The Legal Rights of Bicycle Accident Victims: What You Need to Know
Bicycle accidents happen, and sometimes, they are just accidents. Cyclists may swerve to avoid animals, fallen debris, or sometimes just lose control for no apparent reason. But a large number of serious bicycle accidents result from negligence by the driver of a motor vehicle. If you’ve been seriously injured in a bicycle accident that wasn’t your fault and are facing medical bills, missed work, and other hardships, you may be legally entitled to receive compensation.
Understanding the Legal Rights of Bicycle Accident Victims
Bicycle accident victims do have the legal right to seek compensation from the liable party. Cycling injuries can be severe because bicycles don’t offer much protection, even if the cyclist is wearing a helmet or other protective gear. Bicycle accident victims are at risk of concussion, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, lacerations, road rash, broken bones, and internal organ damage. These injuries can quickly cause medical bills to mount, and since some conditions can linger for months or even years, victims will have a long recovery during which they will have limited earning potential. In nearly every case, the bike itself will be damaged and require significant repairs or replacement. Bicycle accident victims are entitled to recover all these damages, as well as pain and suffering, emotional distress, future medical expenses, and lost earning potential.
Because the total damages can be significant, cases can become complex. Someone will need to gather the evidence to support the damages you are entitled to receive. This evidence includes medical bills, medical records, statements from your employer, and perhaps a vocational assessment, among other things. To determine a fair amount for compensation, you will likely need the help of an attorney.
Determining Liability and Negligence
Before you can assert a right to obtain compensation, someone has to make a determination as to the cause of the accident. The party who caused the accident is liable for your injuries if you can prove that the liable party was negligent. Negligence means that the liable party caused the accident due to something they could’ve avoided like distracted driving, failing to observe the three foot rule, driving under the influence, speeding, or failing to yield. Almost any failure to obey rules of the road can form the basis for legal liability.
In most bike crash cases in Ohio, negligence is determined based upon some violation of the Revised Code. Sometimes though, bike crashes happen due to other causes, such as poor road conditions; in such cases the municipality, county or state may be the liable party. These cases can be tricky, however, due to immunity that is conferred on state entities and their subdivisions.
In other cases, the liability may fall on the bicyclist themselves, such as if they failed to obey traffic laws.
Finally, liability may result from a dog running loose. In this instance, the dog’s owner may be liable in accordance with Ohio’s strict liability laws for dogs.
Regardless of the cause, liability is a prerequisite to making a claim for compensation. And because each side may have their own version as to what happened, third-party eyewitnesses, security camera footage, and accident reconstruction can all help determine who is liable in a bicycle accident like yours.
In addition to proving negligence, you will also need to determine if the negligence was a proximate cause of the accident and your injuries. A lot of insurance companies will try to claim that the medical treatment you received was due to some other cause, or a condition that pre-existed the crash.
Conversations with Insurance Companies
Once liability has been determined, negotiations with the insurance company will then turn to the issue of compensation. This can be very challenging to do on your own. Many insurance companies will use a variety of tactics to avoid paying a fair settlement amount. It’s common for them to offer victims a quick settlement, hoping that you will accept it. Keep in mind though, that this is a one-time settlement, so as soon as you conclude your claim, you are unable to seek any additional compensation later. So in this process, it is important that you have an attorney to advocate on your behalf to make sure everything that needs to be considered, is. Without an attorney, you may end up with a settlement that doesn’t cover your damages in full.
Taking Action: Steps to Protect Your Rights After a Bicycle Accident
The first step to take after a bicycle accident is to seek medical treatment. Even if you think you can recover on your own, adrenaline may be masking your injuries, and delaying treatment can delay your healing and limit your case potential, so prompt medical attention is important for both those reasons.
Once you are receiving medical treatment, begin to gather all the documentation you need. Gather copies of everything that you have — the accident report, your bills, property damage, and pay stubs.
To fully protect your rights, we recommend you contact an attorney who is experienced in successfully representing people involved in bicycle accident cases. Your attorney can advocate on your behalf with the insurance company to negotiate a fair settlement. They can assist you with gathering additional documentation, ensure that you do not miss any deadlines, and, if necessary, can file a lawsuit on your behalf if a settlement can’t be reached.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a bicycle accident that wasn’t your fault, you need to focus on your recovery. Having an attorney who is experienced in helping accident victims can help you get through the process so you can move on. We fight hard for bike accident victims because you deserve a fair settlement. We have a successful track record of helping bicycle accident victims, and we can help you too. Contact Arthur Law Firm (419) 782-9881 right away for a free consultation.