The purpose of a personal injury claim is to provide adequate compensation to make you “whole” again. While it’s often impossible to return you to the state you were in before the collision, your damages should remove any financial burdens that are a direct result of the crash.
Types of Damages in a Bicycle Crash Claim
The law allows an injured bicyclist to recover monetary damages for economic (actual costs) and non-economic (pain and suffering) losses, including:
- Medical expenses. The force of a speeding car and the impact of being thrown to the pavement can cause devastating injuries to cyclists, including traumatic brain injury, bone fractures, spinal trauma, and other conditions that require immediate and ongoing medical care. Victims are allowed to collect the full amount they have paid for medical care related to the crash, such as emergency room and ambulance costs, hospital stays, surgery, follow-up treatment, physical therapy, assistive devices, and medications. If your injuries have caused disability or long-term effects, you can recover payment for medical costs you will pay in the future.
- Lost income. You are owed the full amount of any lost wages incurred due to the collision, such as paid or unpaid time off, sick leave, lost bonuses and overtime, loss of promotion, and loss of employment benefits. If your injuries caused a permanent disability that prevents you from returning to work, you might be able to collect for reduced earning capacity and retirement losses.
- Property damage. Weekend riders and bike commuters alike spend a significant amount of money on their cycles, tires, brakes, helmets, and other riding gear. Your damages should provide full payment to repair or replace your damaged bike.
- Pain and suffering. Bicycle crash victims with extensive injuries often suffer from mental and emotional trauma from the violence of the event. It is up to a jury to decide how much a bicyclist will receive for non-economic damages.
- Wrongful death. If you lost a loved one in a bicycle collision, you and your family might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover for the loss of financial and emotional support.
How Are Damages Different From an Insurance Settlement?
Legally speaking, you can be paid for your damages through a settlement or by the court after an injury case is decided at trial. You can work with an insurance company on your own to get compensation for the crash, but it’s generally only worth it if your injuries are fairly minor and the costs of paying for them yourself won’t cause extreme financial distress.
If you are having trouble getting the insurance company to deal fairly with you, an experienced bicycle crash attorney can take over as your:
- Skilled negotiator. Insurance representatives have one goal: to save their company money. They spend every day negotiating cases like yours, usually against victims who are experiencing the claims process for the first time. Bike injury lawyers deal with insurance companies all the time and know the tactics the adjusters use to reduce the amount of a claim. A skilled lawyer puts you on equal footing against well-funded insurance companies, increasing your bargaining power in negotiations.
- Personal advisor. In theory, the potential for payment is greater at trial because the court has the authority to award pain and suffering damages to the victim. However, there is also the risk of losing the entire case at court and collecting no damages at all. While it is up to you whether you will accept a settlement or go to trial, your lawyer will help you make a decision that will allow you to put the crash behind you.
- Voice at trial. One of the benefits of hiring an attorney is that, if negotiations fall through, your attorney can file a lawsuit and take the matter to trial to force the insurer to pay out. Your lawyer may have to fight against accusations that your actions contributed to the crash, a common tactic used by insurers to reduce their liability (and pay out less on your claim).
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a bicycle crash, contact me today. I will help you get the compensation you deserve.