The warm climate of Fresno makes cycling an appealing form of transportation. Almost any time of the year, you can bike your way around town. And although cycling is common in the city, it remains a dangerous form of transportation.
Bicycle accidents occur frequently, and with the relatively small amount of personal protection available to cyclists, injuries are often serious. You could experience life-altering injuries. Or, you could lose the life of a loved one. Whether you or a family member is involved in a bicycle accident, you can consider filing a claim against the person who caused the accident. A bicycle accident lawyer in Fresno can help you recover damages.
Here at the Grossman Law Offices, we can take you through the steps necessary for you to receive the money you deserve. We want to hold negligent drivers responsible for their accidents.
Cycling Laws in California
Although most cycling accidents are the fault of other drivers, some are caused by cyclists violating bicycle laws. That said, you may be partially responsible for your accident and still file a personal injury claim. In California, comparative fault laws allow you to recover damages even if you share part of the blame for the incident.
Whether you’ve been in a bike accident or you just own a bicycle, it’s important to understand California cycling laws. Here are some of the most important laws for cyclists:
1. Brakes Must be Functional
If you’re riding a bike in Fresno, it needs to have brakes. Those brakes must be functional, for obvious reasons.
2. You Need Lighting for Night Rides
If you plan on riding your bike in the evening, you need the proper equipment. You need a lamp or headlight that is visible for several hundred feet. Additionally, you need a red reflector on the back of the bike. Both features make you more visible to other drivers.
3. It’s Illegal to Drink and Ride
Just as drinking and driving is illegal, drinking and cycling is also illegal. You could be chared with a misdemeanor and receive a fine for doing so.
4. You Can’t Carry Anything That Keeps Your Hands Off the Handlebars
When you ride your bike, you should have both hands on the handlebars. If you carry something that takes one hand off the bars, you are breaking the law.
Who is Liable?
If a driver acts in a negligent way and causes you harm, they are liable for your accident. They could be responsible for paying your medical bills, missed wages, and other damages.
In certain states, it doesn’t matter if the motorist is negligent. The fact that they hit a cyclist is enough to make them liable. However, California requires some proof. You need to show that the other party was negligent and that negligence caused your injuries or property damage.
To prove negligence, you need evidence. You can use a police report, witness testimony, or photographs to point the finger at the motorist. If you can show they were negligent, you may be able to recover damages.
It’s true that you can still recover damages if you are partially responsible for the accident. However, it’s also true that you won’t receive the full amount of compensation. You only receive a percentage of the total damages.
For instance, a court could declare you 20% responsible for the accident. In this scenario, you would only receive 80% of the damages.
Statute of Limitations for Bike Accidents
If you want a successful claim, you need to file within the two-year deadline. The deadline applies to all personal injury claims. By missing the deadline, you give the judge a reason to deny the claim.
There are some exemptions to the statute. If you were incapable of filing or had mental incompetence, you may be able to file after the deadline. Furthermore, you could also receive an extension if you didn’t show signs of an injury until some time after the accident. In some cases, the injuries don’t become apparent until weeks or months after the incident.
If the victim is a minor, they also could receive more time. Typically, a minor can wait to file a claim until they are 20. The two-year statute doesn’t kick in until they turn 18.
Causes of Bike Accidents
In Fresno, there were 887 bike accidents between 2007 and 2013. There were 35 fatalities during that time frame. The bottom line is that when cyclists get on the road, they’re in danger.
The danger comes from other drivers acting in negligent ways. For example, DUIs are one common cause of bicycle accidents. Out of many other US cities, Fresno is ranked 25th for the most DUIs. Often, drunk drivers have impaired vision and reaction time. They might not see a cyclist or be able to react to them.
Another danger is distracted driving. If a motorist isn’t looking at the road, they might not notice a cyclist. Looking at their phone, talking to a passenger, or eating could prevent them from driving safely.
In some situations, drivers fail to follow the rules of the road. They may not stop at a stop sign or they could ignore a red light. But this is negligent behavior, and they should be held responsible.
Injuries from the Accident
Often, cyclists experience injuries that have profound effects. Because cyclists have little protection, they feel the full force of an accident. If they collide with a vehicle, they could suffer from a long list of injuries.
In minor accidents, a cyclist could experience abrasions and lacerations. Although these injuries might not seem serious, they could be. Left untreated, a laceration could become a problem. The cyclist may have nerve damage, disfigurement, or an infection.
More serious complications include broken bones, brain injuries, and internal bleeding. At times, the effects of the injuries are long-lasting. Spinal cord injuries and brain injuries could give you a permanent disability.
Contact a Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Fresno
If you or a loved one was in a bike accident, you deserve justice. Here at Grossman Law Offices, we want to help you. Contact our firm to learn more about what we can do for you.