Many people might assume the bicycle rider is at fault if they hit a car, but that is not always the case. Often, it is the vehicle driver's fault—either the vehicle driver hit the bicyclist or caused the bicyclist to hit the vehicle. However, sometimes the bicyclist could be at fault. It's always a good idea to retain a bicycle accident lawyer if you suffered injuries and other damages if you believe a vehicle hit you while riding.
How to Prove Fault in a Bicycle Accident?
If possible, take photos of the accident and speak to witnesses. While bicyclists have to follow the rules of the road, vehicles have some extra rules to follow when driving near bicyclists and pedestrians.
If your injuries are serious enough that you cannot take photos of the accident scene or speak to witnesses, contact a bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your legal team will investigate the case. Even if the police report shows that you are at fault, that might not be the case. When you retain a bicycle accident lawyer, we will investigate the case to determine who is at fault.
A police officer can only write down what others tell them or how they perceive the accident happened. If your injuries prevent you from speaking up for yourself, you will need investigators to determine the truth.
If you followed the road rules, the vehicle driver could be at fault, regardless of what the others at the accident scene tell the police officer. For example, if a driver turns into you without ensuring the road in front of her vehicle is clear, the vehicle driver might need to pay for your injuries.
In another case, another driver might share the liability for your injuries. For example, if Driver 1 runs a red light and causes Driver 2 to travel into the bicyclist’s path, thus causing the bicyclist to hit Driver 2, the bicyclist is most likely not at fault for the accident.
Evidence Investigators Might Uncover
If you can take photos and talk to witnesses, that helps considerably with evidence gathering, especially since some evidence might disappear before you retain a bicycle accident lawyer.
The investigators will obtain several pieces of evidence to prove the vehicle driver was negligent, including but not limited to:
- The police report.
- Property damage receipts.
- Medical records.
- Witness testimony or statements.
- Traffic camera footage.
If needed, we will consult with accident reconstructionists for your case.
How Can I Afford a Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
We work on a contingency basis. That means that you don’t pay if we don’t win your case. Your initial case evaluation is free and without obligation. Once you win a settlement or trial award, we collect attorneys’ fees from your winnings.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
A vehicle driver could cause you to hit their vehicle if:
- The driver is distracted and does not see you when you have the right of way.
- The driver is speeding and cannot stop for you when you have the right of way.
- The driver is driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other illicit substances.
- The driver fails to yield.
- The driver ignores traffic signals.
- The driver makes an improper turn.
- The driver fails to keep a safe distance.
Your bicycle accident attorney will use the evidence to prove negligence.
The Elements of Negligence
To prove the vehicle driver was negligent, we have to show that:
- The driver owed a duty of care to the bicyclist—the driver needed to follow the traffic laws and responsibly share the road with others.
- The driver breached the duty of care by driving negligently, e.g., distracted driving and ignoring traffic control signals.
- The vehicle driver’s breach of the duty of care caused the accident.
- You suffered damages in the form of financial losses because of the vehicle driver’s negligence.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
In many cases, bicycle accident injuries are catastrophic, or the accident causes death because the size of a vehicle—even a small vehicle—is much larger and heavier than a bicycle. The bicyclist does not have any protection other than a helmet, which can only protect the bicyclist so much. Even if the bicyclist wore knee and elbow pads and eye protection, they would suffer extensive injuries.
Injuries could range from minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes, scratches, and bruises to more severe injuries, including:
- Broken bones.
- Crushed bones.
- Extensive road rash.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
Recovering Damages After a Bicycle Accident
After a bicycle accident, a bicyclist could recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages have a monetary value, while non-economic damages do not.
Economic damages might include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property. If you lost a loved one in a bicycle accident, the at-fault driver is also responsible for death-related expenses, such as funeral and burial expenses, cremation expenses, and probate attorneys’ fees and costs.
The court usually orders non-economic damages if doctors expect your injuries to become long-term or permanent disabilities or if you lost a loved one in a bicycle accident.
Non-economic damages, sometimes referred to as general damages, include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life.
- Loss of companionship.
- Loss of consortium.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do.
- Excessive scarring or disfigurement.
- Amputation of a limb or digit.
- Loss of use of a body part.
- Loss of use of a bodily function.