Bicycles are no match for large, heavy motor vehicles like cars, trucks, or SUVs. When one of these vehicles strikes a bicycle in an accident, the cyclist almost always falls to the ground and suffers injuries. Some of these injuries can end up fatal at worst. Cyclists who survive face costly medical treatment and potentially permanent disabilities from their injuries.
One of the main reasons why bicyclists suffer such severe injuries in an accident is that they have minimal protection. Unlike the occupants in cars, trucks, and SUVs, cyclists are out in the open and do not have a shell or covering surrounding them in a crash scenario.
If they fall, they may break a bone, suffer a severe head injury, or receive an open laceration that requires stitches. Even when cyclists wear their helmets, they may still suffer a traumatic head or brain injury, especially if their helmet is not well-constructed.
In most instances, bicycle accidents happen because of other drivers’ reckless behavior. If you or a person you love recently suffered injuries in a local bicycle crash, you should talk to a knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can advise you on all of your case’s available legal avenues of recovery. Your lawyer can also help you submit a personal injury claim, file a lawsuit in court, and bring your case to a prompt and favorable resolution via settlement or litigation.
What Monetary Damages Can I Recover in My Bicycle Accident Case?
Injured bicycle accident victims often experience pain and suffering from the onset, sometimes for the rest of their lives. Their injuries may also prevent them from working in a full-time capacity.
If you suffered injuries in a bicycle crash resulting from someone else’s negligence, you can pursue a claim for lost wages. To prove your lost wage claim, you may need to introduce copies of your tax returns, along with documentation from your employer that shows the dates you missed from work and the amount of money you lost.
Some accident victims suffer such debilitating injuries that they can no longer work at all. Alternatively, they may need to take a pay cut and switch to lighter-duty work. In these instances, a bicycle accident victim can pursue a claim for their loss of earning capacity.
Next, bicycle crash victims can recover monetary damages for their past and anticipated inconvenience, suffering, and pain. For a bicycle accident victim to recover monetary damages for their anticipated pain and suffering, they must ordinarily have sustained a permanent injury in their accident. Common examples of permanent injuries include spinal cord damage and complete or partial paralysis. Moreover, some traumatic head and brain injuries are permanent, such as post-concussive migraine syndrome.
If a bicycle accident victim sought mental health treatment from a psychologist or psychiatrist due to accident-related trauma, they might be eligible to recover monetary damages for their mental distress and emotional anguish. In some instances, bicycle accidents are so severe and injuries are so serious that the accident victim suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is legally compensable.
In addition, accident victims can recover monetary damages for their loss of the ability to use a body part and for loss of enjoyment of life to compensate them for their inability to participate in once-enjoyed recreational and social activities. Finally, if an accident victim’s injuries hinder their ability to be intimate with their spouse, they can make a legal claim for loss of spousal consortium and companionship.
The monetary damages that bicycle accident victims can recover are highly case-specific. Therefore, no two bicycle accident victims will receive the same types and amounts of damages.
Factors that influence an accident victim’s final damage award in a bicycle accident case include:
- The nature and extent of the accident victim’s injuries
- The circumstances surrounding the bicycle accident
- The speeds of the vehicles involved in the crash
- Whether the accident victim sustained permanent injuries and damages
- Whether the accident victim had to miss work time or switch careers due to their injuries
- The amount of pain, suffering, and inconvenience that the accident victim suffered
- The likelihood that the accident victim suffered a permanent injury and will experience ongoing pain and symptoms
An experienced bicycle accident lawyer in your area can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, litigate your case in the court system, and take other actions to increase the amount of monetary recovery you receive. Your lawyer can calculate how much your bicycle accident case is worth and will do everything possible to maximize your total monetary award through personal injury settlement or litigation.
Common Causes of Local Bicycle Accidents
In most but not all cases, bicycle accidents usually result from another driver’s negligence. At other times, these accidents may happen because of roadway defects, such as deep potholes, which cities or municipalities did not repair promptly.
Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Negligent and reckless driving manoeuvres. Drivers have to drive safely and carefully at all times. They must also yield the right-of-way to bicyclists when it is appropriate. The traffic laws which apply to bicycle riders are essentially the same as those that motor vehicle drivers must follow. When other drivers speed, tailgate, and drive aggressively, they may cause their vehicle to strike a nearby cyclist, causing the cyclist to fall on the ground and suffer serious injuries.
- Intoxicated driving. Drivers who drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher are legally intoxicated. As such, they may be unable to see or appreciate other vehicles—including bicycles—in the vicinity. Drunk drivers may experience blurred vision, limited concentration, and delayed reaction time. Therefore, even if an intoxicated driver sees the cyclist on the road, they may be unable to stop their vehicle in time to avoid hitting the cyclist.
- Inattentive driving. Some drivers ignore the road sufficiently while they are behind the wheel. Instead of watching the road, they might be looking at their cell phones, roughhousing with other vehicle occupants, or fiddling with a GPS navigation device. In many instances, these distractions may divert a driver’s attention off the road, preventing them from seeing a nearby cyclist who is travelling in an adjacent bike lane or on the main road.
- Fatigued driving. When drivers are on long trips, they should always stop and take frequent rest breaks. Doing so helps to clear their minds and ensure they are attentive to the road and other vehicles at all times. A fatigued driver who falls utterly asleep at the wheel may lose control of their car, causing it to hit a cyclist. Even drowsy drivers who remain awake may experience delayed reaction time and limited concentration, causing them to negligently hit a cyclist or other nearby vehicle.
If you or a person you love suffered injuries because of another driver’s negligence, a skilled bicycle accident lawyer in your area can explore your legal options with you and help you file a personal injury claim or lawsuit for damages.
What Do I Need to Prove in a Bicycle Accident Case?
In every bicycle accident claim or lawsuit that arises, the accident victim has to satisfy their legal burden of proof to become eligible for monetary damages. Often, this is an uphill battle, and you cannot rely upon the at-fault party’s insurance company to help you. Instead, the insurance company will do everything it can to lessen or eliminate the monetary recovery you receive via settlement or litigation.
A knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer advocating for you can help you satisfy every legal element of your case. First, your lawyer can investigate the circumstances surrounding your bicycle accident and, if necessary, retain an accident reconstructionist. Your lawyer can then help you prove that your bicycle accident resulted directly from someone else’s careless or reckless behaviour.
Your lawyer can also help you establish through expert medical testimony that you suffered at least one physical injury in your bicycle accident and that your injury directly resulted from the accident.
Can I File a Lawsuit After my Bicycle Accident?
Although a lawsuit is necessary to recover monetary damages in some bicycle accident cases, it is not necessary in every case. An accident victim or their lawyer will typically file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or other responsible person or entity. Lawsuits are necessary when the at-fault party’s insurance company denies fault or liability for the accident. They may also become necessary if the insurance company does not offer you sufficient monetary damages for your bicycle-accident injuries.
The insurance company may refuse to offer you favorable damages if they believe one or more of your injuries are pre-existing or resulted from a prior or subsequent motor vehicle accident. The insurance company might also allege that your injuries resulted from degenerative changes or changes that come with age, rather than from your bicycle accident.
Sometimes, filing a lawsuit in the court system is enough to convince the insurance company to take your case seriously. Once your lawyer files the lawsuit and litigation begins, the insurance company may offer you additional compensation to settle your claim. If that does not happen, however, the bicycle accident case will proceed through litigation and discovery, and the defense lawyer may note your discovery deposition.
An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can prepare you for a deposition and help you handle all of the legal components of the discovery process. Sometimes, after discovery is complete, insurance companies will offer bicycle accident victims additional compensation. If that does not happen, the bicycle accident case may proceed to trial, where a judge or jury will determine the monetary outcome.
Instead of taking your personal injury case to a bench or jury trial, you may agree with the defence lawyer to pursue alternative dispute resolution. For example, you can take the case to binding arbitration, at which time an arbitrator will listen to your testimony, review medical records and other evidence, and render a monetary damage award in your case. Your lawyer can help you make the critical decisions in your case that will work to maximize your economic recovery.
How Long Will It Take for my Bicycle Accident Claim to Resolve?
Some bicycle accident claims and lawsuits resolve quickly, while other cases may take years to settle or litigate.
The time it takes to recover monetary damages in a bicycle accident case will depend on:
- The amount of time it takes to obtain various documents, including copies of the police report, witness statements, and earnings statements from your employer if you are asserting a lost wage claim
- The insurance company and the adjuster with whom you are dealing during settlement negotiations and litigation
- The court where your bicycle accident lawsuit is pending
- The specific circumstances surrounding your accident and whether or not an investigation is necessary
By having a knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer on your side, you increase your chances of obtaining a fair, reasonable, and efficient result. Your lawyer will do everything possible to expedite the process and help you recover the monetary damages you need sooner rather than later.
Talk With a Bicycle Accident Lawyer Near You Today
If you or someone you care about recently sustained injuries in a bicycle crash that resulted from someone else’s careless behavior, you should involve an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. If you wait too long, the statute of limitations may prevent you from filing a claim or lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. Therefore, the quicker you involve a lawyer to represent you, the better off you and your case will be.
Your lawyer can begin representing you right away by investigating your accident circumstances and filing a claim or lawsuit on your behalf. Your lawyer can also answer all of your questions throughout the process and help you make intelligent and informed decisions at every stage of the legal proceedings.
Your Personal Injury Lawyer in Edmonton can do all this for you while you focus on the most important thing recovering from your injuries.