Attorney John Nojima of Lederer & Nojima, LLP Reminds Cyclists to Carry Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Light of News Regarding Hit-and-Runs

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Hit-and-run accidents involving bicycles are wreaking havoc throughout Los Angeles County. The attorney says that, because the problem is so widespread, cyclists must be reminded to carry uninsured motorist coverage.

While the hit-and-run problem may be addressed and the news may improve as a result of public awareness, tougher laws and other actions, uninsured motorist coverage will likely always be essential in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney John Nojima, of the law firm Lederer & Nojima, has helped many catastrophically injured clients obtain the compensation they need after they have been struck by automobiles while they were jogging, walking, cycling or riding their motorcycles. The attorney has been representing injury victims throughout Los Angeles for the last two decades. Prior to this, he was an insurance company attorney.

Nojima says "I have seen these cases from both sides. Once I was on the insurance company side and have seen how combative and resistant they can become when massive compensation is necessary for catastrophic injuries. When there are crashes that involve a car and a cyclist or a pedestrian, the injuries are rarely minor so, in some cases, millions of dollars may be necessary to help the injury victim."

Furthermore, he says, "if the automobile driver leaves the scene in a hit-and-run, their insurance leaves with them. The victim's insurance should then offer compensation. This is why having uninsured motorist coverage is so important in Los Angeles for everyone but especially for cyclists. This recent Los Angeles Times report indicates how bad the problem is. Not only are these types of unfortunate events often devastating, they are also occurring with troubling regularity."

The Los Angeles Times article Nojima mentions, "Hit-and-runs take a rising toll on cyclists" by Armand Emamdjomeh, Laura J. Nelson and Joseph Serna from November 29, 2014, offers insight and data about a problem that has long plagued the county. According to California Highway Patrol data gathered by the authors, "hit-and-runs involving bicyclists surged 42% from 2002 to 2012 in Los Angeles County."

"Paralysis, traumatic brain injury, amputation...really serious and life-altering injuries are often the result," Nojima says. "Houses and vehicles may need to be adapted for wheelchair accessibility. Long-term physical therapy and round-the-clock medical attention may be necessary. Multiple surgeries, lifelong pain management, a career change and other long-lasting consequences may all be a part of the aftermath. When the driver who struck a cyclist leaves the scene, this may just add to the challenges facing the victim."

Nojima says that uninsured motorist coverage may offer the necessary compensation but "when the financial need is substantial, the victims own insurance company may become adversarial. They may look for ways to avoid paying or they may offer a low-ball settlement. Lederer & Nojima may be able to help victims in these situations but, ideally, the problem of hit-and-run crashes will be eradicated or at least reduced significantly soon. Fortunately, action is being taken in our community to protect cyclists and bring awareness to this issue."

A CBS affiliate in Los Angeles report from January 1, 2015 describes a group of citizens who have combined their efforts to create the "Finish the Ride" campaign to raise public awareness about the problem. In the report, "Group Taking Action Following Deadly Year Of Hit-And-Runs," the story of a mother whose son was killed while he was riding his bike is conveyed. The driver fled the scene in one of the many hit-and-runs in Los Angeles that has occurred over the last several years. The story also mentions the efforts of California State Assemblymember Mike Gatto who promises to re-introduce legislation that would require the state's "Amber Alert" system to be used to help stop hit-and-run drivers. A public awareness event is planned in Los Angeles for April, according to the group's website. Nojima adds that "despite these efforts, the hit-and-run problem is likely to remain a challenge for the foreseeable future."

If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident while you were riding your bike in Los Angeles, Lederer & Nojima are well prepared to represent you. "Regardless of the situation, we can help victims pursue maximum compensation in these cases, but if they have uninsured motorist coverage, they may improve their chances of a successful settlement," the attorney says. "Your own auto insurance policy in California should include this coverage and should insure you whether you are driving your car or not. You should double check your policy to be sure you have appropriate coverage."

The Times article provides cautionary data that may add urgency to Nojima's advice and further justifies the "Finish the Ride" campaign: between 2002 and 2012, "5,600 cyclists were injured and at least 36 died" in hit-and-runs within Los Angeles County. "Los Angeles has hundreds of miles of bike lanes and many people, fed up with traffic congestion, have taken to their bikes. This is a positive step in many ways but people need to be aware of the hit-and-run problem and be extremely cautious when riding. And cyclists must be prepared for the worst by having necessary insurance coverage. While the hit-and-run problem may be addressed and the news may improve as a result of public awareness campaigns, tougher laws, media coverage and other actions, uninsured motorist coverage will likely always be essential in Los Angeles."    

If you are involved in a bike crash that involves an automobile, Lederer & Nojima suggests doing the following:

  • Photograph or make some other record of the offending vehicle's license plate.
  • Call the police to file a report. Request a copy of the report to ensure it is accurate.
  • Indicate to the police which laws you believe the driver violated.
  • Do not discuss the accident with witnesses. Insurance companies may use statements against you.
  • If at all possible, get contact information from witnesses.
  • Call a law firm like Lederer & Nojima with extensive experience in this area of the law.

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