You couldn’t dream of a better climate for riding bicycles than San Diego. Sun and moderate temperatures make it the ideal city for riding your way to a high fitness level, cycling to work, or just enjoying a relaxing day on your bike.
Unfortunately for cyclists, San Diego’s marvelous climate meets Southern California traffic. Congested roadways and distracted, stressed drivers cause thousands of vehicle-bike accidents across the state every year. Usually, it’s the cyclist who ends up in the hospital.
If you have been injured by a negligent motorist while cycling, you have the right to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, and other damages. Insurance companies attempt to use California’s pure comparative negligence law to reduce payouts, shortchanging plaintiffs. Shamon Law San Diego bicycle accident attorneys push back and win their clients everything to which the law entitles them.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Bicycle Accident Claim In San Diego?
If you suffer serious injuries, you need a lawyer for a bicycle accident claim in San Diego.
Bicyclists often face accusations of being at fault for their injuries. Drivers may have failed in their duty of care, paid poor attention to their surroundings, or simply disregarded the risk their actions posed to the cyclists who share the road. Nonetheless, insurance companies and defense attorneys frequently maintain that the cyclist failed to follow the rules of the road and, therefore, has no entitlement to compensation.
For their safety, we always recommend cyclists obey traffic laws, such as stopping for red lights and signaling with their hands before making a turn.
Unfortunately, many drivers ride too close to cyclists and grow impatient when a slower bicycle is in their way. The result is often a dangerous action by a driver that severely harms bicycle riders.
Your San Diego personal injury attorney understands all the defense lawyer maneuvers that unfairly blamed the injured party. Shamon Law investigates bicycle accident claims to gather the evidence needed to prove that a driver was negligent when they struck a cyclist.
Without a thorough investigation, proving negligence may be impossible.
Shamon Law uses the discovery process to develop the evidence it needs to overcome defense lawyer claims that the cyclist is at fault. Our litigation team uses the following methods to build cases that win by a preponderance of the evidence:
- Analysis of police reports
- Analysis of accident investigation reports
- Interviews with witnesses
- Examination of bike and vehicle damage
- Consultation with expert witnesses
- Medical records analysis
- Interrogatories (written questions for defense witnesses)
- Depositions (face-to-face questioning of defense witnesses)
In many cases, the discovery process reveals defense arguments as smoke and mirrors are meant to distract from the actual cause of the accident. Once your litigation team has constructed an airtight case, insurers have little choice but to agree to a settlement that fully compensates victims and their families.
Why Choose Shamon Law For Your Bicycle Accident Claim In San Diego?
Shamon Law attorneys are personal injury litigation specialists who understand what it takes to win in California courts. We start every case with a thorough client interview and establish clear objectives. Our top-notch litigation team conducts extensive investigations into claims to build cases the defense cannot dispute. We negotiate to win, demanding full compensation.
When the defense refuses to meet reasonable settlement terms, we proceed through trial and appeals, supporting our clients.
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Common Causes of Bicycle Accident Injuries
Surprisingly, cyclists are often at least partly at fault for most bike-vehicle accidents. However, there is still a large portion of accidents where fault falls completely on the motorist, such as making a turn and failing to see a cyclist who has the right of way.
While you cannot control what drivers do, you can decrease your chances of being involved in an accident by taking these precautions against common causes of bicycle accidents:
- Remain aware of your surroundings
- Avoid obstructing your hearing with headphones
- Obey all traffic laws (same as vehicles)
- Wear a helmet
- Ride in a bike lane wherever possible
- Avoid congested places unless you are very confident in your ability to steer clear of traffic
- Use bike paths to ride for exercise
- Use hand signals before turning
- Use a bike light and wear reflective clothing after dark
- Ride defensively
- When in doubt, prioritize your safety
Most Common Types of Injuries Following a Bicycle Accident
When a vehicle strikes a cyclist, it’s usually the cyclist who ends up in the ambulance on the way to the ER. Even with helmets and protective clothing, cyclists suffer severe bodily damage when thrown to the pavement by the force of a fast-moving vehicle. Because of this, cyclists often suffer life-altering injuries and death on relatively low-speed limit roadways.
As with motorcyclists, bicycle riders are at risk for serious trauma, especially head-, spinal cord-and limb injuries.
Common bicycle accident injuries in San Diego include:
Spinal Cord Injuries
Our spines allow us to move. They provide the pathways through which the brain communicates intentions to the body, and muscles receive the instructions to contract and relax. When the spine endures a harsh impact, these lines of communication can be severed, resulting in paralysis.
Many cyclists suffer such a blow to the spinal cord that the communication between the brain and lower body is permanently stopped. Without this link, the legs receive no impetus to move and remain incapable of action. Paraplegia results, leaving victims wheelchair bound. In addition, disuse of the legs and wheelchair confinement causes other symptoms, including the following:
- Loss of feeling in the lower half of the body
- Chronic pain
- Phantom pains
- Bladder and bowel issues
- Difficulty walking and standing
- Weight gain
- Sexual difficulties
- Skin breakouts
- High blood pressure
Treatments exist that ease these symptoms. For those suffering from paraplegia due to bicycle accidents, they must obtain the resources to benefit from the following therapies:
Ongoing physical therapy is crucial for alleviating pain, strengthening core muscles, and halting muscle deterioration.
The tasks of daily living are complicated by paraplegia. Most people suffering from this condition need occupational therapy to help them adapt to new movement methods and live independently.
Without using the lower limbs, people with paraplegia need wheelchairs, scooters, and other assistive devices to navigate their homes and the outside world.
Medications relieve symptoms and prevent complications from the lack of movement. For example, muscle relaxants, pain relievers, and blood thinners provide comfort and prevent problems like blood clots.
Different surgical procedures reduce symptoms, increase mobility, and improve general health.
At this time, no cure exists for paraplegia. Those who suffer a severed spinal cord have no options for restoring their mobility; however, scientists continue to study the problem, and hope exists that methods of restoring movement may be developed.
When a cyclist is struck and suffers neck and back injuries, they may suffer partial quadriplegia, which is weakness and loss of feeling in the arms and legs, or full quadriplegia, which is total paralysis from the neck down.
Cyclists who suffer from quadriplegia need extensive lifelong treatment. Shamon Law works in these cases to ensure that the victim and family receive the financial support they need to cope with this dire circumstance.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) often result in life-altering cognitive conditions, including memory loss, speech impairment, and personality changes. Therapy can alleviate many of these symptoms.
Mild TBI responds well to treatment and may be reversible.
Shamon law never gives up. Instead, our litigators fight to win our clients the compensation they need for comprehensive TBI therapy.
Loss of Limb or Amputation
Serious cycle accidents pit bicyclists against fast-moving vehicles weighing 4,000 pounds or more. Damage to the limbs sometimes results in injuries so severe doctors must amputate.
Shamon law fights for clients to gain the resources they need to receive the treatment and prosthetics needed to cope with limb loss.
Fractures are common in bicycle accidents and require costly treatments, including surgery.
Bicycle Accident Statistics in San Diego
When it comes to bicycle safety in San Diego, consider the following statistics:
- Bike lanes reduce cyclist injuries by 50%
- 20% of bicyclists killed nationwide had a blood alcohol content above .08
- An average of 950 bike accidents occur annually in San Diego County, with 50% of those within San Diego city limits
What Should I Do Immediately Following a Bicycle Accident?
This depends upon your physical condition and location. If you are in danger from traffic and can move, do so. The last thing you want is to compound any injuries.
Seeking medical help is essential. If you are in pain, this is a no-brainer. However, even if you seem relatively uninjured, receiving a medical exam is always advisable. Certain injuries manifest themselves hours or days later. A thorough medical exam shows if you sustained any unknown injuries and provide evidence to prove your damages in court.
Contacting the authorities brings medical help and generates a police report demonstrating where and when the accident occurred, who was driving the vehicle, and contact information for witnesses.
How Much Is My Bicycle Accident Case Worth?
The value of a personal injury claim in California depends on the damages the plaintiff can prove and the court’s reckoning of liability under the comparative negligence standard.
California law allows courts to award plaintiffs economic and non-economic damages. The plaintiff must provide evidence proving the damages to win the amount requested.
Economic damages are easier to prove because they correspond to direct costs, such as medical bills and lost wages. Examples of monetary damages in a bicycle accident case include the following:
- Ambulance charges
- ER bills
- Hospital bills
- Doctors’ bills
- Surgical costs
- Dental costs
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Lost wages
- Lost salary
- Lost benefits
- Lost self-employment income
- Lost business income
Non-economic costs have no bill or earnings statement to quantify the cost in dollars. They are intangibles, such as pain and suffering. To help establish the value of general damages, plaintiffs should keep a diary recording the results of medical appointments, the level of pain endured at different stages of recovery, and the impact on lifestyle.
General damages include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
The amount of your damages represents the maximum you can win in court. To be awarded all damages, you must be able to tie them to the accident. When your litigation team has the evidence to show your damages all result from the incident, you are entitled to them entirely unless the court determines you are partly at fault. In that case, it reduces your damages by the percentage of liability it determines you owe.
California personal injury law operates on a pure comparative negligence standard. This means you can receive damages if you are partly or mostly at fault for the accident, but your share of the liability reduces your award.
For instance, if a court finds a cyclist is 70% responsible for the accident, it awards them 30% of proven damages. So if your injury costs you $100,000 in economic and non-economic damages, you receive $30,000 in compensation.
If the court’s ruling was the reverse, finding the cyclist 30% at fault, the award is 70% of proven damages, or $70,000.
Comparative negligence is where insurance company lawyers strike when the fault is clearly with their side of the case. For instance, a driver may have been speeding and distracted when they struck a bicyclist. Under those circumstances, the vehicle driver most likely caused the accident.
However, a defense lawyer might argue that the cyclist was riding too far into the lane, contributing to the accident. On that basis, they may attempt to claim the accident is 50% the cyclist’s fault. If the defense wins this argument, it reduces the damages it pays by 50%, saving the insurance company substantial money.
Shamon Law fights hard against false accusations of plaintiff liability. Our litigators refuse settlements based on specious reasoning that unfairly blames the cyclist.
Instead, we go to work building a solid framework for our case that shows by a preponderance of the evidence that the vehicle driver’s negligence was the cause. Because of this, we win big settlements.
In rare cases where facts remain in dispute, we take the case to trial and prove our case before a jury. When shown our evidence, juries understand where the liability rests and have the option of awarding unlimited general damages under California law.
Contact a Top-Rated San Diego Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact Shamon Law San Diego bicycle accident lawyers for a free case evaluation.
San Diego Bicycle Accident FAQs
Your insurance policy may provide uninsured driver coverage. However, it is wise to opt for this provision because it covers you if you are hit by an uninsured motorist, even if you are not in your vehicle.
In addition, you may be able to collect from the defendant directly. This is always risky because many people possess limited assets, so it’s possible to win a verdict you cannot collect.
However, suppose the person who struck you has significant assets, such as a home with equity. In that case, you may be able to recoup at least some of any damages that exceed your uninsured motorist coverage limits.
California law requires plaintiffs to file personal injury cases within two years of the incident. However, if you are suing a government agency, you must file a complaint with that entity within 180 days of the accident.
For instance, if a city bus strikes a cyclist, he must first file a complaint with the city within the 180-day time limit. Should settlement negotiations fail, the plaintiff must file a lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations.
Suppose you’ve been struck while cycling; your auto insurance may provide coverage. Policyholders who opted for personal injury protection have coverage under their policy so long as a motor vehicle was involved, regardless of whether they were on a bicycle at the time.
This coverage provides a huge advantage for injured cyclists. They receive reimbursement for medical bills and other costs regardless of fault. In addition, they need not wait months or years to receive compensation. Instead, their insurer will provide benefits and subrogate against the motorist’s insurance for reimbursement.
Not everyone has auto insurance or opts for personal injury protection. In that case, your health insurance policy will help defray some of the medical costs. It won’t replace your bike, and you may have more of a deductible, but at least you receive some benefits quickly.
If the motorist is at fault, you can bring suit to recover your out-of-pocket costs, lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering, and other damages.
While contacting your auto- and health insurer ensures you receive the benefits you have entitlement, be wary of talking to an opposing party’s insurance company. The insurance adjuster knows its employer faces a hefty payout. Many companies incentivize employees to record phone calls and attempt to elicit information from the injured parties that hurt their claims.
California is a pure comparative negligence state. Because of this, every percentage point an opposing insurance company can convince a court is the fault of the plaintiff reduces their exposure.
For example, imagine a motorist striking you while riding in a bike lane. On the face of it, this sounds like a pretty cut and dry case of motorist negligence.
However, the opposing insurer can save money if they find a reason to shift even a small part of the blame onto the cyclist. If you were to admit that you swerved to avoid a rock, an insurer could use this statement to claim you caused the accident even if you stayed within the bike lane.
Who is right? You who say you swerved but stayed in your lane or the defense, which claims you intruded into the vehicle’s path?
Likely, the opposing insurer will try to use your statement to force a lower settlement. Its lawyers may figure that you will consider a trial risky and won’t want to wait years to receive compensation. In any event, even if you do win at trial, your award could be lower and the process far longer.
For these reasons, avoid making statements to the opposing insurance company. Instead, refer any such calls to your lawyer.
California’s pure comparative negligence law is a double-edged sword for plaintiffs. On the one hand, you still have entitlement to compensation if the accident is partly your fault. But you receive compensation even if you are mostly at fault.
For instance, if a court finds you somewhat at fault, it may rule the accident 25% due to your negligence and 75% to the defendants. In that scenario, you receive 75% of your damages.
If the situation was reversed and a court finds you 75% at fault, you still receive 25% of your damages.
A court’s ruling on comparative negligence drastically impacts the outcome for plaintiffs. Even if the injured party wins, finding partial fault may leave the victim uncompensated.
Because of this, Shamon Law conducts thorough investigations of every accident claim, even if the fault lies with the defendant. Therefore, we understand that we need an unassailable case against the liable party to win our client’s total compensation.
Therefore, we prepare your case for victory at trial. Most often, once the defense realizes they are fighting a losing battle, they agree to our settlement terms.
California law requires all personal injury lawsuits to be filed within two years of the incident.
Cases against government entities have an additional requirement of filing a claim directly with that agency within 180 days. However, if no settlement results from this claim, plaintiffs must still abide by the two-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit.
Shamon Law takes bicycle accident cases on contingency. According to these fee agreements, clients pay nothing until they collect a settlement or award. The payment comes out of the settlement proceeds, so the client is never out of pocket at a time when they face mounting medical bills and other expenses. The contingency fee agreement also covers court costs, expert witness fees, and other outlays.