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Bicycle versus auto accidents on the rise

In many ways, California exemplifies modern car culture with its system of modern freeways and parking facilities. Although most Californians cannot imagine life without a car, more and more people are using bicycles for daily transportation, exercise and recreation. Unfortunately, many drivers have not yet learned how to safely share the road with bicycles and this puts cyclists at risk for serious injury or death.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities involving bicycles increased nine percent between 2010 and 2011. In California, 4.1 percent of all traffic fatalities involved a pedalcyclist, compared to the national average of two percent. The 2011 NHTSA report also shows the following:

  • 677 U. S. pedalcyclist fatalities
  • 48,000 U. S. pedalcyclist injuries
  • 114 California pedalcyclist fatalities

Most fatal bike accidents — 69 percent — occurred in an urban area, and while the highest injury rate was among those between the ages of 16 and 20, the group with the highest fatality rate were pedacyclists aged 45 to 54. Bikes are increasingly part of city transportation and they are not just for kids anymore.

Getting adequate compensation for an injury after a motor vehicle hits you on your bicycle requires the services of an experienced bicycle injury attorney who can perform a thorough investigation of the accident scene and help you recover damages for the full extent of your injuries.

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Making a claim for chronic neck pain

Antitort proponents often trot out stories of fraudulent whiplash claimants in their defense of the insurance industry. A recent study overturns this stereotype and reveals a serious gap in how compensation is being awarded in certain personal injury cases.

Researchers from the North Carolina School of Medicine followed nearly 1,000 people who were treated in an emergency room after an auto accident. Six weeks after their release, participants reported the following:

  • 70 percent experienced some kind of chronic pain
  • 28 percent experienced chronic moderate to severe neck pain
  • 13 percent experienced chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain
  • 4 percent experienced fibromyalgia syndrome (chronic musculoskeletal pain, tenderness and fatigue)

Even though the majority of these auto accident victims had some kind of chronic, persistent pain, only 17 percent had contacted a personal injury lawyer. It was not clear from the study how many of the accidents resulted from the negligent actions of the at-fault driver.

Accident victims with chronic neck pain may be reluctant to proceed with a legitimate personal injury suit because no one takes their claims seriously. Soft-tissue injuries are more difficult to see compared to bruises or a broken bone and pain reports are subjective. Many people think that their only option is to swallow a pain reliever, grit their teeth and wait it out. However, if untreated, a neck injury can lead to depression, sleep problems, memory loss and fatigue — in addition to the disruption caused by living with persistent pain. For some people, the symptoms are long-term or permanent.

Insurance companies often attempt to deny neck injury claims or to minimize the seriousness of the injury. Knowledgeable car accident lawyers understand how devastating chronic neck pain can be and they know how to present the facts of your case so you get fair compensation for your medical expenses and other losses.

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Personal injury claims and pre-existing conditions

Insurance companies have the right to examine the validity of a claim before they pay any compensation to an injured person, but they are not allowed to deny legitimate claims. This does not stop aggressive insurance agents from attempting to minimize the liability of their at-fault client by arguing that your injury existed before the accident.

However, under California law, you have a legal right to ask for damages if you had a preexisting “physical or emotional condition that was made worse by… the wrongful conduct” of the defendant. In addition, California courts instruct juries to follow the “eggshell” rule, which recognizes that a preexisting condition can make someone more susceptible to injury. For example, if you end up with a herniated disk that requires surgery after being rear-ended, the defendant cannot use the information that you were previously diagnosed with disk degeneration against you — as long as you can show that the collision caused the compromised disk to rupture.

Making a successful auto accident claim that involves a preexisting condition has its own set of challenges, so keep these tips in mind:

  • Never give the insurance company access to your medical records
  • Make an appointment with your regular physician as soon as possible
  • Schedule an MRI if you experience any back or neck pain
  • Keep a written record of your symptoms
  • Speak with a qualified personal injury attorney

People with preexisting conditions sometimes feel they are partially to blame for their injury — especially if the insurance company accuses them of overreacting or making false statements.  A San Luis Obispo personal injury attorneywith experience handling auto accident compensation can explain your legal rights and, if necessary, help you get the right medical care.

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Tips for dealing with tire blowout

A passerby caught a fatal accident on video when a tire blowout caused a truck driver to lose control and flip over the highway guardrail. Tire blowouts often happen without warning and cause drivers to panic and lose control.

Here are some life-saving tips for getting through a blowout in one piece.

Prevention

The best way to deal with a blown tire is to prevent it from happening. Monitor the air pressure in your car’s tires by checking them at the gas station on a regular basis. The proper pressure for your tires is indicated in the owner’s manual. Cars manufactured later than 2007 are equipped with tire pressure monitors. Keeping your tires properly inflated not only reduces your chance of blowout but it also improves gas mileage.

Buckle up

In the event of a blowout, your car might spin, hit a guardrail or even roll over. Your chances of surviving any of these events greatly increase if you are wearing a seat belt.

Keep driving

If your tire blows, your instinct is likely to tell you to turn the wheel sharply to compensate for the sudden veering motion and slam on your brakes. Both of these are wrong. Like skidding on ice or hydroplaning, slamming on brakes after a blowout can cause you to lose control of the car completely. To maintain control of your car during a blowout, tell yourself to:

  • Keep your foot on the gas — If you keep the wheels in motion, you maintain the car’s balance and prevent it from rolling over.
  • Correct the steering — By easing the car back into line, you can continue driving straight.
  • Slow down — Gently ease the brake to slow the car toward a stop.
  • Head to the shoulder — It is safer to change the tire out of the line of traffic.
  • Engage your flashing lights — Do so after you have stopped the car, not before. Never disengage your vision from the road.
  • Use care when standing outside your car on the side of the road — Use a flashlight, flares or reflective clothing to increase your visibility while changing your tire.

The best way to avoid a tire blowout is to maintain the tires on your car. If the treads are worn, replace them. Check your spare once in a while too. If you do not know how to change a tire, it’s time to learn.

Accidents happen, and sometimes they are simply unavoidable. If you have been injured in an accident, speak to Steven P. Roberts Personal Injury Attorney about your right to compensation for your medical bills, damage to your car and your lost wages.

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4 elements of negligence in a car accident case

Building any kind of personal injury claim, including a car crash case, requires a strong legal foundation. In auto accidents, this foundation focuses on negligence and the four legal elements of it:

  1. Duty of care
  2. Breach of that duty
  3. An injury occurs
  4. The breach of duty of care caused the injury

If you can prove these elements without question, you have a strong personal injury case. These elements are worth examining in more detail.

Duty: Every driver must exercise reasonable care toward the other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians on the road, which includes abiding by the speed limit and right-of-way laws, among others.  That is part of having a driver’s license – one must abide by the rules that govern the operation of a motor vehicle.

Breach: If a motorist acts outside the law and puts other drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians in danger, he or she has breached the duty of care implicit in driving. This means that your lawyer must show that the at-fault driver is, in fact, at fault – that he or she broke a driving law.

Injury: This breach of duty has to have also caused an injury for negligence to exist. So if a driver simply ran a red light and no one was hurt, there are no grounds for a lawsuit. An injury must be present, and often only a significant injury warrants the filing of a legal claim.

Cause: Often where the auto accident case hinges, your attorney must prove that the other driver’s breach of care caused your injury; that no other aspect of your behavior or environmental factors or preexisting conditions explain your injury.

If you’d like to learn more about whether negligence was a factor in the injury you sustained during an auto accident, speak with Steven P. Roberts, Personal Injury Attorney.

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Frequently asked california auto accident questions

An horrific accident in Newport reminds us that bad drivers are not the only hazards on the road. Five teens were killed when their car went off-road and hit a tree. Upon impact, the car split in two and caught fire. No other vehicles are believed to be involved in the crash. A veteran firefighter remarked that it was among the worst accidents he ever witnessed.

If you suffered an injury in any type of auto accident, first get immediate and complete medical attention. After you receive medical treatment, consider whether you should pursue legal avenues.

Commonly asked auto accident questions include:

How long do I have to file my case?

If your case is against another private party, you must normally file your case within two years of your accident to satisfy the statute of limitations. If you are suing a government agency, you generally have less time ― typically six months or less, depending on which agency you are suing. If you wait too long to file your case and the statute of limitation lapses, you may be permanently barred from suing.

Who can be held responsible in an auto accident?

Any party that in any way led to the accident can be held responsible. Often, but not always, the responsible party is the driver the police report indicates was responsible for the accident. Less obvious third parties like governments, vehicle manufacturers and even passengers may also be held responsible.

What if I am also responsible for my injuries?

If you believe this to be the case, only share this with your attorney, as you may be mistaken. But even if you are somewhat at fault, other parties may also be blameworthy. Under the California pure comparative negligence standard, you can obtain the percentage of damages you are eligible for, minus the percentage of the damage that was caused by you.

What types of damages am I entitled to be compensated for?

Depending on the scenario, you may be eligible for the following:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Mental and emotional suffering
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Lost salary

When someone’s negligence causes a death, the victim’s surviving family can seek compensation for funeral costs, economic losses and non-economic damages, such as loss of companionship.

Do I need a lawyer to represent me?

The vast majority of cases are settled by the parties before trial. Whether or not you intend to go to go to trial or settle your case, an experienced firm can help you immensely, particularly with the insurance companies that are looking to lower their exposure. If you have to litigate your case, a good firm can skillfully investigate the accident and fully comprehend the legal significance of every party’s behavior to determine their respective faults.

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Determining fault auto collision

Even for the most seasoned Aurora Grande traffic attorney, it can be difficult to identify exactly who is at fault in some collisions. Although it is in your best interest to seek competent legal representation after an auto accident, even if you think you are at fault, there are a few quick tips to help identify fault in most crashes:

1) Traffic violations can make all the difference. No matter what directly caused the accident, if one driver violated a traffic law leading up to or immediately before the accident, that driver will typically be considered at fault.

2) Rear-end collisions and left-hand turns are common indicators. In many instances, drivers who were taking a left-hand turn are found at fault for collisions, as is the case with vehicles that strike other drivers from the rear. If you rear-end another driver, the blame is most likely to be placed on you.

3) What you say after the accident can come back to haunt you. It’s common for drivers to apologize after an accident. Phrases like, “I didn’t see you there,” or “I’m sorry for that,” may be used in court to establish fault. If you get into an accident, the best thing you can do is keep your mouth shut.

4) Witnesses can make or break your case. Directly following an accident, you should gather the contact information of anyone who can help establish exactly what happened. An eyewitness account can go a long way to proving the fault of the other driver.

If you’re in an accident on a California road, keep these tips in mind. Then, be sure to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney.