Bicycles account for a substantial portion of travelers in the San Francisco Bay area. As such, bicycle accidents happen daily, causing catastrophic and often permanent personal injuries to bicyclists. Because San Francisco is heavily populated and congested with traffic, many drivers become frustrated with the number of bicyclists sharing the roads. Unfortunately, bicyclists are not always treated as other drivers, even though bicyclists must follow the same traffic laws as any other motorist.
In California, any person 18 years of age or older is not required to wear a helmet. Therefore, whether a bicyclist was wearing a helmet at the time of an accident is not necessarily a factor when determining fault and assessing liability in a bicycle accident case.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a bicycle accident, reaching out to a San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer is a good first step to discussing potential legal options. Because time is limited to pursuing personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in California, acting quickly is important to preserve your legal rights.
California Bicycle Helmet Law
Pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 21212, any person under the age of 18 years is required to wear a helmet while operating a bicycle. California’s bicycle helmet law does not apply to individuals 18 years of age or older. Therefore, in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit involving a person 18 years of age or older who has suffered injuries, California law is not on the side of the defendant.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
Bicycle accident injuries are severe, given that bicyclists are afforded little protection if involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. Even with helmets, bicyclists routinely suffer from severe head injuries, as well as broken bones, and other debilitating injuries that require lifelong care. Examples of common bicycle accident injuries include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including minor concussions, as well as brain injuries so severe that they render a victim to be mentally incapacitated;
- Broken or shattered bones, many of which require immediate surgical intervention to repair;
- Soft tissue injuries that often cause damage to internal organs, as well as uncontrollable internal bleeding;
- Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries, which may lead to partial or complete paralysis;
- Injuries resulting in amputation;
- Burns, if an accident involves fire; and
Most bicycle accidents do not happen at relatively high rates of speed. However, regardless of how slow a vehicle is moving, any impact with a bicyclist is likely to result in serious injuries. Bicyclists who walk away from accidents are lucky. In some cases, bicycle accident victims may feel completely normal following an accident. Injuries can take time to develop symptoms that are not immediately apparent.
For example, an injured bicyclist may fall on his or her back or neck in an awkward position and may not feel pain immediately, but pain may soon follow in the coming days, weeks, or months. Because bicycle accident injuries can be serious, all bicyclists involved in an accident would be wise to seek a medical evaluation to determine whether any injuries were incurred in the accident.
Damages Associated with Bicycle Accident Injuries
Bicycle accident injuries cause much more than physical pain and mental anguish. Bicycle accident injuries also lead to other damages, such as, among others, lost wages (both present and future), hospital costs, surgical costs, emergency transport costs, follow-up visits to doctors, and physical therapy. All medical expenses are considered economic damages resulting from personal injuries sustained in an accident.
When a person is responsible for causing a bicycle accident that results in serious injuries or death, that person can be held accountable in a civil action under California law. To recover damages in a bicycle accident personal injury lawsuit, accident victims should consider working with a San Francisco bicycle accident attorney who has the necessary experience, skill, dedication, and resources, to seek recovery of compensation for injured clients.
The Statutes of Limitations Under California Law
In California, a bicycle accident victim wishing to file a personal injury lawsuit must file the lawsuit no later than two years after the date of the accident. In certain cases, that deadline may be extended. However, rarely can a lawsuit survive once two years have passed. In the event a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a deceased victim, the legal representative of the estate of the deceased victim must file a wrongful death lawsuit no later than two years after the date of the victim’s death.
One of the most common reasons why lawsuits get dismissed is because individuals wait too long to locate an attorney and file a lawsuit in court. Therefore, acting quickly to seek the advice and guidance of an attorney is important to preserving legal rights following a bicycle accident involving injuries.
Contact a San Francisco Bicycle Crash Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one has suffered bicycle accident injuries in the San Francisco Bay area, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified California bicycle accident lawyer. Our team of personal injury lawyers routinely help injury victims seek compensation for their pain and suffering. To schedule your free case evaluation, contact us today.