Can I Claim Compensation In A Bicycle Accident?
Bicycles are a common way to commute, and while cyclists have to meet specific safety requirements on the road, there is no guarantee that an accident will not occur. Given the vulnerable nature of a bicycle in a car or truck accident, the damages to the cyclist can be significant. If you suffered injuries in a bicycle accident caused by a driver, you could receive compensation for your losses. With the help of a bicycle accident attorney, your chances for faster, fairer compensation are significantly higher.
How Is Fault Determined in a Bicycle Accident?
As the plaintiff in a personal injury claim, fault is the foundation of your right to compensation. Therefore, when you file a lawsuit, you bear the responsibility of proving the following:
- The at-fault driver owed you and other cyclists and motorists a duty of care to act responsibly and follow the laws of the road.
- The at-fault driver did not uphold that responsibility and violated road laws, resulting in your accident.
- The accident was the direct cause of your injuries and the damages you incurred.
To determine liability in a bicycle accident, the police, attorneys, and insurance companies conduct independent investigations to determine which party violated their duty of care. Additionally, motorists and bicyclists are subject to the same road laws. This means they must both obey traffic signals and signs, avoid making unsafe turns or lane changes, and avoid using the sidewalks reserved for pedestrians only.
Legal Standards to Consider
Negligence plays a significant role in personal injury cases. For example, violating road laws or failing to display reasonable care for the safety of others under the circumstances constitutes negligence. Both parties will also consider if a third party contributed to the accident. For example, if your case involves a rear-end collision where the vehicle behind you hit you, the court will want to know if someone else hit that vehicle, causing the crash. Additionally, the court must consider if you contributed to the accident.
If you are partially to blame for the accident, you may still be able to claim a portion of the damages per comparative negligence law. Most states apply one of two types of comparative negligence:
- The pure comparative negligence rule mandates recovery of a portion of damages regardless of your percentage of fault.
- The modified comparative negligence rule states you cannot receive any award for damages if your portion of responsibility is more than 50%. Many states call this the 51% rule.
When applied, your percentage of fault equals the percentage of compensation deducted from your award. For example, if the court awards you $40,000 and finds you 20% at fault, you will receive $40,000 minus 20%, making your final award $32,000. However, in a state following the 51% rule, if the court finds you 51% or more at fault, you cannot recover any portion of the damages.
What Damages Can You Collect From a Bicycle Accident?
Because the circumstances of bicycle accidents vary, the type and amount of damages also differ. However, any losses you incur fall under one of the two types of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic. In rare cases, the court may find it suitable to award you punitive damages.
The financial losses you can directly relate to your accident and injuries are called economic damages. Examples of these include:
- The income you lost from missing work during recovery from your injuries
- The medical expenses you incurred during treatment, including emergency care services, medical devices, medications, and any long-term treatment
- The cost of any property damaged, such as your bicycle, phone, or safety gear
- All other costs related to the accident, such as in-home care for yourself or children and transportation costs to medical treatments
Some common evidence used to support a claim for economic damages includes the pay stubs from your missed work, the bills you received for medical care, and the receipts you have for any out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident.
You may not be aware that you can also receive compensation for the psychological damages you suffered from the accident and your injuries. These non-monetary losses are called non-economic damages, encompassing your pain and suffering due to the losses you sustained. This includes emotional distress, anxiety, mental anguish, depression, post-traumatic stress, and the loss of enjoyment in life. Valuing these claims can be complex, but an experienced bicycle accident attorney can use multiple techniques, including precedented cases and the multiplier factor. Additionally, your attorney could use your written statement and depositions from the people closest to you in life to testify to the psychological damages you suffered.
If your case involved a blatant display of gross negligence, the court might decide to punish the defendant by requiring them to pay an award of punitive damages. These damages do not compensate for any physical or financial losses. Instead, their purpose is to punish the at-fault party for egregious or malicious behavior and deter them from similar conduct in the future.
What Should You Do After a Bicycle Accident?
If you sustain an injury in a bicycle accident, you can take specific steps to protect your right to compensation:
- Remain on the scene until the police arrive so you can give a complete statement. The exception will be if you need emergency medical assistance.
- Get the name and contact and insurance information from the driver.
- Take photographs of the scene, documenting everything from property damage to visible injuries.
- Preserve evidence by leaving your bicycle in the state it was in after the accident.
- See a doctor to treat and document your injuries.
The final step is to contact a bicycle accident lawyer to learn more about the damages you could recover from your accident and what steps you need to take.
Should You Contact a Bicycle Accident Lawyer for a Consultation?
If you have questions about the details of your bicycle accident, a personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and the compensation available in your case. You are under no legal obligation to hire legal representation. However, carrying the burden of a lawsuit on top of the financial, physical, and psychological damages you face can be overwhelming, even for someone well-versed in personal injury law. A bicycle accident attorney will:
- Represent you in all communications
- Handle all the necessary documentation and paperwork
- Help you identify the recoverable damages in your case
- Provide professional and personal support
- Advise you of your rights and act to protect them
- Negotiate your settlement or prepare your case for trial
If you suffered an injury or lost someone you love because of another party’s negligent behavior, you deserve the opportunity to recover financial compensation to get your life back. At Mike Morse Law Firm, our team of legal professionals can help you reach the best possible outcome for your case. We understand how a bicycle accident can affect your financial health, which is why we work on contingency. This means our representation comes risk-free. We only get paid when you get paid. Contact our firm today to speak to an experienced bicycle accident attorney. Call 855-MIKE-WINS to schedule your free consultation or chat with us online. You can also fill out our online case evaluation form.