Cycling is an enjoyable activity for many people. Whether you ride a bike for fun, exercise, or to help the environment, you might find yourself riding in bike lanes or otherwise near traffic. Anytime a bicycle is near a car, there is a chance of a collision and serious injuries.
Unfortunately, drivers are not as diligent as they should be when watching out for bikers on the road. Whether a car driver, truck driver, or motorcycle rider, motorists are in danger of causing severe harm to cyclists. Whether cyclists know it or not, they have the right to seek compensation from drivers who hurt them. Seeking compensation often begins with filing an insurance claim, though it might lead to working with a bicycle accident attorney and filing a personal injury lawsuit against the person who hit you on your bike.
Bicycles are vehicles under the law and have permission to use the roads like any other vehicle. In a perfect world, cyclists freely share the roadways with other motorists. In reality, cyclists put themselves at risk when they ride alongside motor vehicles.
Many bicycle accidents occur due to other drivers failing to notice the presence of cyclists.
Some common causes of bicycle accidents include:
Regarding bicycle collisions, the driver is often liable for the cyclist’s injuries. When a driver causes an accident due to negligence, that driver should be fully responsible for the injured party’s damages. There are several ways to determine a driver’s liability in a bike accident, and your bike accident lawyer can investigate what happened and gather evidence of negligence and liability.
Because a bike accident leads to personal injuries, you have the right to file a personal injury claim for your injuries. A personal injury claim allows you to file a formal complaint against a negligent party for your accident. Through this claim, you can request that the negligent party compensate you for the damages you endured from your injuries.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the average cost of bicycle deaths and injuries in the United States exceeds $23 billion yearly. This includes costs for medical care and lost work productivity. It is no surprise that injured cyclists face overwhelming losses, both financial and otherwise. The worth of your claim will depend on the nature and severity of your injuries, but many cyclists have high-value claims due to serious injuries.
The police may investigate your bicycle accident like a motor vehicle accident. If the police get called to the scene, they can create a police report and document specific facts of the accident. If you hire a lawyer, your lawyer can also conduct an investigation. They can gather all police reports and records, interview all witnesses, and seek help from experts or other professionals who can give their opinion about how the accident happened.
Negligence is a required element of a personal injury claim. Your legal team must show a driver’s actions as negligent and demonstrate how the driver’s negligent actions were responsible for your bicycle accident.
To help define a driver’s actions as negligence, the driver’s actions must meet several criteria:
Some of the damages that you can suffer from a bicycle accident include:
One way to obtain compensation for your bicycle accident is through the other driver’s insurance company. Many cyclists may not know that auto insurance policies compensate for bike accidents. Similar to a motor vehicle accident, you must prove that the other driver was responsible for causing the crash, and their insurance policy should provide coverage for your damages. Unfortunately, insurance companies are rarely forthcoming with payment, and the process is never simple.
One similarity between a personal injury claim and an insurance claim is that both can result in a settlement offer by the insurance company. To avoid paying you what you can obtain for compensation, insurance companies may offer to pay you a settlement amount in exchange for waiving your rights to sue. That means that once you accept the settlement offer from the insurance company, you can no longer pursue legal action against the other driver for your injuries.
While this may sound like a fair deal, it may come back to haunt you if the settlement offer is inadequate, which it usually is. The insurance company might be lowballing you, as it is common knowledge that insurance companies offer the lowest compensation possible in an initial settlement offer.
Another similarity between personal injury lawsuits and insurance claims is that you can have a lawyer assist you with both. You may be thinking that you can handle both claims on your own, though choosing to do so can cost you the compensation you deserve.
Insurance companies like to confuse and trick claimants into revealing information the insurer later uses against them. Insurance adjusters can also be deceptive and play on the fact that many bike riders are not familiar with their legal rights. A lawyer can protect you from being deceived by the insurance company and maximize the most compensation from your claim.
A lawyer can assess the damages you have sustained from your claim and provide the best estimate for your compensation. There might be additional damages you endured from your accident that you may not have considered including in your claim.
A lawyer can also provide a detailed estimate of your damages and supporting evidence. For example, a lawyer can estimate current and future medical expenses you may need to recover from your accident and intangible losses, like pain and suffering.
Whether you are filing a personal injury lawsuit or an insurance claim, your lawyer can negotiate the amount of compensation that is necessary for your injuries. You will face off against drivers denying responsibility, insurance companies trying to limit your payment, and legal teams of insurers who spend their days defending claims like yours. You need an advocate who will present your case and go back and forth with opposing parties.
Insurance companies and defense lawyers know that personal injury attorneys have handled these cases before. They know their usual tricks will not work, so they are more likely to come to the negotiating table with a reasonable offer when you have the right legal representation.
If the insurance company offers you a settlement offer that is insufficient, your lawyer can negotiate a more significant settlement offer for you. In a personal injury lawsuit, you will have the option of coming to a mutual settlement agreement with the insurance company to avoid taking your claim to trial.
Should you find yourself in this situation, you want a top-notch negotiator on your side who can convince insurance companies to reward you with your just compensation. An experienced lawyer has enough skill to convince insurance companies that your settlement amount needs to be higher.
When you cannot reach a mutual agreement with the insurance company, you also have the legal right to proceed to trial to resolve your lawsuit. When your claim proceeds to trial, you must have a skilled lawyer to represent you. Filing a lawsuit is complicated enough, but the rules are highly strict, and the stakes are extremely high at trial. You need a bicycle accident attorney with experience representing injury victims in court.
The good news is that bicycle accidents involving children have decreased since 1975. However, fatal bicycle accidents that involve riders aged 20 and older have increased in recent years. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 932 cyclists died in motor vehicle collisions last year. Thousands more cyclists visited emergency rooms due to severe injuries they suffered in bike crashes.
When you have suffered injuries in a bicycle accident, it can seem as if your entire world turns upside down. Contact an experienced lawyer to work with you to seek the compensation you deserve. If your bicycle accident resulted from another person’s negligence, that person should be responsible for your damages, but it is a challenging process. Focus on your physical recovery and let a legal professional handle your injury claim against the driver who hit you.