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Temecula, California has a thriving bicycling community. Bike enthusiasts have access to over 90 miles of bike trails in the city and the surrounding area. Those who opt for economic, two-wheeled transportation save money, create less pollution, and get some healthy exercise. Despite concerted efforts to make Temecula a bike-friendly city, safety in traffic is often a concern as most of the city remains auto-centric.
Safety is an issue, as riders may share the road with drivers who are speeding, alcohol-influenced, distracted, or otherwise demonstrating risky behaviors. When a vehicle crashes into a bike, of the involved individuals, the bicyclist is usually the one who is seriously harmed in the encounter. An accident impact easily propels a cyclist to the pavement, causing serious, catastrophic, and fatal injuries. When a bicyclist survives, they often undergo costly emergency treatment, long-term care, and rehabilitation. When vehicle operators drive safely and respect a bicyclist’s right to use the road, the number of these accidents are substantially reduced.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we take bicycle accident injuries seriously. As bicycle accident attorneys, we have always believed that negligent drivers should pay for the damages they caused. We have spent time, resources, and dedication to help produce the best outcomes for our injured clients.
Our attorneys understand legally complicated bicycle accident cases. We have recognized that when a vehicle/bicycle accident occurred, more than one party may share liability. That is why we initiate our case involvement by reviewing the evidence and assessing the liability. We aim to identify all potentially responsible parties and place them on notice of our intent to recover our clients’ damages.
Our attorneys have seen how a single bicycle accident can have the power to alter a person’s future. In evaluating our injured clients’ damages, we have gone beyond calculating the medical expenses and income losses. We have consulted with medical and economic experts. We have also made a concerted effort to know our clients and their families.
Our strong client relationships have allowed us to see beyond diagnoses and prognoses. We have also seen the impact accidents have had on families and their lifestyles. Our efforts have motivated us to produce the most favorable outcomes possible for our injured clients.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have always been committed to resolving cases in a way that provides the most benefit to our clients. When possible, our bicycle accident lawyers have worked with negligent parties, their insurance companies, and their defense attorneys. We have aggressively negotiated cases and produced favorable settlements. Our attorneys have produced results through participation in mediation, settlement conferences, and other settlement forums.
One of the reasons why we prepare our clients’ cases early in the process is because a trial may become the only reasonable option. We have presented evidence in court on behalf of our client in front of a judge and jury.
Each case has unique liability and damage issues.
While we cannot promise a specific outcome, we invite you to review our case results for some insight into our past settlements and trial results, including the $5,000,000 settlement we obtained in a bicycle accident case.
The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) rates California as number three on its most recent list of Bicycle Friendly States. The state earned this designation based on infrastructure, funding, education, and other relevant factors. LAB also lists Temecula as a Bicycle Friendly City.
Temecula bicycling enthusiasts continue to create new transportation traditions. They rely on bicycles for exercise, riding trails, and wine country cycling adventures. Bikes provide economic commuter transportation alternatives. Some people use their bikes to earn income by working for courier or delivery services.
The local government recognizes that bicycles are integral to the city’s transportation goals. The city created the Trails and Bikeways Master Plan, and an update continues to define planning strategies for developing less auto-centric transportation traditions. The ultimate goal is to provide: “an interconnected network of bike lanes, paved paths, and other infrastructure improvements for non-motorized transportation.”
When the city evaluated residents’ responses about biking infrastructure, some cited safety as an issue. They agreed that they would ride bicycles more if they felt safe.
When asked, bicyclists provided categorized ratings based on how they perceived themselves as bike riders.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), California Office of Traffic Safety (COTS), and other agencies compile and analyze bicycle accident data.
Here are some of their recent findings.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Bicycle Safety Page lists helmets, helmet laws, active rider visibility, and roadway engineering as its recommended measures for reducing serious bicycle injuries. Safety-conscious cyclists wear helmets because they want to protect their heads from trauma when an accident occurs. Cyclists have few other personal protection options should they become involved in an accident with a vehicle.
A bicyclist’s lack of protection is a primary safety issue during a vehicle crash. Vehicle operators and passengers have a metal compartment, reinforced doors, seatbelts, airbags, and the vehicle’s mass and weight to protect them. When a vehicle and bicycle collide, the impact could easily catapult the cyclist to the payment and destroy the bicycle completely.
As a result, bicyclists often sustain multiple serious injuries. The Outside Online magazine article “To the Driver Who Hit Me and Ran“ demonstrates the seriousness of those injuries. The author describes how a vehicle struck his bicycle’s rear while he was riding along a Colorado road. He sustained multiple fractures, head injuries, and internal damage. He only survived because another driver noticed him lying on the side of the road and helped him get medical attention.
When a vehicle crashes into a bicycle, the cyclist rarely escapes unscathed.
The trauma cyclists sustain may include:
Negligent vehicle drivers are often responsible for cyclists’ injuries. Accidents sometimes occur when a vehicle operator fails to acknowledge a cyclist’s right to share the road. Sometimes the problem relates to a visibility issue. When drivers do not anticipate cyclists, they often become “invisible.”
Under California’s Vehicle Codes, Article 4. Operation of Bicycles [21200 – 21213], a person riding a bicycle has the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle. When a vehicle/bicycle accident occurs, we evaluate liability using the same standards as when two cars or trucks collide. A negligent driver is responsible for the damages he or she causes.
A driver may share liability with others based on relationships, contracts, and other arrangements.
Bicycle accident settlements typically include economic and general damages. In certain instances, an injured person may also receive exemplary damages.
Economic damages include current and future out-of-pocket costs incurred by an injured person.
They can include:
A general damage award considers an injured person’s physical and emotional pain, psychological trauma, and other subjective feelings and emotions.
They can include:
When a plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that a defendant acted out of malice, oppression, or fraud, California courts sometimes award the plaintiff exemplary damages as punishment.
If a motorist causes an accident then leaves the scene, your insurer sometimes owes damages under your vehicle’s uninsured motorist coverage.
The coverage applies under these circumstances:
Under California’s vehicle code, insurers must add Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage to every insured’s policy. An insured has the right to delete the coverage with a written request. When you have UM coverage, your insurance company settles your injury claim based on the negligent driver’s liability.
As documented in the first-hand bicycle accident discussed above, some drivers simply leave an accident scene without stopping. Unfortunately, unless a witness sees the accident, a hit-and-run driver could avoid paying for the injured person’s damages.
California requires that all vehicle owners purchase liability insurance. When an insured vehicle is involved in an accident, the insurer requires their insured to report the claim or risk a coverage declination. Initially, a liability insurer handles cases based on their insured’s reported version. If the insured reports a version that disputes liability, the insurer stands behind them until they turn up adverse evidence.
Even after an insurer determines that their insured is at-fault, they proceed based on their own standards. That sometimes means low settlement offers, no offers, or behaviors that coerce a plaintiff into filing a lawsuit. When a plaintiff’s law firm does not have the resources to conduct discovery or try a case, this strategy often forces them to settle for an amount that is lower than reasonable.
Some large corporations self-insure for their liability claims while others have high retention limits. Either way, when they settle a claim, the money comes out of their own financial resources. Self-insured entities often hire independent agencies to represent them, but they still control the amount paid and the negotiation strategy.
Insurance companies usually handle claims for insureds with high retention limits. The insured has a financial stake in the claim as they ultimately reimburse their insurers for most claim payments. Theoretically, high-retention limit insureds do not control the claim settlement process. In reality, their insurers handle their claims following guidelines established with the insured’s input.
When a claim handler’s actions encourage a plaintiff to file suit, the discovery process sometimes eats away their attorney’s financial resources. Insurers have the deep pockets to pour unlimited funds into defending a case. When they have staff attorneys on their payroll, defending a case costs only court fees and discovery expenses. When a plaintiff’s attorney has limited resources, expensive litigation often motivates a plaintiff to settle low.
Adverse parties still have opportunities to settle claims during the discovery process, but some insurers prefer to defend cases at trial. They respond to lawsuits by citing affirmative defenses such as No Negligence or No Defect. This can be a strategy they use to try to produce a court award that is lower than what the plaintiff demands.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we understand how insurers and defense attorneys negotiate. We have handled defense maneuvers by evaluating and preparing our cases in the early stages of the investigative process. Then we implement our own strategies. We have used our firm’s resources to prepare our cases for negotiation. Regardless of whether the case resolves through alternative dispute resolution or trial, we have always worked hard to deliver the best possible outcomes for our injured clients.
If you or a family member sustained serious injuries in a bicycle accident, you should take immediate steps to protect your legal rights. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, our lawyers have worked hard to recover damages for our injured clients. Call us at (619) 237-3490 or complete our contact form and we could schedule a consultation to determine if we can help you.
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