What Happens After A Fatal Bicycle Accident?
Losing someone you love is never easy, regardless of your level of readiness. However, losing someone unexpectedly in a fatal bicycle accident adds shock and anger to the devastating circumstances. The frustration only runs deeper when the accident results from another party’s negligence. Unfortunately, little is to be done about the pain you suffer from losing your loved one. However, personal injury law provides you with a way to recover financial compensation. With the help of a personal injury attorney, you can more accurately value your claim.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
The circumstances leading to a bicycle accident can vary drastically. However, there are some common causes, any of which could lead to a fatal injury, given the right combination of contributing factors. Some examples of common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Driving while fatigued. A sleepy driver is just as dangerous as an intoxicated driver. Unfortunately, this is a common issue for commercial truck drivers, who often over-extend themselves while driving in an effort to meet unreasonable deadlines.
- Driving while distracted. Driving distractions come in many forms and can be visual, manual, or cognitive. For example, a visual distraction, such as something on the side of the road, removes the driver’s eyes from the road. A manual distraction, such as adjusting the radio, removes the driver’s hands from the wheel, and a cognitive distraction, such as daydreaming, removes the driver’s mind from the task.
- Driving while impaired. Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs inhibits reactionary time and impairs a person’s judgment abilities, making them a danger to other drivers.
- Speeding and tailgating. Speeding hinders a driver’s ability to slow down or stop in time to avoid a collision. Speeding while tailgating is particularly dangerous.
- Weaving through traffic. Drivers weaving in and out of traffic or making unsafe lane changes are less likely to notice a person on a bicycle and more likely to hit them.
- Failing to yield. Failing to yield at a roundabout or when merging at an intersection are common places where drivers hit cyclists.
Unfortunately, cars or trucks may not notice the cyclist until the collision occurs. When a fatality occurs, family members are often left with no choice but to file a lawsuit against the negligent party to recover compensation for their losses.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death Action?
The purpose of a wrongful death action is not just to compensate for the financial losses incurred. It also provides some solace to the surviving loved ones by eliminating future financial struggles caused by their loss. It is also to give them comfort during an emotionally devastating time. To understand whether a wrongful death action is a viable option, you should know the elements of negligence you, the plaintiff, would have to prove and whether or not the state would even allow you to sue.
Elements of Negligence
Like any personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit requires the party filing the suit to prove the defendant’s negligence. To do so, you must show the following:
- Duty. The other driver in the accident was responsible for acting within a reasonable safety standard. Being on the road constitutes a responsibility to obey road laws and drive reasonably in a fatal bicycle accident.
- Violation of duty. The other driver’s actions displayed an unreasonable breach of that responsibility.
- Causation. The other driver’s violation of their responsibility resulted in the accident.
- Damages. The accident is the reason your loved one suffered injuries and passed away.
These elements are generally reasonably easy to establish in accidents involving fatal crashes between a vehicle and a bicycle. However, you may receive pushback from the insurance company and would likely benefit from talking to a bicycle accident attorney about the specific details of your case.
Eligibility to Sue
Eligibility for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is mandated at the state level. However, most states limit eligible parties to the following:
- The spouse of the deceased person
- A guardian or parent of the deceased person
- Surviving adult children of the deceased person
- The minor children of the deceased with the surviving spouse as their representative
- A representative of the deceased person’s estate, which can be a family member.
Some states allow more distant relatives to file when the deceased has no immediate heirs. For example, siblings, aunts, uncles, or grandparents are sometimes eligible.
What Damages Can You Recover From a Wrongful Death Case?
The damages in any personal injury case depend on the specific details of the case and the losses incurred. However, all cases involve some form of compensatory damages, which include economic and non-economic losses. In addition, considering the circumstances surrounding the cause of the accident, the defendant may also have to pay punitive damages.
The economic and non-economic compensatory damages from a fatal bicycle accident case can include:
- Medical expenses incurred by the deceased before their death. This includes the cost of emergency medical care, hospital stays, medications, surgeries, and any other medical care received.
- Lost income. You can request payment for work your loved one missed during treatment, but you can also include loss of future income and inheritance your loved one provided.
- Emotional losses. This included loss of companionship or consortium and the loss of the love and nurturing your loved one provided.
- Death expenses. Economic damages also include the cost of the funeral and burial or cremation.
The circumstances surrounding your case affect the amount and type of damages you can claim, but a personal injury attorney can help you adequately value your losses.
Punitive damages are reserved for cases involving malicious intent or gross negligence on the defendant’s part. For example, if the at-fault party in your case was speeding while impaired and hit your loved one on their bicycle, the court may require them to pay punitive damages as a consequence of their actions.
Why Should You Schedule a Consultation With a Bicycle Accident Attorney?
There is a significant difference between a bicycle accident case and a wrongful death case for a fatal bicycle accident. If you lost a loved one in a bicycle accident caused by another party, you deserve to have a solid legal team on your side. Unfortunately, there is no way to compensate for the emotional pain you feel financially. However, you should not have to face the monetary repercussions as you grieve your loss. Wrongful death cases are sometimes legally challenging and emotionally demanding. However, an experienced bicycle accident attorney has seen similar cases and understands your needs.
At Mike Morse Law Firm, we can offer your aggressive, professional representation and vital emotional support during this challenging time for you and your family. Talking to insurance companies on your own can be a mistake. So instead, allow us to take on that challenge for you. We feel for you and want to do whatever we can to bring some relief to your family by pursuing justice for your loved one. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ready to listen to your story and serve as your legal team. Contact Mike Morse Law Firm today by calling 855-MIKE-WINS, chatting with us online, or completing our case evaluation form. Your initial consultation is free, and we work on contingency, which means we get paid when you get paid.