VIRGINIA BICYCLE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
Bicycling is not just a great way to get around town, it is also excellent exercise! Not only do people lower their carbon footprint, they also are losing weight and getting healthier. Many people who bicycle find that riding is not merely a utility, but also becomes a passion, and they begin to bicycle in their personal lives, as well as to and from work.
However, cycling be very dangerous. Despite bicycle lanes and special traffic signals, bicycle accidents do happen in Alexandria, and all over Northern Virginia. It is important to ensure that car drivers as well as bicyclists obey all of the rules of the road, because bicycle accidents, when they happen, can result in very serious injuries.
If You Have Been Involved in a Bicycle Accident
Bicycle accidents can happen anytime, even if you are within a bicycle lane, and not at an intersection. If you are involved in a collision as a bicycle rider, there are certain things that you can do to protect yourself, and to preserve your rights in the future.
Call the police and file a report. While some police departments will not respond to regular car accidents that they classify as minor, most will respond if a bicycle is involved. You should always make this call, even if you think you're completely okay, because it helps to document the time and location of the incident.
Document the involved parties. Getting the insurance information for the car that hit you is not enough! There is a lot of bad information out here about this, but your case is not against the owner of the car, or the name on the insurance card. Your case is against the driver of the vehicle, and that's not always the same person. Always get a copy of that person's driver's license.
Identify any witnesses. Witnesses can make or break a case, especially in a jurisdiction like Virginia that practices contributory negligence. Get names, phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses too if you can.
Take lots of pictures. You cannot have enough! Get pictures of the scene, the vehicles involved, the people involved, any witnesses, and anything that might have contributed, such as construction zones or stop signs or stop lights. This includes debris or skid marks, too
Get checked out. You need to be evaluated by a medical doctor. This is of paramount importance. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident with a car, you, with very little protection, have been hit by a multi-thousand pound vehicle. A doctor needs to properly evaluate you for internal injuries, and other conditions that could rear their ugly heads later on.
Preserve what you were wearing, in case the insurance company wants to know. This includes shoes, helmet, shirt, reflective gear, etc
Injuries in Bicycle Accidents
Other than a helmet, a bicyclist has no protection in or around him, when hit by a car or truck or other vehicle. Because of the mechanism of impact, many injuries can be sustained, and these can be severe:
How These Accidents Happen
There are many factors that can contribute to bicycle accidents. Some drivers fail to check their blind spots, drive distracted, speed, or simply don't look why they're going. All of these, and so many more, are instances of negligence on the part of the motorist.
If the driver has been negligent, then they have a claim against that driver.
Virginia, like Maryland and the District of Columbia, is one of the states that practices a legal doctrine called contributory negligence. Contributory negligence means that a person bringing a claim cannot be in any way responsible for the accident. This is a very strict law.
This is why it is so important for bicycle riders to obey the rules of the road. If a bicycle is, for example, does not come to stop at a stop sign, and keeps right on going, and is struck by a vehicle, the bicycle rider may not have a claim against that driver, because the bicycle is in this scenario failed to obey traffic control device. The insurance companies and the defense lawyers will argue that this negligence was the proximate cause of the accident. In Virginia, that can be the end of the case.
Minimize Your Risks While Cycling
As a bike rider, you need not merely hop on the bike, and head out, leaving everything to chance. There are things that you can do to lessen the chances that you will be involved and a bicycle accident:
Where reflective clothing, such as a reflective vest and helmet.
Get a helmet with and bicycle that have red flashers on the back.
Keep your eyes on the road at all times, and be aware of your surroundings.
Maintain your bicycle, so that the brakes and tires are in good repair.
Everything that you do to minimize your chances of getting into an accident is one argument you are taking away from the defense lawyers and the insurance adjusters who are trying desperately to minimize your case. You want to make sure that in the event of a bicycle accident, no one can stand up and say that you did anything wrong.
Our team at Blaszkow Legal begins to investigate your claim immediately, and we identify all of the arguments the other side is going to use against you so we can fight against those arguments from day one.
The Rules of the Road in Virginia
Because of Virginia's contributory negligence rules, bicyclists have to not only use common sense while riding, they have to follow all of the applicable laws set out in the Virginia code.
Observe speed limits
Obey traffic control devices, such as signs and lights
Yield to pedestrians
Use reflectors at night
Turn using hand signals
Safely pass other bicyclists and pedestrians.
Virginia law also affords certain protections to bicyclists, as well as mandates. As a bicyclist, you have the right:
To ride 2x2 as long as doing so does not impede the flow of vehicle traffic
To expect a car or truck or other motor vehicle to pass with sufficient distance so not as to frighten or terrify the bicyclist
To proceed on the far right side of the road with the flow of traffic.
Attorney Joseph Blaszkow is not just the Alexandria Injury Attorney, he is also an avid bicycle rider. Every year he participates in a large bicycle race in Salisbury, Maryland. He recognizes that bicyclists can be very seriously hurt through the negligence of other people. Because this process is so complicated, and so fraught with argument, he knows that you as a bicycle rider need an experienced and aggressive attorney who understands what it means to ride, and who will fight hard for injured bicyclists, and their families, to get all of the compensation you and they deserve. Call Blaszkow Legal at 703-879-5910
Virginia Bicycle Accidents and Lawsuits
A common question is "will I have to go to court?" There is no way to automatically answer that, without being able to see into the future. But the reality is that most bike accidents result in very serious injuries. Some insurance companies have protocols that do not allow adjusters to negotiate, and rather force plaintiffs to sue before negotiations can begin. Because of the amount of damages involved, most Virginia bicycle accident claims are filed in the circuit court, which is the higher level Court in Virginia.
This is not an ironclad rule, however. It does not apply to every case. These situations are very fact-specific, and greatly depend on the damages, as well as the insurance companies involved. Each of them act differently. However, here at Blaszkow Legal PLLC, we have interacted with all of them, and we know their tactics.
How Long Do Virginia Bicycle Accident Claims Last?
Again, this is very case specific. However, we do not rush. Attorneys who rush these cases, can miss out on vital parts of a client's claim, which is never to that client's benefit. There are certain things that a plaintiff can claim in a bicycle accident:
Property damage (to your bike and other belongings)
Pain and suffering
Future lost wages
Loss of earning capacity
Punitive damages, if applicable
The foregoing are called damages. Often the determination of how long a case is going to take includes factoring in the amount of the damages. A smaller case, with fewer damages, is less likely to involve litigation, and has the potential to be wrapped up a short time after the medical treatment is done. However, a bicyclist who was hurt and had to have a year's-worth of medical treatment is going to not be able to have their case fully evaluated until the medical treatment is completed.
What if I Can't Afford a Lawyer? Should I Try to Negotiate Myself?
The answer to that is that you can always afford to call Blaszkow Legal. There is no consultation fee to speak to us about a Virginia bicycle accident, or any personal injury matter.
We represent our injury clients on what is called a contingency fee basis. This means that we don't get paid, unless you collect money. We fight hard to maximize your recovery. So whether or not you have money to pay, is irrelevant! If you have been involved in a bicycle accident that was not your fault, you can absolutely call us and it won't cost you a thing.
You should never speak to an insurance company without consulting an attorney. Remember - anything you say can be used against you. This includes by insurance companies. They will do whatever they can to reduce your claim.
Finding a Virginia Bicycle Accident Attorney
Bicycle accidents are very common, and can be very traumatic. They can cause serious interruption to not just your life, but your way of life, especially if the injuries are severe and permanent. You need someone to fight for you who understands all of this, and who is ready willing and able to go to the mat against the insurance companies, who are actively trying to minimize your claims. Call an experienced Virginia bicycle accident lawyer who is also a bicyclist himself, at 703-879-5910
Virginia Department of Transportation outline of Bicycle Rules, Regulations, and Laws: https://www.virginiadot.org/programs/bikeped/laws_and_safety_tips.asp
Bicycle Accidents in the DMV can be very tragic!
Get the representation you need to secure the compensation you deserve.
Get Justice with Joe - call Blaszkow Legal PLLC at 703-879-5910