Although there are comprehensive traffic laws designed to protect riders on the road, the hard reality is that some drivers do not abide by these rules. It may be a brief lapse of judgment, or the driver may have a history of negligent behavior. Whatever the circumstances, sometimes when a driver exercises poor decision making, a bicyclist pays the price.
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident it is important to understand that you may have legal options for obtaining compensation. As long as the driver was responsible for the accident, by working with an attorney you can pursue a lawsuit to collect damages for what happened. Recovering from an accident can be a long, painful, expensive process. Lost work and expensive medical bills can put you in a difficult position. With a successful case, you will have the money you need to get your life back on track.
The Danger To Bicyclist
When a rider and a car come into contact with one another, the rider will almost always be on the losing end.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 900 bicyclists died in 2013 in the U.S. from bicycle-related injuries. There were approximately 494,000 emergency room visits in the same year for bicycle accidents.
The statistics are eye opening, but it does not take much imagination to see why bicyclists are so prone to injury. Unlike an automobile driver, they do not have a metal shell protecting them, nor seat belts, airbags or all the other safety features that are common on vehicles. It is just the rider and a helmet in most cases. The rider must be alert at all times to avoid careless drivers and any other obstacles that may lead to an accident.
Even the most hyper-aware bicyclist is limited in what he or she can notice and predict, however. Like when driving a car, the bicyclist has to rely on all the other drivers around to follow the rules. Traffic rules are there to provide predictability and safety. But it only takes one negligent driver to create significant problems. Unfortunately for the bicyclist, what may only cause a fender bender with another car can prove deadly to the rider.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
Bicyclists have a higher percentage of sustaining a serious injury in an accident. When hit by a care, a bicyclist can sustain a range of injuries, including:
What If You Are Uncertain Of What Happened?
One of the common problems that accident victims encounter is uncertainty about what happened in the accident. While some victims have a clear memory of the situation right before being hit, many others struggle to recall exactly what sequence of events occurred. Some victims have no way of knowing what happened, because they were hit by a vehicle that they never saw in the first place.
The confusion about what happened leads some accident victims to worry if they were at fault for what happened.
It is the job of the police and the victim’s attorney to determine what caused the accident – a fact that every victim should understand and take comfort in.
As the victim, there is only a small chance that you saw everything, and even less of a chance that you would remember it. You can leave the detective work up to the professionals, and take comfort in the fact that your attorney will give you a clear picture of your accident. Even if you did make a mistake, you may only be partially responsible for the final outcome, in which case you may still be able to obtain damages.
Determining Who Is At Fault
Whether you remember every moment or have no idea what happened, ultimately it will be your attorney’s job to determine the facts of the accident. He or she will review all available information, including the police report and witness reports. Many attorney also work with investigators that they trust to examine the scene of the accident and all available data to help the attorney better understand the accident.
A reputable attorney will leave no stone unturned the search for the truth.
When seeking compensation for your injuries, there is a chance that the insurer of the driver that hit you will seek to settle out of court. The insurer may offer you a settlement. The important thing to keep in mind about a settlement from an insurance company is that once you accept it, there is no going back. By accepting the settlement you typically agree to avoid pursuing further legal action.
Before you accept any settlement, make sure to have your attorney review the offer and give you feedback. Your attorney will have a reasonably accurate estimate of what you could hope to attain from a lawsuit. He or she can help you understand if the settlement is in your best interest, or if you would be better off taking the case to court.
If you are hit by a motorist without insurance, you may have limited options for pursuing damages. Unless the individual has significant assets, a bicycle accident lawsuit may not be a possibility. However, you may still have the option of filing a claim with your own auto insurance company. An uninsured motorist claim may help you get some much-needed financial help following your accident.
Having An Advocate On Your Side
As long as you hire a competent bicycle accident attorney, you can depend on him or her to see the situation for what it is, and to pursue your best interests throughout the case. An attorney is of course valuable for his or her legal knowledge. But an attorney is equally valuable as an advocate for your cause, a clear-headed assistant in the pursuit of the outcome you want and need.
Legal cases can be long, complicated and stressful. The fact that you are dealing with a recent injury makes it even more difficult. With an attorney as your advocate, you are able to focus on healing while the attorney is working on the case.