Throughout the years our personal injury law firm has represented 100s of people just like you that were injured in a bike accident in the San Francisco Bay Area and needed the best San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer they could find to help. They wanted to avoid making costly mistakes (MJQLAW????) with their claim and they had questions—some had a million, some only had a few, and others admitted that they had no idea what they needed to know. Regardless which you camp you fall into, below you will find our past client’s most common questions—with answers.
We organized our bicycle accident page this way so that you can choose how much information you want to consume and can get to the information you want as efficiently as possible. If you have a question that is not addressed here or would like to talk to us about representing you, please call us at (415) 345-4282 or submit an Online Inquiry.
Exactly what we do for our clients in a short, animated video:
Does your law firm specialize in bicycle accident cases?
Yes, we handle a lot of bike accident, injury cases. It is one of the most common types of case in our office. We have seen it all and understand how motorist regularly ignore the rights of bicyclists. Here are three bicycle cases we recently resolved for our clients.
$300,000 settlement: Our client, J.G., a bicyclist, suffered severe injuries to his knee after a truck being driven by a City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) employee allegedly ran a stop sign in the Sunset District en route to a Muni delay that the employee intended to alleviate. We sued CCSF and through discovery we located and obtained GPS data that was being transmitted from the CCSF truck that tended to show that the truck did not stop at the stop sign as the driver testified in deposition, but rather only after striking Client. The case settled at mediation.
$45,000 settlement: Our client, M.D., a bicyclist was riding home at night from the Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park when a car that had turned into a driveway in front her ~100ft away unexpectedly reversed and reappeared in front of her. According to the driver’s testimony, he was readjusting to enter his narrow garage and he never saw our client until after the collision. Our client did not have a light on her bike, was not wearing a helmet, and may or may not have had a beer or two at the concert. The collision caused a 2.5 inch cut on her chin. The wound resulted in a subtle scar.
Confidential Policy Limits settlement: our client, T.D., a bicyclist was riding his bike home from work in Golden Gate Park when he was hit by a car in the middle of an intersection controlled by 4 stop signs. The collision caused our client’s jaw to be broken, which required his jaw to be wired shut for 2 months. There was a dispute about who had the right away and why the collision happened. The police determined that our client was at fault for failing to yield to the car. We disagreed, conducted our own investigation, and ultimately obtained the full auto policy from the driver.
I was injured in a bicycle accident. Do I need an San Francisco injury lawyer?
We’re sorry to learn that you were injured in a bicycle accident, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the you need to hire a San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer. For example, if you suffered only minor injuries (scrapes and/or soft tissue injuries) and it is clear that the other party was at fault, you may be able to handle your claim with the other person’s auto insurance company yourself. That said, for obvious reasons most bicycle vs. car accidents result in serious injuries to the bicyclist and they do need a great bike accident attorney. Give us a call at (415) 345-4282 or submit an online inquiry for a free consultation to discuss whether you need a lawyer. If you don’t, we will happily give you some free advice/tips to handling your claim without a lawyer. We never take on cases that we can’t add value to; in other words, if you can’t likely net more money by hiring us, because we are paid with a percentage of the recovery (contingency fee), it doesn’t make sense to hire a personal injury lawyer and we will tell you that. That said, if you suffered serious injuries or fault isn’t crystal clear, you need to hire an experienced bicycle accident lawyer or else you will likely be costing yourself a lot of money; the California DMV agrees. Furthermore, insurance companies love blaming the bicyclist (MJQLAW????) for the accident as a way of not compensating you fairly, so you should be on high alert when you aren’t represented by a lawyer.
What will you be doing for me when I hire you?
When you hire us, you hand off all of your problems, work and stress associated with your accident to an experienced personal injury lawyer who has handled hundreds of cases like yours. This allows you to focus on your recovery, while we handle everything else. Whether you realize it or not, there are a lot of pitfalls out there for a personal injury claimant that has never dealt with a situation like this before. Insurance companies and their adjusters have the goal of saving as much money as possible and that means denying your claim, underpaying your claim and/or attempting to get you to do and say things that permanently harm the value of your claim. We won’t allow for any of that.
We will serve as the point of contact for anyone wanting to contact you about your accident or injuries. We will advise you about all the tricks that insurance companies and their agents play so that your claim, when presented, has no issues associated with it that might limit its value. Additionally, by hiring us you will swing the leverage of your injury claim back to your side, as the insurance company will be forced to accept the fact that you won’t be one of the claimants they can take financial advantage of—every major insurance company knows us and has dealt with us many times; we have a reputation of getting every dollar available.
Sounds great, but what does that exactly mean? Here are the specifics:
Investigate your Claim
- Find all sources for recovery (insurance policies and deep pockets).
- Order and review your medical records and bills.
- Hire medical professionals to review your medical records, if neccesary.
- Order any police/incident reports.
- Talk with any witnesses.
- Advance any upfront costs needed to establish your claim.
Present your Claim to the Insurance Company
- Handle all communication with the insurance company (they’ll stop calling you).
- Identify any problem areas with your case and address (and remedy if possible) them early on.
- Prepare and submit a detailed and comprehensive settlement demand package that includes legal arguments, a persuasive presentation of your claim and supporting documentation.
Maximize Your Settlement Amount
- Use our leverage of being able to file a lawsuit to put pressure on adjusters.
- Use our experience in handling 100s of cases like yours to ensure you are paid top dollar.
- Negotiate & reduce your health insurance claims, which nets you more.
Occasionally, the at-fault party’s insurance refuses to accept responsibility, wants to place an unfair amount of blame on you—blaming the bicyclist (MJQLAW????)—or doesn’t respect the extent of your injuries and damages. When that happens, we file a lawsuit on your behalf and utilize the court system to create pressure on them. You see, the insurance company knows that if they don’t treat you fairly, a jury of 12 of your peers will ultimately decide what you are entitled to. This pressure causes them to reassess their position on your case and almost always causes them to offer you a fair settlement before trial.
File a Lawsuit
- Prepare a formal complaint.
- Advance any upfront court costs (filing fees, service fees, etc.)
- Track down and personally serve the defendant(s).
Litigate your Case
- Explain and walk you through the entire process.
- Prepare you for when your participation is needed.
- Obtain all documents from the defendants to establish your case.
- Advance upfront costs for hiring any needed experts.
- Negotiate with opposing attorney to settle your case without the need for trial.
- If necessary, present your case at trial to a jury of your peers.
How long will the process take after I hire you?
We understand that your goal is to get your personal injury claim resolved as quickly as possible so that you can get on with your life. However, the circumstances of your accident and injury will determine how long the process will take to achieve a settlement. We have found that the two windows most ripe for settlement are 2 months after your medical treatment is completed (pre-litigation settlement) and 6 months after filing a lawsuit (post-litigation settlement).
Of course, every case is different and opportunities to settle your case can be frequent. If we are required to file a complaint on your behalf because the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, we typically will do that right away. However, you should know that California law gives you two years from the date of your accident to either settle your case or file a complaint to protect your claim (Note: if the defendant is a governmental entity, you have six months from the date of your accident to file a formal governmental claim, not two years).
2 months after medical treatment is completed
The majority of our cases are settled in this window. Cases that settle in this window often have the following characteristics:
- You have been diagnosed with an identifiable injury.
- You do not have substantial permanent injury or long-lasting symptoms.
- You do not require future medical treatment for your injuries.
- You did not have a pre-existing injury in the same part of your body.
- You have private health insurance (not Medi-cal, Medicare, etc.)
- The other party accepts responsibly and you bear no fault (comparative negligence)
- The person who injured you was not a government employee.
6 months after filing a lawsuit
Sometimes insurance companies refuse to accept responsibility or don’t respect the value of our client’s damages and we must file a lawsuit to create sufficient pressure on the other side. A common misconception about filing a lawsuit is that it means that a trial will occur. That’s not true, at least not with us. We have a reputation for working up our clients’ cases in the litigation process so well that approximately 95% of all cases that require us to litigate result in a settlement for our clients without the need for trial. The reason that our post-litigation settlements typically occur about 6 months after filing the complaint is because formal, written discovery needs to be done and depositions need to be taken of the parties (including you) and key witnesses. These things typically take about six months to complete.
If your case is one of the few that does requires a trial, we are experienced trial attorneys and will present your case to a jury. Personal injury jury trials in Bay Area counties (San Francisco, Alameda, Marin, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Napa and Sonoma) typically take place about 12–18 months after filing a lawsuit.
I need a San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer, how are you paid?
We are only paid if we are successful with your case. Our agreements call for a contingency fee of either 1/3rd or 40% of the settlement, award or verdict. If nothing is recovered on your behalf, we are not paid. If we are required to litigate your case (file a lawsuit) our fee slides from 1/3rd to 40% to account for the increased financial risk we are taking on. We never bill our clients by the hour and we spend as much time as is necessary with you and working on your case. These fees are standard in the industry. Additionally, we will advance all costs necessary to pursue your case and will never ask you for money to finance your own case. If we are successful, we are entitled to be reimbursed for our out-of-pocket, advanced costs in addition to our contingency fee. If we don’t receive a settlement or verdict on your behalf, you never owe us for the time or money we have spent pursuing your case. This arrangement allows everyone to be able to afford the best San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer.
What is process of hiring you to represent me?
Every year we successfully help dozens of people that have been injured in bicycle accidents in the Bay Area. The most common type of bicycle, injury accident we see are car vs. bicycle that leaves the bicyclist injured and needing an ambulance and hospital care. We have found that more times than not, car vs. bike accidents are the result of drivers not being conditioned to look out for and respect bicyclists the same way they do other cars on the road. You have a right to the road too! For over a decade we’ve been getting people just like you in the SF Bay Area get the money they deserve for their injuries and we look forward to helping you get a great settlement!
For many of you, this is your first encounter with a personal injury lawyer and you are not too sure how the process works, what to do next, or what you’re entitled to. We understand. If you have been injured in a bike accident and are looking for a great San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer, you are in the right place!
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident you should first seek out appropriate medical treatment and then contact us by submitting an online inquiry or calling us at (415) 345-4282 for a free consultation. At no charge and with complete confidentiality, we will discuss your bicycle accident with you and advise you on how to best proceed. Or if you’d prefer, we’d love to sit down with you face-to-face. Our law office is conveniently located in the Marina District of San Francisco, away from the hustle and bustle of the Financial District. We have free private and easy street parking available for your convenience.
Once we connect and discuss your situation and decide that we are a good fit for one another, there are three documents that we need you to sign: (1) Employment Agreement, (2) Letter of Representation, (3) Medical Records Release Form. You can either come into the office and sign them in person or we can email them to you and handle it electronically if you prefer.
How much is my bicycle accident case worth?
This is the question that many of our clients first ask when meeting with us, but it is not so easily answered. There are too many factors that go into evaluating the worth of a case to be able to tell someone what their case is worth right off the bat. Less reputable lawyers may immediately promise you a sky-high figure, making you feel like you just won the lottery in the hopes that you hire them, but ultimately will never deliver on their promise. That is not our style. Only after thoroughly investigating the facts of your case, locating all sources of recovery, and ensuring that the extent of your injuries are known, will we then tell you what we think your case is worth – and then go out and try to get more!
According to California law, a bicyclist injured as a result of the negligent acts of a driver are entitled to the following damages:
- Past “Paid” Medical Bills
- Cost of Future Medical Treatment
- Past Lost Wages
- Future Lost Wages
- Loss of Earning Capacity
- Pain and Suffering
- Cost to Repair/Replace Bicycle/Equipment/Clothing
A typical injured bicyclists recovers a blend of these damages as they apply. Having an experienced San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer is critical to maximizing the financial value of each of these types of damages.
What are the most common types of bicycle accidents you see?
Although based on our experience there are never ending fact patterns that give rise to injured bicyclists, the ones we see most often are “Dooring” Accidents, Driveway & Side Street Pull-Out Accidents, Side-swipe/Cut-off and Failure to Yield to Your Right of Way.
(1) Dooring Accidents
“Doorings” occur when a cyclist is riding in the bicycle lane or to the right of a road way when suddenly a car parked along the right curb swings out into the path of the cyclist. Unable to swerve to avoid the door, the cyclist slams into the open door. This type of accident occurs frequently in San Francisco and the Bay Area and typically causes severe injuries to the cyclist. Fault for this type of accident is squarely on whoever opened the door. CVC 22517 clearly states that no person shall open a vehicle’s door on the side of moving traffic until it is safe to do so. Despite this law, people in cars regularly swing open their doors without checking their mirror or generally being aware that a bicycle may be passing by. A good rule of thumb to avoid doorings is to ride at least 4 feet from cars parked on the street, even if that requires you to ride slightly outside a bicycle lane that may be painted on the roadway.
(2) Driveway & Side Street Pull-Out Accidents
The busy streets of the Bay Area and San Francisco make every driveway and side street a hazard for unsuspecting bicyclists, as cars regularly “appear” from out of nowhere and into the path of moving bicycles. In situation like this, cars are responsible for entering roadways in a safe manner and that includes being alert to the potential presence of bicyclists. These types of sudden collisions typically cause severe injuries to the bicyclists and are one of the most common types of bicycle accidents we handle. To protect yourself, always slow as you approach streets and driveways and attempt to make eye contact with drivers. At night, be sure to use a front head light. Lastly, make sure you travel with the flow of traffic, as cars exiting driveways and turning onto streets, typically only look to their left.
(3) Sideswipe/Cut-Off Accidents
Common sense and the law have bicyclists riding on the right side of the road, but being on the right of cars that may not see you is exactly how a lot of bike vs. car accidents happen. Specifically, we see a lot of accidents where a car will turn right with no signal or a late signal and turn directly into a bicyclist proceeding straight. The same type of accident can occur when a car passes a bicyclists and then quickly turns right, causing the bicyclist to crash into the back of the car. Both of these types of accidents are likely the fault of the driver for making an unsafe turn. To avoid these types of accidents, it is critical to slow down and be extra-alert as you near intersections, side streets, or commercial driveways.
(4) Failure to Yield Accidents
Since most drivers aren’t conditioned to be alert for bicyclists, it is common for drivers to turn in front of bicyclists that have the right of way at intersections. Remember that bicyclists have an obligation to stop at stop signs and stop lights just like cars do, but even when you do, don’t’ assume that the drivers will yield to your right of way the same way you might if you were driving a car.
What are the most common types of injuries you see from bicycle accidents?
When a bicycle accident occurs, bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to serious injuries due to their lack of protection. Although there is no predictability when it comes to types of injuries that occur, the injuries we see our bike accident clients suffer from most frequently are
(1) broken bones and (2) facial cuts/scars.
Other injuries we see included:
(3) Back/Spinal Injury
(4) Head Injury/Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
What are the Rules of the Road in California for bicyclists?
With the exception of highways, bicycles are as entitled to the Bay Area’s roadways as are cars, trucks and motorcycles, but drivers of motorized vehicles don’t always acknowledge that fact when travelling around our cities. This mentality often leads to a heightened risk of injury for bicyclists. Cities and towns across the Bay Area have become sensitive of this fact and many have taken up measures to limit and prevent bicycle vs. auto accidents. For example, San Francisco has recently adopted the “Vision Zero” campaign which aims to eliminate traffic deaths (including bicycle involved accidents) by 2024. Despite these efforts, every year a handful of bicyclists die on the streets of San Francisco, while hundreds are injured. According to data gathered by the City of San Francisco, the most dangerous intersections in San Francisco for bicyclists are: 14th Street & Folsom Street, 30th Street & San Jose Ave., 3rd Street & Marin Street, and Columbus Ave. & North Point Street.
All that said, bicycles also must follow the rules of the road to improve the likelihood of their safe travel on Bay Area streets. We see a lot of accidents where the bicyclist is blamed, in whole or in part for failing to adhere to the “Rules of The Road.” Here are some of the most important rules of the road for bicyclists to follow:
- Bicyclists must stop at red lights and stops signs. (CVC 21200)
- Bicyclists must ride on the street in San Francisco; not sidewalks. (SF Transportation Code Sec. 7.2.12)
- Bicyclists must ride the same direction as traffic. (CVC 21650)
- Bicyclists must have front light and reflectors when riding at night. (CVC 21201)
- Bicyclists must always have one ear free when using headphones. (CVC 27400)
- Bicyclists may ride in any lane of traffic if they are travelling the speed of traffic, otherwise they must ride as close as possible to the right side of the road unless passing or turning left. (CVC 21202)
*Keep in mind that we regularly see instances where bicyclists are accused of violating the laws above and we are still able to obtain a favorable settlement, so don’t let a violation (or accused violation) of one or more of the laws above deter you from seeking fair resolution of your bike accident injury with a San Francisco bike accident lawyer. Contact us today to discuss your individual situation.
I know a lot of bicyclists don’t stop at stops signs like cars. Is that ok?
No, not in California. Also known as a Bike Yield Law, the term “Idaho Stop” refers to the idea that bicyclists are only required to yield at stop signs (slow, check for traffic, and yield as appropriate), and are not required to come to a complete stop as is required for cars. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, one of the Bay Area’s most established bicycle organizations are big proponents of California adopting this standard, but it hasn’t happened yet. For now (and until further notice), you are required to stop at a stop sign as if you were driving a car. Of course, bicyclists in every Bay Area city commonly use the “Idaho Stop” and many have come to expect that from bicyclists. Yet despite its prevalence, you should know that failing to stop at a stop sign is against the law and often deemed to be the main cause or a contributing factor to bicycle injury accidents and can limit the financial recovery available to injured bicyclists.
Bicycle Accident Injury Tips
There is no doubt that you will need a great San Francisco bike accident attorney if you are going to be treated fairly by the insurance company of the driver involved in your accident. The truth is, the insurance company is probably already scheming behind the scenes in an effort to get you to limit the value of your case and shift the fault for the accident on to you and are hoping to “get to you” before you hire a lawyer. Because we see it all the time, we want to warn you about (and educate you on) the potential pitfalls that exist between the time of your bike accident and hiring a lawyer. Here are the most critical things you should know in the immediate aftermath of your bike accident:
Tip #1: Giving Statements
Tip #2: Medical Treatment (coming soon)
Tip #3: Dealing with Health Insurance Subrogation Liens
Tip #4: Med Pay (even without medical insurance you can get your medical bills paid for) (coming soon)