Breaking Down A Bicycle Accident Claim
Recently, the number of fatal bicycle accidents hit a 30-year high. When a 3,000-plus pound vehicle strikes a 10-plus pound bicycle, the results are often tragic for riders, even in a relatively low speed collision.
Despite the mounting fatalities, many Bay Area cities have been slow to embrace protected bicycle lanes, lower speed limits, and other innovations which could protect riders. Essentially, fast-moving motorists do not want to share the road with slower-moving bicyclists. This phenomenon is commonly known as bikelash.
As long as bicycle fatalities remain high, a San Jose personal injury attorney will fight for victims and obtain the compensation they deserve. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Common Bicyclist Injuries
Multiple restraint layers and steel cages protect vehicle occupants in collisions. But bicyclists have none of these protections. As a result, they often sustain serious injuries such as:
- Head Injuries: Frequently, the motion in a crash causes a head injury, as opposed to the impact itself. When riders fall and land hard, their brains violently slam against the insides of their skulls. These head injuries are very difficult to diagnose and treat, largely because of the lack of visible symptoms. These wounds kill tens of thousands of Americans every year.
- Broken Bones: These injuries, like head injuries, are normally permanent. Bicycle crashes damage bones so badly that surgery and physical therapy can only do so much. Most of these victims must deal with permanent loss of use, such as chronic shoulder stiffness or an inability to fully flex a knee.
- Exsanguination: Excessive blood loss is also an issue, mostly because splintered bones often pierce blood vessels and even internal organs. Such bleeding is difficult to detect and even more difficult to stop.
The medical bills in a serious injury case could exceed $100,000. That’s especially true on the West Coast, which has the highest average daily hospitalization cost in the country. To ensure that victims get the treatment they need when they need it, our San Jose personal injury attorneys usually partner with vehicle injury physicians who charge nothing upfront for their services.
Attorneys can defer medical expenses and other costs, but these bills come due eventually. Therefore, the aforementioned compensation is critical in these claims. To obtain it, victim/plaintiffs must prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
That lack of care could be a lack of ordinary care. This duty requires motorists to drive defensively and avoid accidents if possible.
Generally, however, bicycle accident claims rely on the negligence per se rule. Specifically, drivers almost always violate California’s three-foot law when they crash into bicycles. VC 21760, or the Three Feet for Safety Act, requires motorists to give bicyclists at least a three foot cushion when they are “overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction.”
Note that, in some cases, even if the motor vehicle and bicycle don’t physically collide, the tortfeasor could be liable for damages under this provision. Sometimes a passing vehicle triggers a wind gust which causes the rider to lose control of the bike.
Damages are often higher in negligence per se matters than in ordinary negligence cases. When tortfeasors ignore safety laws, many Santa Clara County jurors, who are probably bicyclists themselves, are more prone to publish these tortfeasors.
Reach Out to an Experienced Santa Clara County Lawyer
Bicycle accident victims are usually entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in San Jose, contact Solution Now Law Firm. We routinely handle matters in Santa Clara County and nearby jurisdictions.