Anyone searching for a lawyer after experiencing a bicycle crash should consider the following seven factors:
1. Work with a Lawyer Who’s an Active Cyclist
This choice can make all the difference in how a settlement is achieved. The advantage of working with a lawyer who’s also an active cyclist means that he or she understands the joy and passion that compel riders to get on their bikes every day. Riding 50, 100, or even 150 miles a week is not unusual for serious cyclists. It’s as important to them as their relationships, their individual health regimens, and their overall satisfaction with life. Losing the ability to ride—either temporarily or permanently—can have devastating consequences. Who better understands that than a fellow dedicated cyclist?
2. Measure the Lawyer’s Commitment Level
Helping an injured cyclist achieve just compensation takes deep commitment. Some legal practices have large advertising budgets and simply throw a big marketing net out on the web to capture a variety of car crash clients, saying—almost as an aside—that they also represent cyclists. In actuality, they may not be expert in bicycle accident cases. Feeling comfortable about working with a lawyer when you’ve had a bicycle crash involves a level of trust. That trust is easier to achieve when the lawyer has extensive cycling experience and knowledge about all aspects surrounding bike cases. It also saves time and energy when that expertise is applied to dealing with insurance companies and claims adjusters on specific issues.
3. Deal with a Lawyer Who Understands Bike Repairs and the Cost of Replacement
When a bike hits the ground at eighteen miles per hour and no obvious structural damage is initially assessed, what do you do? If your lawyer is a cyclist who understands the dynamics of a crash (especially if the bike has a carbon frame), he or she would know, in most situations, that the bike frame should be replaced, how to get it done, the questions to ask, and the proof to obtain to have a bicycle and vital bicycle gear (shoes, pump, helmet, etc.) replaced. A lawyer who mostly deals with car crash victims on a daily basis wouldn’t necessarily understand the potentially high cost of bicycle repairs and/or replacements or the steps to take to get it replaced—even where there is no obvious major structural damage.
4. Seek Out Testimonials
It’s always a good idea to check a lawyer’s background and read testimonials on their website. Victims of bicycle crashes will talk or write about their experiences with a specific lawyer and the ease or difficulty of that relationship. What are they saying and, most importantly, how are they being treated? Dealing with victims of cycling crashes takes listening, care, knowledge, and effective negotiating skills, along with persistence. A lawyer who’s an avid cyclist should also be a safety advocate and write articles about biking issues in various newsletters for bike clubs and other publications.
5. Look at Peer Review Sources
As in any type of law practice, there are sources for peer review that bicycle crash victims can access. How is the lawyer perceived by his professional colleagues? Martindale.com is one of the well-respected rating agencies that evaluate lawyers independently, soliciting information on ethics and abilities. An “AV” rating is the highest one for legal ability and ethics. Another source is AVVO or A-V-V-O-com, which uses a numerical rating system of up to 10 points. Look for at least an 8 rating. The Million Dollar Advocates Forum features lawyers who handle high-value cases.
6. Evaluate the Stability of the Lawyer’s Team
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle crash and call a lawyer’s office, you won’t know anything about them initially. You may begin a conversation with a staff person and then, three weeks later, be talking with a complete stranger who has replaced that person. When you’ve already undergone trauma, that type of interaction is disquieting. Find out how long the lawyer’s team has been working together and how stable the employment record is. A lawyer who’s an avid cyclist and has an extensive background in litigating and settling bicycle crash cases will be there for you when you need help and so will their staff.
7. Find a Lawyer Who’s an Expert in Concussion and Post-traumatic Arthritis Joint Injury Cases
It’s a fact that auto accident lawyers deal with a lot of whiplash cases. The majority of auto injuries tend to be soft tissue, neck, and back issues associated with whiplash. But, in bicycle crashes, concussion is one of the most common injuries. So it’s essential to find and work with a lawyer who understands the complexities of concussion and its potential effect on the life of the person who’s been injured. A cycling lawyer who’s worked with hundreds of concussion cases can explain those consequences in clear and compelling language to any insurance adjuster. Since concussions tend to be more serious than whiplash injuries, a higher dollar value can be assigned to the victim suffering from the full impact of that injury.
Also, many bicycle crash injuries will involve the effects of post-traumatic arthritis in a joint that can be long-term, extremely debilitating, and affect overall quality of life. An experienced cycling attorney will know how to communicate with doctors about short or long-term care plans for the victim.
In summary, all these considerations should be taken into account when looking for a lawyer to represent you after a bicycle crash. Developing a sense of mutual commitment, trust, and understanding between yourself and your lawyer is critical to being awarded adequate compensation as part of the healing process. And what better way to achieve that than to work with a lawyer who’s also dedicated to the pleasure and health benefits associated with regular cycling?