Providing Legal Counsel to Injured Bicycle Accident Victims in Orange County, CA
Bicyclists are familiar sights in Santa Ana and throughout Orange County. Many people ride bicycles for leisure and exercise, while some use their bikes as alternative transportation to and from work. Bicycling is good exercise and an environmentally friendly way to travel short distances. Unfortunately, Orange County has a high traffic density, and many bicyclists experience accidents with motor vehicles.
California provides bicyclists with many of the same rights as motor vehicle drivers. The law also imposes many responsibilities on motor vehicle drivers. For example, some drivers do not yield the right of way as they should when driving near bicyclists, and it’s possible for bicycle accidents to occur because of negligence and recklessness. If you or a loved one recently sustained injuries in a bicycle accident that someone else caused, you have the right to pursue a personal injury claim against them to recover your losses.
Chris and Frank offer comprehensive and responsive legal counsel to our clients throughout Orange County, CA. Our firm has years of experience handling complex personal injury claims, helping clients maximize their recoveries under California law. After a bike accident, the best asset you can have on your side is an Orange County bicycle accident lawyer who can help you approach your case with confidence and understanding.
How Can an Attorney Help With an Accident Involving a Bicycle?
If a driver hits you while you’re riding your bicycle, you may assume that since liability is obvious, you should have no trouble holding the driver accountable for your damages on your own. Many Americans assume that legal fees are prohibitively expensive. Unfortunately, this deters many people from securing legal counsel when they need it most, believing they cannot afford legal representation.
While it is technically possible to manage a personal injury claim unassisted, the reality is that doing so is very difficult and likely to lead to mediocre results. Moreover, even if you manage to handle the procedural requirements of your case, you are likely to overlook critical factors that significantly influence the amount of compensation you ultimately receive from your claim.
A bicycle accident can easily cause life-changing injuries, severe economic losses, and tremendous pain and suffering. You would not only need to manage these issues but do so while also attempting to handle your legal proceedings unassisted. Hiring an experienced Orange County bicycle accident attorney will allow you to recover with peace of mind. Your attorney will handle your legal affairs on your behalf so you can focus on healing and managing your everyday life. An experienced legal team is also more likely to maximize your recovery as they will know all the various channels of compensation available to you in your claim. Chris and Frank can offer the meticulous legal representation you need to make the fullest recovery possible under California state law.
How Does a Bicycle Accident Personal Injury Happen?
Bicyclists have the right to use many of the same roads as motor vehicles, and they may occupy space in a lane of traffic the same way a motor vehicle driver would. However, bicyclists may not ride their bikes on highways, and they should ride in bike lanes wherever they are available. Unfortunately, not all California drivers understand or recognize the rights of bicyclists, causing them to engage in reckless, dangerous, and negligent actions that result in bicycle accidents. Some of the most commonly reported causes of bicycle accidents in Orange County include:
- Improper turns. Bicyclists should use caution and employ hand signals when turning, similar to how drivers must engage turn signals to indicate when they intend to make turns. Drivers who fail to turn correctly or complete turns without checking if the way is clear can easily cause bicycle accidents.
- Speeding. Drivers who exceed posted speed limits will not have time or space to slow down or stop if necessary to avoid a collision with a bicyclist.
- Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. Impaired drivers are dangerous to themselves and everyone else around them. Alcohol and drugs impair judgment, slow reaction time, and increase the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors. A driver who causes a bicycle accident because of a DUI will face civil liability for the injured bicyclist’s damages and criminal prosecution for violating California’s DUI laws.
- Poor visibility. Driving during severe weather or at night typically means reduced visibility. While bicyclists can make themselves more obvious to nearby drivers using reflectors and bright clothing, drivers must use extra caution when driving during poor visibility conditions.
- Opened vehicle doors in bike lanes. Most bike lanes run along the side of the road next to where car drivers may parallel park along the curb. Drivers who park next to bike lanes should be careful when opening their doors, turning to check behind them, so they do not open their door directly in front of an oncoming bicyclist.
- Failure to yield the right-of-way. Drivers in Orange County must recognize that bicyclists have the right to take a lane on most local roads. Drivers who fail to yield the right of way where appropriate can easily cause devastating bicycle accidents.
These are just a few examples of how bicycle accidents occur in Orange County, CA. If you or a loved one recently experienced any type of bicycle accident due to conditions such as these, or if you believe any other party bears responsibility for your accident for any reason, it is essential to speak with an Orange County bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options for legal recourse.
Proving Fault for an Orange County Bicycle Accident
A bicycle accident claim falls within the purview of California’s personal injury laws, meaning negligence is the central legal concept of every bicycle accident claim. For example, suppose you intend to hold a driver responsible for your recent bicycle accident. In that case, you must prove they were negligent or acted intentionally in some way that directly resulted in your damages. There are four fundamental elements of negligence under California law:
- Duty of care. The plaintiff needs to identify the defendant they believe to be responsible for their damages and establish the duty of care the defendant held in the situation in question.
- Breach of duty. Next, the plaintiff and their attorney will need to show how the defendant breached or violated their duty of care. For example, speeding or committing moving violations would breach the duty of care all drivers have to drive safely and obey traffic laws.
- Damage. You can only file a personal injury claim if you sustained measurable losses due to the defendant’s actions. Your attorney will help you calculate the total damages available in your bicycle accident claim.
- Causation. Finally, it’s necessary to prove that your claimed damages resulted directly from the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause.
Suppose you and your Orange County bicycle accident lawyer can successfully establish these four elements of negligence. In that case, you can secure compensation for all damages resulting from the defendant’s negligence.
Commonly Cited Damages in Bike Accident Crash Claims
When a motor vehicle collides with a bicycle, the bicyclist is almost certain to sustain serious injuries. Some of the most commonly reported bicycle accident injuries include:
- Broken bones. While some broken bones cause minimal long-term harm and heal entirely with appropriate treatment, others can result in permanent nerve damage and diminished range of motion.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Even when bicyclists wear appropriate helmets, they are likely to sustain traumatic brain injuries when struck by motor vehicles. Some brain injuries can heal completely, while others cause permanent medical complications for victims, including memory problems, sensory processing issues, language processing problems, and cognitive impairment.
- Spinal injuries. The spinal cord carries brain signals throughout the body. Any injury to the spinal cord disrupts these signals, interfering with the brain’s ability to control the parts of the body connected to the spinal cord below the injury site. An incomplete spinal cord injury that does not fully sever the cord can diminish sensation and cause lost functionality and other neurological issues. A complete spinal cord injury often results in permanent paralysis for the parts of the body connected below the injury site.
- Internal organ injuries may result in life-threatening medical complications if the victim does not receive immediate medical treatment.
- Facial and dental injuries. A bicycle accident can injure the face and cause damage to the teeth. These injuries are not only painful but often result in permanent scarring, which can be psychologically damaging.
It’s common for bicyclists struck by motor vehicles to suffer multiple injuries and require life-saving emergency treatment following these incidents. If you sustained injuries in a bicycle accident that someone else caused, California law allows you to seek compensation for all medical expenses you incur from your injuries. This includes immediate expenses such as the cost of your hospital treatment, emergency transportation fees, prescription medication costs, and any expenses related to necessary specialist care. You also have the right to compensation for long-term medical expenses. For example, if your injuries require physical therapy, ongoing rehabilitation, or any other long-term treatment, the defendant is also liable for these medical expenses.
Severe injuries can prevent a bicycle accident victim from working for an extended time, during which they will be unable to earn income. The plaintiff in a bicycle accident claim has the right to include these lost wages as economic damages. Additionally, if the plaintiff’s injuries cause permanent medical complications that prevent them from working in the future, they have the right to include lost future earning potential. Calculating the plaintiff’s lost future earnings typically requires complex evaluations concerning retirement age, inflation, and other factors. This is yet another reason to hire an experienced Orange County bicycle accident attorney to represent your claim.
Pain and Suffering in a Bicycle Accident Case
California law recognizes that the experience of a personal injury can be devastating, and the state allows plaintiffs to claim compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. While it may seem difficult to quantify physical pain monetarily, attorneys can use several methods to determine appropriate pain and suffering compensation for their clients. First, they may seek pain and suffering compensation on a per-day basis until the plaintiff reaches maximum medical improvement. Second, for severe injuries that cause permanent medical complications, attorneys tend to seek larger lump sums determined by the amount of the plaintiff’s economic damages and the severity of their injuries.
What Happens After a Fatal Bicycle Accident?
Unfortunately, bicycle accidents often have fatal results. If your loved one died in a bicycle accident caused by a negligent driver, you and your family would have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim instead of the personal injury claim the victim could have pursued if they had survived. While functionally similar to personal injury claims in many ways, wrongful death claims involve unique legal statutes and have certain limitations concerning who may file such claims and the damages available to plaintiffs. Chris and Frank can offer the compassionate legal counsel you and your family need after experiencing the sudden death of a loved one due to another driver’s negligence.
What to Expect From Your Orange County Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Facing a bicycle accident claim can be a distressing and uncertain situation. However, investing in dependable legal counsel from an experienced Orange County bicycle accident lawyer is the best way to approach your case. When you choose Chris and Frank to represent your bicycle accident claim in Orange County, we will conduct a thorough review of the circumstances leading up to your bicycle accident and help you establish liability for your damages. You can also rely on our team to assist you in accurately calculating the full scope of your claimable damages to maximize your recovery.
A bicycle accident has the potential to leave the victim severely disabled and beset by extreme financial problems. If you and your family are in this situation due to another party’s negligence, Chris and Frank can help. Contact us today to schedule a case review with an experienced Orange County bicycle accident lawyer to learn more about your options for legal recourses against the driver responsible for your bike accident.
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