Bicyclists have the same right to the road as the motorists in traffic around them. When someone behind the wheel of a car, truck, or SUV doesn’t respect this right, however, there’s little that bikers can do to protect themselves.
If you were struck by a negligent motorist who failed to yield when you had the right of way, you may be entitled to compensation for the resulting damages. Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about building a bicycle accident claim in this scenario:
1. Who May Be Liable for a Failure to Yield Bicycle Accident?
If you had the right of way, it’s reasonable to assume the motorist who struck you is liable. This is the case in most failure to yield accidents. There are some scenarios, however, in which other parties may be to blame.
If the road was poorly designed, for example, and doesn’t allow for motorists and cyclists to merge or cross-traffic safely, the city planner may be to blame. If on the other, the streets were poorly maintained—perhaps the bike lane had faded or the traffic signal was malfunctioning—the municipality may be liable.
Regardless of the circumstances, a resourceful bicycle accident attorney will be able to assess what happened and identify all potentially liable parties.
2. How Can I Prove Liability for the Bicycle Accident in Which I Was Hurt?
Before you can recover compensation for the damages you’ve incurred—or even commence the settlement negotiations—you will have to gather sufficient evidence of liability. While the strongest evidence of fault will depend on the circumstances of the accident, it will probably include some combination of the following:
- Photographs of the wreckage;
- Photographs or videos of the flow of traffic near the scene;
- Surveillance recordings or dash cam footage of the incident;
- Deposition from accident reconstruction experts;
- Eyewitness deposition; and
- Relevant traffic laws.
3. What Kinds of Damages Should I Be Tracking While I Recover?
In California, personal injury plaintiffs are entitled to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages—as long as they can prove that they actually incurred them. Recoverable economic damages may include:
- Emergency medical care;
- Ongoing rehabilitation;
- Home care;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of earning capacity;
- Property repairs;
- Replacement services;
- Alternative transportation;
- Home and vehicle modifications;
- Domestic help; and
- Child care.
Potentially recoverable non-economic damages, which are every bit as real as the monetary losses listed above, include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life, and pain and suffering. Additionally, a plaintiff’s spouse or registered domestic partner may be entitled to compensation for loss of consortium. This refers to the loss of love, companionship, and affection that he or she will incur as a result of the plaintiff’s injuries.
You can track your economic damages by saving all relevant bills, receipts, invoices, and paystubs. As for tracking your non-economic damages, start a personal injury journal, and write detailed entries about the ways in which your injuries are impacting your everyday life.
4. Will I Have to Go to Trial?
As long as you can present strong evidence of liability, causation, and damages, there’s a good chance the at-fault motorist’s insurer will be willing to negotiate. Most personal injury claims are resolved without filing a lawsuit because both parties are inclined to avoid the added cost and hassle.
There’s always a chance, however, that the opposing party will prove uncooperative or dispute liability. Should this happen, you may have no choice but to file a formal lawsuit. For this reason, it’s important to find an attorney who has trial experience.
5. When Should I Call a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Bicycle accidents tend to cause catastrophic injuries because cyclists have virtually no protection from the force of impact. As such, much of your time immediately following the accident will probably be spent attending doctor’s appointments or physical therapy sessions.
As soon as your condition stabilizes, though, it’s wise to call an attorney. Enlisting help right away will give your legal team the chance to gather time-sensitive evidence before it’s altered or destroyed.
It will also ensure you don’t miss any critical filing deadlines. California’s standard statute of limitations for personal injury suits is two years; however, there are a few exceptions that can shorten this deadline considerably. If you intend to take action against a government entity, for example, you may have just six months to commence the proceedings.
6. How Can I Give My Bicycle Accident Claim the Best Chance of Success?
Your legal team can provide a number of actionable strategies for building a strong claim after evaluating the circumstances. They will also offer general guidelines to avoid jeopardizing your case inadvertently. Such guidelines may include the following:
- Don’t post about the accident, your injuries, the pending claim, or your everyday life on social media;
- Don’t provide a recorded statement;
- Don’t accept blame for the accident;
- Keep a personal injury journal;
- Save all documentation of damages; and
- Refer all correspondence with the liable party to your legal team.
Call (562) 206-1939 for a Free Consultation with a Long Beach Bicycle Accident Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you were struck by a reckless motorist while riding your bike, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks to determine the most strategic way to proceed. Michael D. Waks has been representing the injured and their families for more than three decades. Call (562) 206-1939 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free consultation with a bicycle accident lawyer in Long Beach.
Download Our Car Accident Emergency Response .PDF
It never hurts to prepare for the worst despite hoping for the best. If you often cycle alongside moving traffic, there’s a chance you’ll get struck by a drunk, distracted, or otherwise reckless driver someday. By keeping our Car Accident Emergency Response .pdf in your pannier or backpack, you’ll always have a guide on hand for documenting the scene. Download it HERE for free.