Frequently Asked Questions About Bicycle Accidents
These answers generally apply in California, BUT SOMETIMES EXCEPTIONS MAY APPLY. RELY ON YOUR OWN ATTORNEY FOR DETERMINING WHETHER ONE APPLIES.
Only by consulting an experienced bicycle litigation attorney can you be sure your rights are fully protected.
Is there a statute of limitations for bicycle injury claims in California?
Yes. Generally, you must sue for your bicycle accident within two years or the judge may deny your claim. When an injured bicyclist is a minor, the two-year bar period does not begin to run until they turn 18 years old, so they can file at any time before they turn 20 years old.
From whom can I recover damages?
It depends on who is at fault for the accident. Whoever is negligent may be responsible. That could be the vehicle driver, the owner of the vehicle, the manufacturer or retailer of the bike or vehicle, the bicycle repair shop, and/or a governmental entity that controls and maintains the road where the bicycle accident happened. CAUTION: If a governmental entity is involved, they are given extra protection in California. So, you must file your governmental claim with it within six months of the bicycle accident or the judge may deny your claim, whether or not you are a minor.
Can I still sue the driver if I was hurt while not properly riding my bicycle (no helmet or no lights, riding on the wrong side of the street, etc.) or if I was partially at fault for the crash?
Yes, but your damage claim may be reduced by your percentage of fault in causing the accident or the injuries. If you are 40% at fault for the bicycle accident, for example, you may recover only 60% of the total value of your injuries.
My accident was caused by a roadway defect (such as a drainage screen, uneven surface, pothole, crack, etc.) Do I still have a case?
Maybe. It depends on whether the conditions occurred because of someone’s negligence. If the defect was created naturally, you will probably need to show the person responsible knew or reasonably should have known of the condition and had time to correct it.
How soon should I contact an experienced bicycle litigation lawyer? How soon need I file a claim after a bicycle accident?
Contact an experienced bicycle litigation lawyer as soon as reasonably possible, recognizing that proper medical care should be your first priority. CaseyGerry has two full-time investigators to investigate bicycle accident cases. Acting quickly to preserve evidence is critical to fully protecting your rights. Nowadays, there are cameras seemingly everywhere, but it is common to loop the video so it is written over and erased in a short while. Skid marks may fade in a matter of days. Timely and proper investigation to preserve evidence is critical to protect your rights.
Bicycle accidents with injuries are personal injury cases, so the injured cyclist or surviving family (if the victim died) has two years from the accident to file a claim in California. If the bicyclist is a minor, the two-year period does not start until they turn 18. However, if the at-fault party is a government-owned entity, you have only six months after the accident to file a claim, regardless of whether you are a minor!
Another person’s actions caused my injuries, but we didn’t actually collide with one another. Can they still be held responsible?
Yes. If someone forces you to take evasive maneuvers to avoid crashing, you can pursue a claim against them if you can show they are responsible.
Does California law require me to wear a helmet when bicycling?
Not if you are an adult. California law requires only children under the age of 18 to wear an approved helmet. However, since we at CaseyGerry have seen so many severely injured bicyclists, we strongly recommend that all bicycle riders wear approved helmets to protect themselves. Even if you are a careful rider, you cannot control everyone else and what they do, so it seems like an easy safety precaution to take.
The police report states that someone else was at fault for my bicycle accident. Why do I need an attorney?
The police officer’s report is rarely an admissible opinion in court. You may not learn you have a problem establishing fault until it is too late to preserve the evidence, properly investigate, and identify and obtain witness statements, etc. At CaseyGerry, we handle cases where payment for our work depends upon whether we obtain a recovery for you. If there is no recovery, you owe no fee.
Additionally, our investigators can recover and document the evidence while it is still fresh, so that supportive information is not lost.
Also, if you have no attorney, the amount offered to settle your case will be lower, and the amount set aside as a reserve to settle your case will be lower. The insurance adjuster’s job is to minimize the amount their company pays to accident victims. An experienced bicycle litigation attorney will work directly for you to maximize your settlement or get you the best verdict possible. Since the attorney’s fee is contingent upon success, his or her interests are aligned with yours.
Should I talk to the insurance adjuster before consulting an attorney?
Never speak with an adjuster before consulting an experienced bicycle accident attorney. The adjuster’s job is to minimize payouts by the insurance company, and they are looking for information they can use to reduce the amount paid to satisfy your claim. Let your lawyer speak to the insurance company, and avoid any misunderstanding being used against you. Do not agree to be recorded. Never speak to or accept recommendations from an insurance adjuster or offer any information about your bicycle accident. You may not know all of the circumstances, nor the full extent of your injuries at the outset. Protect your rights by speaking to an experienced bicycle accident attorney first. CaseyGerry lawyers can be reached at (619) 238-1811.
Can I use my family lawyer to pursue my bicycle accident claim?
Lawyers are licensed in California to practice law in whatever area they wish, so, yes, your family lawyer could technically represent you. But we don’t recommend it. Like your doctor, lawyers usually limit their practice to a certain area of the law. A lawyer without experience in bicycle litigation may not know how to properly preserve evidence, protect your rights, negotiate the best settlement, and possibly take your case to trial. The firm may not have the resources needed to handle a bicycle accident case.
You have one shot to win your case. To get the best results possible, choose the most experienced lawyers. There is no substitute for having an experienced bicycle litigation attorney to represent you in your bicycle accident case. CaseyGerry can be reached at (619) 238-1811.
What is my case worth?
Every case is different, and how much each one is worth depends on a variety of factors. One factor is how your injury interferes with your life and how painful it is. How active were you before the injury? What has been lost? What can be done to mitigate your injury? Other factors are your past and future medical bills, lost earnings, opportunities, etc.
More specifically, these factors will help determine the value of your case:
- The nature and severity of your injuries,
- The costs of the medical treatment you needed for your injuries and whether you require ongoing treatment,
- Whether your injuries caused you to miss work and lose income,
- Whether your injuries caused any long-term or permanent impairments, disfigurement, or disabilities, and
- Physical and/or emotional suffering you experienced because of your injuries.
An experienced attorney can review the circumstances of your individual case to determine what your claim may be worth. Experienced bicycle litigation attorneys at CaseyGerry can be reached by calling (619) 238-1811.
What should I do after a bicycle accident?
Seek medical attention right away. If you can, take photographs of the scene and anything else that may be important. Obtain contact information from witnesses and insurance information from other parties involved. Some insurance policies apply to bicycles.
Make sure everyone is okay, but do not admit guilt or responsibility. Keep a journal for your attorney of everything you think may be important. Be sure to write down any injuries and limitations you now experience as a result of the crash.
What should I do if I was struck by a hit-and-run driver?
Call the police if you are able. Tell them as much as you can about the vehicle, the driver, and your location. Find witnesses right away. Often, police can track down the responsible party, especially if they have the license plate number.
If the driver is not identified, your insurance company’s uninsured motorist (UM) liability coverage may be able to assist with your bills. An experienced lawyer can help you through this process.
Is my bicycle accident case a civil or criminal case?
If a lawsuit needs to be filed, your bicycle accident claim will be a case in civil court. However, if the other party violated the law and there is also a criminal case against this person, evidence from that case may help in your civil case.
Will my bicycle accident case go to trial?
Not necessarily. The majority of bicycle accident cases are settled through out-of-court negotiations. An experienced bicycle litigation attorney should seek the most efficient way to resolve your case in order to obtain the best results.