When Do I Need A Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
Bicycle accidents can result in catastrophic injuries, given the vulnerability of the cyclist. With the high costs of medical care, victims of bicycle accidents often face extensive medical expenses when they cannot work due to their injuries. If you lost a loved one or suffered severe injuries in a bicycle accident, it is likely time to contact a bicycle accident lawyer about your case. An attorney can help you understand your rights and will fight to get the compensation you need to get your health and life back.
When To Consider Hiring a Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Not all bicycle accidents require a lawsuit. For example, in minor collisions involving no personal injuries and minimal property damage, you can typically file an insurance claim with little or no pushback. However, some examples of when you should consider contacting a lawyer include:
- Your case involves questions about liability. If you are unsure about the fault distribution in your case, a bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine who is liable.
- You suffered severe injuries in the accident. Substantial injuries result in high medical bills, and an attorney will negotiate with the insurance company to ensure you receive adequate payment. Examples of severe injuries include broken bones, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, or any injury requiring surgery.
- You receive pushback from the insurance company. Insurers will sometimes resort to bad faith tactics to avoid making expensive payouts. For example, they may deny your claim without an explanation, ignore your attempts to communicate, misrepresent the policy information, or try to undervalue your claim. An attorney can help you fight these tactics and get the compensation you need.
Anytime you have questions about your case, you should contact an experienced attorney who can help you understand the legal options available. Without legal experience, you may struggle to navigate the civil process of filing a lawsuit and risk undervaluing your claim.
Liability in a Bicycle Accident Case
When you file a lawsuit, your attorney will send a demand letter to the defendant addressing your account of the accident and their role in it. As the plaintiff in the case, you are responsible for proving that the defendant owed you a duty of care on the road, violated that duty of care, and caused an accident. Additionally, your evidence must show that your injuries directly resulted from that accident. The typical response, especially in cases with significant damages, is to displace fault back to the plaintiff. To address the issue of shared responsibility, states mandate either the contributory or comparative negligence rule.
Alabama, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina are the only states that adhere to the contributory negligence rule. It restricts the plaintiff’s ability to receive compensation if they contribute at all to the accident. For example, if a court in one of these states rules in favor of the defendant’s claim that you are at least partially responsible, you will not receive any award for your losses.
Most states find the contributory negligence rule antiquated and unrealistic. Instead, they follow the comparative negligence rule, which allows the plaintiff to recover partial compensation for damages even if they bear some responsibility for the accident. Additionally, there are two types of this rule:
- States that follow the pure comparative negligence rule allow the plaintiff to recover compensation, even when they are as much as 99% responsible for the accident.
- States that follow the modified comparative negligence rule limit the availability of compensation to plaintiffs who are less responsible than the defendant.
For example, assume you live in a state that adheres to the modified comparative negligence rule, and the court finds you 52% responsible for the accident, you would then be ineligible for compensation. However, if they find you 49% responsible, you could still recover 51% of the value of your damages.
Potential Damages in a Bicycle Accident Case
Compensatory damages is a legal term used in personal injury cases to refer to the losses you incurred due to the accident and your injuries. These can include the specific losses with tangible evidence and the general losses that depend on how the accident affected you mentally and emotionally. In rare cases, the court may also decide to make the defendant pay punitive damages.
Examples of Compensatory Damages
The specific compensatory damages have monetary value, as evidenced by bills and receipts. Examples include:
- Ambulance and emergency care expenses
- Statements for doctor and hospital visits
- The cost of surgeries, medications, and necessary medical devices
- The cost of transportation to and from medical treatment
- The cost of ongoing rehabilitative care
- Lost income due to missing work or losing the ability to earn the income you earned before the accident
- Cost of repairing or replacing the property damage, such as your bicycle damaged in the accident
The general damages are more difficult to prove but are just as relevant. They include:
- The loss of life’s enjoyment
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Anxiety or depression
- Mental anguish
Suppose you lost a loved one due to the accident and filed a wrongful death claim. In that case, you may ask for compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship, loss of love and nurturing, and loss of inheritance or benefits.
Punitive damages are rare, but the court may order payment if the defendant’s behavior constitutes gross negligence or malintent. For example, if the defendant intentionally hit you or was driving while impaired, the court may want to punish them for that behavior. The amount of punitive damages available depends on the state. Some states place a cap on punitive damages using a specific number, and others base it on the defendant’s assets and income.
Schedule an Appointment With a Bicycle Accident Lawyer
The medical bills can start rolling in quickly after a bicycle accident, and victims of personal injury will have questions about who is responsible for those bills. If you need help understanding how to pursue compensation for the damages you suffered in a bicycle accident, a lawyer can offer you advice and much more. Some reasons you may want legal representation on your side include:
- Insurance companies can be difficult and argumentative, but your attorney will ensure they do not violate your right to compensation.
- The legal process requires extensive paperwork, and your attorney will handle it all while you focus on healing.
- You need evidence to support your claim to damages and your liability argument, and your attorney will investigate your accident to collect all that evidence for you.
- Reaching a settlement that accurately depicts the value of your losses requires negotiation skills, which a bicycle accident attorney has developed over years of experience.
Mike Morse Law Firm has a team of personal injury attorneys with experience in bicycle accident cases. We understand the financial, physical, and emotional strain these accidents can cause, and our commitment is to get the compensation our clients need to recover. We also offer our services on a contingency basis, which means you owe us nothing unless we can secure payment for you. Contact us today to speak with an experienced bicycle accident attorney. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 855-MIKE-WINS. You can also schedule a free consultation online through chat or our case evaluation form. We are available whenever you need us to hear the details of your case and answer your questions.