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Thousands of people in the USA enjoy cycling, and the state of California, because of its congenial climate, has more cyclists than any other state. However, this inevitably means that California also has more bicycle accidents than any other state. Cyclists are always vulnerable on the road, largely because motorists and truck drivers have very little respect for cyclists’ rights. This means that it is important for cyclists to know their legal rights, and also to know how to contact a bike accident lawyer when they are involved in an accident.
The increase in cycling in the USA, largely due to the escalation in fuel costs, has inevitably led to an increase in cycling injuries — the number rose from 43,000 in 2007 to 52,000 in 2010, and only 4 states had higher death and injury rates than California. The major reasons for accidents include motorists changing lanes without warning, making a right turn in front of a cyclist on the inside lane, and “dooring” — that is, opening the car door right in the cyclist’s path. Other causes involve the driver pulling out from a side street or driveway without warning, and sideswiping a cyclist riding on the shoulder. Alcohol is a factor in one-third of all cycling accidents. Drivers generally are ignorant of the fact that California laws give cyclists equal rights on the road with car drivers.
Of course, it is also true that California laws give cyclists equal rights in seeking compensation. However, the fact is that in statistics concerning 2,000 accidents collected by California Highway Patrol, the cyclist was judged to be at fault in 60 percent of these — in other words, California cyclist plaintiffs lose two cases out of three. This shows how vitally important it is to hire an experienced bicycle accident lawyer, as otherwise the motorists and their insurance companies will be in a much stronger position.
If you are an accident victim, remember that in California, under Civil Code Section 3281 and 3333, anyone who has suffered injury or loss through another person’s fault is entitled to be restored as far as possible to pre-injury status. This involves being compensated in full for all economic losses, including medical expenses and loss of earnings. In fact physical injuries from bicycle accidents can be exceptionally serious, especially when a car or truck is involved, because of the vulnerable position of the cyclist. The most common types of injury include spinal injuries, head injuries, often resulting in TBI or traumatic brain injury, and torn cartilage or ligaments. Expenses are likely to include lengthy periods of hospitalization, medication, physical therapy and special medical equipment. However, under Civil Code Section 3259, non-economic losses, including pain and suffering and emotional distress, are also eligible for compensation.
Unfortunately, however, one of the reasons so many injured cyclists lose their cases is lack of evidence. If you are injured in an accident, it is very difficult to keep a cool head, but it is essential to ensure everything is recorded. Wait for the police and ensure they take a statement from you as well as the motorist. In particular, it is crucial that you keep your bike, and any other damaged property such as your helmet, in the same condition. Do not wash anything, fix anything or get rid of anything, and do not hand them over to anyone other than your bicycle accident lawyer.
Remember, time is not on your side. The less time you lose in pursuing your claim, the better chance you have. Never forget that the law gives you full rights to compensation, and an experienced bicycle accident lawyer at The May Firm will do everything possible to ensure you receive the redress you fully deserve.
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