Los Angeles is a large and sprawling city. It is known as one of the most car-crazy places in America. But recently, bicycling has become more popular in the area. If you are a bicyclist, safety is your top priority. The city has not yet adjusted to the increase in bicyclists over the last couple of decades, which has left its roads oriented primarily toward motor vehicles. However, there are laws that protect the right of bicyclists to ride safely throughout the city. Unfortunately, not everyone abides by these regulations and not everyone is attentive to the presence of bicycles on the streets.
If you have been hurt in an accident caused by a negligent or careless motorist, then you should hold that person accountable. A bicycle accident lawyer can help you do so.
You Are Unlikely to Walk Away Unharmed
Being on a bicycle leaves you exposed and vulnerable. You do not have doors, a chassis, and a seatbelt to protect you if you collide with a vehicle. At the very least, you will be knocked off your bike if you are hit by a car. This is likely to give you a few scrapes and bruises and may damage your bike. This is the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is being hit head-on by a car racing through the street at high speed. This kind of accident can be life-threatening and life-changing.
The bottom line is that few bicyclists come away from a collision with a motor vehicle unharmed. The two kinds of accidents described above require different responses.
A Minor Bicycle Crash: You Are Limited, But Not Helpless
If you are knocked down by a slow-moving vehicle, you will be briefly disoriented and confused. Once you have recovered your bearings, you should take steps to hold the driver who hit you accountable. Depending on the extent of your injuries, it may be a bad idea for you to overexert yourself. Though you may be limited, you are not helpless. You can still take the following actions:
1. Get yourself to safety
If you were knocked down while riding on the street, you should get yourself to safety. It may take a while for other drivers to catch on to the accident and for traffic to be diverted around it. You should in the meantime move to the nearest sidewalk or curb so that you are out of harm’s way.
2. Call the authorities
You should dial 911. Do not assume that the driver will do it. In fact, some drivers are in such a state of panic after an accident that they forget to call the authorities. The sooner the call is made the sooner you can get the medical help you need.
3. Make a video record
Use your smartphone to take photographs of your crashed bicycle. In fact, you may want to make a video of the entire scene and everything that occurs after the accident. You should include your interaction with the driver who hit you in the video. You should also record statements from people who witnessed the accident.
All this can be done while you are at rest on the sidewalk waiting for EMS and police to arrive.
4. Know how badly you were hurt
A hard fall from a bicycle can cause injuries you may not be able to feel or see directly after the accident. The shock of the fall may mask the pain and the extent of the injuries you have suffered. Being seen by a physician is the only way to find out how badly you were hurt. You should also take photographs of your injuries before they are covered with bandages.
Last, you should take a copy of the physician’s report with you when you are discharged from the hospital. If you develop a more serious medical condition later, you will need this document to prove the link between your ailment and the accident.
5. Retain legal counsel
You should also retain the services of a bicycle accident lawyer. The treatment of minor injuries still costs money, and the person who hit you should be the one to pay it. You should also get compensation for any damage done to your bike.
Taking a More Aggressive Approach
If the bicycle accident resulted in serious injuries, then you will need to take a more aggressive approach to holding the driver accountable. It will need to start after you have recovered. A serious accident can put you on your back for months. If the worst happens and you are permanently disabled because of a bicycle accident, you may need to build an entirely different kind of life.
Once you have the strength of body and clarity of mind to speak to a personal injury lawyer, you should do so. Although the last thing you may want to do during your recovery is deal with a lawyer, the gravity of your situation may demand it. You will have medical bills to pay and lost revenue to make up for. You will also need to pay for prescription drugs and an in-home carer to look after your daily needs. A personal injury lawyer can help you get the money you require to meet these new financial needs.
Only the Most Experienced Lawyer Will Do
If you have been in a serious bicycle accident, you have a great deal at stake. This is especially the case if the injuries you sustained have put you out of work permanently. You will need to build the kind of legal case that can win you significant concessions from the person who hit you or their insurance company.
In accidents like these, the insurance company of the driver responsible for the crash will usually try to reach out to the injured party. They will want to offer you a settlement, which is bound to be for much less than the case is worth. You should refuse the offer and refer the insurer to your bicycle accident lawyer Los Angeles. In fact, it is vital that you leave all communication and negotiation to the bicycle accident lawyer Los Angeles you hired.
You must hire a lawyer with deep experience and expertise in personal injury law. Although it is better to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company, you should brace yourself for the prospect of going to trial. West coast trial lawyers know how to do both: pursue an aggressive negotiation strategy and build a winnable case for a jury trial.
To get the money you deserve, your lawyer must prove that the accident was caused by the recklessness or negligence of the driver, that you were severely injured in the accident, and that you are owed a certain amount of money in compensation. West coast trial lawyers know how to put such cases together. They will have investigation professionals pull traffic video footage and get statements from witnesses. They will also bring in independent medical experts to testify about the extent of your injuries and how they have affected your ability to work.
If enough evidence is brought to bear against the person who hit you, the respondent may be pressured into offering a settlement that is commensurate with all you have suffered