Bicyclists across Santa Cruz know they are at risk whenever they get out on local streets and contend with traffic. There’s always a distracted or careless driver who can fail to look out for a vulnerable bicyclist. An unexpected move by a motorist can land the cyclist on the ground with sprains and broken bones or worse.
It’s a situation riders may face several times over their lifetime. It’s definitely a low point for any bicycle enthusiast. Yet, the situation can be made even worse by another bad move by the driver. The decision to take off and leave the rider a victim of a hit-and-run.
Help for Santa Cruz Bicyclists in a Hit-And-Run Accident
Left at the scene, a victim can feel helpless and alone. The first concern will be the care for injuries and possibly lengthy rehabilitation that lies ahead. Then a victim can focus on questions of liability in a hit-and-run accident.
If the driver who caused the accident wasn’t identified, how can victims get help with hospital bills and missed time at work?
Bay Area Bicycle Law specializes in protecting bicycle accident victims left in these tragic situations. We want to help riders work toward the goal of getting back on their bikes again. To best do that, victims don’t need to be left to worry about how to pay the medical debt and daily living expenses as they heal. Our attorneys can help determine the best path to getting compensation for the victim’s hardships, even in hit-and-run cases.
Santa Cruz Bicycle Accident Dangers
Santa Cruz is a paradise of scenery and fresh air for bicyclists and, unfortunately, with all of the cyclists who like to ride here the rate of bicycle accidents are often high. When accounting for population, Santa Cruz actually ranks near the top of California counties with the most bicycle accidents.
Across the state, California saw 163 bicycle deaths in 2017. The California Highway Patrol reported responding to an astounding 11,138 bicycle accidents involving injuries in the same year. Santa Cruz County riders contributed 165 victims to that injury list.
The Highway Patrol has seen a rise in hit-and-run accidents across the board in recent years. In a single year, they’ve recorded 391 tragic deaths in accidents involving a hit-and-run driver. Nearly 27,000 people were hurt in accidents where the driver left the scene.
Common Injuries for Santa Cruz Bicyclists
Mountain bikes can weigh under 30lbs and road bikes can weigh under 20lbs. Compare that with vehicles on the road that may weigh two tons or more and you can see why riders in collisions suffer such severe injuries.
The rider can first absorb an impact with the vehicle and then an impact with the pavement or ground. The results can be devastating. These are a few of the common injuries seen in emergency rooms:
- Brain Injury – A brain injury is the most dangerous outcome for a rider. It’s why helmets are so important.
- Amputation – Limbs may need to be surgically removed if it’s determined it can’t be saved.
- Paralysis – An accident can leave a rider unable to control his or her own body. It can result in paraplegia (unable to move the lower body) and quadriplegia (unable to move the upper and lower body).
- Broken bones – Clavicles, hips, arms, hands, and wrists are all especially vulnerable due to the way cyclists usually fall.
- Facial and Dental Injury – A cyclist can be sent over the handlebars and land face and head first. Scars and tooth damage are common.
- Joint dislocation – Bicyclists trying to soften a fall often put their wrists, elbows, and shoulders under extreme force.
- Road Rash – A slide or tumble across pavement can do serious skin damage.
If the Driver is Identified in a Bicycle Hit-And-Run Accident
The hope is that the responsible person is eventually identified and arrested for his or her part in your bicycle accident. Once this happens, a claim for damages can be filed against the at-fault driver and the insurance company involved.
This civil lawsuit can lay out a list of your physical, emotional, and financial hardships you’ve suffered with the expectation that these costs be compensated by the driver’s insurance company.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to wait for a criminal trial to wrap up before you bring your case forward. The hit-and-run suspect will be facing criminal proceedings, but your claim for damages can advance separately at any time.
A local bicycle attorney can help you build your case against the driver and his or her insurance company. An attorney will also be a great resource when insurance adjusters attempt to weaken your case and try to pay you as little as possible for your pain and suffering.
If the Hit-And-Run Driver isn’t Located After a Bicycle Accident
If the driver never has to take responsibility for his or her mistake and remains unknown, you have another option to get help.
If you maintain your own auto insurance policy you are likely covered by an uninsured/under-insured motorist policy. Generally, all policies include this coverage unless you refuse it when you sign up.
The good news is that your policy can cover hospital bills and other financial losses involved in accident recovery. The bad news is that your own insurance company can sometimes treat you like the enemy when you try to collect compensation. They might try to discredit your accident and your injuries just so they don’t have to pay out as much.
The sad fact is you may need an attorney to protect you from your own insurance company.
Contact a Santa Cruz Bicycle Accident Attorney
Bay Area Bicycle Law is the only personal injury law firm in Northern California to specialize exclusively in representing injured cyclists.
We work to support bicyclists who have been injured as a result of the carelessness and negligence of others. We’re dedicated and effective bicycle accident lawyers. If you were injured in a bicycle accident in or around Santa Cruz or anywhere else in Northern California, contact us right away for a confidential, free consultation and case review.