Bicycle accidents frequently result from driver negligence. When drivers operate their vehicles carelessly or recklessly, engage in distracted driving, or drink and drive, they significantly increase their chances of causing accidents, especially with bicycles.
Since bicycles are low to the ground, a motor vehicle driver may not even see the cyclist if they are not observing the road. Moreover, a forceful collision between a large motor vehicle and a bicycle usually causes the cyclist to bear the brunt of the injuries. The crash may knock cyclists off their bikes and onto the ground, bringing about serious, debilitating, and sometimes deadly injuries.
If you or someone you care about suffered injuries in a recent bicycle accident, you should have an experienced bicycle accident lawyer representing you in every step. Your lawyer can meet with you to discuss the circumstances surrounding your bicycle accident and develop a plan of action for moving your case forward. Your bicycle accident lawyer can then file a personal injury claim and negotiate with the settlement adjuster.
Common Causes of Bicycle Crashes
In most instances, bicycle accidents happen when drivers operate their vehicles negligently. A negligent driver acts unreasonably under the circumstances and deviates from the prevailing standard of care, usually by engaging in road rage, operating their vehicle while intoxicated, violating the rules of the road, and engaging in distracted driving.
Road rage is a motor vehicle driver’s overreaction to an actual or imaginary set of circumstances that arises on the road. Many drivers are in a big hurry to get to their final destination, and they will resort to anything to avoid other traffic. These drivers may tailgate other vehicles, fail to use turn signals, or aggressively weave in and out of heavy traffic. As a result of these aggressive driving maneuvers, they may fail to notice a cyclist, negligently causing a forceful collision.
Another common cause of bicycle accidents is intoxicated driving. A passenger vehicle driver is legally intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent. Commercial vehicle drivers and drivers under 21 years old must follow stricter legal standards.
Alcohol impairment is likely to cause a bicycle accident because alcohol significantly alters a driver’s depth perception, vision, and mental faculties. Intoxicated drivers often lose their ability to concentrate and experience delayed reaction time. Consequently, they might not stop their vehicle in time to avoid hitting a cyclist. This is especially true if they are driving at a high rate of speed.
In addition to intoxicated driving, some bicycle accidents happen when drivers violate the rules of the road, including speed limits and right-of-way laws. They might fail to stop at a stop sign or red traffic light, negligently causing their vehicle to hit a bicycle. Negligent drivers may also tailgate cyclists or fail to use their turn signals at the appropriate times.
Finally, some bicycle accidents happen when drivers operate their vehicles while distracted. A distracted driver does not watch the road attentively. Electronic devices, such as tablets, cellular phones, and GPS navigation systems, frequently cause drivers to divert their attention away from the road. Even when a driver looks away for a second or two, that may be sufficient time for them to miss seeing a cyclist or pedestrian in the vicinity, causing a severe accident.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a recent bicycle accident, a knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer can assist. Your lawyer can explain your legal options in clear and easy-to-understand terms and help you develop a plan for maximizing the monetary damages you recover in your personal injury case.
Common Injuries in Bicycle Crashes
Whenever a car or truck hits a bicycle, the cyclist usually suffers more severe injuries. Since every bicycle accident is different, the injuries that one accident victim suffers may differ from those another accident victim sustains. The extent of an accident victim’s injuries will usually depend upon the force of the collision, whether the cyclist falls to the ground in the crash, and how they land on the ground.
Generally, cyclists who hit their head, neck, or back on the ground in an accident suffer the most severe injuries.
Some of the most common injuries that cyclists suffer in a crash include:
- Traumatic head and brain damage.
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Road rage injuries.
- Cuts and abrasions.
- Bone fractures.
- Soft tissue injuries.
When an accident victim suffers a spinal cord injury, it can lead to full or partial paralysis, which limits the use of their body parts. Other injuries, including bone fractures, may also cause the accident victim to experience permanent complications for the rest of their life.
As soon as possible after a bicycle accident, you should immediately follow up at a hospital emergency room so that a medical provider can examine you. The provider can also order necessary MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans to determine the extent of your injuries.
If you require emergency medical treatment, like surgery, the provider can also put you on the schedule. Finally, the provider can recommend future care in the event that your symptoms become worse. For example, if you suffer a bone fracture, you may need to follow up with an orthopedic doctor or a physical therapist later.
While you focus all of your attention on getting better, a knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer can begin advocating for your legal interests. Your lawyer can start gathering your medical records, lost wage documentation, and other potential evidence to use, such as photographs of your injuries, property damage photographs, and a personal statement from you.
After your medical treatment is finished, your lawyer can submit these documents to the insurance company adjuster as part of a settlement demand package and begin negotiating a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
The Burden of Proof in a Bicycle Accident Case
In a bicycle accident claim or lawsuit, the bicycle accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof. Conversely, the at-fault driver who caused the bicycle accident need not prove anything in the case. In fact, the responsible driver does not even have to testify at trial.
To recover monetary compensation in their case, a bicycle accident victim must prove that another driver acted unreasonably under the circumstances and that, as a result, their accident occurred. The accident victim must also show that they suffered at least one physical injury in their bicycle accident and that their injury directly resulted from the accident.
To satisfy the legal burden of proof in their case, an accident victim or their lawyer may need to retain several experts. First, an expert accident reconstructionist can help shed light on exactly how the accident happened and who caused it. These experts are necessary in personal injury cases where the insurance company disputes fault or liability for the accident.
In addition, the accident victim may need to retain a medical expert who can causally relate the accident victim’s injuries to the subject accident. The provider can state, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the injury in question directly resulted from the accident. The provider can also classify one or more of the accident victim’s injuries as permanent. A permanent injury is one that is likely to cause the accident victim pain and other symptoms for the rest of their life.
A knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer in your area can help you prove the legal elements of your claim or lawsuit so that you can recover the monetary damages that you need to become whole again. Moreover, your lawyer can retain the necessary experts who can testify at a deposition or jury trial on your behalf.
The MNH Injury Team Gets Results
Filing a Bicycle Accident Claim
The first step to recovering monetary damages after a bicycle accident is for you to file a personal injury claim. In most instances, the injured cyclist will file their claim with the insurance company for the at-fault driver.
Once the claim begins, the insurance company adjuster will review the documents and medical evidence that the accident victim’s lawyer submits. The adjuster will then decide whether to admit or deny fault or liability for the accident. If the insurance company accepts fault, the adjuster might make an initial offer to settle the claim prior to litigation.
An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can be beneficial during settlement negotiations. If the insurance company sees that you do not have legal representation, they will likely take advantage of you and offer you the lowest amount of compensation available. This is because insurance companies and their adjusters typically believe that unrepresented accident victims do not have the knowledge or skills to negotiate an adequate settlement or litigate their cases in court.
Even when a bicycle accident victim has representation, the initial settlement offer from the insurance company may be meager. Insurance companies are looking to see if the accident victim is in a hurry to resolve their case. After all, insurance companies are only interested in saving themselves money, and they cannot do that when they have to pay out a large personal injury settlement following a bicycle accident.
A knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer can effectively negotiate with the adjuster by highlighting the strengths of your personal injury case while downplaying any weaknesses. If the adjuster increases their initial offer meaningfully, you might consider accepting it. At that point, the case will end, and it will not go to trial. However, if the adjuster refuses to take your case seriously and will not offer you the damages you deserve, your lawyer can litigate it in the court system.
Common Bicycle Accident Damages
Proving the necessary legal elements of a bicycle accident claim is a prerequisite to recovering monetary damages. The damages that a cyclist may be eligible to recover will depend upon various factors, including the nature and extent of the accident victim’s injuries and whether they missed work due to their injuries.
First, bicycle accident victims can claim lost earnings if they miss work due to their injuries. They may also need to take time off work to attend their medical appointments and physical therapy sessions. In cases where an accident victim has to switch jobs due to their injuries, they may be eligible to make a claim for loss of earning capacity.
In addition to these economic damages, bicycle accident victims may be eligible to recover non-economic damages as well. These damages compensate bicyclists for the inconvenience, suffering, pain, and mental distress they experience due to their accidents. If they suffer a permanent injury, they can recover compensation for loss of the ability to use a body part, such as with full or partial paralysis. Finally, they can recover monetary damages for lost quality of life and loss of spousal companionship or consortium.
A bicycle accident lawyer will do everything they can to help you maximize your monetary damages and recover the compensation you need after your accident.
Call an Experienced Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today.
If you recently suffered injuries in a bicycle accident, you should retain an experienced bicycle accident lawyer to represent you as quickly as possible. In a bicycle accident case, time is of the essence. This is because bicycle accident victims have only two years from their accident date in which to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit that seeks damages. If the accident victim files their claim or lawsuit belatedly, they will not be eligible to receive monetary damages for their injuries.
An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can begin representing you as soon as you retain them. Your lawyer can gather the necessary documents and initiate a claim with the appropriate insurance company. At that point, negotiations may begin, and your lawyer can zealously advocate on your behalf. Insurance companies use every tactic they can to reduce the total compensation you receive, but your lawyer will know how it does this.
Finally, suppose the insurance company refuses to offer you the monetary compensation you need. In that case, your lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit in court and litigate it to a favorable resolution.