Riding a bicycle is a convenient, healthy, and environmentally friendly way to travel. However, there are inherent risks associated with riding a bike since cyclists must share the road with potentially distracted and otherwise careless motorists. According to recent data compiled by the California Office of Traffic Safety, 133 cyclists were killed in the state in a recent year, and thousands were hurt in bicycle accidents.
If you were injured in a bicycle accident in Elk Grove, you might be entitled to compensation. At The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC, we understand the many ways a bicycle accident can disrupt your life. You might be facing huge medical costs, a lengthy recovery, and significant lost income if you’re unable to work while recovering.
You have the legal right to seek financial relief from the parties responsible for the accident. Contact an Elk Grove bicycle accident lawyer at The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC, now for a free consultation. We have over 25 years of experience helping clients seek the fair compensation they deserve.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Elk Grove
Driver negligence is the most frequent cause of bicycle accidents. In rarer cases, municipalities could potentially be liable if they have failed to eliminate road hazards that later led to a bicycle accident. Manufacturers might also be liable if a defective product led to the crash.
Some of the most common types of negligence that may contribute to bicycle accidents include:
- Distracted drivers
- Aggressive drivers
- Intoxicated or otherwise impaired drivers
- Failure to yield
- Failure to check mirrors or blind spots before turning
- Speeding, running red lights, or violating other traffic laws
- Not checking mirrors before opening a car door
- Potholes, uneven pavement, or other road defects
Our seasoned bicycle accident lawyers have the resources to thoroughly investigate the accident, determine who or what caused it, and identify all potentially liable parties.
Most Common Types of Bicycle Accidents in Elk Grove
Some common types of bicycle accidents in Elk Grove include:
- Intersection collisions – Motorists can collide with cyclists at intersections from any direction. One of the most common types of intersection collisions is a rear-end collision. When motorists fail to maintain a safe distance between themselves and cyclists, they can easily rear-end the bike if a cyclist suddenly slows down or stops at an intersection.
- Dooring collisions – Another common type of bicycle accident is a dooring collision. Motorists who open their doors without checking for passing cyclists can inadvertently cause a dooring collision.
- Left-turn collisions – Motorists who fail to give the right of way to cyclists traveling in the opposite direction can cause a left-turn crash by turning in front of or directly into a bicyclist.
- Right-turn collisions – Motorists who aren’t paying attention to the bike lane when making a right-hand turn can easily crash into a bicyclist.
Types of Injuries from Bicycle Accidents in Elk Grove
Bicycle accidents can result in severe and even life-altering injuries. While motorists often emerge relatively unscathed, cyclists are usually directly impacted during a crash since they don’t have seatbelts or airbags to protect them from the force of a collision.
Some of the most common types of bicycle accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken ribs
- Internal injuries and bleeding
- Joint damage
- Cuts, scrapes, and lacerations
- Road rash
- Back sprains and strains
- Traumatic amputation
If you were harmed in a bicycle accident, it is crucial to seek prompt medical attention. Even if the accident seemed minor and you don’t believe at first that you suffered severe injuries, it’s still a good idea to get checked out by a medical professional.
Any injuries you suffered could worsen if they’re not correctly diagnosed after the accident. Seeking swift medical attention is beneficial for both your health and any future insurance claims you plan to file.
What Are My Legal Rights in a Bicycle Accident?
If your bicycle accident was caused by a negligent motorist, government entity, or other third parties, you have a legal right to pursue compensation from the at-fault entity. California is a fault-based state, meaning the person or party that causes a traffic accident is responsible for compensating any victims.
For your claim to be successful, you’ll need to be able to prove negligence. You must show that the at-fault party was responsible for preventing others from being harmed, and their actions or inaction directly led to the accident and your injuries. You must also show that you suffered compensable losses, such as medical expenses, lost income, and non-financial damages.
Can Damages Be Recovered After an Accident?
Depending on the specifics of your case, you could potentially recover financial relief for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Reduced future income if you were disabled after the accident
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Damaged personal property
- Punitive damages, if applicable
If someone else’s negligence caused the bicycle accident, you can file a third-party claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider and potentially recover compensation up to the policy limits. However, if you were seriously injured and your expenses exceeded those policy limits, you could file a personal injury lawsuit to seek additional compensation.
In California, you have two years from the date you were injured to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. If you plan to file a claim against the government, you will typically have six months in which to take legal action.
You can also turn to your own auto insurance policy if you have one. Many people in California purchase uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on their auto policies for extra protection. Your auto policy’s UM/UIM coverage could apply if you are injured while riding a bicycle. The California minimum requirement for liability insurance is only $15,000 for injury or death to one person, a considerably low limit. And on top of that, approximately 15 percent of all motorists in California are uninsured.
If you have not purchased UM/UIM coverage, we highly recommend taking this step. Knowing that you can turn to your own UM/UIM coverage if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver will give you peace of mind. If you have optional MedPay coverage, it may help cover costly medical expenses. A knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer can help you identify the potential sources of coverage and compensation available to you.