WE ARE ATTORNEYS AND WE ARE RIDERS
WE REPRESENT MONTANA CYCLISTS
HAD A BICYCLE CRASH IN MONTANA?
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.
(Montana State Flag)
MONTANA BICYCLE ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Percentage of Total Traffic Fatalities
Pedalcyclist Fatalities per Million Population
MONTANA BICYCLE STATUTES
61-8-601. Effect of regulations. (1) It is a misdemeanor for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required in this part.
(2) Subject to the exceptions stated in this part, the regulations applicable to bicycles apply whenever:
(a) a bicycle or moped is operated on any highway; or
(b) a bicycle is operated on any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
61-8-602. Traffic laws applicable to persons operating bicycles or mopeds. A person operating a bicycle or moped is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle by chapter 7, chapter 9, and this chapter except for special regulations in this part or the provisions of chapter 7, chapter 9, and this chapter that by their nature cannot apply.
61-8-603. Riding on bicycles or mopeds. A person propelling a bicycle or moped may ride only on or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle or moped.
61-8-604. Clinging to vehicles. A person riding on any bicycle, coaster, moped, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle may not attach the conveyance or be attached to any vehicle on a roadway, but a bicycle trailer may be attached to a bicycle.
61-8-605. Riding on roadways. (1) A person operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic shall ride in the right-hand lane of the roadway, subject to the following provisions:
(a) If the right-hand lane is wide enough to be safely shared with overtaking vehicles, a bicyclist shall ride far enough to the right as judged safe by the bicyclist to facilitate the movement of overtaking vehicles unless other conditions make it unsafe to do so.
(b) A bicyclist may use a lane other than the right-hand lane when:
(i) overtaking and passing a slower vehicle;
(ii) preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
(iii) the right-hand lane is a dedicated right-turn lane and the bicyclist does not intend to turn right; or
(iv) it is necessary to avoid a condition that makes it unsafe to ride in the right-hand lane of the roadway.
(2) A person operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as close to the left side of the roadway as judged safe by the bicyclist.
(3) Persons riding bicycles on a roadway shall ride in single file except when:
(a) riding on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles;
(b) overtaking and passing another bicycle;
(c) riding on a paved shoulder or in a parking lane, in which case the persons may ride two abreast; or
(d) riding within a single lane on a laned roadway with at least two lanes in each direction, in which case the persons may ride two abreast only if they do not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic more than they would otherwise impede traffic by riding single file and in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
(4) A bicyclist is not expected or required to ride:
(a) over or through hazards at the edge of a roadway, including but not limited to fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or narrow lanes; or
(b) without a reasonable margin of safety on the right side of the roadway.
61-8-606. Carrying articles. A person operating a bicycle or moped may not carry any package, bundle, or article that prevents the person from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.
61-8-607. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles and mopeds. (1) A bicycle or moped when in use at dawn, dusk, or nighttime must be equipped with:
(a) a lamp on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front. In lieu of a lamp affixed to the bicycle or moped, a bicyclist may use a lamp with equal intensity and visibility affixed to the cyclist's helmet and facing forward.
(b) facing the rear, either a lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the rear or a red reflector visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the rear when illuminated by low-beam motor vehicle headlamps; and
(c) reflective material large and reflective enough to be visible from the left and right sides from a distance of at least 500 feet when illuminated by low-beam motor vehicle headlamps.
(2) A bicycle or moped must be equipped with a brake enabling the operator to stop the bicycle or moped within no more than 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles an hour on dry, level, clean pavement.
61-8-608. Bicycles or mopeds on sidewalks and bike lanes. (1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (3)(b), a person operating a bicycle or moped on and along a sidewalk or across a roadway on and along a crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian.
(2) A person may not ride a bicycle or moped on and along a sidewalk or across a roadway on and along a crosswalk where the use of a bicycle or moped is prohibited by official traffic control devices.
(3) (a) Except as provided in subsections (1) and (2), a person operating a vehicle by human power on and along a sidewalk or across a roadway on and along a crosswalk has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
(b) A moped may be operated on and along a sidewalk or a bicycle path only under human propulsion and may not be operated on or along a sidewalk or bicycle path if the moped is under power from an independent power source.
(c) A moped may be operated under human propulsion or an independent power source on a highway, in a designated bicycle lane on a highway, or on the shoulder of a highway.
61-8-609. Bicycle or moped racing -- when lawful. (1) Bicycle or moped racing on a highway is prohibited except as authorized in this section.
(2) Bicycle or moped racing on a highway is lawful when a racing event is approved by state or local authorities on any highway under their respective jurisdictions. Approval of bicycle or moped highway racing events may be granted only under conditions that ensure reasonable safety for all race participants, spectators, and other highway users and that prevent unreasonable interference with traffic flow.
(3) By agreement with the approving authority, participants in an approved bicycle or moped highway racing event may be exempted from compliance with any traffic laws otherwise applicable if traffic control is adequate to ensure the safety of all highway users.
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