How to Recover Compensation in Bicycle Accidents
Bicycles are now being seen as an alternative means of transportation, especially for short distances. While accidents involving bicycles experienced a general decline, the number of fatal accidents is however on the rise. Unfortunately, this means that while you're less likely to be involved in a bicycle accident, if you do get involved in one, it's very likely to be serious. It could even be fatal.
The reason for this is the lack of protection that cyclists can rely on when in traffic. Even the smallest impact can result in terrible consequences for the cyclist.
If you or a loved one gets involved in a bike accident in and around Tacoma, an immediate investigation can help establish liability for your injury. Contact an attorney at The Curtis Firm, LLC immediately to learn more about your legal options.
This article explains what you need to do in the aftermath of a bicycle accident and how to recover compensation.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bike accident injuries are usually some of the most severe that a person can sustain. They almost always result in greater harm to the cyclist compared to the motor vehicle driver. While a helmet is vital lifesaving safety gear, it will not protect cyclists from broken bones, crash injuries, or traumatic head and brain injuries in serious collisions.
Avoiding the incident appears to be the safest precaution to bicycle accidents. Knowing the common causes of bike accidents will help in avoiding them. Statistically speaking, these are the most common causes of bicycle accidents:
- Driver Inattention: Drivers are becoming increasingly inattentive when driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 30 percent of all bicycle accidents were as a result of being hit by a car. A sizable number of these accidents were caused by drivers who were distracted while operating a vehicle.
- Incidents at intersections: Up to half of all bicycle accidents occur at an intersection. Failure to yield has been identified as a major cause for this. This underlines the importance of caution when veering into intersections.
- Traffic Violation: Traffic laws are meant to protect all road users. Sadly, some find them too tedious and would rather drive as they please. As you would expect, this can often result in terrible consequences and is one of the common causes of accidents.
- Road hazards: Cities are obligated to ensure that their roadways are in good condition. Many bike injuries happen because the roads have potholes or due to mishaps from ongoing construction.
What to do after a bicycle accident injury
The steps you should take after a bicycle accident are those usually expected of anyone involved in a road accident. These steps will be important to any claim you may bring for compensation.
Getting medical help for your injury should no doubt rank high on your ‘to do' list. It is also important that you stay on the scene if you can. Unless it is a justifiable excusable emergency, do not leave the scene until you have called the Police and have been cleared to leave.
In the meantime, gather relevant information that can be useful in your bicycle accident claim. Such info should generally include the driver's name, phone number, their insurance company, as well as contacts of eyewitnesses.
Also, do not jump into conclusions and admit fault. Leave the experts to determine whose fault the accident was, and to what extent.
Liability for bicycle accidents
The same laws apply to all road users. Cyclists and drivers are obligated to obey the rules of the road. As such, not only do all cyclist and road users have a duty to exercise care with respect to their own safety, they are also obligated to respect the rights of other road users.
When bicycle accidents occur, any road user that fails to exercise reasonable precautions will be held liable for negligence. In the instance of such accidents, liability will rest on either the negligence of the driver or the bicyclist. Negligence on the part of either party may also be full or partial.
Negligence or Recklessness of the Driver
Negligence by a driver is a common cause of bicycle accidents and it comes in many forms. Over-speeding, failure to yield, running a stop sign, or drifting into a bike lane are common negligent acts of drivers.
A driver will also be held liable for acts, though not done in negligence, which were done recklessly. In cases of negligence, it must be shown that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff and that the defendant acted in a way that violated that duty owed.
Negligence of the Cyclist
The bike accident may also have occurred due to the negligence of the cyclist. This may be because the biker took the wrong way on a one-way street, failed to obey a stop sign, or lurched abruptly into traffic. In this instance, negligence on the part of the biker will also be put into consideration.
In some jurisdictions, if it can be established that the negligence of the biker contributed to the bicycle accident, the injured biker would have no claim. In Tacoma, however, as with the rest of Washington, the ‘comparative negligence' doctrine is used. What this means is that the injured cyclist may still be able to receive compensation based on their ‘percentage' of fault compared to the other party.
Determining Fault in a Bike Accident
The determination of fault and the extent of such fault is important in bike accident cases. While this may be easy to establish in some cases, most of the time, it will be difficult to determine who is at fault and the extent of that fault.
As a general rule, the party that flouted the laws of the road or that acted recklessly will be at fault. Thus, evidence that a driver was not paying attention to the road or was weaving in and out of traffic will establish fault.
What is more tricky to determine however is how much fault to apportion to each party when both have acted improperly. For instance, if the driver was weaving in and out of traffic, and the cyclist was not paying attention, fault may lie on both sides.
The question of fault in these cases is often subjective and will often be decided by a jury if the matter gets to court. At the stage of filing an insurance claim and even before the court, your lawyer may be able to help adduce facts that limit the extent of fault on your part.
Compensation in Bicycle Accidents
If you are able to prove fault on the part of the other party, they will be liable to compensate you for your loss or injury. You can be compensated for special or general damages.
Special damages include the financial costs you expended as a result of your injury. This will cover medical bills, therapy costs, lost wages, and a loss in earning capacity. General damages on the other hand are just to compensate you for the ‘pain and suffering' or anguish you endured.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you or your loved one become involved in a bicycle accident, you have a legal right to be compensated for your injury.
The attorneys at The Curtis Firm, LLC have the skill and knowledge to take up your bike accident case. Increase your chances of a positive outcome by getting in touch with us today.