Bicycles represent a common form of transportation and are becoming even more frequently used for commuting purposes as more cities encourage bicycle commuting with dedicated bikeways and bike lanes along motorways. With the increased use of bicycles in high traffic areas the risk of bicycle accidents increases, as well. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute in 2015, 818 bicyclists died on US roads in 2015, an increase of 12.2 per cent and the highest number since 1995. Similarly, 45,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic in 2015
When a bicycle accident occurs, it is often the result of negligence from a motorist who did not exercise reasonable caution around a bicycle. As one can imagine in a automobile-bicycle collision, the cyclist will often suffer greater injuries due to the fact the cyclist is in a more vulnerable position. Most bicycle injuries involve head and neck trauma and serious injury to the arms and legs. Injuries to these regions of the body can result in severe and life-altering damage.
Recovery for Bicycle Accidents
The most common theory an injured bicyclist may attempt to seek compensation under is negligence in which an injured party may only recover damages from a liable party. A person is liable if he or she was negligent or intentionally caused another party’s injury.
Persons who act negligently never set out (intend) to cause a result like an injury to another person. Rather, their liability results from careless conduct. Conduct becomes “negligent” when it falls below a legally recognized standard of taking reasonable care under the circumstances to protect others from harm. In this case, the question that must be answered should the alleged careless party have taken steps to ensure that the injured party was safe and did the careless do what a reasonable person would have done in these circumstances. For example, a person would be found liable for crashing into a bicyclist when driving over the speed limit, due to the fact that a reasonably careful person obeys the speed limit for the safety of other motorists.
Determining Fault in a Bicycle Accident
Proving fault requires taking the facts surrounding the accident and determining if another person’s negligence caused the accident. Negligence involves the failure to use reasonable care through action or inaction. In the context of an auto accident driving too fast in dangerous conditions resulting in an accident or failing to obey a stop light and causing an accident would be examples of negligence through action (driving too fast) or inaction (failing to obey a stop light). When looking at less clear-cut examples of negligence proving fault will depend heavily on whether the person acted in a way that is contrary to what a reasonably careful person would do.
Proving fault in a bicycle accident depends on reconstructing the evidence surrounding how an accident occurred. Most cases involve simple facts (a driver disregards a stop sign and strikes a bicyclist in the intersection); however in cases where the question of fault is less clear the task assembling evidence of the events leading up to the accident are crucial.
Compensation for Bicycle Injuries
Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, it is important to determine what the case is worth depends on determining if the defendant’s actions or failure to act was the cause of your injury and figuring out what financial value can be placed on your injuries. Damages can be calculated to compensate a plaintiff based on monetary loss, physical injury, emotional suffering, and some cases damages to punish the defendant. Liability and damages can be agreed upon after a negotiated settlement with the responsible party or insurance company. A jury or judge may also determine liability and damages if settlement negotiations fail.
An injured bicyclist may be eligible to receive financial compensation for injuries and expenses caused by the wrongful actions of another.
The following provides an explanation of the different types of damages that a plaintiff may receive personal injury case.
Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the injured party or, in other words, attempt to make the injured plaintiff “whole” again through monetary compensation.
There are many types of compensatory damages.
Medical treatment. Damages compensate the injured party for the cost of medical care arising from the injury.
Lost Earning Capacity. Compensation may also attempt to account for an injury’s impact on present and future wages or “loss of earning capacity.”
Emotional distress. Compensation for the psychological impact caused by an injury. These are often referred to damages for “pain and suffering.
Loss of consortium. Compensation for the impact the injuries have on the injured party’s relationship with their spouse or another family member(s).
If you believe that you have been wrongfully injured while bicycling due to another person’s negligence and have questions about the types of damages you may be entitled to experienced bicycle injury counsel can provide a confidential case evaluation.
Insurance and Bicycle Injury Lawsuits
When a person is injured as a result of another person’s negligence the amount of compensation the injured person may be entitled to can be significant. Normally, damages arising from negligence liability are paid by the liable party’s insurance company. For example, if a motorist is injured due to another motorist’s negligence the liable party’s auto insurance provider would pay either a negotiated settlement made or a verdict obtained after a trial. However, the amount of compensation that is available will be limited by the terms of the liable party’s insurance policy. If the liable party’s policy has policy limits of $50,000 for bodily injury caused by the insured, the insurance company can only pay $50,000. Any amount more than the policy limits will be the responsibility of the insured. If the negligent party is uninsured the injured party’s insurance may be required to pay for injuries under an uninsured motorist clause and then sue the negligent party to recover any compensation paid. In the case of a bicycle accident the individual who causes the injury would likely be responsible for paying for injuries to the bicyclist out of their policy. For example, most auto insurance policies contain coverage that would allow for payments to injured bicyclists.
Does a bicycle accident lawsuit have to be filed within a certain amount of time?
Under the law, an injured party must file their claim with a certain period of time. These laws are referred to as a statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations prevent lawsuits from being filed after a certain period of time passes after an injury. The period of time available to file a suit varies depending on the jurisdiction and the type of claim. The statute of limitation begins to run from the date of the injury, or the date it was discovered, or the date of which it would have been discovered with reasonable efforts. For example, a person injured due to negligence on October 10, 2013, would under a two-year statute of limitations have two years from October 10, 2013. In another situation, a person injured on October 10, 2013, who did not discover that it was due to negligence until June 1, 2015, could make the case that the statute of limitations would begin to run on June 1, 2015, since this was the date the negligent conduct was discovered.
If you believe that you have been wrongfully injured while bicycling by another person’s negligence and have questions about the process of filing a claim experienced counsel can provide a free and confidential case evaluation.