Orange County has beautiful weather that encourages cyclists to run errands, go to work, and leisure riding to the beach. Nonetheless, the many cases of bicycle accidents are alarming residents who are concerned that roads are not entirely safe for riders. Cyclists get struck down by distracted motorists; they are pushed off the road by angry drivers or any other reason that could trigger a crash.
California is taking measures to make the roads safer for all users, but as things stand, the laws don't always favor people who prefer cycling. For instance, insisting that cyclists ride on the far right makes them less visible to drivers. There are piles of debris on the roads which make it difficult for cyclists to navigate streets in this county.
In 2017, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report saying 80% of drivers admitted to having road rage at least once that year. Distracted driving and aggressive drivers are contributing to the accidents we see on our roads, a tragic outcome that is preventable. Orange County Personal Injury Attorney has attorneys that handles bicycle accidents and helps our clients get compensation. This article discusses the common injuries you can get from these accidents, how they impact your life, and how we can be of service.
What is Comparative Negligence?
The term comparative negligence comes into play when deciding who is liable for the accident, based on their actions. The driver or cyclist could have acted in a manner that caused the crash, but this doesn't mean they are entirely at fault. For instance, a bicycle rider who fails to use the designated bike lane could be hit by a driver with visibility problems. Authorities will establish who is at fault but do not make official statements before speaking to an attorney.
What Are Punitive Damages?
An Orange County judge may surmise that the liable party was neglectful of road safety laws, and their actions were intentional. A driver with a long history of road rage may run you off the road causing you to lose balance and hurt yourself. If proven guilty, this motorist will have to pay punitive damages on top of the settlement they would have paid to cover medical expenses and lost income.
What Injuries Can Result from Bicycle Accidents?
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a bicycle accident, you will suffer minor to severe injuries, the latter being life-threatening. You need medical attention to manage these injuries, and in extreme cases, you could be hospitalized for weeks at a time. Below is an extensive list of the most common injuries you should look out for following a bicycle accident.
- Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries on muscles, skin, tendons, etc. happen after the cyclist runs into a wall or the pavement scrapes them. These injuries are extremely painful, and you may not use the affected body part for days. You may have to miss work until you can safely return, and you may not perform domestic chores like cooking either.
What's more, nerve damage can result from soft tissue injury, and when nerves are affected, you are susceptible to more health problems. The injury could affect one or multiple nerves, thus making it difficult to control your muscles. For example, you may suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, which happens when there is excessive pressure on the median nerve as it crosses the wrist. The hand becomes numb, and you will experience pain in the wrist, forearm, and he hand.
The body has a complex set of nerves assigned to perform certain functions. Automatic nerves manage breathing and other control activities, motor nerves support the movement, while sensory nerves convey information to and from the brain. These nerves are so jointly connected that you could feel pain in one area, but the damage happened in another part. Biofeedback, acupuncture, and electrical nerve stimulation are some of the treatments for soft tissue damage.
If the pain persists, the doctor may prescribe a series of physiotherapy treatments to restore normal functioning. Beware, though, nerve complications may take a while to present, and they are harder to prove as compared to physical injuries. Orange County Personal Injury Attorney understands that getting the other party to pay for medical treatments without legal counsel is hard. We shall fight for your interests, so you are not stuck paying mounting bills.
- Neck and Head Injuries
The head is a sensitive part of your body that is also susceptible to injuries in bicycle accidents. You could crash into a vehicle driving at high speeds, throwing you off the road or crashing into another vehicle. This impact could leave you mild to severe head injury. Wearing a helmet helps in cushioning the head from the forces of the crash, but this protective gear can come off in a bicycle accident.
A head injury is a form of trauma to the brain, scalp, or skull, and they could either be open or closed. Close head injuries do not break the skull, whereas an open head injury is where the scalp and skull are broken. These penetrative injuries affect the brain, and they are common in serious accidents. Serious head injuries can cause minimal bleeding, and in some cases, you could bleed profusely. The degree of these injuries can only be determined after a thorough assessment by a qualified doctor.
Various kinds of head injuries could result from a bicycle accident:
- Hematoma – This injury occurs when blood clots outside blood vessels. Hematomas in the brain could be fatal. This clotting causes pressure to build up inside the skull, thus leading to enduring brain damage, or at the very least, make you lose consciousness. Doctors will need to operate to remove the hematoma then repair your skull.
- Diffuse axonal injury – This sort of damage doesn't trigger bleeding, but it degrades brain cells, thus impeding their functioning. A diffuse axonal injury is the deadliest head injury, and it is not easy to diagnose, which exposes you to grave danger.
- Concussion – When the forces of impact are significant enough to cause brain injury, the victim suffers a mild to severe shock. You could be ejected from the bicycle and slam your head against a hard surface like a wall or post.
- Edema – This refers to swelling, which happens when the tissues surrounding your brain swell, and in more severe cases, edema occurs in the brain. The skull cannot expand to accommodate the swelling, so if edema continues, pressure builds up in the brain, and it starts to press against your head.
Dislocating or breaking your neck upon impact is another possibility, which means wearing a neck brace for a couple of weeks. The pain is unbearable, and your movement will be limited, not to mention the discomfort of walking around with a neck brace. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, you could experience a series of symptoms depending on the type of head or neck injury. Temporary confusion, debilitating headaches, a spinning sensation, etc. are indicative of head injury.
Orange County Personal Injury Attorney has litigated many bicycle accident cases where cyclists endured head injuries. Some reported trouble maintaining eye focus, while others lost muscle control, etc. Let us hold the responsible party accountable for putting you through this misery.
Riding your bicycle without personal protective equipment (PPE) exposes you to grave danger should an accident occur, such as defacement. This injury may occur when you slide across the rough tarmac, or you are struck by another vehicle during the crash. Wearing a helmet without proper fastening will not save you as it may come off as your body flies off upon impact. If this happens, your face will be disfigured, thus affecting your appearance.
Treating these injuries may require reconstructive surgery to remove or conceal the scars, and these procedures are expensive. You may still have scarring that may not be concealable with makeup. Facial scars draw unwanted attention, and they prevent you from pursuing specific job opportunities like acting, fashion modeling, or advertising brands. Permanent injuries may dampen your self-esteem, not to mention your inability to secure work or having to settle for jobs that may not interest you.
- Mouth and Dental Injuries
Dental injuries can happen after crashing into a vehicle head-on, being thrown off the bicycle, or landing on a hard surface mouth first. It is common for bicycle accident survivors to suffer from avulsed teeth, where one or more teeth are removed from their sockets. This injury will affect your appearance and make it hard to chew food properly. An orthodontist will recommend replacing missing teeth with prosthetics, but these therapeutic procedures are expensive.
Chipped teeth are yet another possible outcome, and this will require composite fillings to restore your beautiful smile and ensure they don't chip further. Alternatively, the dentist may recommend veneers to prevent further damage to the teeth in question. Other teeth-related problems include twisted or dislodged teeth, both of which will hamper your bite and speech.
Not everyone has dental insurance, and paying for orthodontist treatments out of pocket is not feasible for all. You need an attorney to calculate a fair settlement to save you from financial ruin. You don't have to pay for someone else's mistakes, not to mention having to skip work as you recuperate.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disruption of the regular functioning of the brain that results from a violent blow or jolt to the head. A penetrating head injury, as discussed in the previous section, can also lead to a TBI. Crashing into a vehicle or other hard surface to avoid being struck by an oncoming car can lead to a TBI. You may get a concussion, internal bleeding, and even permanent brain damage.
Common symptoms of TBI include drowsiness, slurred speech, and feeling confused. Cognitive issues like mental disorders and having trouble with short-term and long-term memory are also indicative of this injury. If you experience any of these symptoms following the accident, you must get a proper diagnosis from a qualified physician.
- Neurological Injuries
The nervous system is a complicated and fragile group of cells that transmit information from different areas of the body to the brain. If these cells are damaged, you will suffer excruciating pain, weakness, or numbness in the affected areas. This pain and discomfort could go on for months on end, thus preventing you from working. What's more, an accurate diagnosis is not always forthcoming, so you will need to see a neurological specialist on more than one occasion.
Impinged nerves can trigger pain in other parts of the body, and the pain could spread down to the spinal cord, which is yet another sensitive area. The spine could rotate, dislocate, or bend, and you could also have hyper-flexion or hyperextension of the spinal cord. There are cases where patients with spinal injuries have had to use wheelchairs for locomotion, and sometimes, this arrangement becomes permanent. This change is not easy to adapt to, and you may find it difficult returning to your old job.
Minding children may also prove hard, especially without a helper around the home. You will have to install a ramp at the front steps, make a few adjustments around the house, and get a vehicle that is wheelchair friendly. These requirements don't come cheap, and you may not have enough savings on hand to pay for home adjustments.
Even when the bicycle accident was not serious, you have the imperative to rule out neurological damage by getting tested immediately. Neurological injury is not easy to treat, so be prepared to have several hospital visits. These appointments cost money that may not be covered by your insurance plan, or the copays are too expensive to afford on your salary.
Neurological problems may never go away completely, which means not returning to your trade or having to ignore some work opportunities. Also, dealing with pinched nerves and other spinal problems undermines the quality of life, and the medical bills will keep piling. Orange County Personal Injury Attorney is dedicated to helping clients like you get a sizeable settlement to pay for such expenses.
- Broken and Split Bones
Crashing into a truck when cycling along Orange County roads is not an impossibility. The news is awash with cases of cyclists who suffered broken or split bones after colliding with vehicles. These injuries ensue when a cyclist rolls down the road or lands on a hard surface. You could also injure a bone when the bike flips and lands on top of your limb body.
Fiberglass or plaster casts are effective in repositioning bones until they regain standard functionality. Depending on the degree of damage, your doctor may prescribe a functional brace, but this method will hinder the locomotion of adjacent joints. Accident survivors who fracture many bones require more extensive intervention like open reduction, where a physician does manual repositioning of the bones.
Recovering from broken or split bones typically takes three steps: the inflammatory phase, the reparative phase, and the remodeling phase. You will be out of work for several weeks, and this could mean losing a job if you are a casual laborer. Please note, refusing to seek treatment even for minor splits could trigger blood clots in the adjacent vessels, swelling of joints, and harmful infections.
- Limb Amputations
We covered broken bones in the previous section, but here are other limb-related injuries that arise from bicycle accidents. We have heard cases where the damage was so severe that a cyclist had to have one or more limbs amputated. It could happen during the crash or while receiving treatment. The latter amputation is due to extensive nerve damage to save the remaining arm.
Swelling, numbness, discoloration, or a tingling sensation may not go away despite treatment. The physician may recommend amputation to avoid further damage. There are various kinds of amputation depending on the affected body part — partial foot amputation, partial hand amputation, removing full arms, ankle disarticulation, etc. Losing any part of your leg or arm can trigger phantom limb, which is a psychological trauma where the patient imagines the missing piece is still attached. Any form of amputation will interfere with mobility and keep you from applying for jobs that require rigorous movements.
Wearing prosthetics is a great option, but it is not the same as your natural limb. If you are unable to find work soon, subsisting on disability checks may become the new normal. Let us help you hold that negligent driver liable for their actions so you can still take care of your family without strain.
- Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that results from being involved in a terrible event or at least witnessing one. Apart from the physical injuries, a bicycle accident can leave you with emotional trauma, anxiety, night terrors, flashbacks about the crash, etc. PTSD can affect some people so much that they abstain from riding their bicycles again. Imagine never cruising down the coast on a sunny afternoon with friends? How about not getting any sleep?
Extreme anxiety can make life unbearable, and it could impede your productivity at work. Signs of PTSD usually don't present right away, and things may appear normal after the physical injuries heal. The symptoms can manifest gradually, with none being the wiser until there is a drastic change in behavior. Emotional numbness and feelings of hopelessness are common signs of PTSD, and they can affect your general outlook of life.
You will need psychological counseling with a qualified therapist to help you cope with PTSD and related symptoms. Therapy equips you with the tools to deal with the aftermath, and restore your equilibrium. One treatment session could set you back a few hundred dollars, and the bills keep piling up with every visit.
Apart from the injuries discussed above, survivors of bicycle accidents can also suffer from bowel contusion, a ruptured spleen, hernia, pancreatic trauma, and other damage. These injuries will require medical treatment that may not be forthcoming if you are uninsured. Patients go bankrupt trying to find cures for their ailments, and some injuries have a lasting impact.
Should I Accept a Personal Injury Settlement?
Insurance companies are keen to downplay your suffering to avoid paying you the full amount. Their adjusters investigate and compute what they deem fair, but these payouts don't always cover the bills. As your legal counsel, we strive to safeguard your interests so that you can get the best possible offer. This settlement is meant to cater to medical expenses, doctor's visits, prescriptions, equipment, etc. now and in the foreseeable future.
We also factor in lost income for the days you missed work, and if you cannot return to work, we calculate how much income you stand to lose. If the negligent party gives an offer before the court process begins, don't sign anything until you speak to an experienced attorney. They could be presenting this offer to bait you into taking the money out of desperation. Clients who give in to such offers often find the settlement is not enough to cater to medical procedures in the future.
Find a Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Orange County is notorious for bicycle accidents that leave victims battling minor to severe injuries. You could become a wheelchair user, suffer permanent disfigurement, or lose a limb. Proving fault in these cases is not natural, and the other party could get away with hurting you.
Orange County Personal Injury Attorney understands how the system works, and we are prepared to use our expertise to unearth critical facts to support your case. We know the tricks insurance adjusters use to get unsuspecting people to accept low ball offers, only to leave them in financial distress. If your loved one dies as a direct result of the accident, we can help you file a wrongful death suit. Contact us today on 714-876-1959 to speak to the best legal minds in town.