WE ARE ATTORNEYS AND WE ARE RIDERS
WE REPRESENT VERMONT CYCLISTS
HAD A BICYCLE CRASH IN VERMONT?
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.
(Vermont State Flag)
VERMONT BICYCLE ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Percentage of Total Traffic Fatalities
Pedalcyclist Fatalities per Million Population
VERMONT BICYCLE STATUTES
SAME RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES AS MOTOR VEHICLES. Everyone riding a bicycle is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to operators of vehicles, except as to those provisions which by their very nature can have no application. 23 VSA §1136(c)
DEFINITION. “BICYCLE” means every pedal-driven device propelled by human power having two or more wheels on which a person may ride, including a so-called pedal vehicle which may have an enclosed cab. 19 VSA §2301
PASSING VULNERABLE ROADWAY USERS. The operator of a motor vehicle approaching or passing a vulnerable user (a pedestrian; a person operating a wheelchair or other personal mobility device, whether motorized or not; a person operating a bicycle or other nonmotorized means of transportation (such as, but not limited to, roller skates, rollerblades, or roller skis); or a person riding, driving, or herding an animal) shall exercise due care, which includes increasing clearance, to pass the vulnerable user safely. 23 VSA §1033(a, b) §4(81). Penalty is 4 points and $156 ﬁne.
A vehicle shall not pass another from the rear... when approaching or upon the crest of a grade or upon a curve in the highway where the driver’s view is in any way obstructed. 23 VSA §1035(b). Penalty is 3 points and $214 ﬁne.
HARASSMENT: FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY, CROWDING, AND THROWING OBJECTS. The operator of a vehicle shall not, in a careless or imprudent manner, approach, pass, or maintain speed unnecessarily close to a vulnerable user and an occupant of a vehicle shall not throw any object or substance at a vulnerable user. 23 VSA §1039(a). Penalty for following too closely is 4 points and $271 ﬁne, and for throwing objects is 4 points and $386 ﬁne.
If you, while bicycling, walking, running, riding a horse, etc. on Vermont’s roads, have experienced harassment from a motorist, please report what happened to you and let the police know that you would like the motorist to be cited for violating the “Safe Passing” law. By doing so, you are assisting law enforcement and you are helping to protect others from experiencing what you experienced or worse. If you ignore this kind of behavior on the part of drivers, it will continue. Don’t tolerate it. You, as the victim, are a credible witness. Please speak up and save lives!
RIDE ON THE RIGHT. A person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction and generally shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, but shall ride to the left or in a left lane when:
(1) preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private roadway or driveway;
(2) approaching an intersection with a right-turn lane if not turning right at the intersection;
(3) overtaking another highway user; or
(4) taking reasonably necessary precautions to avoid hazards or road conditions.
23 VSA §1139(a). Penalty is $70 ﬁne.
TWO ABREAST. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of trafﬁ c and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane. 23 VSA §1139(b). Penalty is $70 ﬁne.
LIGHTS AT NIGHT. A person shall not operate a bicycle at nighttime from one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise unless the bicycle or the bicyclist is equipped with a lamp on the front which emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front. In addition, bicyclists shall operate during these hours with either a lamp on the rear of the bicycle or bicyclist which emits a ﬂ ashing or steady red light visible at least 300 feet to the rear, or with reﬂ ective rear-facing material or reﬂ ectors, or both, with a surface area totaling at least 20 square inches on the bicycle or bicyclist and visible at least 300 feet to the rear. 23 VSA §1141(a). Penalty is $70 ﬁne.
HAND SIGNALS. All signals to indicate change of speed or direction, when given by hand, shall be given from the left side of the vehicle and in the following manner:
(1) Left turn - Hand and arm extended horizontally.
(2) Right turn - Hand and arm extended upward. Alternatively, a person operating a bicycle may give a right-turn signal by extending the right hand and arm horizontally and to the right side of the bicycle.
(3) Stop or decrease speed - Hand and arm extended downward.
It is not necessary to signal if you need your hands for braking. 23 VSA §1065(a,b). Penalty is 2 points and $214 ﬁne.
NOT REQUIRED TO USE BIKE PATH. Bicyclists are permitted to use the road, even where there is an adjacent path. 23 VSA §1139(c)
RIDING ON SIDEWALKS AND IN CROSSWALKS. Some municipalities limit riding on sidewalks, especially for adults or in downtown areas. Bicyclists do not have the right-ofway in crosswalks under state law unless they dismount and walk.
RIDING ON SHOULDERS. “Paved road shoulders are considered bicycle lanes” which the statute deﬁ nes as for preferential use by bicycles. 19 VSA §2301(3)
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