Bicycle accidents are often neglected by victims and aren’t reported to the police. Bicyclists should know that if they suffer injuries due to someone else’s negligence while driving, they can file a personal injury lawsuit in their state’s civil court.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 720 people lost their lives in bicycle/motor vehicle crashes in 2014. Like all other vehicle accident lawsuits, bicycle accident lawsuits are also governed by the Federal and state laws, along with local traffic laws.
Given the fact that many roads have do not have any kind of protective barriers to demarcate zones for bicyclists, the odds of getting injured are high. Should you get involved in any type of collision with a motorist or sustain injuries on the road, you can file a bicycle accident claim and receive compensation for the damages.
Here are a few ways your bicycle accident attorney can help a victim of a bicycle accident:
1. Alerting Law Enforcement
Motorists often do not consider collisions with bicycles as actual accidents. Your attorney, however, will tell you how you should treat your bicycle accident with the same gravity as any car crash. In some cases, the motorist responsible for the crash may not slow down to check on the intensity of the accident, and drive away, blaming the cyclist for the accident. If this happens, alert the police immediately.
Check with your lawyer to know if your case can be treated as a felony hit-and-run. Only after this consultation, should you make any official statement to the police. Your initial reactions and statements mentioned in the police records will impact the legal proceedings and hence, you should be extremely careful when speaking with the police.
2. Negotiating with Insurer(s)
The success of your bicycle accident claim chiefly depends on how well you convince the insurance companies of both parties. An adjuster is appointed for each case to mediate your settlement and ensure that you are appropriately compensated for the injuries you suffered.
Negotiations with the adjuster can be challenging if you handle them yourself. If a victim is not represented by a qualified bicycle accident attorney, it is highly likely that the adjuster will try to settle the claim to the insurance company’s advantage.
When negotiating insurance settlements, you need to show the adjuster that the defendant’s negligence was the sole cause of the accident. You need to present copies of your documents, including medical charts, bills, the police report, and witness statements.
You should let your lawyer to negotiate on your behalf as an experienced attorney won’t fall for the tricks most insurance companies employ. In fact, bringing an attorney to the table will show that you are serious about the case and aren’t willing to settle for less.
3. Ensuring Proper Representation of Your Case
Some victims of bicycle accidents think they can handle their bicycle accident claim without hiring a lawyer. They can surely represent themselves, but in doing so, they might settle for lesser compensation. Most lawyers will tell you to avoid taking matters in your hands.
Your attorney can analyze the severity of your case and prepare a case that gives you a fair chance to receive the rightful compensation. Experienced bicycle attorneys have in-depth knowledge of calculating the amount that can be demanded from the insurance company. Compensations generally include payment for your medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses, cost to repair or replace your bicycle, any wages you lost or will lose, and present and future pain and suffering.
4. Proving Negligence in Court
To present a convincing argument, proving that the other driver (motorist) was negligent becomes necessary during negotiations. This is where your attorney will step in. His/her experience of handling bicycle accident claims will help your case as he/she will know how to prove the accused’s negligence.
If the settlement amount announced by the adjuster isn’t in accordance with your demands, then you can always file a case in your state’s civil court. Once a lawsuit is filed, you need to work with your lawyer to devise a convincing strategy that can help you win the case. He/she will incorporate the evidence in the arguments so that it can be presented to the judge/jury. You can win the case only if you have strong arguments supported by legitimate, relevant, and accurate documents and details.
To Sum Up
Multiple accidents involving bicycles and motorists occur frequently, and cases related to such crashes can involve complex legal issues. If you were hit by a vehicle when riding your bicycle, then you may want to know your legal options related to filing a claim. Consulting a bicycle accident attorney is the best way to file such accident claims as he/she understands the related legal proceedings and can help you win a fair compensation.
Matt Conner is an associate attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown Law Firm. Matt has undergraduate degree from from Willamette University in Salem in mathematics and economics. Matt likes playing soccer, fishing, skiing and camping.