Bicycling has become a popular means of transportation, exercise, and recreation. Many people take advantage of California’s year-round good weather to get out on their bicycles. However, cyclists also recognize the potential dangers of sharing the road with motor vehicles. A negligent or reckless driver can instantly change a bicycle rider’s life forever in a bicycle accident.
While an injured rider may have the right to pursue financial recovery from a liable driver or other parties, obtaining maximum compensation for ongoing and future losses and needs can help ensure a rider’s complete physical and emotional recovery from an accident.
The value of a bicycle accident claim depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. A Bakersfield bicycle accident attorney can determine how much money an injured rider deserves to recover and pursue the rider’s legal options for compensation for bike repairs, medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Financial Compensation Available in a Bicycle Accident Claim
The value of a bicycle accident settlement or verdict will depend on various factors.
However, injured bicyclists usually can recover compensation for financial and personal losses sustained due to the crash, including money for:
- Repair or replacement costs for the cyclist’s bicycle and bike helmet
- Costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation of accident injuries
- Long-term care expenses for home health services, housekeeping, or other disability accommodations
- Loss of income for time missed from work or reduced earnings in a temporary part-time or light-duty position while recovering from injuries
- Loss of future earning capacity and employment benefits after becoming permanently disabled from work
- Physical pain and anguish
- Emotional trauma or distress accompanied or caused by physical injuries suffered in the bike crash
- Disabilities or disfigurement that cause reduced quality of life
Factors Affecting the Value of a Bicycle Accident Claim
The unique circumstances of each bicycle accident claim will affect how much money an injured cyclist can recover from an at-fault driver or other liable parties. Some of the top factors that can influence the value of a bicycle accident claim include:
The Severity of Your Injuries
The type and severity of injuries you suffer in a bike crash may significantly influence the value of your accident claim. Bike accident victims who suffer more severe injuries tend to recover more compensation in a legal claim.
More severe injuries frequently mean injured cyclists need longer or more expensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.
Severe injuries also have a greater chance of temporarily or permanently disabling a bike accident victim, which may prevent them from working or require them to obtain home health services or other personal care to help cope with those disabilities.
Your Medical Recovery and Prognosis
The type and duration of medical treatment and rehabilitation you require will also influence your financial recovery in a bicycle accident claim. The longer the duration of your treatment and the expense of your care and rehab, the more money you can recover from a liable driver or other party.
Continuing to suffer from physical disabilities or impairments after reaching maximum medical improvement of your injuries can also increase your financial recovery in your bike crash claim.
Lost Income and Earning Capacity
When your injuries prevent you from returning to work or working in your regular job, you may have the right to recover compensation for your lost earnings.
Permanent disability from your regular employment or the workforce may entitle you to pursue financial recovery for your future lost income and employment benefits reduced to present value.
Liability for the Accident
The number of parties liable for your injuries and losses can also affect your financial recovery. When multiple parties share liability for the accident and your injuries, you have more sources of compensation to recover money from.
If corporate parties bear liability for your losses, you may have more substantial financial resources to recover from. For example, if you get hit by a driver during the driver’s job, you may have the right to pursue a legal claim against the driver’s employer.
The insurance coverage available in your case can also influence the value of your bicycle accident claim. For many drivers, their auto liability insurance policy represents the most prominent financial resource they have to compensate a bicyclist they hit. The higher the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits, the more money they have to provide to an injured cyclist.
Physical Pain and Emotional Distress
When you suffer injuries in a bicycle accident, you may have the right to pursue financial recovery for physical pain and emotional distress you experience due to the accident, your injuries, or subsequent medical recovery.
Severe injuries may support a claim for compensation for your pain and suffering in addition to financial losses like medical bills or lost income.
The Complexity of the Case
Finally, complex evidence or legal issues in your bicycle accident case can affect the value of your financial recovery. If your case involves factual or legal disputes, you and your attorney may need to factor in the risk of going to trial when determining a fair settlement.
Conversely, if the facts and evidence definitively show the driver’s fault for the crash, you may have a stronger case to demand more compensation in a settlement.
Options for Pursuing Financial Recovery After a Bicycle Accident
After getting into an accident with a negligent driver while riding your bicycle, you may have several options for recovering compensation for your injuries and losses.
Most bicycle accident compensation comes from insurance coverage, whether from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage or your insurance coverage if you have an auto policy. However, you may need to pursue a legal claim against the at-fault driver and other liable parties when the insurance company doesn’t agree to a fair settlement.
A legal claim against liable parties may result in a negotiated settlement, or you may have to take your case to trial to pursue a verdict and judgment in your favor.
The statute of limitations in California imposes a deadline for filing a bicycle accident lawsuit. You typically have two years after a bike crash to file suit against those responsible for the accident and your losses.
However, if the bike accident involves a local or state government-owned vehicle, state law requires you to provide notice of your claim to the appropriate government department or agency within six months of the accident. Failing to file a timely notice of claim or lawsuit may result in losing your right to pursue financial recovery for your injuries and losses, which makes consulting a bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible after a crash critical to protecting your legal options.
The Role of Insurance in Bicycle Accident Compensation
Various applicable insurance coverages can provide you with compensation after a bicycle accident. In most cases, you might file a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability coverage.
That could include liability coverage in the driver’s auto insurance policy or liability insurance held by another party liable for the driver’s negligence, such as the driver’s employer if the crash took place during the driver’s work.
Auto insurance provides two types of liability coverage – bodily injury/death and property damage. Bodily injury coverage can reimburse you for medical bills, lost income/earning capacity, and pain and suffering. Property damage can compensate you for repair or replacement costs for your bicycle, bike helmet, or other property damaged or destroyed in the accident.
You can also file a claim with your auto insurance provider if you have a policy. Certain optional coverages you can purchase with your auto insurance can provide financial recovery after a motor vehicle hits you on your bicycle.
Auto insurers must offer policyholders the option of purchasing medical payments (MedPay) coverage, which can provide money for medical expenses to treat injuries you sustain in an accident with an automobile.
Insurers also offer optional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which allows you to file a claim with your insurer if you get hit by a driver without liability insurance or whose policy limits cannot compensate you for all your accident losses.
Whether you file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance or with your insurance company, you need experienced legal counsel to protect your interests. The driver’s insurance and your insurer have the same goal – avoid paying you as much money as possible. Insurance companies will delay, minimize, or deny accident claims or to pressure injured victims to accept less than fair value for their claims.
For example, insurance adjusters may push you to accept a quick settlement by focusing on your worries about paying medical bills or other expenses, especially if you cannot work.
Adjusters may also ask you to agree to a written or recorded statement where the adjuster can ask questions designed to elicit answers the insurance company can use to undercut your claim.
Insurers might ask you to sign medical releases that give them access to your entire medical history, enabling adjusters to look for any evidence of pre-existing injuries or medical conditions they can blame for your current injuries.
An experienced lawyer will recognize these tactics and can protect your interests while pushing the insurance company to move your claim forward.
How a Lawyer Can Help You Recover Compensation After a Bike Accident
While you focus on your treatment and rehabilitation of injuries you sustained in a bicycle accident, a lawyer can handle the details of your insurance or legal claims and pursue maximum financial recovery for your harm and loss.
An attorney can help you with your bicycle accident claims by:
- Recovering evidence to prove fault for the accident, including police accident reports, accident scene photos, surveillance/traffic camera or dashcam/helmet cam footage, or eyewitness statements
- Identifying additional parties who may bear liability for your injuries, such as the at-fault driver’s employer or the owner of the driver’s vehicle
- Documenting your financial and personal losses to determine what fair compensation looks like in your case
- Filing insurance claims on your behalf and handling communications and negotiations with insurance adjusters
- Filing a lawsuit and advocating your case in court if litigation gives you the best chance to obtain a fair financial recovery
Get Experienced Legal Help to Maximize Your Financial Recovery in Your Bicycle Accident Claim
The value of a bicycle accident claim will depend on numerous circumstances. Critical factors affecting how much compensation you might recover in your bicycle accident case include the severity of your injuries, the duration of your medical treatment, whether you suffer any disabilities due to your injuries, and the number of liable parties or policy limits of applicable insurance coverage.
You may have multiple options for pursuing financial recovery for a bicycle accident, including filing insurance or legal claims against an at-fault driver or other liable parties or seeking financial benefits from your insurance coverage.
However, insurance companies can make it challenging to obtain fair compensation, and sometimes, it becomes necessary to pursue a lawsuit against the driver who hit you.
A personal injury lawyer in Bakersfield can guide you through the insurance and legal claims processes, using their experience and legal knowledge to advocate for your right to compensation and accountability for your harm and loss.