When a delivery truck collides with a bicyclist, the cyclist is lucky to survive. An accident like this can cause severe bodily injury, not to mention emotional trauma, for the cyclist.
This was the situation for one of our clients, an avid cyclist who rode his bike to work each morning down Market Street in San Francisco. Before his morning commute, he also worked out at the gym, which meant he hit the road before sunrise.
As he cycled down Market Street approaching the intersection of 3rd Street and Kearny Street, an unmarked white delivery truck sat at the side of the road. Its driver opened his door just as the cyclist was passing him, causing the cyclist to brake and swerve.
But it was too late. The cyclist couldn’t avoid the large truck door looming right in his path and the edge of the door clipped his right hand, instantly severing the tip of his right index finger. The cyclist was thrown over his handlebars and onto the pavement.
Severe and Permanent Injuries for the Cyclist
While the delivery driver was unharmed, this sequence of events set off a nightmare for the cyclist. He was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital, where doctors discovered that the top third of his finger had been sliced so deeply, it was unable to be reattached to provide any function.
Imagine being in the cyclist’s position. Suddenly this young, healthy man is facing the difficult decision of either living without the top of his finger or living with it reattached but non-functional.
It was hard for him to know if it would affect his daily routine of cycling to work, his ability to do his gym routine, his job, his household chores, and everything else in his life. He was also recovering from other injuries from being thrown off his bike and onto the pavement.
The Truck Driver Attempts to Avoid Liability
The delivery truck driver wasn’t eager to accept liability for the accident. He tried to push the blame onto the cyclist, saying the cyclist was speeding. He even tried to claim that the cyclist never made contact with his delivery truck.
Unfortunately, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer who arrived at the scene of the accident wrote a report that supported the delivery truck driver’s account of events. Here at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we often see cases like this, where people are biased against cyclists and tend to blame them for their own injuries.
This left the cyclist wondering what to do next. Confused and frustrated, he just tried to focus on his injuries so he could recover from this life-changing situation.
The Cyclist Makes a Smart Choice: Hiring a Lawyer
Several months after the accident, when his injuries were beginning to stabilize, the cyclist reached out to Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers for the first time. We understand his desire to make his health a priority, but we don’t advise waiting so long after an accident to contact us!
Because so much time had passed between the date of the accident and the point when we were hired to handle the case, we had our work cut out for us. Our first step was finding evidence that revealed the basic facts of the case and showed the delivery driver’s negligence.
We discovered that the BART officer had failed to include crucial information in the report. For example, it listed the truck driver as an individual motorist rather than as a commercial vehicle driver. That’s important because delivery drivers are covered by commercial insurance policies, which usually have $1 million in coverage. By contrast, an individual driver can carry as little as $15,000 in coverage in California.
We also had to track down the truck driver’s employer, which was also missing from the report, by examining the 911 call, San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) records, and BART records. With additional investigation, we located the truck driver’s employer, a newspaper delivery company.
Overcoming Challenges to Stand Up for Our Client
As we dug deeper into the case, we continued to uncover additional issues to address as we put together a strong case for our client. For example, the newspaper company didn’t own the delivery truck. It was a rental from Penske, a nationwide rental company, which added another layer of complexity to the case.
Also, the only independent witness to the accident made damaging statements about our client to the BART officer. The man, who was homeless, was by that point unreachable and we had to carefully disqualify his statement by presenting evidence in our client’s favor.
Further complicating things, the BART officer had instructed the delivery driver to file a full traffic collision police report with the SFPD, but he didn’t do it. That meant we had to rely on the somewhat biased report from the BART officer.
Don’t worry! We still had plenty of options to pursue in supporting our client. One of the techniques we used to firmly pin down the facts of the case was seeking an official deposition from the delivery truck driver.
Through his testimony, we established that he was double-parked on Market Street without his hazard lights on. And in his own words, he “flung” the door open and “clipped” the cyclist on the finger with the corner of the truck door.
This, plus the mountain of other evidence we’d gathered, sealed the deal for our client. Finally, the truth came out and the cyclist was on track to receive the compensation he deserved.
The Result: High-Value Compensation and Peace of Mind
The cyclist in this case is a very private person who wanted to avoid going to trial. He’s well aware of the biases against cyclists in San Francisco and worried that personal prejudices might impact his chances of winning.
He’s also a hardworking person who didn’t want to miss additional days of work. He’d already lost days of work due to the accident and didn’t want to be off another week or more to testify in front of a jury. That’s understandable!
In the end, we negotiated a hefty $499,000 settlement for him. That meant he wrapped up his legal case with minimal stress, a nice chunk of money for his savings account, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing the right person has been held accountable under the law.
We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including bicycle accidents and delivery driver accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.
We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.