Los Angeles, California, is known for being a city where having a car is a priority, yet plenty of bicyclists travel on these roads every day. Still, bicyclists face higher risks of injury and death when they share the road with motor vehicles.
According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), bicycle accident deaths rose in 2018, and injuries are much more common. Bicycle deaths are rare, but if it happened to your loved one or if they were injured, you may need a bicycle accident lawyer in Los Angeles.
Proving Negligence in Bicycle Injury Cases
If your case requires a lawsuit, our job as bicycle accident attorneys in Los Angeles is to prove certain things in court. If we can prove these things, you will win your case and get awarded compensation. The first step is simple: we have to prove you were injured. Then we will tell you what kind of evidence you’ll need.
The second step of proving negligence in a bicycle claim is harder. We must prove that someone’s negligence or deliberate action created a dangerous situation. Anything from a broken sidewalk to distracted driving could be evidence of negligence.
The last step in the process of proving negligence is using evidence to demonstrate that the negligence or deliberate action we found directly caused your injury. It’s not enough to just be in danger. There must be a causal link between your injury and their actions.
What Damages Can I Pursue in a Bicycle Injury Claim?
How much you can get in a bicycle accident settlement will depend on the specific economic and non-economic damages in your case.
Economic Damages You May Be Able to Claim
Whether you file a claim or lawsuit, you may receive compensation for your medical bills and property damage if you were injured because of someone’s negligence. Within these two categories, that may include compensation for costs of:
- Emergency room care and hospitals stays
- Surgeries and other extensive medical procedures
- X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans
- Lab work tests
- Medical support devices, such as crutches, wheelchairs, or arm slings
- Repair bills for your bicycle
- The total value of your bicycle if it was destroyed beyond repair
- Replacement value of bicycle accessories and equipment
Non-Economic Damages You May Be Able to Claim
If you pursue a lawsuit after a bicycle accident, you might be able to claim various non-economic losses, which are not always covered in an insurance claim. These losses might include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment in activities, such as cycling
- Loss of quality of life if your injuries permanently affected how you live
- Permanent disability, whether partial or total
- Scarring and disfigurement
It’s part of your lawyer’s job to figure out which damages you qualify for with your case. Speak with one of our bicycle injury lawyers in Los Angeles and learn what you might be eligible to pursue under California law.
Could I Receive Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are a third kind of award you could get from the court. This is a fine meant to punish someone for an especially grievous breach of civil law. Your lawyer can ask for the court to add these, but it is up to them and the law whether or not to award them.
The stories you’ve heard of huge awards in lawsuits usually have substantial punitive damages. The greater their negligence, the more likely you could receive a punitive damage award. Your lawyer can help you decide if this kind of award is appropriate in your case.
Damages Related to a Loved One’s Wrongful Death
In wrongful death cases, plaintiffs may pursue damages related to their loved one’s death, such as funeral expenses and final medical expenses before death. However, they may also be entitled to damages related to their loved one’s absence, such as:
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of parental guidance and emotional support
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
Losing a loved one is hard enough. Losing them early because of someone’s negligence is harder. We encourage you to pursue justice in this kind of situation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim After a Bicycle Accident?
Sadly, because bicyclists usually only have a helmet to protect them, they have little defense against motor vehicles that weigh more than two tons. If a bicyclist passes away because of a collision with a motor vehicle, certain family members may file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.
Per the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §377.60, eligible individuals include the bicyclist’s:
- Surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Surviving children
- Surviving parents or legal guardians if not spouse or child is present
- Personal representative
What if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?
Under California law, if you are over the age of 18 then you are not required to wear a bicycle safety helmet. Unfortunately, if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of your accident, there could be a problem with your claim.
Thanks to California’s comparative negligence laws, the insurance company might argue that your lack of a helmet was a major cause for your injuries in an accident. If the judge agrees, your possible compensation could be significantly reduced.
However, it’s a false argument. Otherwise, all pedestrians would be required to wear safety gear before crossing the street. It’s a form of blame-shifting, and one that an experienced Los Angeles bicycle attorney can spot and refute.
Should I Accept the Insurance Company’s Offer?
After your accident, assuming the driver had insurance, you can expect their insurance company to reach out to you with a settlement offer or a request for information. What should you do in this situation?
The fact is that the insurance company is never on your side. They are doing everything they can to build a case against you so they can pay you as little as possible. That said, sometimes the offer they give is fair.
A bicycle accident attorney in Los Angeles can speak on your behalf and decide whether the offer is fair under your unique circumstances. If you have already received an offer but have not accepted it, let us review it during your initial consultation.
What if the Driver Who Hit My Bicycle is Uninsured?
If you have auto insurance yourself, you may be covered under your auto policy’s uninsured motorist coverage. Assuming your policy has this, you can make a claim no matter what the insurance company says.
That said, you should speak with a bicycle accident attorney in Los Angeles before you call your insurer. Once you make a claim, your own insurance company will become your adversary. They will try to argue that because you weren’t in a vehicle, you weren’t covered.
Sometimes, if the driver’s insurance policy does not cover your damages, you can make a second claim against your own insurance’s uninsured motorist coverage. However, this needs to be handled by a lawyer to get the correct permissions.
What’s the Deadline to File a Bicycle Injury Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations written in CCP §335.1 allows plaintiffs to submit their lawsuit within two years of the injury event. You can confirm this date by reviewing the crash report, which you may get a copy of at the local police station where the accident occurred.
Please note that if you do not file your case on time, you might surrender your right to compensation and be forced to pay for your losses out of pocket. Don’t wait to contact a bicycle injury lawyer in Los Angeles if someone has hurt you.
What if I Can’t Afford a Lawyer After a Bicycle Accident?
Some people choose to use a bicycle because they can’t afford the expense of driving in Los Angeles. If you’re one of them, you might also think you can’t afford a lawyer. However, that’s not true. Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis.
This means that we have to win your case in order to get paid. We get paid a percentage of your final compensation if we win. If we do not win, you will owe no attorney’s fees. Also, it costs nothing to have a consultation with a bicycle injury lawyer.
Therefore, you have nothing to lose by reaching out to one of our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys. Injured people who hire lawyers to defend them often receive significantly more compensation than they would alone.
How Long Will It Take for My Bicycle Accident Case to Resolve?
This is a hard question to answer because there are so many factors involved. If the evidence is clearly in your favor, you could receive a fair settlement offer right from the start. A Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney can help you tell if it’s fair.
If it is fair, then your case could get resolved fast. If not, then your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company for a better offer. If both sides can’t come to an agreement, then there will be a trial.
A trial will significantly delay your reward, but the reward could be greater than what you could receive otherwise. Your lawyer will help you weigh the pros and cons of going to trial. In the end, it’s always your decision whether to go forward.
How Do I Get My Money After a Bicycle Accident?
After you get your settlement or win your lawsuit, the defendant will have a certain amount of time to send your lawyer a check for the amount owed. If they do not pay in a timely manner, your lawyer can get the court to force payment in various ways.
Once they have payment, your lawyer will subtract out their pay as lined out in your contract. After they take all the fees out, they give you the rest with a new check.
Get a Bicycle Accident Lawyer in LA on Your Side
When you need legal help, look to Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices to be your bicycle accident lawyers in Los Angeles. We have handled bicycle injury cases and helped our clients fight for the compensation they deserved.
If you or a loved one were an unfortunate victim of a bicycle accident, our legal team wants to stand by your side and help you pursue the money you need to recover from your losses. Contact us for a free case evaluation.