WE ARE ATTORNEYS AND WE ARE RIDERS
WE REPRESENT NORTH CAROLINA CYCLISTS
HAD A BICYCLE CRASH IN NORTH CAROLINA?
Contact Ben Dodge to see if the bicycle crash lawyers at Bike Accident Attorneys (BAA) can help. Unlike other lawyers who attempt to represent cyclists, our BAA lawyers actually ride and race their bicycles as well as appear and win in court. Most attorneys are just pencil pushers. We are court room litigators who are passionate about riding our bikes and we have associated local counsel in other states to allow us to help you in your state. Based on our expertise and experience we have also been admitted in other states to appear in court for our bicycle crash clients on a case by case basis. We can help you directly or ensure that you get the quality help you need in your state. Contact Ben Dodge now to see how we can protect your rights.
3 Tips on Choosing the Best Bicycle Crash Lawyer and Avoid Being Scammed
So how do you know if you have the best lawyer? There are 3 things to investigate when hiring a bicycle lawyer that can help you avoid a scammer. Some of that depends on what you think the “best” really means. To me, it is simple. The “best” lawyer will get you to the most advantageous position possible with as little cost as possible. That’s it. Nothing else to it. I have seen too many lawyers give up or miss out on incredible opportunities for their clients because of their own egos arguing the irrelevant issues or pushing too hard in a direction that only generates their own fees as opposed to the results the client would rather have.
The most advantageous position is sometimes not even what the client comes in asking for. I can’t tell you how many times I probably talked myself out of a job in an initial consult because what the client wanted actually puts them in a worse position and I wasn’t afraid to tell them so. It would have been so much easier to just tell them what they desperately wanted to hear, help them feel heard and let them vent a little. All just tell them we better hurry up and rush to court so they can be vindicated. When in reality, that won’t help them at all. So that is what many lawyers do- they try to figure out what the client wants emotionally and then sell them a legal service that matches that emotional need and of course charge them for it based on whatever they think the client is able to pay.
Obviously not all attorneys are this cold-hearted. Many of us actually care. Many of us strive to do right by the client as opposed to just trying to do right by the pocket book.
Here are some general things to watch out for when looking for an attorney, especially a bicycle accident lawyer (I don’t like the word accident, I prefer “crash” – but most of the world uses the term accident and I understand why, so I sue it too). Here are the issues to watch out for:
1) Specific Knowledge
Do they have the specific knowledge required to handle your case? Just because they graduated from law school doesn’t mean they know anything about cycling! In fact, in my opinion, most of the country doesn’t know anything about cycling. It is crazy that all sorts of professionals from police offices charged with enforcing cycling safety to insurance adjusters responsible for finding fault don’t know anything about cycling laws. This is especially true with local rules, ordinances, and even more so with knowledge of local customs and implied expectations of cycling culture and more. Now fast forward to the moment when you are looking for an attorney to help you with your crash (your bicycle accident case) and you see a billboard on the side of the freeway, or a TV commercial, or even a Google search where the words cycling lawyer were used… How much specific knowledge of bicycle cases do you think they really have? Ask them how often they ride? Ask them what their favorite route is? Ask them if they could buy any bike on the planet what would it be and why? These questions will help you quickly identify if they are even remotely plugged into the cycling community and whether or not they have specific knowledge relating to cycling. Why is this important? SIMPLE- as a cyclist you already know that most people (drivers) hate that we are out on the roads. You already have an uphill court battle of public opinion. Being right on some traffic issue isn’t enough for us. Your lawyer must know this intimately in order to successfully navigate the complex negotiations of your case with the insurance company and opposing attorneys and then ultimately in a court room where you can bet no one on the jury will be a cyclist.
Also on the topic of specific knowledge. How many cases like this issue have they handled? What were the outcomes? How confident do you feel with their answers to these questions? Specific case knowledge is helpful. Do they have experience with the opposing insurance company? With that specific police department? With your judge? And on and on.
Specific knowledge is very helpful and you can’t buy it with expensive marketing on billboards, commercials, etc. It is earned with blood, sweat, and sometimes tears through years of experience.
2) Desk or Courtroom
The next thing to investigate is whether or not the attorney you’re thinking about hiring is a desk lawyer (I fondly refer to these lawyers as pencil pushers) or a courtroom lawyer. There is a need for all sorts of lawyers. But unless you are planning on having your bicycle accident attorney draft a will or some contract for you, then you want a courtroom lawyer not a pencil pusher.
I know this is a guess, but in my experience it seems like 95% of lawyers, especially the ones who end up on billboards and commercials, are just pencil pushers. Once their cases get to tough they refer them out to a real lawyer to finish the courtroom stuff for them. Most attorneys talk a big talk in their consult with potential clients about how good they are, but when push comes to shove and they have to actually prove it to you in a courtroom with you watching, their peers (opposing lawyers on the other side of your case) and in front of a judge and jury- they simply freak out and completely drop the ball or settle for less than you should ever take just to avoid the scary courtroom.
Don’t mistakenly hire a pencil pusher. Hire a bicycle accident lawyer who thrives in the courtroom. One simple question to help catch them off guard is ask them when is the last time they were in court? What was it about? What kind of hearing was it? What was the argument they proposed and made to the judge? How did it turn out? These simple questions will help you find out if they are pencil pushers or not. Their hesitation or odd answers are a dead give away that they are likely misleading you on their courtroom abilities and experience.
We are courtroom lawyers, sometimes even going multiple times per week to court. We file lawsuits, we don’t just write a few meaningless settlement letters and sell our clients on how good the settlement is- we prove it to our clients.
3) Do You Recognize Them from a Billboard or Commercial?
Yes I said that right, do you actually recognize them from a billboard or a TV commercial? Why is this even a thing? Well, it sounds harsh but those lawyers out there spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year (for some they spend that per month) just to recruit new clients may be struggling to get their current and past clients to even refer to them… Yep, what if your lawyer was so good and you were so impressed that you happily sent business to him/or her? See how powerful that is? I’m not saying that everyone who advertises in our line of work is a horrible lawyer. What I am saying is that it is a bit suspect since advertising is NOT cheap and it begs the question as to why they have to advertise in the first place? Is their reputation with their own clients so bad that they have to find an alternative source to finding clients? Possibly. I’m one of those guys who avoids, in fact runs away from any professional I see on a billboard. I’d much rather consult a trusted friend and get their opinion as to whom I should see or NOT see based on their experience.
Not all lawyers who advertise are bad. But like I said, I personally run away from any professional on a billboard or TV commercial. A good old fashioned referral has always proved to be much better much more often. Just sayin’.
These are just 3 of the many things to look out for when you hire a bicycle accident lawyer. Call my office up and we can chat over the phone sometime about all the other million things to look out for like attorney billable hour quotas, bonus structures, professional reputation among peers, and so much more!
We are here for you. We got your back. We protect our own like you’re a member of our tribe. Good luck. Be safe out there and keep the rubber side down.
Contact Ben Dodge and let the lawyers in the Bike Accident Attorneys National Network help you. We will assist you in your case and/or find someone for you in your state that we can trust and recommend. We have your back. We are here for you.
(North Carolina State Flag)
NORTH CAROLINA BICYCLE ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Percentage of Total Traffic Fatalities
Pedalcyclist Fatalities per Million Population
NORTH CAROLINA BICYCLE STATUTES
Bicyclists are Drivers of Vehicles
§ 20-4.01(49) Vehicle. – …for the purposes of this Chapter bicycles shall be deemed vehicles and every rider of a bicycle upon a highway shall be subject to the provisions of this Chapter applicable to the driver of a vehicle except those which by their nature can have no application.
As drivers of vehicles, bicyclists are allowed to travel on all public roadways except fully controlled access highways (freeways) such as interstates.NCAC 19A.2E.0409 OPERATING NONMOTORIZED VEHICLES: It is unlawful for any person to ride any animal, or to operate a bicycle or horse drawn wagon or any nonmotorized vehicle or moped on any interstate or other fully controlled access highway.
Bicycles are not Motor Vehicles
§ 20-4.01(23) Motor Vehicle. – Every vehicle which is self-propelled ….
§ 20-129. Required lighting equipment of vehicles. (e) Lamps on Bicycles. – Every bicycle shall be equipped with a reflex mirror on the rear and both of the following when operated at night on any public street, public vehicular area, or public greenway:
(1) A lighted lamp on the front thereof, visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of at least 300 feet in front of such bicycle.
(2) A lamp on the rear, exhibiting a red light visible under like conditions from a distance of at least 300 feet to the rear of such bicycle, or the operator must wear clothing or a vest that is bright and visible from a distance of at least 300 feet to the rear of the bicycle.
First Come, First Served: Duty to Limit Speed and Slow for Slower Traffic Ahead
§ 20-141. Speed restrictions. (a) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway or in a public vehicular area at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing. … (m) The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the foregoing limits shall not relieve the operator of a vehicle from the duty to decrease speed as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway, and to avoid injury to any person or property. § 20-140. Reckless driving. (b) Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property shall be guilty of reckless driving.
Drive on Right Side of the Road
§ 20-146. Drive on right side of highway; exceptions. (a) Upon all highways of sufficient width a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the highway except as follows: (1) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing such movement; (2) When an obstruction exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the highway; provided, any person so doing shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the highway within such distance as to constitute an immediate hazard; (3) Upon a highway divided into three marked lanes for traffic under the rules applicable thereon; or (4) Upon a highway designated and signposted for one-way traffic.
Stop/Yield Before Entering a More Important Roadway
§ 20-158. Vehicle control signs and signals. (b) Control of Vehicles at Intersections. – (1) When a stop sign has been erected or installed at an intersection, it shall be unlawful for the driver of any vehicle to fail to stop in obedience thereto and yield the right-of-way to vehicles operating on the designated main-traveled or through highway. When stop signs have been erected at three or more entrances to an intersection, the driver, after stopping in obedience thereto, may proceed with caution. (2) a. When a traffic signal is emitting a steady red circular light controlling traffic approaching an intersection, an approaching vehicle facing the red light shall come to a stop and shall not enter the intersection. After coming to a complete stop and unless prohibited by an appropriate sign, that approaching vehicle may make a right turn. b. Any vehicle that turns right under this subdivision shall yield the right-of-way to: 1. Other traffic and pedestrians using the intersection; and 2. Pedestrians who are moving towards the intersection, who are in reasonably close proximity to the intersection, and who are preparing to cross in front of the traffic that is required to stop at the red light.
Yield before Moving Laterally
§ 20-146. (d) (1) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.
Destination Positioning at Intersections
§ 20-153. Turning at intersections. (a) Right Turns. – Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. (b) Left Turns. – The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left at any intersection shall approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of that vehicle, and, after entering the intersection, the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection in a lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction upon the roadway being entered.
Speed Positioning: Overtaking on Left
§ 20-149. Overtaking a vehicle. (a) The driver of any such vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at least two feet to the left thereof, and shall not again drive to the right side of the highway until safely clear of such overtaken vehicle. This subsection shall not apply when the overtaking and passing is done pursuant to the provisions of G.S. 20-150.1.
Speed Positioning: Limitations on Overtaking on Right
Bicyclists may not overtake other traffic on the right except when in a separate marked travel lane. § 20-150.1. When passing on the right is permitted. The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions: (1) When the vehicle overtaken is in a lane designated for left turns; (2) Upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width which have been marked for two or more lanes of moving vehicles in each direction and are not occupied by parked vehicles; (3) Upon a one-way street, or upon a highway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement when such street or highway is free from obstructions and is of sufficient width and is marked for two or more lanes of moving vehicles which are not occupied by parked vehicles; (4) When driving in a lane designating a right turn on a red traffic signal light. (1953, c. 679.)
Speed Positioning: Slower Traffic Use Right Thru Lane
20-146. Drive on right side of highway; exceptions. (b) Upon all highways any vehicle proceeding at less than the legal maximum speed limit shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for thru traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the highway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn.
A bicyclist may use a full marked lane. “Bicyclists usually ride on the right side of the lane, but are entitled to use the full lane…. Drivers wishing to pass a bicyclist may do so only when there is abundant clearance and no oncoming traffic is in the opposing lane. When passing a bicyclist, always remember the bicyclist is entitled to use of the full lane.” – North Carolina Driver’s Handbook, p.95.
Non-Motorized Vehicles Exempt from Impeding Traffic
§ 20-141. (h) No person shall operate a motor vehicle on the highway at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law; provided, this provision shall not apply to farm tractors and other motor vehicles operating at reasonable speeds for the type and nature of such vehicles.
Impaired Driving Law Applicable to Bicyclists
§ 20-138.1. Impaired driving. (a) Offense. – A person commits the offense of impaired driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State: (1) While under the influence of an impairing substance; or (2) After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alcohol concentration; or (3) With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90-89, or its metabolites in his blood or urine.
Children under 16 Must Wear Helmets
§ 20-171.9. Requirements for helmet and restraining seat use. With regard to any bicycle used on a public roadway, public bicycle path, or other public right-of-way: (a) It shall be unlawful for any parent or legal guardian of a person below the age of 16 to knowingly permit that person to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle unless at all times when the person is so engaged he or she wears a protective bicycle helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet. (b) It shall be unlawful for any parent or legal guardian of a person below the age of 16 to knowingly permit that person to be a passenger on a bicycle unless all of the following conditions are met: (1) The person is able to maintain an erect, seated position on the bicycle. (2) Except as provided in subdivision (3) of this subsection, the person is properly seated alone on a saddle seat (as on a tandem bicycle). (3) With respect to any person who weighs less than 40 pounds, or is less than 40 inches in height, the person can be and is properly seated in and adequately secured to a restraining seat.
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LATEST FROM THE BLOG
I was referred to Ben and his firm when I was hit by a car. Before I hired him as my attorney, Ben spent an enormous amount of time with me both answering my questions, as well as making sure I was comfortable with the process, timelines, and possible outcomes. Throughout the case I was given timely status reports and updates on the discussions from both sides. Not only was the service provided top notch, but Ben himself is a pleasure to work with. If this is ever something you find yourself in need of, there is no better place to go than BAA.Brian S.
Unfortunately 1 year ago I was in a very bad bicycle accident and also took out some of my fellow riders. Fortunately though Ben from Bike Accident Attorneys was on that same bike ride and what a blessing that was for me and those that were also involved. Him and his staff were amazing and so helpful with everything. He was a tremendous help and the greatest thing was not only was I represented professionally, but I gained a close friend and riding teammate. Thank you Ben and to your wonderful staff!Kristi R.
Bike Accident Attorneys is a fantastic law firm dedicated to cyclists! Ben Dodge will go above and beyond to make sure everything you need is taken care of. He is one of the kindest and most honest people I've ever had the honor of knowing. In addition he is a cyclist just like us and knows our mindset and needs. I highly recommend contacting Ben before you do anything else if you are in the unfortunate circumstance of needing help if something happens to you on a ride.Charles B.