San Francisco recently received a grant to help stop traffic accident deaths in the city. Indeed, this money is much needed but will likely not be enough to make a difference. That’s because San Francisco is quite unique when it comes to traffic.
Firstly, there is a great deal more foot and bicycle traffic than in other major cities. Secondly, San Francisco lacks a freeway system that directs traffic out of and around the city itself. For that reason, The Bay Area is perennially one of the most dangerous cities in the country to ride a bike in although pedestrians continue to make up the majority of fatalities in the city.
Even worse than pedestrians, however, is the extent of the injuries suffered by cyclists even in low-speed accidents. Bicyclists are in an elevated position and can injure themselves even when the vehicle is not moving at all.
Helmets and other protective gear mitigate the damage to some extent, but distracted driving, cluttered streets, and distracted biking account for a growing number of accidents each year.
If you’ve been in an accident with a motor vehicle on your bicycle, the bike accident attorneys at The Wakeford Law Firm can help. Give us a call or contact us online to set up a free case evaluation.
Understanding California’s Tort Laws
Tort is legalese for injury. In a tort lawsuit, a plaintiff, who has some injury, claims that the defendant is responsible for it due either to an intentional act or negligence. In most car accident claims, an injured party claims the other party is guilty of negligence. In order to prove negligence, there is a three-factor test. You must show that:
The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. In car accident lawsuits, the law establishes that you owe a duty of care to drive safely and obey the laws of traffic. This means being on the lookout for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles.
The defendant breached that duty of care. The plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions were careless. That had they exercised due care, the incident would not have happened.
The plaintiff’s injuries resulted from that breach. This simply means that you must have some injury to prove negligence. If a defendant runs a stop sign but no one is injured because of it, you can’t sue the defendant.
You also need to prove that your injuries were the direct or proximate cause of this negligence. Proximate means the defendant’s negligence caused some situation that led to the injuries even if it did not directly cause the injuries.
What Should I Do After a Bicycle Accident?
Your first order of business is to ensure that your injuries are seen to by a doctor. If you are able, you should take pictures at the scene of the car and any witnesses that may have been there when the accident occurred.
If not, someone will likely call 911 on your behalf and the police will take down a report. It’s important to understand that this report is not the final authority on what happened.
If you retain the services of a personal injury attorney, we will investigate the accident ourselves ensuring that we get access to video footage that may have recorded what happened. In cases where the video footage contradicts witness testimony or the police report, it can be a very powerful tool to strengthen your case.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, you will likely want to retain the services of a lawyer. The more serious your injuries are, the more important it will be to have an attorney argue your case. You will only get one chance to file suit against the other driver so having someone on your side who can maximize your recovery is a major asset.
What if I Was Partly at Fault?
Even if you are partly at fault, you can still recover damages for your injuries. California operates on a pure comparative negligence rule. While some states limit your ability to sue an at-fault driver to cases where they are more at-fault than you are, California lets you pursue a case even when you are 99% liable for the accident.
If your injuries are extensive, being able to recover any money at all may help you sustain yourself for the period of time that you are out of work.
Talk to a Bay Area Traffic Accident Attorney
The attorneys at The Wakeford Law Firm have helped San Francisco cyclists recover millions of dollars in damages from negligent drivers. If you’ve been injured, give us a call or contact us online and we can begin discussing your case immediately.