“Attorney offers advice”
by John Rezell
Accidents can and do happen; be prepared.
Accidents are the last thing a cyclist wants to think about, but it’s important to be prepared. With the increase in the number of bicycles on the road, the number of accidents have also grown, sparking a new specialty for lawyers.
Gary Brustin, 41, a Beverly Hills-based attorney, is one of the leaders in cycle-related cases. Brustin has satellite offices throughout California, including Irvine.
“I’ve been a cyclist for 25 years and a personal injury attorney for 15,” Brustin said. “The first 10 years I had a lot of cycling cases and I decided that was what I wanted to specialize in.”
Brustin takes about 100 cycling-related cases a year, which constitute 95 percent of his work. He said about 85 percent are settled out of court.
Here are some tips for cyclists involved in accidents:
- Be polite to the investigating police officer.
- Take names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses. Don’t rely on the police to do it.
- Get the name, driver’s license number and insurance policy number of the driver as well as his vehicle license.
- Make a sketch or take notes pertaining to how the accident occurred.
- Listen to ambulance attendants or paramedics if they recommend medical attention.
- Brustin said that juries appear to be moving away from ruling in favor of cyclists.
“When I started, the jury trial usually sympathized with the cyclist, but in the last two or three years there has been a shift,” Brustin said. “I think that comes from more inexperienced cyclists on the road who hog the bike lanes and shoot out in front of cars.”
Brustin recommends wearing a helmet.
“Although there is no helmet law for adults, judges have allowed defenses to introduce evidence showing how injury could have been avoided with a helmet,” Brustin said. “Buy a helmet. It’s the cheapest insurance you can get. Spend the fifty bucks.”