More people than ever are using their bicycles for exercise and as alternative transportation. Bicycling is a great way to stay in shape and reduce carbon emissions from motor vehicles, but it is also dangerous when bicyclists share the road with motor vehicle drivers. Unfortunately, bicycle accidents can and do happen throughout the El Dorado Hills area. When a driver strikes a bicyclist, the bicyclist is likely to sustain severe or even life-threatening injuries.
At The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC, our team is committed to providing legal counsel to bicyclists injured by negligent drivers. If you or a loved one recently sustained injuries in a bicycle accident in the El Dorado Hills area, our firm can help you recover fair compensation for your losses.
Why Should I Hire Legal Counsel?
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident caused by a driver’s negligence, consulting an experienced El Dorado Hills bicycle accident lawyer should be your first priority. The right attorney can make a tremendously positive impact on the outcome of your case, helping to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your losses. It is not uncommon for bicycle accidents to result in catastrophic injuries that change the victim’s life forever, including significant economic losses.
Navigating any civil claim without legal counsel is incredibly difficult, especially when the claimant is struggling with physical pain and trauma from a damaging accident. Additionally, the initial medical expenses from a bicycle accident can quickly cause a compounding effect resulting in significant economic problems for the victim. They may be unable to work and pay bills, which leads to debt collection from creditors and even further financial turmoil. For the best chance of avoiding these issues after a bicycle accident, it is best to consult an El Dorado Hills bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
What to Expect From The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC
The attorneys at The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC offer comprehensive legal representation to bicycle accident victims in the El Dorado Hills, CA area. We understand how devastating these accidents can be and provide the full range of our professional resources, skill, and experience to every client we represent. If you choose our firm to represent your bicycle accident claim, we will exhaust every available channel of compensation available to you to maximize your recovery.
Our firm has a wide network of professionals we can consult if necessary, including medical experts, forensic researchers, engineers, accident reconstruction experts, and other professionals. Expert witnesses may provide consultation services so our team can accurately address the more technical aspects of your bicycle accident claim. They may also play active roles in a bicycle accident case and testify in court on behalf of our clients, providing the judge with a clearer picture of the more complex aspects of the case.
When you choose The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC as your El Dorado Hills bicycle accidents lawyers, we will help you gather the evidence you need to establish liability for your accident, prove the full extent of your claimable damages, and guide you through the difficult personal injury proceedings you face in pursuit of your recovery.
Proving Liability for Your Bicycle Accident
The first step in securing compensation for your losses after a bicycle accident is identifying the party responsible for causing it. In most bicycle accident claims, the defendants are negligent drivers who struck the plaintiffs as they were riding their bikes. In some cases, multiple parties may bear liability for a plaintiff’s losses. Your El Dorado Hills bicycle accident lawyer will help you determine who is responsible for your accident and help you obtain the material evidence you need to prove their liability in a civil case.
Evidence that is likely to come into play in a bicycle accident case includes traffic camera footage that captured the accident as it occurred, computer data from the defendant’s vehicle, and the defendant’s cell phone records. Our firm can also obtain the police report from the incident and identify any eyewitnesses who may have seen what happened. Depending on how your bicycle accident occurred, you may need to prove that the defendant in your claim was distracted when they caused your accident, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or otherwise failed in their responsibility to drive safely.
Once your attorney has identified the party responsible for your bicycle accident, the next step is establishing the legal elements of negligence. First, you must establish the defendant’s duty of care in the situation in question. Next, you must show how the defendant breached this duty of care. For example, all drivers have a duty of care to refrain from driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drunk driving would be a clear breach of this duty of care. Finally, you and your attorney must prove the full range of your damages resulting from this breach of duty and prove that they are the results of the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause.
Damages and Compensation in a Bicycle Accident Case
The injured plaintiff in a bicycle accident claim has the right to recover compensation for any and all damages resulting from the accident. When cars strike bicyclists, the victims tend to suffer severe injuries.
If you or a loved one were injured while riding a bike, the damages you receive could include:
- Compensatory damages for all economic losses resulting from the accident, both immediate and future. This includes your medical expenses incurred immediately after the accident and the medical expenses you are likely to incur in the future if your injuries require ongoing treatment. Your compensatory damages can also include the lost income for the time you must spend home from work while you recover. If your injuries are severe enough to prevent you from returning to work in the future, you can claim compensation for the future income you would have reasonably expected to earn had your injury not occurred. Other compensatory damages can include the cost of your damaged or destroyed bicycle and other personal property lost in the accident.
- Noneconomic damages for pain and suffering. This may sound like it would be difficult to assign a monetary value, but your El Dorado bicycle accident attorney will help you determine an appropriate amount based on the severity of your injuries and the number of compensatory damages your accident caused. For example, if you incurred $50,000 in medical expenses and developed a permanent disability from your bicycle accident, your attorney may multiply your medical expenses by a factor of one to five to determine a reasonable amount of pain and suffering compensation to claim in your case.
- Punitive damages, are awarded at the discretion of the judge overseeing your case. A judge will award punitive damages if a defendant intentionally hit the plaintiff or otherwise acted outside the scope of standard negligence. The amount the defendant must pay in punitive damages is typically dependent on their personal finances; wealthy defendants pay significantly more in punitive damages than defendants with limited assets.
When you choose an experienced El Dorado Hills bicycle accident attorney to represent your claim, you could secure much more compensation for your damages than you initially expected. When you choose The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC to represent your bicycle accident claim in El Dorado Hills, we will do everything we can to ensure you maximize your recovery as much as California state law allows.
Potential Injuries From a Bicycle Accident
Whenever a car hits a bicycle, the bicyclist is at significant risk of suffering severe injuries, some of which may result in permanent disabilities.
Some of the injuries possible from a bicycle accident include:
- Traumatic brain injuries. The human brain is incredibly complex and highly susceptible to traumatic injury in a bicycle accident, even when the rider has an appropriately fitting helmet. Some brain injuries, such as mild concussions, will heal completely with time and rest, while others can cause severe permanent disabilities. Symptoms of a brain injury may persist for months or even years after the accident and can include cognitive impairment, sensory processing issues, migraines, sensitivity to light and sound, and more. It is very difficult to predict the effects of a brain injury, and some victims do not realize the full scope of their symptoms for a long time after their accidents.
- Spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord sends signals between the brain and the rest of the body, allowing the brain to control conscious and unconscious biological processes. If the spinal cord is damaged in any way, the victim could experience a severe disability, including loss of sensation or even paralysis. These injuries are permanent and can completely alter the victim’s life.
- Bone fractures. Depending on the severity of a bone fracture, it may heal completely within a few months, or it could require surgical correction and result in permanent damage, such as diminished range of motion or lost sensation in the affected area.
- Soft tissue damage. The muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues of the musculoskeletal system could suffer serious injury and cause the victim excruciating pain. Some soft tissue injuries may require surgical treatment and result in permanent medical issues for the victim.
- Internal organ damage. Crash forces can damage internal organs, preventing them from functioning correctly and causing life-threatening medical complications in some cases.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the injuries a bicycle accident victim could sustain, and most bicycle accident victims will suffer a combination of these injuries. Many bicycle accidents result in devastating injuries and permanent disability for the victim.
Comparative Negligence in California Personal Injury Claims
California upholds a pure comparative negligence statute for civil claims. This legal statute states that plaintiffs may still recover compensation for losses sustained by the negligence of others even if they themselves were partially at fault for causing their accidents. The plaintiff will lose a percentage of their case award equal to their percentage of fault, determined by the judge overseeing the case. For example, if the injured bicyclist incurs 25% fault for a $100,000 bicycle accident claim, they will lose 25% or $25,000 for a net case award of $75,000 instead.
What if a Bicycle Accident Is Fatal?
Unfortunately, not every bicycle accident victim will survive their injuries. In the event a bicyclist dies due to the negligence of a driver, their surviving loved ones have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim on their behalf. This type of civil claim functionally replaces the personal injury claim the victim could have pursued had they survived their accident. California allows a surviving spouse, child, or parent to file a wrongful death claim, but if no such kin exists, then a personal representative of the deceased’s estate may file the claim instead.
The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC understands how devastating it can be to lose a loved one unexpectedly. We also understand the anger families feel when they know their relative died due to another person’s negligence. Our firm can provide the compassionate and detail-oriented legal counsel your family needs after the loss of a loved one in an El Dorado Hills bicycle accident.