What a Newport Beach Bicycle Accident Attorney Suggests You Keep in Mind After an Accident

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Advice From a Newport Beach Bicycle Accident Attorney

Much confusion surrounds the best course of action following a bicycle crash, such as how to file a claim, whether or not to contact the police, and holding the other party accountable (especially if they’re trying to evade responsibility). If you were in a recent bike accident while out for a ride, here is what the top Newport Beach bicycle accident attorney wants you to know.


Regardless of How Injured You Think You Are, See a Doctor

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Orange County has seen a rise in bicycle accidents despite having over 1,000 miles of designated bike lanes. This points to a concern regarding bike safety, as cyclists are more vulnerable to serious injuries in collisions with motorists. Some of the most common types of bicycle accident injuries include:

  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Head injuries
  • Skull fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Soft tissue injury
  • Pierced organs
  • Internal bleeding
  • Lacerations

Some of these common injuries may initially appear minor or non-life-threatening, but only a medical professional can confirm their severity. Therefore, seek immediate medical attention to properly diagnose and treat any potential injuries the bicycle accident caused.

A bicycle accident lawyer can utilize an early medical evaluation to establish a timeline for when medical treatment begins. This confirms when injured cyclists sustained their injuries, lists the cost of treatment, and indicates the actions taken to treat the injuries.


Proving Fault for Bicycle Accidents Is More Complex Than You May Realize

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Proving fault in a bicycle accident requires demonstrating the other party’s negligence, regardless of whether the cyclist adhered to California bicycle safety laws.

This means establishing that the other party caused the bike accident due to their negligent actions. To prove negligence in a personal injury case, the following four elements must be established:

  1. The defendant owed a duty of care to the victim. An example of this is a driver of any motor vehicle owing a responsibility to follow traffic laws and not endanger others.
  2. The defendant breached the duty of care. An example of this is a car driver texting while driving and swerving into a bike lane.
  3. The breached duty of care caused an accident. An example of this is a bicycle accident resulting as a consequence of a distracted driver.
  4. Damages were suffered. Examples include financial losses, like medical bills to treat sustained injuries and compensation for property damage. Non-financial losses, like physical pain and suffering, may also be compensated. 

Skilled bicycle accident attorneys build a strong personal injury case for negligence by gathering key evidence, securing witness statements, and collaborating with expert witnesses. This approach establishes fault, which is necessary in order for injured bicycle riders to obtain financial recovery.


You May Also be Held Liable for Your Own Damages

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Because bicycle laws are sometimes misunderstood, cyclists may inadvertently breach them, ultimately contributing to a bicycle accident. If fault is uncertain or being debated, it may be determined that liability for the bicycle accident is shared between the plaintiff and defendant.

This means that compensation may still be recovered but at a reduced rate. California’s comparative negligence laws assign damages proportionally based on the plaintiff’s percentage of fault for the personal injury accident.

For example, if a bicyclist is found to be 10% responsible for a bike accident with a financial award of $200,000, a decreased amount of $180,000 in compensation will be awarded. To avoid being fully blamed for the crash, working with a bicycle accident lawyer is vital, as negotiations and possible litigation will be more challenging.

Bicycle Laws in California 

Traffic laws differ significantly by state and are constantly changing. This can lead to confusion, even for experienced road users. Here are some commonly overlooked or misunderstood regulations in Orange County:

  • Bicycle Helmet Requirements: Bike helmets are only required to be worn by riders 17 years and younger. While adults are not mandated to wear helmets, it is strongly advised to prevent head injuries.
  • Ride with Traffic: Cyclists should travel in the same direction as motor vehicles, with the exception of one-way streets, left turns, narrow lanes, or construction zones.
  • Use Bike Lanes: When available, cyclists are required to use a designated bike lane unless turning left or encountering unsafe road conditions.
  • Taking the Lane: Cyclists can legally occupy the full motor vehicle lane if traveling slower than traffic or if the lane is too narrow to share safely with a vehicle.
  • Freeway and Highway Restrictions: Bicycles are prohibited on freeways and highways due to safety concerns. This also excludes e-bikes and other motorized bicycles.
  • Hitching a Ride: Attaching oneself to a moving vehicle for a ride is referred to as hitching, and it is strictly forbidden.
  • Sidewalk Riding Regulations: Local authorities determine the legality of riding a bicycle on sidewalks. There are no statewide regulations.


Your Bicycle Accident Claim May Be Worth More Than You Know

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The value of a bicycle accident claim accounts for the overall damages suffered. This includes economic damages, which are financial losses often proven by providing invoices and bills.

A lesser-known form of recoverable losses is non-economic damages. This accounts for intangibles with no monetary value, like other ways victims are physically and psychologically affected by bicycle accidents.

Specific examples of both economic damages and non-economic damages in bicycle accident cases include: 

  • Hospital bills
  • Future medical bills
  • Medical expenses for current medical treatment
  • Physical therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity due to permanent injuries
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional turmoil
  • Property damage
  • Wrongful death

Insurance companies are incentivized to minimize payouts to injured bicyclists, excluding some of these losses from the final settlement. This means higher profits for them and less compensation for injured bicycle accident victims.

However, a proper case evaluation from experienced bicycle accident attorneys can assess the full extent of losses, confirming what is a fair and unfair settlement offer. 


The Amount of Time to File a Personal Injury Claim Is Very Limited

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Bicycle accident lawyers will advise to file a bicycle accident claim as soon as possible. This allows for a more thorough investigation, strengthens the case, and ensures crucial deadlines are not missed.

California law has a strict statute of limitations for personal injury claims, generally two years from the date of the injury. However, there are some instances where the filing period is only six months.

If a government entity contributed to the bicycle accident–for instance, a broken traffic light or a pothole on the road that had not been filled–victims only have six months instead of two years to file a claim. 

Missing this deadline severely limits the ability to seek compensation, even for a valid claim.

Additionally, the longer it takes for a claim to be filed, the potentially weaker a case will become. This is due to memories fading, witnesses relocating, and physical evidence disappearing over time. 

However, a prompt investigation by a bike accident lawyer allows for securing fresh witness statements, gathering accident scene photos/videos, and the full scale of medical records, documenting medical treatment and costs. All of these factors maximize the final settlement amount.


These Key Steps Will Make or Break Your Bicycle Accident Case

Safety is the most critical factor following a bicycle crash. Regardless of how cautious riders are, bicycle accidents can still happen. In fact, some of the most serious accidents that result in severe injuries or fatalities occur in Southern California, including Los Angeles County, San Diego County, and Orange County. 

Additionally, recent studies show that 41% of all electric bike (e-bike) accident injuries occur in Orange County–despite accounting for only 8% of the population.

After a bicycle accident, injured cyclists must follow these steps to prioritize health and well-being. Even if it appears that severe injuries have not been sustained, bicycle accident victims should still prioritize their safety. These steps will also strengthen a personal injury claim if the victim decides to take legal action.

The 5 Most Important Steps to Remember

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1. Always Call the Police

Even for minor injuries, wait for the police to arrive and file an accident report. This creates an official record of the event. Additionally, the police report will work as a valuable piece of evidence, summarizing what happened and indicating fault.

2. Do Not Admit Fault or Discuss the Bike Accident Extensively

It is okay to exchange contact and insurance information with the other party at the accident scene, but keep the interaction brief. Do not discuss negotiations or who caused the collision–even saying “sorry” can be interpreted as an omission of guilt.

3. Gather Information and Document the Scene

If physically able, note the driver’s name, contact details, insurance information, and vehicle details (make, model, license plate). If present, obtain witness names and contact information. Then, take photographs of the accident scene, visible injuries (if any), and vehicle/bicycle damage. Any damaged clothing or bike parts should be kept as potential evidence.

4. Seek Immediate Medical Attention

See a doctor promptly, even for minor injuries. Retain medical bills indicating the cost of all treatment (exams, surgery, rehabilitation, etc.). Prompt treatment prevents injuries from progressing or becoming permanent. Failing to seek immediate help indicates to insurance companies that the injuries were not serious and, therefore, do not require compensation.

5. Consult with Newport Beach Bicycle Accident Lawyers

Lawyers can advise injured bicycle accident victims on their legal rights, next steps, and how to deal with insurance companies. Not all bicycle accident cases will require legal help, but it is always beneficial to schedule a free consultation with a local Newport Beach personal injury attorney to avoid being caught off-guard.


How Our Newport Beach Bicycle Accident Lawyers Will Help

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Bicycle accidents can be life-changing. This is why injured victims are entitled to compensation for various types of damages, including economic and non-economic losses. 

At Beach Accident Attorneys, our bicycle accident attorneys carefully study every personal injury case we take on to evaluate its full value. This results in our clients recovering the maximum damages they are fairly owed. 

With our legal expertise and resources, our personal injury law firm can assist you in the following areas:

  • Maximize Compensation: We actively negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company to achieve a favorable settlement. However, if the insurance company is uncooperative, we continue to pursue all legal avenues to secure fair compensation, including trial.
  • Access to the Best Medical Care: We connect clients with trusted medical professionals across Orange County to address their injuries and document all related expenses, including potential future medical needs.
  • Thoughtful Case Strategy: We conduct a thorough investigation to gather all available evidence, including video surveillance, police reports, witness statements, and other relevant materials, to establish liability.

If you were recently injured in a bike accident in Orange County, we can help you overcome the aftermath and get you the financial compensation you deserve. To get started, schedule a free case evaluation with our Newport Beach office. 

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