Getting Compensation for a Bike Accident
After a bike accident, you may be injured, in shock, disabled, or unable to go to work for an extended period of time. Naturally, you wonder what kind of compensation you may be entitled to receive.
If you were hit by a driver or another bicyclist, that person can be held accountable for their negligence or recklessness. If you wrecked your bike on public property because of some dangerous defect in the road, you may be able to hold the city accountable. Ultimately, whether you can be compensated and how much compensation you can receive will depend on who caused the accident, the circumstances surrounding the accident, and the nature and extent of your bike accident injuries.
Determining Who is Responsible for a Car Accident
Who caused the accident will be the most important question to answer. There are many different ways for a bike accident to occur. For example, you might cause your own bike accident by:
- Losing control of your bike
- Going too fast around a corner
- Riding recklessly
- Not keeping your bike in good repair
- Not following applicable traffic laws
Even if you did something to contribute to the cause of your bike accident, you still may be able to recover for any injuries that the other party caused by their fault. You should always consult with an attorney to see what options are available to you after a bike accident.
Assuming you were riding your bike carefully and appropriately and did nothing to cause the accident, perhaps:
- A driver of a car hit you
- Another bicyclist crashed into you
- A dog attacked you
- A dangerous defect in the road caused you to fall
- A dangerous defect in the bike caused it to malfunction
There are many things that can cause a bike accident. If the negligence of another party is proven to be the cause of your accident, then you may be able to recover for your injuries. An experienced bike accident attorney will be able to identify the cause of your accident and the amount of financial compensation you are likely entitled to receive.
What Kinds of Compensation Can I Receive After a Bike Accident?
If another party contributed to the cause of your accident, you may recover for the injuries and expenses you incurred as a result of their negligent behavior. This could include:
If you have injuries that required you to seek medical attention or visit the emergency room, you may be able to recover those medical costs from the person who caused your bike accident. You can ask for medical costs regardless of whether your injuries are minor or severe. Even if you visited the doctor only one time to see if you needed stiches, you may recover those costs. If you were taken to the emergency room, required emergency surgery, and had to undergo long-term medical supervision, you may recover those costs as well.
Your bike accident may have caused you to miss work because you were at the doctor or because your injuries prevented you from being able to perform your job. If this is the case, you can ask for compensation that equals what you would have been paid if you had been able to return to work. If your injuries are severe enough that you can no longer perform your job, or if your employer terminates you for missing work, you may also be able to ask for lost future income.
Physical property damage
You also can recover damages for any personal property that was damaged as a result of the bike accident. For example, if your bike was destroyed in the accident, you can recover that loss. You might also have had something on your person that was destroyed beyond repair in the accident, such as a:
- Cell phone
Pain and suffering
Damages for pain and suffering can be more difficult to prove. Usually you can document the costs of your medical bills and damaged property. However, pain and suffering reflect the physical and emotional damage that you suffer because of the accident. Perhaps your injuries created disfigurement or scarring that makes social situations more uncomfortable. Perhaps you develop anxiety after the bike accident and can no longer enjoy bike-riding or are fearful of riding your bike to work. You could potentially recover pain and suffering damages for any of these damages resulting from your accident. If you have lingering psychological issues after your bike accident that can be attributed to the negligence of another party, you should document this as much as possible because these kinds of damages are recoverable if proven.
Punitive damages can be limited. You will not recover punitive damages by filing a claim with the insurance company. However, if the negligent party acted maliciously in causing the accident and your resulting injuries, punitive damages may be available in a civil lawsuit. Your attorney can help you determine whether such recovery is likely.
How Do I Recover for Damages I Received in a Bike Accident?
Recovering for damages after a bike accident can be difficult and time-consuming. There are basically two ways in which you might recover financially for your damages—either filing a claim with the negligent party’s insurance provider or filing a civil lawsuit.
Filing an insurance claim
If you choose to file an insurance claim, you may be limiting your recovery to certain categories of damages. Insurance policies will usually cover medical expenses, lost wages, and physical property damage associated with the accident. However, most insurance companies are hesitant to offer significant amounts for pain and suffering. Unless you have extreme injuries like disfigurement, amputation, or permanent disability, an insurance company will not be willing to offer a fair amount to compensate for your pain and suffering.
In addition, regardless of the degree of fault by the other party, their insurance company will argue against punitive damages. Its job is to settle your case for the least amount of value that you are willing to accept. This is why you should never accept an initial offer from the insurance company. Instead, you should immediately speak to an experienced bike accident attorney, such as the attorneys at the law firm of Foster Wallace, LLC. They will be able to assess your case, project what damages you may be entitled to, negotiate for a fair settlement with the insurance company, and litigate your case in court, if necessary.
Filing a civil lawsuit
It is usually best to settle your claim with the insurance company if you determine that your settlement will cover all of the expenses you are entitled to and you do not wish to claim punitive damages. However, filing a civil lawsuit in court is another way to recover damages after a bike accident. You might consider filing a lawsuit if:
- The person who caused your accident is not cooperating
- The person who caused your accident does not have insurance
- The insurance company has not offered a fair settlement
- You are seeking punitive damages
Whether you are pursuing an insurance claim or a civil lawsuit, it is always a good idea to hire an experienced attorney to represent your interests. An attorney will be able to assess the facts of your case in the context of the laws in your state. They also will be your best advocate with the insurance company or in court and will make sure you get the best possible result and the most compensation available.
Don’t Settle for Less Than What You Are Entitled to After a Bike Accident
You may have a lot of questions after being involved in a bike accident:
- Who was at fault?
- Did I do something wrong?
- What should I do at the scene of the accident?
- Should I seek medical treatment?
- How will I pay my bills?
- What if I lost my job?
- Should I settle my case with the insurance company?
- Do I need an attorney?