Paceline Law represents bicycle accident victims across Northern California. One of the most common-and devastating–types of accidents we help clients with involves driving while intoxicated (DWI).
If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident where a driver was intoxicated or under the influence, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Should You Hire a Lawyer?
Whether or not you actually need to take legal action depends on the circumstances of your accident. If your particular bicycle accident was minor or you were mildly injured, you probably don’t need to worry about hiring a lawyer. But in cases where the driver was drunk or otherwise intoxicated, it’s likely that your injuries will be more severe. And even though liability in these cases is fairly straightforward, your best chance at getting everything you’re owed under the law is going to depend on how effectively you present your case.
It’s here that our team can be a huge help. Here’s what we can do for you:
- First and foremost, we’ll aim to make the legal process easier on you. We’ll take care of any negotiations, and will provide you with a clear roadmap for how your claim will probably play out in our first meeting together.
- If you decide to move forward, we’ll investigate the accident and gather crucial evidence like medical records and police reports showing the DUI to put together a compelling case for you.
- We’ll also help you through the claims process, whether you want to file an insurance claim or lawsuit. We’ll also negotiate a fair settlement, or will be prepared to take your case to trial if that doesn’t happen.
Again, a DWI bicycle accident is somewhat unique in terms of the circumstances. Still, an insurance company or defense lawyer is going to do everything they can to pay you as little as possible. That’s where we can stand up for your rights. On your end though, the steps you take right after the accident are important too.
Protecting Your Claim and Health
Much like any other DWI accident, one involving you on your bike is likely to leave you with serious injuries. It’s not hard to see why: when a driver is intoxicated, they have dulled senses and slower reaction times. Combine that with the relative lack of protection you have on your bike, and this all adds up to a more serious accident. Still, the steps you take immediately after the accident are important to your overall health and claim process. Here’s what you need to do to protect your health and claim:
- Make sure you’re safe, then call for help.
- Take pictures of the scene, showing any injuries and damage to your bike and other property.
- Tell the police about what happened.
- If possible, get information from the drunk driver like their contact, insurance, and license details. If you can’t, ask the police for help.
- Write down the names and contact information of people who saw the accident.
- Don’t say it was your fault.
- Let your insurance company know about the accident so they can start their process.
- Keep your medical bills and important papers for proof.
When you, as a bicyclist, get hurt in a DWI accident, the responsibility for covering your injuries and damages typically falls heavily on that driver. However, in drunk driving accidents, other parties might be involved, even if they weren’t present at the scene:
- People who give alcohol to underage or visibly drunk people at parties.
- Employers who let employees drive company vehicles while under the influence.
- Bars or restaurants that keep serving alcohol to clearly intoxicated people.
In these cases, those that either served or provided the alcohol or drugs may be partially responsible for any damages or injuries resulting from the accident. But in order to fully recover, you’ll need to calculate these damages–and understand where they come from.
Damages in an Injury Claim
In any injury claim–including one involving a DWI bike accident–your damages are going to come from your injuries and other losses. Moreover, the responsible parties–represented by their insurance carriers–will be the ones responsible for paying your damages. That’s why it’s so important to nail down every liable party.
At the same time, every bike accident claim is unique. So, while your damages may vary, there are certain kinds of these damages that are available in every claim:
- Medical expenses – These cover your medical care costs, like surgeries, treatment, devices, emergency services, and ongoing care needs.
- Pain and suffering – These damages are meant for the physical pain and mental anguish you go through because of the accident.
- Lost income – These are designed to cover any wages you lose because you miss work to deal with the fallout of your accident. It can also include the loss of future earnings or benefits.
- Emotional distress – These damages are meant to cover any emotional and psychological damage from the accident, like depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
- Loss of companionship or enjoyment of life – This category of damages relates to the impact the accident has had on your quality of life or personal relationships.
- Wrongful death – In the event the accident was fatal, these will cover things like your funeral and burial expenses. It also can be extended to cover lost income or medical expenses before death.
- Punitive damages – In most DWI cases, you could ask the judge for punitive damages. These are additional monetary damages given on top of the others, and apply when the responsible party was excessively or intentionally reckless.
If you’re like most accident victims, you probably won’t be aware of the extent of your damages initially. That’s another area where our experienced team can be a big help. We’ll help you compile and keep a running tab on these damages for you. Then, we’ll make sure we put together a strong case so you can get what you’re owed.
Statute of Limitations
One of the most important parts of your claim, and subsequent recovery of damages–is filing within California’s statute of limitations. Under California law, you have:
- Two years from the date of your accident to file a claim.
Missing this deadline could mean that you’re unable to bring a claim and recover these all-important damages. Worse, this deadline is in place regardless of how strong your claim is–even if the person responsible was driving while intoxicated.
Can You Prevent DWI Bike Accidents?
As a bicyclist, you really have no control over the actions of other drivers. While frustrating, this is simply a part of riding your bike. While you alone can’t stop a DWI accident from happening, there are things you can do to alert others of the problem:
- Stay alert – When biking, always stay alert and aware of your surroundings. This includes keeping a watch on other drivers you’re sharing the road with.
- Report drunk drivers – If you see someone driving erratically, pull off to the side of the road and call the police to report them. Hopefully, the police will be able to track them down.
- Keep a safe distance – Along the same lines, if you see someone you think is intoxicated, keep a safe distance from them or better yet, head in the opposite direction.
- Be visible – Any time you’re on your bike, you’ll want to increase your visibility as best you can. This is also true in cases with a potentially intoxicated driver. While their senses are dulled, if they’re able to see you, they can react better.
Experience and Support From Paceline Law
Any bike accident is frustrating and stressful, but DWI accidents take on an added layer of severity. Not only do they typically result in more serious accidents, they’re also entirely preventable. At Paceline Law, we know how tough this situation can be. We’ll be there to guide you through this challenging process and try to restore some normalcy to your day-to-day life. Contact us today for a free consultation if you’re involved in one of these accidents.