Bicyclists Turn to the Law for Protection [Video]
At a free bike safety class in Golden Gate Park, new cyclists as well as instructors-in-training review skills to help keep them rolling on city streets.
“My fears are getting hit by a car, or falling down,” says one student, Caroline.
“I’ve never biked in traffic before, really. So that’s why I’m here,” says another student, Ray.
Urban biking is on the rise. In San Francisco, cyclists enjoy freshly painted bike lanes, plenty of signage and even bike signal lights.
From 2006 to 2011, ridership here grew by 71 percent. During that same time period, bicycle collisions resulting in injuries increased by 84 percent, in line with the national trend.
Even experienced cyclists are vulnerable to the perils of urban riding.
“I was in the hospital for about two weeks. I had a series of surgeries. That was six months I couldn’t work,” says Will Grunig.
The uptick in bicycle injuries has led to an emerging legal mini-specialty – the bicycle accident attorney.
After his accident, Grunig hired Scott Love, an attorney who specializes in bicycle-vehicle accident cases. Love says that cyclists are at particular financial risk after a vehicle-caused accident because they often don’t carry the auto or homeowner’s insurance that would otherwise protect them.
“It’s a difficult decision for an injured party to have to decide between accepting a policy limit which they know is not sufficient to cover all of their damages and initiating litigation in the hopes of recovering more,” says Love.
For Grunig, however, the choice was clear.
“I’d been in a smaller accident wherein I didn’t contact a lawyer. We didn’t have a police report, and my direct communications with the insurance company, the driver’s insurance company led nowhere for me. So, when the more serious accident occurred, I knew that I wanted a lawyer and I was happy to get a lawyer that understood cycling in San Francisco.”
“The benefit in consulting someone like myself who focuses on litigation surrounding bicycle accidents is that the typical client I have, this is their first time being involved in an accident,” Love says. “The attorney knows how to negotiate with both with the insurance company for the driver, but also with any healthcare providers that have provided treatment, helping to negotiate the rates down.”