An Experienced Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Orange, CA
The city of Orange, with a population of 138,640, is one of the top destinations in Southern California for history and culture. Old Towne Orange, a Nationally Registered Historic District, is a haven for shoppers and diners with its idyllic plaza and compact size. The city is also home to a large student population thanks to nearby Chapman University. Because of Orange’s unique city planning, many residents choose to get around by bicycle. However, with more bikes on the road, chances for bicycle accidents increase.
If you have been a victim of a bike accident, you may be entitled to compensation. An Orange County bike accident lawyer who is an expert in California’s bike laws and local traffic laws will be able to help you gain fair compensation following an accident.
Santiago Accident Lawyers can help you if you have suffered a serious injury in an Orange County bicycle accident. Our professional team of dedicated bicycle accident attorneys are happy to discuss your options in a free consultation. Call us today at (714) 912-7619 or email us at [email protected].
5 Things to Do After an Orange County Bicycle Accident
An accident involving a motor vehicle is an unsettling event that could have long-lasting effects, both mentally and physically. If you or a family member is hit by a car while riding a bike, it’s important to protect your rights after a bike accident. Follow these five steps:
1. Dial 911
In the event that you are hit while riding a bike, do not leave the scene of the accident and dial 911. A police officer will arrive and create a report detailing the accident. If you are not injured, you can file a police report with the Orange Police Department in person or online.
2. Seek medical attention
A cyclist hit by a speeding vehicle is likely to suffer serious injuries. Even if you only have cuts and bruises, you should still seek medical attention. Some injuries do not appear immediately, so consult with an emergency room doctor or your primary doctor as soon as you can and keep records of your visit.
3. Exchange information with the driver
The minutes following an accident are crucial, especially if you decide to file a claim later on. Do not let the other driver leave the scene without obtaining their contact information. Write down their name, phone number, driver’s license number, and insurance information. If there are any witnesses, get their contact information and contact them as soon as possible.
4. Collect evidence
While a police officer might take pictures of the accident, it’s always a good idea to take a few photos or videos of your accident as evidence. Pictures of the location, your bike damage, your injuries, and road signs will strengthen a case.
5. Contact a bicycle accident attorney
If you have been injured in an accident due to driver negligence, you have the legal right to seek compensation. Before you hire an attorney, do not discuss fault at the accident site, as this could negatively affect your case down the line. Keep your conversation short and succinct with the responding officer and the other driver until you get legal representation from a lawyer with experience in California bicycle accident cases.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), there were 2,523 bicyclist fatalities from 2017 to 2019. 77% of accidents occurred in urban areas, while more than 40% of accidents happened in non-intersections. In order to prevent an accident, cyclists and drivers should be aware of the frequent reasons so as to avoid future collisions. Below are some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents in Orange County, CA:
- Left turn accidents: Drivers who fail to look when making a left turn at an intersection can cause serious harm to cyclists coming from the opposite direction.
- Distracted driving: If drivers are using their phones or engaged in other distractions may not see a bicyclist approaching or making a turn.
- Driving under the influence: Impaired drivers have a reduced reaction time and can make sudden movements, which could be dangerous for cyclists.
- Car door accident: A cyclist traveling at a speed of 15 or 20 miles an hour will not be able to react in time if a driver opens a car door without checking.
- Running a red light: Drivers who speed through a red light or stoplight put bicyclists in extreme danger. This is especially dangerous in neighborhoods and suburban areas where kids may be playing.
- Failure to yield: Drivers who fail to give cyclists the right of way can cause serious accidents.
Types of Injuries in Bicycle Accidents
Due to the lack of protection on a bike, cyclists are far more at risk for sustaining serious injuries to their head, neck, back, knees, and legs. The speed of the vehicle and the point of impact will dictate the severity of the injuries, which could take weeks, months, or even years to recover. Below are some of the common injuries in Orange County bicycle accidents:
- Broken bones: Bicycle riders are likely to suffer broken bones when knocked off their bike in a rear-end crash or side swipe.
- Cuts and bruises: These minor injuries still require medical treatment.
- Road rash: When a bike rider is dragged across pavement, the skin that touches the rough surface can cause road rash, which requires medical attention.
- Facial or dental injuries: A severe injury to the face could lead to scarring or disfigurement.
- Head injuries: Concussions or other traumatic brain injuries require immediate medical attention.
- Internal injuries: Damage to any of the organs can cause internal bleeding.
- Spinal cord injuries: Serious damage to the spinal cord could lead to paralysis.
- Wrongful death: When a loved one is killed in a bicycle accident, a spouse or family member can file a wrongful death claim to recover expenses related to medical bills, funeral expenses, etc.
A bicycle accident attorney will help you determine what kind of compensation you can receive for your injuries.
Who Is At Fault in a Bicycle Accident?
In personal injury cases, fault is determined based on which party acted negligently. “Negligence” is simply the legal term for failing to act with care. After an accident, each party involved may have their own idea as to who is at fault. Was the vehicle over the speed limit? Did the cyclist not signal when making a turn? All of these questions will likely come up in the minutes immediately after an accident.
As stated above, it’s important not to discuss fault at the accident scene. After you have recovered, schedule to meet with an Orange County bicycle accident lawyer who can help you begin building your case against the at-fault party. Your lawyer will explain these four elements of determining fault:
- Duty of Care: A driver has the responsibility to operate their vehicle in a safe manner.
- Breach of Duty: A driver breaches their duty of care by acting in a negligent manner leading to a collision.
- Causation: The driver’s actions had a negative impact on the victim’s physical and mental health.
- Damages: The victim suffered losses because of the accident and injuries.
Victims of bike accidents have two years to file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company. A good personal injury lawyer will explain all of these legal terms to you in detail and make sure you don’t miss important deadlines.
How Much is My Claim Worth?
If you are considering filing a personal injury claim, you are probably wondering how much money you will receive when all is said and done. While using a “claim calculator” seems tempting, the truth is that only an experienced personal injury lawyer can give you an accurate dollar amount of your bicycle accident lawsuit.
A claim’s value will depend on the nature of your accident and any injuries suffered - a hit-and-run causing serious injuries will be worth much more than a non-injury traffic accident. When you work with an attorney, he or she will be able to determine the value of your personal injury claim based on two types of compensation:
Economic damages are tangible losses incurred from the accident and can include the following:
- Medical expenses, including hospital bills and follow-up treatment
- Lost wages
- Property damage
Non-economic damages are more subjective than economic damages, and can include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium (companionship)
New California Bike Laws
In California, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. In January 2023, the state passed new laws as part of the bicycle omnibus bill. Below are some of the new laws pertaining to bike riders:
Safe passing rule
The law now requires that drivers change lanes before passing a cyclist in the same direction. This law hopes to reduce bicycle accident cases.
More access for e-bikes
Previously, local jurisdictions were allowed to ban electric bikes from using bicycle paths and trails. The new bill removes the ban for all types of e-bikes using bike lanes and recreational trails.
Before the new law, local jurisdictions could require all owners to register their bikes. Now, it is no longer required to register your bike, but is still an option.
For more information regarding new and existing California’s bicycle laws, visit www.calbike.org.
Why Choose Santiago Accident Lawyers
Getting into a cycling accident with a motor vehicle can be a traumatizing experience and something you shouldn't have to deal with on your own. Our Orange County law firm can help you make sense of your bicycle accident and build a substantial case to be presented to the insurance company. Our experienced bicycle accident attorney will take the time to thoroughly investigate your case and explore all possible avenues.
Our personal injury law firm is well-versed in the laws surrounding cyclists and motor vehicle drivers in Orange County, CA. We have the negotiating skills necessary to go up against aggressive insurance companies who use various tactics to avoid a large settlement. We also know some of the best medical providers in Southern California and can connect you so you receive the best care and treatment possible.
Santiago Accident Lawyers defends Orange County bicycle accident victims and helps secure maximum compensation to cover medical bills and other losses. We operate on a contingency-fee basis, which means you don’t pay until we win your case. Contact an experienced bicycle accident lawyer for a free consultation.