Due to year-round great weather, San Diego is known as bicycle friendly city. Despite this title, bicycle accidents happen everyday due to the negligence of drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bike accident, call the San Diego bicycle accident attorneys at Injury Trial Lawyers, APC today to discuss your case. We have over 35 years of combined experience helping accident victims recover for their damages. The consultation is free and we only get paid if you win.
San Diego Bicycle Accident Statistics
San Diego statistics for bicycle crashes and bicycle collision fatalities are a bit different from the national statistics, according to an article in the San Diego Tribune. Between the years 2011 and 2013, bicyclists between the ages of 15 and 19 were the most likely to be involved in San Diego County crashes, and males are much more likely to be involved in bicycle collisions. According to one San Diego County Report, there are many issues in the area which lead to bicycle collisions.
As an example, the bike lane on Mission Gorge Road is too narrow. Further, the higher the speed limits for autos, the higher the automobile-bicycle accident rate. Since the city of San Diego does not have a specific fund to finance the cost of additional bike lanes or upgrades to existing bike lanes, bicyclists are put into danger every day. The narrow bike lanes in downtown San Diego are particularly detrimental to bicyclists, and, unfortunately, safety of bicycle riders is often ignored by motorists.
Establishing Liability in Your Bicycle Accident
Many bicycle accidents are the result of negligence on the part of the drivers, particularly since many drivers simply don’t acknowledge that bicyclists have as much right to be on the road as cars. Because cyclists are entitled to basically the same legal rights as those who drive vehicles, they must also obey the same rules of the road.
If it is at all possible, you should wait for the police to respond to your bicycle accident so an official report can be filed. Obviously, if you are injured, you must first take care of your injuries. Even if you think you are fine, you may realize later you are injured, and in some cases, a seemingly minor injury can develop into a serious, permanent injury.
Never attempt to negotiate with the driver who struck you. Try to get basic information from the driver, such as name, address, and insurance information, then wait for the police. Once you receive a copy of the accident report, make sure the information in the report is accurate. If the driver was ticketed, this can help you settle your case. The officer should have taken your statement as well as the driver’s, although in some cases the officer decides the cyclist is at fault without even asking for a statement.
In addition to the official investigation, it is always helpful for you to write down every single thing you can remember about the accident, no matter how insignificant it might seem. Keep a journal of your physical symptoms, including documenting ever doctor visit, and keeping track of every financial expenditure related to your accident, no matter how small. You should never communicate with your insurance company prior to contacting a knowledgeable attorney.
What A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do For You
A thorough investigation will more accurately determine liability, however the police do not always obtain skid mark measurements, photograph the accident scene, speak with additional witnesses, or measure and diagram the scene of the accident. Because of this, speaking to an experienced San Diego bicycle attorney as soon as possible after your accident is crucial. Your attorney can ensure a proper investigation occurs in order to establish liability.
Statute of Limitations in Bicycle Accidents
It is also extremely important that you not wait too long following your bicycle accident to contact an attorney who can file a case on your behalf. The statutes of limitations allow a person who has been injured in an accident a specific length of time in which to file their lawsuit. If the suit is not filed within that time, you could be forever barred from filing a lawsuit.
The statute lengths differ from state to state, however in the state of California you have two years from the time of your accident to file a case. There are certain exceptions to the statute, however these exceptions are rare. If you were hit by a government-owned vehicle, you have even less time to file your case—just six months. Your attorney is your best resource for ensuring your case is filed in a timely manner.
Potential Damages Following Your Bicycle Accident
Your actual damages will depend on the circumstances surrounding your accident, who was at fault, and the extent of your injuries. You may be entitled to have all your medical bills related to the accident taken care of. This includes:
- Hospital bills you received as a result of your accident,
- Doctor bills, including those you can reasonably be expected to have in the future,
- Prescription drug medications,
- Rehabilitative services you may need, and
- Even possibly gas money to and from your doctor’s office if it is a significant distance away.
You may also be entitled to lost wages, particularly if you are hurt so badly you will never be able to return to your former employment. You may be entitled to past, present and future lost wages. You could also be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, and, if the driver who hit you did so willfully or maliciously, you could be entitled to punitive damages as well.
Negligence and Distraction as Causes of Bicycle Accidents
When an automobile is involved in the accident, negligence is usually a factor. The automobile driver could have been driving recklessly, been distracted or simply did not see the bicyclist. Just as with most all automobile accidents, an auto/bicycle accident likely involves driver distraction. Today’s drivers seem to believe their vehicle is the same as a personal office space.
They flip through stations on the radio, have their lunch, apply makeup, read maps or try to set their GPS, talk on their phone or text, chat with passengers in the vehicle, and, in extreme cases, even read while driving. Any of these actions can result in a very serious accident, and if a bicyclist is involved, it is likely the injuries sustained by the bicyclist will be severe.
Should you be hit while riding a bicycle, the first thing you must do is seek medical attention. Even if you think you are “okay,” be aware that serious injuries are likely and can manifest themselves later on, once the trauma of the accident wears off. What you thought were inconsequential injuries can turn into very serious or even permanent injuries as time goes by.
If you are unable to take care of some issues which could help your future case, it’s a good idea to have a friend return to the scene as soon as possible, take photographs of the place the accident occurred, and attempt to find a witness to the accident, especially if the driver who hit you left the scene of the accident before the police arrived. As soon as you are able, record every fact you can remember from the accident; even the most minor detail may turn out to be extremely important.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Of course there are many factors associated with bicycle accidents, however those below are the most common:
- Sometimes referred to as the “right cross,” when a car pulls out of a driveway, parking lot, alley or side street, then either pulls right in front of a traveling bicyclist, or turns to the right, hitting the cyclist who has just barely cleared the front of the car, one of the more common types of bicycle accidents can occur. The driver in this scenario has failed to yield to the bicyclist’s right-of-way, and has also failed to watch for the much smaller bicyclist.
- Drivers can strike a bicyclist who is crossing the street, as the driver makes a right turn, and fails to see the cyclist. Known as the “right hook,” this can also occur when a driver passes a bicyclist, then quickly makes a right turn, causing the bicyclist to collide with the car.
- Drivers often park their car, then open their car door directly in front of a bicyclist, who simply does not have the time to make an evasive maneuver.
- Drivers can rear-end a bicyclist, severely injuring, or even killing the bicyclist. This often happens when the driver cannot see the bicyclist, possibly at night, or when an inebriated or drugged driver fails to see the bicyclist in front of him or her.
- When a driver traveling in the opposite direction as a bicyclist makes a left turn in front of the bicyclist, striking the cyclist, serious injury or death can occur.
Types of Injuries Most Common Following a Bicycle Accident
If you have been struck by an automobile, you likely suffered serious injury, requiring hospitalization, and possibly months, or even years of recovery and rehabilitation. While any injury is possible when a 3,000-pound vehicle strikes an unprotected bicyclist, the most common type of injury includes head and neck injuries, including brain trauma if the cyclist is not wearing a helmet. Lacerations, bruises, bumps and skull fractures can all occur, and should the unprotected head strike hard pavement, or another hard surface, brain trauma can occur.
Brain trauma can result in cognitive problems, including confusion, difficulty concentrating, an inability to create new memories, an inability to speak, and amnesia as well as behavioral issues such as aggression, irritability, impulsivity, laughing and crying, or persistent repletion of words or actions. Balance issues, slurred speech, gastrointestinal disorders, fatigue and visual disturbances can also occur following brain trauma. Bicyclists who are struck by an automobile could have broken bones, spinal injuries, facial lacerations, and internal injuries as well.
How an Experienced San Diego Bicycle Accident Attorney Can Change Your Outcome
As noted, the single most important thing you can do following your bicycle accident—after taking care of your health—is to contact a knowledgeable San Diego personal injury attorney who has experience in bicycle accidents specifically. Your attorney will investigate your accident, ensure your rights are fully protected, and work hard to get you the compensation you are entitled to.