Why hire a lawyer with bicycle-specific expertise?
While many California attorneys are competent to handle general injury cases, make sure your attorney has experience in and is familiar with:
- Bicycle traffic laws
- Negotiating bicycle accident cases with insurance companies
- Trying bicycle collision cases in court
- The prevailing prejudice against cyclists by motorists and juries
- The names and functions of bicycle components
- The speed bikes travel at as well as braking and cornering
- Bicycle handling skills, techniques, and customs
- How to get full replacement value property damage estimates for your bicycle
- Establishing the value of lost riding time
- Hiring and working with bicycle accident reconstruction experts
- Hiring and working with forensic bicycle engineers
- Establishing the value of permanent diminished riding ability
The difference between Bicycle Law and other bicycle lawyers
There are many lawyers in the Bay Area advertising for bicycle crash cases but not all of them are also cyclists. One of the main advantages of Bicycle Law is that most of us are cyclists AND lawyers, so we understand what it’s like to ride a bike in urban areas like San Francisco where cyclist interactions with motorists and other road users can be intense and, unfortunately, sometimes dangerous. Having an attorney who can understand your incident – and thus your claim or lawsuit – from the point of view of a cyclist is a huge advantage in every step of the process of pursuing an injury claim. As longtime cyclists, we know what it feels like to crash and how disruptive crash-related injuries can be to one’s life and work. As riders, we have years of lived experience interacting with motorists on urban and suburban streets, and also on long road rides in rural areas.
Different steps of a bicycle accident case
Your bicycle injury case begins with you documenting what happened and preserving all the evidence. This may be photographs of the incident location, photographs of the injuries to your body or damage to your bicycle, or video of the same. Documenting any medical treatment and getting copies of the police or ambulance reports is another early step in the process. We can help you organize your evidence and sift through what is relevant and what types of evidence need to be collected and from whom (e.g., from bystanders or other witnesses to the bike crash).
We can then help you identify the insurance or other assets which may be available to compensate you for both your injuries and your property damage. We will also make a plan for presenting your claim to the motorist’s (or other negligent party’s) insurance company and will negotiate the claim with your input. You will have final decision-making authority if and when your case reaches a point where it can be settled.
If your case cannot be settled, we will handle the preparation of your case for trial and will try the case in court. We can explain in more detail (during an initial free consultation), the details of why some cases settle and others go to trial.
What to expect during your free consultation
A free consultation with Bicycle Law is private and confidential. It is a good way for you to get more information about the process of making a bicycle-related injury claim, and a good way for you to learn more about us and vice versa. One of our attorneys will listen to you explain the facts of your incident. If you have any photographs, video, or a police report, we will review and discuss these with you, as well. (And if you don’t have the police report we can help you get a copy of it.)
The free consultation is a time for us to learn from you the specific where, what, when, and why of the incident. After we do this, we can give you some preliminary ideas about what types of claims you may have, and who the proper defendant(s) may be. We can also discuss with you what types of insurance or other assets may be available to compensate you for your injuries and other damages such as medical bills and lost income from work. During your free consultation we will answer any questions you have about how long the whole process of making a claim or pursuing a lawsuit typically takes, explain the steps in that process, and discuss with you why some cases settle and other cases go to trial. We will also discuss and explain the difference between making an insurance claim and filing a lawsuit and when each method is appropriate.
Types of bicycle injury cases we handle
We handle physical injury cases ranging from significant soft tissue injuries to catastrophic brain injury, and everything in between. Every case is different, and we will thoroughly evaluate and help you document and preserve evidence of each injury to your body. We will also pursue your property damage or replacement claim if your bicycle was damaged or destroyed in the incident. In some cases, there may also be emotional distress claims, such as when a person witnesses a serious injury to an immediate family member.
We handle all types of bike injury cases, including those caused by negligent automobile drivers, crashes resulting from dangerous or poorly-designed or poorly-maintained streets, and crashes resulting from defective bicycle components.
Contingency fee & how compensation works
We charge our clients a contingent fee in bicycle accident cases. A contingent fee means that we are only paid if we recover money for you in your insurance claim or lawsuit. The contingent fee incentivizes Bicycle Law to efficiently and effectively settle your case (or win your case at trial) for the most money possible, because this fee structure aligns our economic interests with yours. In other words, if we don’t recover money, we don’t get paid. We advance for our clients the costs of handling your case (e.g., ordering medical records and police reports, court filing fees, court reporter fees for depositions, expert witness fees, etc.) and this is paid from your settlement or trial verdict at the conclusion of your case. We can explain the typical costs of a cyclist injury case during a free initial consultation before you make any decision about hiring us to represent you.
Most common personal injury claims for bicycle accidents
The most common type of personal injury claim asserts negligence against a motorist or some other person or entity which caused your bicycle crash. Your claim may consist of damages for your physical injuries, property damage to your clothing or bicycle, reimbursement for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income or lost ability to work while you were recovering, all depending on the specific facts of your case. In some cases, such as a “road rage” type incident committed by a motorist, there may be claims for assault and battery or various other intentional conduct that caused injuries or damages to you. We will identify and pursue all the claims that are relevant to your case and supported by the evidence in your specific situation.
Main causes of bicycle accidents
Roughly two-thirds of bicycle crashes happen away from intersections, and the other one-third at intersections. Motorists making a right turn at an intersection can cause a “right hook” collision by negligently turning into the path of travel of a cyclist travelling near them in the same direction. A motorist making a left turn across a cyclist’s path of travel is another common cause of crashes at intersections. In cases involving careless or inattentive drivers, we investigate whether the motorist was distracted by looking at their phone when they should have been concentrating on their driving. We also investigate whether the driver was intoxicated at the time of the collision.
Some bicycle accidents are caused by dangerous conditions on the roadway, such as construction areas that are poorly signed or maintained. Another cause of cyclist injuries is confusing signage or poorly maintained road surfaces — examples are potholes, sewer grates, or rail or trolley tracks that were improperly designed or maintained. In these types of cases, a city, county, state or the federal government may be found negligent and liable for causing your bicycle crash.
We have experience investigating and prosecuting all these types of cases and will discuss in detail with you the various types of liability that may be involved in your particular situation.