Cycling on today’s busy roads can sometimes feel like playing Russian roulette with your health. Even when cyclists wear helmets and do everything right, they could still end up colliding with a car or getting struck down by a careless driver. The resulting injuries and medical expenses could cause immense suffering and financial chaos for victims.
If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a bicycle accident, you could sue. Damages for healthcare expenses, pain and suffering, and others might be available. Morgan & Morgan’s experienced bicycle accident lawyers can review the facts of your accident, establish whether you have a case, and walk you through your options for getting justice. Contact us now to find out if you qualify for compensation.
Reasons for Bicycle Accidents
Unfortunately, bicycle riders have to deal with several disadvantages on the road. They are generally not as visible as vehicles and, unlike car drivers, lack the protection of an enclosed steel cage. Serious accidents tend to have tragic consequences for the cyclist, while a motor vehicle driver could walk away from the same accident without as much as a scratch or a bruise.
Distracted, intoxicated, or generally careless vehicle drivers can put cyclists in life-threatening situations. Some common reasons for bicycle accidents can include:
- A bicyclist crashing into an opening vehicle door
- Motorists ignoring stop signs or other traffic signs or signals
- Drivers failing to yield to a cyclist
- Drivers making an improper turn
Was the Motor Vehicle Driver Negligent?
According to crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most motor vehicle accidents occur due to driver error. Negligent behaviors can include but are not limited to:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Following a cyclist too closely
- Not leaving enough room when passing a cyclist
- Making unsafe lane changes or turns
If you suffered severe injuries due to a motor vehicle driver’s negligent or reckless actions, you could have legal recourse. A bicycle accident lawyer can help to clarify your options and next best steps.
Common Injuries in Bicycle Accidents
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), bicycle accident injuries account for approximately 900 fatalities and 23,000 hospital admissions annually in the United States. Bicyclists can potentially suffer catastrophic, life-changing, and fatal injuries in an accident with a motor vehicle. Common injuries in bicycle accidents can include:
- Head and brain injuries
- Facial and dental injuries
- Fractures of the wrists and arms
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Spinal cord damage and paralysis
- Road rash
- Back and neck injuries
Despite many cyclists wearing helmets, they can still suffer catastrophic head injuries such as skull fractures and severe concussions. Some head injuries cause permanent brain damage and long-term cognitive issues. If someone else is responsible for your accident and injuries, you could recover compensation for medical bills, income loss, and other damages.
Proving Negligence in Bicycle Accidents
In order to have legal recourse against a negligent or reckless driver, bicycle accident victims have to prove negligence with relevant evidence, which can include:
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Police accident reports
- Traffic camera footage
- Police accident reports
- Witness statements
The Elements of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Determining liability in an accident will also involve establishing the following four elements:
- The at-fault motorist owed you a duty of care
- They breached duty
- The breach caused your bicycle accident
- You have damages such as medical bills as a result
Proving fault in a bicycle accident can be tricky, especially if there are no eyewitnesses or the evidence is inconclusive. However, a bicycle accident lawyer from our firm can help gather evidence, work with accident reconstruction professionals to prove fault, and build a comprehensive case against a negligent driver.
Victims Could Recover Compensation
Every bicycle accident is unique. Therefore, what you could recover with a lawsuit or insurance claim will be specific to the facts of your accident and injuries. However, you could potentially receive:
Reimbursement for Property Damage
If any of your personal property, such as your bicycle, was damaged or destroyed in the accident, you are generally entitled to replacement or repair of your property.
Medical costs you could receive can include all expenses connected to the accident injury, including but not limited to: hospitalizations, surgeries, out-patient treatments, specialist appointments, diagnostic tests, and rehabilitation. If the accident left you temporarily or permanently disabled, you could also qualify for awards to modify your home or vehicle.
Lost Wages and Future Lost Income
If you sustained a significant or life-changing injury, you may be off work for a long time or never be able to return to your career. You could be entitled to all present, past, and future lost income resulting from a bicycle accident.
Physical and Mental Anguish
Some bicycle accident victims have to undergo multiple surgeries, painful medical treatments and could face chronic pain. Moreover, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), accidents can have a detrimental effect on the psyche of victims and potentially lead to:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
If you have suffered physically and emotionally due to the negligent actions of another, you deserve adequate compensation.
Reduced Life Enjoyment
Unfortunately, for some accident victims, life changes dramatically and will never be the same again. Injured individuals may be unable to enjoy activities or hobbies they engaged in before the accident. If this has happened to you or a loved one, awards for reduced life quality could be available.
The damages you could recover in your specific bicycle accident case may differ from those mentioned. A bicycle accident attorney can provide you with more information about what you could be entitled to.
Why Work with a Lawyer in a Bicycle Accident Case?
If you have suffered significant injuries, navigating the legal process on your own can feel stressful and overwhelming. A dedicated bicycle accident lawyer from our firm can handle your case from beginning to end, fighting for full and fair compensation on your behalf.
Reasons for Hiring a Lawyer
Working with a lawyer can be essential, especially if one of the following circumstances apply to your case:
- You suffered life-changing injuries
- A loved one died in a bicycle accident
- The insurance company denies you a fair settlement
- You do not know what your legal rights and options are
- You are partially to blame for the accident
A bicycle accident lawyer can handle the insurance company on your behalf and help in several ways, including with:
- Proving negligence of the at-fault party
- Gathering and presenting compelling evidence for your case
- Determining your damages and future expected damages
- Negotiating a fair out-of-court settlement
- Filing a lawsuit to fight for what you deserve in court
You Need to File an Insurance Claim
After a bicycle accident, you could file an insurance claim with the at-fault party’s insurer or file a personal injury lawsuit. When filing a claim, make sure you:
Do not compromise your legal rights when communicating with adjusters
Know what damages you are entitled to
Understand the relevant insurance documents
Unfortunately, insurance companies typically watch out for their best interests and can employ various tactics to deny or minimize your claim. A lawyer can handle all communication and negotiation with an insurer while fully protecting your legal rights.
You Have to File a Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit can be much more challenging than handling an insurance claim and will involve:
- Knowing how and when to file the necessary legal documents
- Understanding courtroom protocol
- Presenting your case and evidence strongly
- Knowing the laws applying to your specific situation
Taking on more than you can handle could cost you dearly. The American Bar Association (ABA) states that self-represented litigants can be at a disadvantage. Any missteps, no matter how small, can put your right to compensation at risk. Consider that with an experienced lawyer by your side, they can focus on the legal process while you can focus on your health and recovery.
You Are Partially at Fault
Although laws concerning fault differ from one state to another, you could still recover damages if you are partially to blame for your accident. However, in most states, your percentage of fault will be deducted from your compensation or settlement amount.
Legal representation can be crucial if you have some fault in an accident. The other party’s attorney could argue that you have a higher degree of fault, potentially minimizing what you deserve. A Morgan & Morgan bicycle accident lawyer can protect your rights and could help you receive no less than what you are entitled to.
The Statute of Limitations Has Run Out
If you wish to sue and recover compensation, you must generally file suit within the statute of limitations of your state. In some rare cases, individuals who have missed the deadline could still sue. In some cases, you could apply for an extension of the statute if:
- The at-fault party has left the state
- The harmed individual was a minor at the time of the accident
- The injured individual became mentally incapacitated
- The negligent party tried to conceal their real identity
- You did not discover your injuries for some time
Timely action can be crucial. Consult with an attorney as soon as possible if the statute of limitations has run out. Our experienced and dedicated legal team can analyze your specific case and determine whether you could qualify for an extension and file a lawsuit.