“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.”

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