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New Cyclist in Los Angeles? Safety Tips and Accident Advice

Thursday, October 29, 2020

If you're one of the many Los Angeles residents who are turning to your bike to get around during the pandemic, you're not alone. While all methods of transportation declined this past spring as many people began staying home, Los Angeles' bike share program reported a much smaller decline than other transportation options, including cars and buses. It makes sense that as riding on a crowded bus became less safe, essential workers and others who still needed to get out and about might choose to ride a bicycle instead.  

Bike riding has many benefits, like increasing your physical activity and reducing your carbon footprint. The weather in Los Angeles is usually perfect for a bike commute, and you can save money on gas or transit costs. And of course, during the pandemic, biking is a great way to maintain social distancing. However, Los Angeles isn't the most bike-friendly city and as a new cyclist, you may be worried about your safety.  

Specific challenges include: 
  • Lack of bike lanes: bike lanes in Los Angeles are sparse and not connected, leaving few safe routes through the city 
  • Aggressive driving: driver behavior toward bike riders in Los Angeles is often dangerous 
  • Road hazards are widespread, from potholes to uneven surfaces 
Here are a few of the most important safety tips, as well as our advice on what to do in the unfortunate case of a bike accident

Use Bike Lanes (With Caution)

Los Angeles does have some bike lanes, though not as many as other, more bike-friendly cities like New York City or Amsterdam. When planning your route, check for streets that have a bike lane. Be aware, though, that bike lanes don't guarantee your safety, and some aren't very well-designed, leaving you essentially biking among heavy traffic. Use your best judgment to evaluate whether a street is safe, and stay alert even when you're in a bike lane. 

Follow the Rules of the Road

As a cyclist, you have responsibilities on the road, just like drivers do. Bike riders in Los Angeles must: 
  • Stay to the right of the road or in the bike lane (if there is one) 
  • Ride a bike equipped with brakes, lights, and reflectors 
  • Avoid riding on sidewalks 
  • Ride in the direction of traffic
Other ways to stay safe include wearing a helmet, using hand signals, avoiding distractions, and paying close attention to cars and potential road hazards.   

What About Bike Accidents?

No matter how safely you ride, bike accidents are always a risk. Whether due to bicycle manufacturing defects, automobile drivers, or road hazards, a bike accident can cause injuries, damage to your bike, and lost income. If you do get into a bike accident, know your rights. A qualified bicycle accident lawyer can help you get compensation for your injuries. Many cyclists don't seek or get the full compensation they're entitled to after an accident--don't let that happen to you. Record all possible details of your accident and contact an attorney as soon as you can. 
While it might seem daunting to bike on the streets of Los Angeles, don't despair: the benefits of biking have been shown to outweigh the risks. With some precautions, you can enjoy the health and environmental benefits of bicycling, and make use of a great alternative way to get to work and other activities. 
If you've been in a bicycle accident in Los Angeles, contact us today to learn about how our bicycle accident lawyers can help you.

Auto Accidents on The Rise as Lockdown Restrictions Lift

Saturday, October 03, 2020

While we are still very much in the thick of this pandemic, COVID-19 quarantine restrictions are lifting all over the United States. While there was a marked decrease in auto accident during this time as those who could work from home were instructed to stay home, that is changing. Now, as more and more people return to work and their more typical schedules, auto accidents are sharply on the rise.

Why Driving is More Dangerous Now Than Ever

Unfortunately, during the lockdown, two equally dangerous things happened. Those who had to commute to work were able to drive faster due to the decrease in traffic and those who stayed home rather literally forgot how to drive. That is putting it in an extreme way, but driving can be a muscle memory affair for many people. If you stop doing it regularly for several months, you will still know how to drive when you get behind the wheel, but it will feel a little more foreign to you. This causes drivers to be a little slower with usual traffic decisions and more cautious. While defensive driving isn't necessarily a bad thing, too much caution can indeed cause accidents.

This increase in more cautious and unsure drivers definitely does not mesh well with the drivers that took up speeding when they were the only ones on the road during quarantine. The old adage "speed kills" has never been more true. As the road clogs up again, accidents are happening more and at higher speeds, making them more fatal.

What to Do If You Are In An Auto Accident

While the only thing you can do is try to stay safe as everyone re-acclimates themselves to the rules of the road, you do want to know what to do in the event of an accident just in case. If you are in an accident, follow these simple rules:

  • Stop – Even minor fender-benders require you to stop. Never drive away from an accident.

  • Call the Police – This is obvious if someone is hurt. However, if you will need to file an insurance claim, you will want to call the police to file a police report.

  • Document – As soon as you can, write down the series of events as clearly and as factually as you can. You will also want to take pictures of the crash scene, the damage to your vehicle, and any injuries that occurred.

  • Visit a Doctor – Even if you are not injured at the scene, injuries like whiplash may only manifest the next day after the adrenaline has worn off. You will want to make sure everything is alright after an accident with a doctor and have it documented as soon as possible so you can get it covered.

  • Contact Your Insurance – Many accidents are handled by just filing a claim with your insurance or the insurance holder of the other party. You will want to make initial contact before moving onto the final step.

  • Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer – In cases of just vehicle damage, usually just accepting insurance coverage is all you need to do. However, if anyone was injured or you just want to make sure you are getting everything you are entitle to from the accident, you will want to contact a personal injury lawyer. They can help look over the offers to make sure everything is fair and aboveboard.

While auto accidents can be complicated, following the above can take a lot of the guesswork out of it. If you have been in a car accident on the post-COVID lockdown roads and need help figuring everything out, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you get the accident settlement you need to heal.

The Tops Signs That You Should Consult an Attorney After Being Injured in an Auto Accident

Sunday, July 19, 2020

After being injured in a car accident as the result of another driver's negligence, you may find yourself wondering how you will pay for mounting medical bills, and how you will get by if you are temporarily unable to work. Fortunately, you do not have to navigate this difficult time alone. A personal injury attorney can walk you through your options for filing a personal injury claim, and they can work to make sure that you are properly compensated for your injuries. Yet, many people hesitate to contact an attorney after being injured in a car accident if they are unsure whether their case warrants legal action. If you have recently been injured in a car accident and are unsure what your next steps should be, here is a look at a few of the signs indicating that you should consider consulting an attorney. 

You Are Unable to Work

If you were hurt so badly in your accident that you cannot return to work, either temporarily or permanently, it is critical that you consult an attorney to help maximize your compensation. Not only will you need to be compensated for your medical bills and damages to your personal property, but if you are unable to work you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages as well as pain and suffering. An experienced attorney will be able to assess your situation based on the extent of your injuries, and they can calculate how much you may be entitled to. If the accident has left you permanently disabled, you will need a lawyer to help you determine the proper compensation you are entitled to based on future lost wages, as your family may be left without a significant source of income.   

You Need Help Determining Fault

Of course, just because you believe that the other driver was at fault and should be responsible for your injuries, this does not mean that the other driver or their insurance company will view things the same way. In fact, the other driver's insurance company will ultimately be looking out for their bottom line, and they may try to claim that you are at least partially at fault in order to reduce their liability. If your fault in the accident is being called into question, it is important that you consult an attorney as soon as possible. You will need a lawyer by your side who can help to collect and analyze evidence pertaining to the accident and present your case for why the other driver should bear full responsibility for the accident and your resulting injuries.  

Your Insurance Company isn't Treating You Properly

It is also important that you consult an attorney if you feel that you are not being treated properly by your insurance company. While your insurance company should be looking out for your best interest in theory, the reality is that you are likely just a case number to them, and they may be trying to close your case as quickly as possible. If you feel as if your insurance company isn't listening to/addressing your needs, is treating you unfairly, or is not doing anything to progress your case, then it may be time to consult an attorney. An attorney will work for you and will work tirelessly to make sure that your needs are met. 

You Are Being Asked to Settle

If things are progressing between your insurance company and that of the other driver and you have been asked to settle your case, it is critical that you consult an attorney. The fact is that you should never discuss offers, or accept a claim settlement, without talking to an attorney, as you may not get the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies will often try to offer a lowball settlement in the hopes that you will not know what your case is truly worth. Having an attorney by your side will ensure that you have someone who is looking out for your best interests and who will negotiate on your behalf to get a settlement that is in line with your injuries. 

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a car accident, contact us to find out more about the signs that you may want to consider consulting a personal injury attorney. 





Can You Seek Punitive Damages After a Trucking Accident?

Friday, May 08, 2020

If you have been in an accident with a truck, it was likely a major accident. As trucks are often of a significant size and with a lot of power behind them, few regular drivers come out unscathed from such an accident. If you have had to endure this accident, you will be entitled to compensatory damages. This monetary amount is meant to make you whole, as if the accident has never happened. This means your medical bills and auto damages will be covered so you aren't left paying any bills. However, in certain circumstances, you may have another form of compensation available to you – punitive damages.

Punitive damages are much like how they sound – they are compensation meant to punish the wrongdoing party for their negligence. However, your entitlement to punitive damages is not guaranteed after a trucking accident. As the saying goes, accidents happen. When it is indeed a true accident, the courts find no reason to punish either party. However, if the accident was caused maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently, or recklessly through the actions of the truck driver or company, this opens up the option for punitive compensation.

When Can You Receive Punitive Damages From a Truck Accident?

In many circumstances, a truck accident is just a more dramatic auto accident. However, if you discovered there was various other factors at play in the accident, you could seek punitive compensation. Solid examples of truck accidents open to punitive damages include:

  • Drunk Driving – If the truck driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they were not only acting illegally, but recklessly. As the acceptable BAC level for CDL drivers is even lower than the standard .08 percent, any drinking is likely to build a strong case for reckless driving.
  • Destroying Evidence – The issue with seeking punitive damages is that you will need to provide evidence that there was malicious, fraudulent, intentional, or reckless action. This can be difficult when a trucking company is circling the wagons to protect themselves. If the truck in the accident just happened to be missing its black box or various maintenance records are missing, there is some fraud going on.
  • Regulation Violations – This can be the most difficult circumstance for punitive damages to prove. In this situation, you would need to prove that a company forewent various regulations on purpose and not just on accident. If there is a long record of non-regular maintenance, for example, this can help. However, one missed maintenance appointment can be a weak case.
  • Employment of Unsafe Drivers – It is a company's responsibility to do background checks on their drivers to ensure proper driving history and one without any red flags for substance abuse. If a trucking company employed a driver with a long history of DUIs, this was just asking for an accident to happen. They failed to do their due diligence when hiring a driver when, if they had, the accident may have been prevented.

If your accident with a truck falls into these circumstances or others that are equally as fishy, your compensation options are not only limited to medical bills and auto damages, but can include damages that serve to punish the company as well. However, it will require gathering the proper evidence of wrongdoing first, something that can be quite difficult to do if you are trying to navigate these legal waters on your own.

 If you have been in a truck accident and want to see what your options for compensation are, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman is dedicated to helping you become whole after serious and traumatic accidents.


Convenience vs Safety: Uber and Lyft Accidents

Friday, February 21, 2020

As the 21st century is nearing the end of its second decade, the demand for ridesharing services is growing quickly. Meanwhile, the safety of hiring such "non-taxis" is becoming more and more questionable.

Uber has been around for 10 years. It has turned the life of people in many countries around. Cheaper rides with high accessibility upped the convenience tremendously. Some people have given up their vehicles in favor of such services. As Lyft and Uber made their way to the market, more and more users left taxis behind.

However, as the convenience of using rideshare over regular taxi services has become obvious, the safety and legal responsibility seem to be lurking in a grey area. What happens if there is an accident? Who is responsible?

Uber and Lyft Aren't Taxis 

When you book a taxi ride, you are entering an agreement with a taxi service provider. In case an accident occurs, the company's insurance covers the expenses.

When you get into an accident while using Uber or Lyft, you are covered by either the driver's insurance or the company's insurance. That's where it could get tricky. None of the companies is happy with covering your accident-related expenses, especially if a serious injury is involved. Most likely, you would need to hire an attorney to have your expenses settled timely and properly.

Ridesharing Services Increased the Number of Accidents 

According to a study done by researchers from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, the rise of ride-sharing services increased traffic-related deaths by 2% to 3% in the United States.

Other problems associated with the overwhelming use of rideshare are higher congestion and decreased exploitation of public transport. Both lead to harming the environment and making life inconvenient for busy city dwellers.

Some cities have already started to conquer the problem. For example, NYC introduced a cap on ridesharing services in 2018 and extended it for one more year in August 2019.

Top Reasons For Rideshare Accidents 

The convenience of using rideshare services is starting to be offset by dangers. The top reasons for rideshare accidents include:

Speeding

While rideshare drivers may be careful about maintaining speed limits when carrying a passenger to get 5-star reviews, they are likely to speed to get to the next client.

Lack of experience

When you hire a taxi, you are likelier to enjoy a ride with an experienced driver than when riding with Uber or Lyft. Drivers only need one year of experience to offer ridesharing services.  

Drowsy driving

In the race to earn more money, rideshare drivers tend to overwork. As a result, you may face a sleepy driver behind the wheel, thus increasing the chances of getting into an accident substantially.

Distraction

As rideshare drivers are taking you to your destination, they can get distracted by the rideshare app to take a new order. Drivers often look at their smartphones to secure a new client faster than the competition, thus pulling the attention away from the road.

Improper vehicle maintenance

Rideshare drivers often fail to maintain their vehicles properly due to the lack of time and financing. As a result, many passengers are injured when tires blow, brakes stop working or airbags don't open.

Final Thoughts 

While such rideshare companies as Uber and Lyft are highly convenient, they don't offer taxi services, which complicates the insurance payment process. As the number of rideshare-accidents is growing, more and more passengers are sucked into the black hole of unfulfilled claims. In some cases, proper expense coverage is impossible without legal assistance.

For more information about rideshare-related accident claims in Los Angeles and beyond, please contact us today.



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From our offices in Woodland Hills, California, Freeman & Freeman, LLP, provides legal advice and representation for clients in communities throughout the state, including those in Burbank, Glendale, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Santa Clarita, Agoura Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Granada Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, North Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Alhambra.