The Law Office of Daniel H. Rose is a highly regarded Bay Area law firm with over 25 years experience representing those injured in bicycle accidents. We are widely considered the leading personal injury firm when it comes to representing California bicyclists and are proud longtime supporters and sponsors of all area bicycle coalitions.
If you are in a bicycle accident or other type of accident and the at-fault party has inadequate or no insurance, there are several potential avenues for recovering compensation. Be aware that there are several possible insurance policies which may provide a source of recovery, including the driver’s insurance, the insurance covering the vehicle itself (the driver may not own the vehicle), and the driver’s employer’s insurance. You will want to consult with an experienced bicycle accident lawyer very early on to sort this all out. The first inquiry which should be made is whether you have Uninsured Motorist coverage under your own auto policy and if so, how much. Uninsured motorist coverage includes UNDERinsured motorist coverage, and covers you even if you are injured as a bicyclist, pedestrian, or engaging in any other activity as long as you are injured due to the negligence of a motorist. And it is not necessary that you have actually collided with a motorist. We would also want to know whether the driver was, at the time of the accident, driving in connection with work – if that is the case then the driver’s employer or employer’s insurance might be a source of recovery. We would also want to find out whether the driver or owner has substantial personal assets. Be aware that if you sign a Release offered by an insurance company you release not only the insurance company but also the driver, car owner, employer etc, so do not sign or agree to anything whatsoever without first consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Unfortunately, many cyclists are injured by hit-and-run drivers (i.e., drivers who leave the scene without rendering aid or without providing the victim with the driver’s identification information). If this happens, you should immediately report it to the police, providing them with whatever identifying information you or bystanders may have such as a description of the vehicle and driver. You should then consult with a bicycle attorney as soon as possible so that your interests are well protected. If you have a license plate number, but for some reason the police do not track down the individual or car, you can ask your own auto insurer to identify the car, the owner, and any liability insurance on the car by searching the extensive databases available to them. If you lack adequate identifying information regarding the hit and run car, and the police do not track down the offender, then you can make a claim for your bodily injuries and property damage under the uninsured motorist (UM) provisions of any auto policy which insures you (uninsured motorist coverage applies even when you are riding a bicycle, walking, mowing your lawn, whatever, as long as you are injured by a motorist). You need to act quickly, however, since UM policies require that you report the incident to the police within as short a time as 24 hours (you will need a written police report showing you did so), and report it to your insurer also within a short period of time as specified in your policy. If you are seriously injured, you certainly want to consult with a highly qualified bicycle lawyer as soon as possible.
Our office has for many years handled an enormous number of bicycle accident cases involving a wide variety of causes. While each case we handle involves unique circumstances, some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents we see occurring in the Bay Area include vehicles making right turns directly into bicyclists or the path of bicyclists, opening doors into or directly in the path of bicyclists, turning left into a bicycle traveling in the opposite direction, sideswiping bicyclists, making a variety of dangerous maneuvers which require bicyclists to take evasive action, running stop lights or stop signs, drivers being inattentive to the presence of bicyclists in their midst, pulling out of driveways or parking lots without looking, making sudden maneuvers oblivious to the presence of bicyclists, failing to yield to cyclists, or hitting cyclists in crosswalks, driving while intoxicated or distracted, or driving too fast for conditions, dangerous road conditions (physical defects, design defects, obstacles, poor maintenance, construction zones, excess oil or chemical buildup or spills, abandoned train or cable car tracks), and defective bicycles.
If you cause an accident while riding a bicycle which results in another person’s bodily injury or property damage, the injured party may bring a claim against you to be compensated for their injuries and damages. While uninsured motorist coverage under your motor vehicle insurance policy may cover you for your injuries when someone else is at fault, there is no coverage under California motor vehicle insurance policies for another’s injuries caused by you when you are riding a bicycle or acting as a pedestrian. However, your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance may very well cover you in such circumstances. Some companies like Velosurance offer liability insurance to bicyclists in amounts up to $100K. If someone asserts a claim against you, you should immediately contact your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance carrier, or bicycle liability insurance if you have it. Unfortunately, quite often the folks answering the phone at renter’s or homeowner’s insurance companies do not understand coverage very well, so you should not necessarily accept their assertions that you are not covered. Review the entire policy, talk with an insurance claims supervisor, and consult with an attorney if necessary. You should keep in mind that, unless you are 100% at fault, you are not liable for 100% of the other person’s damages, and if you are injured in an accident that is at least partially the other person’s fault, you may be entitled to recover damages from the other party in proportion to their percentage of fault. Also, you should be aware that the California statute of limitations (time period within which a claim must be brought) for property damage is generally 3 years whereas it is generally 2 years for bodily injury (6 months for bodily injury or property claims against a governmental entity). Therefore, insurance companies often wait more than two years before bringing a claim to be reimbursed for what they paid their insured for the property damage you caused, since they know that it would then be too late for you to counter-claim for any bodily injuries you may have suffered and which the other person is partially at fault.
The Law Office Of Daniel H. Rose serves the Counties of: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, San Joaquin, Santa Cruz.
The Law Office Of Daniel H. Rose serves the Counties of: Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Napa County, San Francisco County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, Solano County, Sonoma County, San Joaquin County - and the surrounding cities of: Alameda, Albany, American Canyon, Aptos, Belmont, Belvedere, Benicia, Berkeley, Brisbane, Burlingame, Corte Madera, East Palo Alto, Emeryville, Foster City, Fremont, Hayward, Hercules, Larkspur, Martinez, Menlo Park, Mill Valley, Millbrae, Milpitas, Mountain View, Napa, Newark, Novato, Oakland, Palo Alto, Pinole, Redwood City, Richmond, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, San Mateo, San Pablo, San Rafael, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sausalito, Sonoma, South San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Tiburon, Union City, Vallejo. Also representing the Central Valley areas including: Sacramento, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Lincoln, Manteca, Rancho Cordova, Roseville, Stockton, Modesto, Fresno and Bakersfield.