Friday, January 30. 2009
Cyclists and pedestrians alike face so many obstacles to riding it is a wonder considering that bicycling is by far the most economical way to get from one destination to another, it is the cleanest fuel burning system with nothing but benefits to the human body and the environment. For the most part; however, our society is one of machines and imparticular motorized transportation. Cars, trucks, vans, big rigs, boats, tankers, trains and airplanes, etc. fuel our skys and oceans with jetsam and floatsam and various other noxious toxins. So good for you for getting out there and braving the traffic and fumes to get to your destination. We want to offer a few helpful tips for those in the saddle on ways to avoid comparitive fault claims by insurance companies if you as a cylcist or pedestrian have been injured by a negligent driver.
The first defense of all insurance companies, their representatives and insurance defense attorneys is to blame the victim. Given our societies indulgence in gas driven motorized vehicles the propensity is for jurors to favor motor vehicle drivers. The attorneys for the insurance companies have no qualms about raising jurors ire, and creating prejudice against cyclists, by conjuring up images of that one rider who ran the stop sign or was lane splitting.
Here are a list of ways in which you as a safe rider may have to combat comparitive fault allegations against insurance companies loathe to pay your claim following an injury caused by a negligent driver.
1. If you are not wearing a helmet and you are in any way head injured, the insurance company will blame your injuries on not having on a helmet, so protect that nogen with a helmet.
2. If you are riding at night, make sure you are in compliance with all night riding laws. Have a light on the front and back of your bike, make sure cars can see you and you can see the road ahead of you. Even though you are in full compliance with all laws by having the proper front and back light, it will not stop these insurance companies from claiming you did not have Enough light! Imagine, you are following the law, being prudent and reasonable, and the insurance company points the finger at you and says yes but....you should have had the equivalent of a car light on the front of your handlebars, or ...you should have mounted a car horn to your handlebars. In effect what they are saying is..."you should have been driving a car."
3. Make sure your bike is properly equipped with brakes or can stop within the legal limits, in other words, one wheel must be able to skid on command.
4. Always ride to the far right (within a zone of safety from car doors and the like) preferrably in an available bike lane. If there is no bike lane, you are allowed full use of the lane if you need it. If there is no reason not to ride closer to the right shoulder (hazards, road depressions, potholes, etc.) angry drivers may run you down and then blame you - beware of drivers with road rage.
5. Dart out is the most common defense used in the insurance industry today. Insurance industry attorneys and claims adjusters are known for blaming victims of pedestrian and cycling incidents by saying "the cyclist or pedestrian appeared out of the ethers and caused the incident themselves, they should have been looking out for those huge SUV's." There really is no way to prepare for this other than be watchful and mindful and make sure you are seen! This is a common practice in the insurance industry and a common way for the insurance industry to etch away at paying the full value of your medical bills, pain and suffering and/or future medical bills.
There are many common ways insurance companies look for ways to blame the victim by using comparitive fault. If you find you are in a situation where this may happen to you, contact us, we will help you prevent these false allegations from sticking to you.
Friday, May 2. 2008
The Ride of Silence
On May 21, 2008 at 7 PM all over North America and hopefully across the Planet Earth, cyclists will take to the roads in a silent procession to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways.
The ride began in Dallas, Texas following the death of endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz was killed when hit by a rear view mirror of a passing bus. This is a free, average paced (12 mph) silent ride. If there is not an organized ride in your area, organize today!
Tuesday, April 22. 2008
California Government Code Sections 830-835 and the Texas Tort Claims Act/Texas Government Code, §402.021 define a dangerous condition generally as a condition of property that creates a substantial (as distinguished from a minor, trivial or insignificant) risk of injury when such property or adjacent property is used with due care in a manner in which it is reasonably foreseeable that it will be used. When a public entity has notice of a dangerous condition, unreasonable failure to protect pedestrians, cyclists, or motorists from that dangerous condition creates a liability on the part of the public entity.
Austin and The Bay Area are pitted with potholes and jagged edged depressions that are traps for the unsuspecting bike rider(s) and/or pedestrian(s) alike. In either city, Austin or San Francisco, by calling 3-1-1 you can report a pothole. Also, The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition as well as the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (working as partners with the respective cities) have taken matters into their own hands (literally) giving notice of these dangers to the public entity by either spray painting the dangerous areas for the City to fix, or providing a place on their website to put the city on notice of the dangerous condition. So, feel free to put a little spray paint graffiti next to your favorite pot hole and immediately report the hole to the city via 3-1-1.
If you see a pot hole or become victim to one, please report it to the proper city either through the 3-1-1 or the SFBC or EBBC's online reporting page. You may save another bicyclist or pedestrian severe injury. If you have been injured as a result of one of these dangerous conditions, contact our office so we can help you with your government claim and compensation for your personal injuries.
Monday, March 10. 2008
There are simply no words for this horrible cycling incident. We wish the very best to the friends and families of these cyclists, the Roaring Mouse Cycle shop, and the other team members of the Roaring Mouse Cycling Team.
On March 9, 2008 three cyclists were trianing in Cupertino when a Sheriff fell asleep in his cruiser while driving, crossed over his side of the highway, the median, and then without so much as a skidmark, ran over and killed world competition tri-athlete Kristy Gough, age 31 and Matt Peterson, age 29. A third cyclist, was critically injured and since has filed a government claim to bring a later law suit.
A later shocking event took place when the irresponsible writings followed this event by San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer, Erin McCormick titling her article, Bicyclists blamed twice as often as car drivers was published.
The title itself is enough to make one crawl out of their skin when written on the heals and in response to such a tragic event where clearly not a cyclist could be blamed for the idiocy and unconscious (literally) acts of an irresponsibe Sheriff and negligent Sheriff's department. The Chronicle writer contacted many recently injured cyclists from the Bay Area however, she was only willing to publish their comments if they had negative things to say about cycling or would vow to never ride again, seriously!
For the families and loved ones of these giant athletes and in celebration of their memory and for the love of their sport- peace be with you.
For more information on bicycling safety visit : http://www.cyclistlaw.com
I get several calls a month from would-be clients who have gone to see another attorney prior to contacting our office. The stories I am told tend to be similar, would-be client (WBC) goes to attorney, attorney sends WBC to chiropractor. WBC gets care from chiropractor but attorney never tells WBC that the insurance company of the person who injured WBC will not pay the majority if any of the chiropractor's bills. The WBC is then facing a horrible settlement, and in the meantime, attorney and chiropractor maintain liens against WBC's case. What a racquet eh!
Before signing on with an attorney to represent you, find out if it is a law firm that treats their clients like some mill operators treat their "products". There is no need to sit upon some assembly line when trying to get help for a personal injury. Personal injury law is like any other area of practice, your attorney must treat you and your case with respect.
Make sure the person you are speaking with about representing you actually practices in personal injury law. Too often attorneys attract clients who are injured and they see them as dollar signs and not people. Instead of telling the client they do not practice in personal injury law, they try to get a quick settlement to put some extra money in their pocket while costing you the compensation you are entitled to. Don't let this happen to you.
Ask these questions:
1. Have you ever tried a personal injury case?
2. Have you ever taken a deposition in a personal injury case?
3. What is the anatomy of a lawsuit in case my case does not settle before having to file in the courts? In other words, if you are not offered a settlement that provides you with total compensation for your medical bills, wage loss, future loss, and your pain and suffering/emotional distress, and you need to file suit, what can you expect to happen and will your attorney be prepared?
If you do not feel respected and like one of your attorneys most important clients from the minute you get on the phone or the moment you walk through the door, go to another attorney.
If you cannot get your attorney on the phone, go to another attorney.
I feel bad for those folks who are getting a raw deal from their attorney and "the" chiropractor however, we cannot unring the bell that has already been rung by poor representation. Therefore, we cannot accept these cases. We still want to help....
How do you know when you or your case are not being respected: (the top ten list)
1. Attorney does not initially meet with you during the intake process.
2. Attorney does not help you navigate your health care treatment in a way that is respectable (i.e. sends you to a chiropractor). Another word on this, your attorney should be familiar with the medicine involved in your case but should not be practicing medicine. Only your doctor should be sending you to another treatment provider.
3. When you call you cannot get your attorney on the phone.
4. After leaving a message for your personal injury attorney the call is not returned within the business day.
5. You do not hear from your attorney for weeks after signing the contract for that attorney to represent you.
6. When you do talk to your attorney s/he does not "remember" the facts of your case.
7. When you talk to your attorney they seem like they are in a hurry and do not have time for you or your concerns.
8. You are treating but not getting any better and your attorney has not been available for you to discuss this concern.
9. It has been several months since you signed that contract to be represented by your attorney and you still do not know what your attorney looks like.
10. When you go meet with your attorney you sit in the waiting room for more than ten minutes beyond your scheduled appointment and your attorney does not come out to greet you or offer an explanation as to why you are still waiting.
If this in any way sounds familiar, it may be time to find another personal injury lawyer to help you through your claim.
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