You Need an Experienced San Jose Bicycle Accident Attorney
We know how to fight for injured cyclists
There are few places in the world better to enjoy biking than the Bay Area, and cyclists have the right to enjoy our roads and bike paths under California law. Unfortunately, too many motorists don’t share the road, and when they cause bicycle accidents, the consequences can change lives. A single injury can affect your work, your family, and your ability to maintain an active lifestyle. You have recourse under the law – but you must fight for it.
You’re not alone in that fight. The Swanson Law Group is proud to stand up for injured cyclists in the Bay Area and throughout northern California. If you’ve been hurt in a bicycle accident, we will stand up to the insurance company on your behalf. Contact us today to speak with an experienced San Jose bicycle accident lawyer about your case.
Understanding state and local bicycle laws
Under California law, a cyclist riding on a road or highway has all the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver, insofar as those laws can apply to a non-motorized vehicle (California Vehicle Code §21200). In San Jose, a cyclist walking with a bicycle is legally considered a pedestrian, with all the same rights and responsibilities as any other pedestrian (San Jose Code of Ordinances §11.72.160).
In other words, bicycle riders owe the same duty of care to other road users as motorists, such as obeying the speed limit, stopping at stop signs, and signaling (using hand signals) before turning or stopping. Likewise, motorists are expected to treat bicycles the same way they’d treat other cars, yielding the right of way and maneuvering their vehicles with appropriate caution. Additionally, California’s Three Feet for Safety Act requires motorists overtaking or passing bicycles to leave at least three feet of room, or to slow down and act with caution when leaving three feet is not physically possible.
A cyclist traveling the speed of the traffic can use the road the same way as a car. A cyclist traveling less than the speed of the traffic is required to use the bicycle lane if one exists or ride as close as possible to the right-hand edge of the roadway if there is no bicycle lane. There are hundreds of miles of bike lanes in San Jose and throughout Santa Clara County, both adjacent to and away from roadways; to the extent those lanes are adjacent to roads used by cars, motorists are responsible for giving cyclists space and may not use the bike lane to maneuver or pull over.
In San Jose, biking on sidewalks is generally legal, with two exceptions: San Fernando Street and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th streets, and in Willow Glen on Lincoln Avenue. Both areas are in business districts with heavy pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk, and both also have designated bike lanes.
Whose insurance pays for a bicycle accident?
California uses a fault-based system for motor vehicle accidents, including accidents involving a car or truck and a bicycle. This means the at-fault driver is responsible for paying your damages. As such, if you were hit by a car while on your bicycle, you can file a claim with the driver’s liability insurance. Unfortunately, the minimum liability limits in California are quite low: $15,000 for injury to a single victim, $30,000 for injuries to multiple victims in a single accident, and $5,000 for property damage. The injuries sustained in a bicycle accident often exceed those amounts.
If you or a relative in your household owns an insured car, you have the option of carrying uninsured and underinsured motorist protection (UM/UIM) on that policy. UM/UIM covers you if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver while in the insured vehicle, but it also covers the insured driver, their spouse, and their household family members whether they are in a vehicle or not (California Insurance Code §11580.2). This can pay for your expenses up to the policy limit if you are hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance, or doesn’t have enough, or if you are hurt in a hit-and-run where the at-fault driver is never found. Obviously, none of this is helpful for cyclists who don’t own a car, but if you do own a car or are covered under a household family member’s car insurance, we recommend carrying the maximum UM/UIM coverage possible.
Finally, some insurance companies offer bicycle insurance policies that may include coverage for the bicycle itself, liability, and medical payments coverage. This is an especially important option for cyclists who don’t own a vehicle and aren’t covered under any other policy. It’s worthwhile to take the time to review your insurance policies and ensure that you are fully covered when you’re on your bicycle.
We will get to the bottom of your bicycle accident
If you’re hurt in a bicycle accident in San Jose, you need to do three things right away:
- Call the police and remain at the scene until they arrive.
- Take pictures of the scene, the damage to your bicycle, and any visible injuries.
- Get medical attention and follow your doctor’s instructions.
Taking those immediate steps puts your health and safety first and starts documenting your injuries. Then, you need to contact us, before you talk to the insurance company. As soon as they see “bicycle accident” on a claim, they will deploy their pressure tactics to pay you as little as possible, or nothing at all. They know bicycle crashes often result in serious injuries and thus expensive claims, and their goal is to protect their bottom line. Our job is to protect your interests and help you rebuild your life.
We know the roads in San Jose, we know the law, and we know how to hold the motorist accountable for your accident. Our investigation will get to the bottom of what happened to you and why. Was the driver distracted or under the influence, or did they just fail to share the road? Either way, we’ll hold them accountable, and we’ll fight for full compensation for every effect the accident has had on your life: your work, your family, your hobbies, and your future.
Many of our cases settle out of court, because the insurance company knows we’re the lawyers they must pay. They know our reputation and our track record of results. If they won’t make a fair settlement offer, though, we are always prepared to take them to trial. We know the courts in Santa Clara County, and we know what it takes to get a positive outcome for our clients.
We are your advocate and guide throughout the process
The road ahead for an injured cyclist is full of challenges and obstacles. We can’t promise it will be easy, but we pledge to do everything in our power to get you to a better future. That goes beyond advocacy in the courtroom. We will recommend doctors, specialists, and professionals who can help you rebuild your life. At every stage in the process, we will keep you informed and let you know what to expect, from negotiation through litigation and beyond.
We represent injured cyclists on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay us out of pocket. As your case moves forward, we will invest our time, effort, and resources while you focus on healing. If we secure a financial settlement or win a favorable verdict in court, our fee is a percentage of the recovery; if we don’t win, you don’t pay us at all. Our job is to protect your rights and interests, regardless of your ability to pay.
Remember, you need to act quickly. California law gives you up to two years to file a lawsuit after most bicycle accidents, but building a strong case takes time and investigation, and we need to get involved before evidence disappears and witnesses forget what they saw. We’re prepared to guide you to a better future. Schedule your free consultation with a San Jose bicycle accident lawyer today.