In Los Angeles, many residents enjoy great outdoor activities like cycling year round. For some, it's a hobby or form of exercise, and for others, it's a means of transportation. While cyclists and motorists are aware of the dangers on the roadways and often exercise caution, accidents still happen, and people are hurt.
Damages incurred in a bicycle accident involving a car can be severe, even fatal. Like all other types of accidents, bicycle accidents are mostly attributed to negligence. Cyclists are at a greater risk since they are less protected than motorists.
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, you need a personal injury attorney’s help. Because you are likely to suffer serious injuries from the accident, you must file a personal injury lawsuit to be compensated for the damages. Your attorney will assist you in applying all the legal measures available to protect your rights.
At the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney law firm, we offer honest, expert representation for all our client injury lawsuits. In this article, we will explain the types of compensation you could receive after a bicycle accident.
Overview Of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents can result in severe injuries and even death. Personal injury law makes provision for bicycle accident victims to be awarded compensation for damages suffered. The damages can be physical, mental, psychological, property damages, and economic losses. Either the bicyclist or motorist can be liable for the accident through negligence or recklessness.
Therefore, all road users are obliged to adhere to all road rules. Every road user must obey traffic rules and regulations and exercise great care for everyone’s safety on the road. Bicycle accidents are governed by state laws and state traffic laws, much like other types of accidents. As mentioned above, the liability of a bicycle accident is always based on negligence. The negligence can be on the part of the car driver in the accident or on the part of the bicyclist himself. Let's explain:
Negligence on the driver's part could be speeding, diverting into a bike lane, or running a stop sign. Sometimes the driver could conduct himself deliberately with no regard for the safety of other road users. In such cases, the victim must prove the other party violated a duty of care owed to them and everyone else on the roadways.
The cyclist could be at fault and responsible for an accident. In such incidents, the cyclist can be sued for their negligence, causing another person's injuries. Cyclist negligence may include flouting traffic rules by running a stop sign, cutting suddenly into traffic, or riding on the wrong lane. A cyclist cannot obtain any compensation for any injuries or losses they may suffer from the accident in such cases.
This type of negligence is referred to as comparative or contributory negligence. This means that the accident was entirely the cyclist's fault causing his/her injuries. If another party suffered from the accident, the cyclist could be held liable for causing another person's injuries. Accidents involving children cyclists are usually handled with utmost seriousness, and the parties responsible are held in high liability.
Sometimes accidents are caused by environmental issues rather than technical or human factors. These could be physical elements on roadways such as:
- Damaged road signs
- Uneven sidewalk
- Loose gravel
- Lifted Asphalt
Property owners, including government entities, are obligated to conduct proper maintenance and ensure safety. California’s personal injury laws allow anyone injured in a bicycle accident to file a lawsuit against all parties responsible for the accident. Bereaved families of an accident victim can also file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek compensation for their loss.
Receiving a Compensation Claim
After an accident involving a car, it is important to contact a personal injury specialist for legal and professional guidance. At Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney law firm, we offer such consultations for free. Here's why contacting an attorney is important. Almost if not all accidents usually result in significant physical injuries.
This means that you will require medical treatment for your injuries, hence incurring high medical expenses. You will also be unable to go to work for a given period resulting in loss of income. You may be entitled to compensation that can cater to your medical bills as well as your lost wages.
Sometimes the other party may refuse to admit liability for the accident. There is also the issue of insurance companies being involved. For example, when the car driver has insurance, you are being pressured to accept a quick out of court settlement.
While this is not a bad option, the chances are that the insurance company may settle for an amount beneath what you may be entitled to. This may be unreasonable, especially if you have suffered long-term damages that have not been fully ascertained.
Additionally, the accident may have subjected you to extreme pain and suffering or a limiting condition like permanent disability. A quick out of court settlement may not compensate for such devastating long term losses. All this requires legal procedures and expertise to ensure your rights are protected and that the compensation awarded is reasonable.
Types of Compensation for Bicycle Accidents
Once it is established in your suit that you suffered damages due to negligence, your lawyer will provide a list of appropriate estimates for your losses. The following are some types of compensation you may be entitled to in a personal injury lawsuit. Note the types of compensation depends on the effect of the accident. Did the victim die or was injured? If injured, how severe are the injuries? There are two types of compensation a court may award a bicycle accident victim. These are special damages and general damages.
Special damages are also called economic damages and help the victim recover any economic losses and costs incurred from the accident. These damages include:
- Medical bills incurred during and after the accident
- Lost wages and earning potential due to sustained injuries and time spent in hospital
- Childcare services
- Property damages, e.g., the bicycle
Following an accident, you are likely to suffer injuries such as minor cuts, bruises, sprains, paralysis, and permanent disability. In a successful lawsuit, the good news is that the driver's insurance provider will cater to the medical expenses incurred from the accident.
For this, you will be required to keep tabs on all your incurred bills by saving all treatment records and documentation. Where the accident claimed the life of your loved one, you can sue for both wrongful death and all medical bills between the time of the accident and the time of death.
Lost Income and Earning Capacity
If you cannot resume doing normal activities or work after the accident, you can be entitled to compensation. The court can award you compensation for income lost from the day of the accident to the settlement day. This type of compensation usually comes as a double package. Besides the lost wages, you are also entitled to lost benefits such as health and retirement. The possibility of acquiring any permanent disability must also be considered and added to the estimates.
Injuries suffered from the accident can deny you the chance to lead a normal life. You could spend a lot of time in the hospital or on mobility issues. Receiving this compensation for such damages is much easier if you are employed. If you are self-employed, the jury will need tangible proof that shows the amount you have been earning if the accident had not occurred.
Estimates for compensation for lost wages are calculated from the time the accident to the court settlement time. Additional estimates include compensation for future earnings affected by server injuries such as paralysis of disability. Factors used to determine your qualifications for the award include:
- Your age and life expectancy
- Your occupation and experience
- Your talents, skills, and training
- Terms and conditions of your employment contract
- Your career goals and aspirations
- Payslips to prove previous income estimates
- Days you missed work
- Proof of your eligibility for a promotion or bonus
- Billing statements of tax returns if you are self-employed
- An official letter from your employer
- Witness or expert testimony such as family, friends, employer, and doctor
Calculating these estimates will need professional input. Therefore, a forensic or economic expert can determine the amount you are entitled to.
Your children will need someone to take care of them if you are injured from a bicycle accident. Therefore, you will have to hire someone to care for your children's needs before l you are completely healed from your injuries. As such, you are entitled to compensation for childcare services.
You can seek compensation for your personal property destroyed in an accident under this type of compensation. These may include clothing items, electronic devices like smartphones, rider helmets, or any other item of value. If your bicycle is destroyed in the accident, you can claim compensation for repair costs. This is if the repair costs are lower than the initial value of the bicycle before the crash.
On the other hand, you can claim an amount equivalent to the bicycle’s original value if the costs of repair exceed its value. This also applies if your bicycle is permanently destroyed beyond repair. To receive this compensation, you must provide supporting documents with estimates from a recognized bicycle shop. Have an expert examine your bike to ascertain the extent of the damage.
Non-economic damages comprise tangible things which are usually not easy to calculate financially. Non-economic damages are also referred to as general damages. They mostly compensate for casualties on psychological, mental, and emotional injuries suffered from the accident. They include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
General damages offer some relief for bicycle accident victims who may never lead an everyday life after the accident. As a victim, if you are to be awarded compensation, you must table all substantial proof beyond any reasonable doubt that you are not at fault for the accident. You must present evidence proving the other party's recklessness or negligence, leading to the injuries you received. Your evidence must be based on expert testimony, witness accounts, video,o and photographic evidence, and police and medical reports.
Let us now examine these damages.
Pain and Suffering
Victims of bicycle accidents usually undergo extreme pain and suffering from injuries sustained. You can receive damages if you suffered and showed the likelihood of prolonged physical and psychological pain. This compensation offers you some relief from the severity of your injuries and any possible pain you may experience in the future. For a successful claim, ensure you enlist a competent and experienced lawyer. He/ she must gather and present all the required facts detailing the degree of your pain, how long you have suffered, and any other damages received from the accident. Pain and suffering entails different aspects such as
- Mental, emotional, and psychological trauma
- Likelihood of injuries worsening
- The victim's reputation in cases of serious disfigurement
While these are valid claims which attract good compensation if successful, the flip side is that they can not be quantified. Hence, negotiating for such claims is not easy. Furthermore, It is not possible to understand the severity and degree of another person's suffering.
This type of damages compensates the accident victim for any psychological traumas arising from the accident. Loss of sleep, anxiety, and fear are some of the most common symptoms of an emotionally distressed person. Medical proof of psychological pain is important when filing for a personal injury claim. You must therefore share any form of emotional distress with your doctor for documentation. You can also record your feelings in a personal journal.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Naturally, injuries from a bicycle accident will greatly alter your life. You will not be able to engage in normal life activities such as sports and dancing. Where the injuries are severe, you will no longer participate in any pleasures you used to enjoy. To lose the ability to experience life’s pleasures fully can be devastating. You can be compensated for this loss through a court award in your injury suit. The amount you can receive from this award depends on the judge's discretion. However, your Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney can give expert advice on what a reasonable amount you deserve.
Loss of Consortium
This type of compensation applies if you are married or have a registered domestic partner. A bicycle accident may greatly affect the relationship between you and your family. This means that your spouse and children will no longer enjoy the love and affection you normally had before the accident. Receiving compensated for such loss is very much fair and deserving.
Loss of Services
You are entitled to compensation for the loss of services you used to render yourself and your family before the accident. Such services are routine domestic chores and other errands. The accident may render you unable to clean, cook, or mow your lawn due to disability or limited mobility. As such, you will need to hire someone to do them for you. This leads to additional costs incurred, which you must include in your claim.
These damages are usually awarded in rare circumstances. If your claim is successful, they can be granted on top of the economic and non-economic damages explained above. As the name suggests, this type of damages serves to punish the driver for their negligence rather than compensate you. The defendant may have acted deliberately and maliciously intending to harm the plaintiff. As such, punitive damages are awarded for warning and discouraging future offenders in similar cases.
One such scenario is when a car driver deliberately flouts traffic rules and regulations, he/ she must pay punitive damages. This compensation is possible where the victim died or sustained permanent disability from the bicycle accident. Like all general damages, punitive damages depend on the judge's discretion and have no specific estimation.
Bereaved families of a bicycle accident victim have the legal right to file laws seeking compensation for their loss. Usually, a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner can file the suit. Children, grandchildren, other heirs of your estates can also file a lawsuit under California estate succession laws. A successful claim entitles them to compensation for:
- Medical expenses from the period the victims were under medical care and before their death
- Burial permit and funeral expenses
- Loss of financial support and other economic benefits
- Loss of consortium and intimate relations
What To Do After a Bike Accident
It is advisable to take the following cause of action immediately if you are involved in a bicycle accident with a car.
Immediate medical attention
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, the first step to take is to have yourself examined by a medical specialist. In case of serious injuries, call 911 or have someone make the call for you. You may not feel any instant pain, but the chances are that you may have sustained internal injuries resulting in internal bleeding. Hence, being evaluated by a doctor is very important. Some common injuries from a bicycle accident include:
- Broken bones
- Sprains or dislocation
- Head, back, and neck trauma
- Dental fractures
- Internal bleeding
To make sure you're on the safe side, seek a doctor’s help, and have your condition fully assessed.
Another important thing to do following an accident is gathering all the necessary information about the incident. These include the vehicle's license number, the vehicle identification number (VIN), year, make, model, color of the car, and the driver's name and contact information. You should also identify possible witnesses and have their contacts.
It will be a great advantage if you happen to have your smartphone with you. You can take photos and videos of the incident and your injuries sustained in the accident.
Caution: If the driver is not cooperative, attempting to escape, or there is an additional danger to your safety, call the police immediately.
Never Admit Fault
For some people, apologizing under such circumstances can seem to be a gracious and most natural thing to do. However, it is advisable not to say anything that may imply you are liable for the accident. Your words may come back to haunt you when you decide to file for a claim.
Therefore, never admit you are at fault. If the driver insists, simply tell them to talk to your attorney. The issue of who is at fault is a very critical matter in a personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, never admit fault, especially if you are not certain what exactly caused the crash. Leave the hassle of dealing with the driver and the insurance company to your lawyer.
Find a Bicycle Accident Attorney Near Me
Accidents involving bicycles can have a severe, lasting impact on the victims. The risk of sustaining serious injuries is inevitable. Whether the injuries are minor or severe, you need a clear understanding of legal options and fully exploit them. Filing a personal injury lawsuit is one option that ensures you receive compensation for your pain and losses.
At Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney law firm, we can not promise we will undo your injury. However, we promise to handle your case with utmost aggression, compassion, and professionalism for a favorable outcome. We will ensure your present sufferings are not compounded by the lack of compensation that you deserve. Give us a call at 424-237-3600 and let us discuss your case.