Almost every mile of California’s landscape and cityscapes offer amazing backdrops for riding a bicycle. The sunny weather doesn’t hurt either. Hundreds of thousands of people enjoy biking to work, to class or using their gears to get some exercise.
Unfortunately, when cyclists must confront traffic, they are always at risk of losing their lives while doing something they love. Riding alongside careless and reckless drivers in California is a hazardous activity and a collision is often enough to threaten a rider’s life.
When these tragedies occur and a driver’s mistake is to blame, the families of victims can’t be forgotten. California protects the close relatives left behind by letting them file a wrongful death insurance claim. This civil claim allows them to secure financial support from an at-fault driver’s insurance provider.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney After a California Bicycle Accident
Families who have lost a loved one in a cycling accident should be informed of every benefit they have available to them. An insurance company isn’t obligated to mention these benefits. However, California allows victimized families to file a wrongful death claim to protect themselves from financial harm after a tragedy.
To make sure the insurance providers for at-fault drivers are held accountable for your loss, take advantage of a free case consultation from a skilled California Bicycle Accident Lawyer. Martin Gasparian, the founder of Maison Law, offers families a confidential way to find out how they can seek support while still being allowed time to grieve.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Bicycle Accident Claim?
After a tragic California bicycle accident, close relatives can wonder how to protect the entire family from immediate financial harm. They will also wonder how to provide for the family in the future now that income the deceased may have provided each week has been lost.
In California, a wrongful death claim is filed against an at-fault driver’s insurance provider to safeguard families now and in the years to come. One member of the family usually files this claim on behalf of the rest of the family members.
Only certain close relatives of the victim can bring a wrongful death lawsuit forward under California law:
- A spouse or domestic partner of the victim.
- Children of the victim.
- Grandchildren of the victim.
In some cases, victims don’t have a spouse or children. The parents of the victim or siblings might be allowed to bring a wrongful death claim forward. The family would have up to two years from the date of the victim’s death to file this claim.
A qualified California Wrongful Death Lawyer may also file a wrongful death claim for the family. A personal injury lawyer would make sure family members are treated fairly by insurance companies. They would also handle all communications with insurance representatives to provide as little disruption to the family as possible.
What Kind of Compensation Can be Awarded After a Fatal California Bicycle Accident?
It’s understandable that families who are mourning the loss of a loved one will want to shy away from insurance claims and potential lawsuits over a fatal bicycle accident. But they be wary of all of the emotional and financial hardships that can serve to harm the family after a tragic loss of life. The negative economic effects of terrible accidents often plague a family for years after an accident.
A wrongful death civil claim is meant to rescue family members, especially a spouse and children of the victim, from these difficult challenges. A claim seeks financial support from an insurance company for these factors and more:
- Support to pay for a funeral and burial.
- Support for medical bills and ambulance fees the victim accumulated before passing on.
- Support for the weekly income the deceased can no longer provide in the months and years ahead. The victim’s expected earnings through a job or career.
- Support for the guidance and nurturing the deceased can no longer provide loved ones in the future.
- Support for a loss of companionship suffered by family members.
- Support for all emotional trauma caused to family members in the wake of a deadly bicycle accident.
What If the Cyclist Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet When the Accident Occurred?
An at-fault driver can still be held fully accountable in an accident that claims the life of a cyclist who wasn’t wearing a helmet. In California, anyone 18-years-old and up is not required to wear a helmet to ride a bike. It’s still a vital safety device, but not wearing a helmet doesn’t erase blame for a driver’s careless mistake.
A reckless driver could be fully liable for the cyclist’s death and the support needed for the family members left behind. It could also be found that the driver and the cyclist shared in the blame for the crash that occurred, but the family would still be eligible to receive some financial support.
Comparative Negligence in Fatal California Bicycle Accidents
California follows the concept of “comparative negligence.” It means that all parties involved in a collision can divide up a percentage of the responsibility.
Cyclists may be found partially at-fault for the severity of the injuries suffered because they didn’t wear a helmet. They could also bear partial liability if they were riding outside a proper lane. But the driver would likely have to accept the majority of blame in the accident.
Drivers owe bicyclists a special “duty of care” due to the cyclist’s extreme vulnerability when riding alongside much bigger and heavier vehicles. Motorists must act to avoid collisions with riders, even when riders are traveling where they shouldn’t be. Motorists may face substantial liability in any bicycle collision, under any circumstances.
For example, a cyclist could be assigned 20% of the blame in an accident, while a reckless motorist took 80% of the liability. The victim or family members could be awarded financial compensation, but it might be reduced by the rider’s 20% of liability.
What Happens If My Loved One Is Killed in a Bicycle Accident Involving a Hit-And-Run Driver?
Far too many bicycle collisions in California involve a driver speeding away from the scene to leave an injured bicyclist waiting on critical medical attention. The heartless decision to leave an accident site endangers the physical health of the victim. It also places the financial burden a collision leaves behind squarely on a victim and the victim’s family.
If a hit-and-run driver is arrested after a fatal accident, family members can immediately file a wrongful death claim against the driver’s insurer. This claim may proceed even as the suspect faces criminal charges. The civil wrongful death case and the criminal trial are separate.
When a hit-and-run suspect is never located, families can still hope to earn support through their own car insurance policies. Any car insurance policy covering the victim can be called upon to provide compensation through the uninsured motorist portion of the liability coverage.
What Happens if My Loved One Was Killed by a Driver Without Insurance?
Unfortunately, far too many people ignore California law and drive without auto insurance. An uninsured driver could strike a bicyclist and leave a family with no way to seek justice for what’s happened. The driver may face criminal charges, but that will be of no real comfort for grieving relatives.
The victim’s own car insurer could be called upon in this instance as well. The deceased’s car insurance protection from uninsured/underinsured motorists could safeguard the family. If the victim did not carry insurance, it should be determined if perhaps a family member’s policy protection extended to covering the lost loved one.
Contact a Bicycle Accident Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving California Families
Martin Gasparian, the founder of Maison Law, wants to protect the rights of families who have already been put through so much. Families will have suffered through the tremendous shock of suddenly losing a loved one in a California bicycle accident. They should never be expected to pay for the financial consequences of a careless driver’s mistake.
Contact Maison Law for a free case consultation. Mr. Gasparian is a California Wrongful Death Attorney with an extensive background in taking on insurance companies. He specializes in safeguarding families so they aren’t subjected to insurance tactics and robbed of fair financial support. Families need time to grieve and the proper support to begin rebuilding their lives.