injuries and damage to your way of life. That’s why it’s so important to fully understand your legal rights and options.
At Paceline Law, our experienced Northern California bicycle accident lawyer and staff can help support you through this challenging time. If you’ve been injured in a dog chase bicycle accident, contact us today for a free consultation.