When a car strikes a bicycle, the cyclist will likely sustain injuries. The extent of the damages depends on numerous factors; however, many bike crashes result in severe injuries and fatalities. If you were in a bicycle accident and got hurt, an injury lawyer may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Understand the Bicycle Accident Statistics
The bicycle infrastructure in the U.S. is lacking, leaving those who ride vulnerable to vehicle accidents. Municipalities across the country are working to improve bicycle safety through education measures and bike lane additions. Boston, M.A., currently has approximately 68 miles of bike lanes, though most are not yet protected (fortunately, efforts are underway to remedy the situation).
Though most accidents occur in urban environments, riders on rural roads are not without risk. In 2019, bicycle accidents left an estimated 49,000 cyclists with injuries and resulted in 846 fatalities. In Boston, there were an average of seven rider deaths every year from 2017 through 2021.
Nationally and in Boston, male cyclists were the predominant victims of fatal crashes. In 2019, most men who lost their lives were in the 55-59 or 65-69 age groups. Men over 35 most often experience fatal bicycle accidents in Boston. Alcohol was a factor in 34% of fatal bicycle accidents on U.S. roadways in 2019.
Familiarize Yourself With Relevant Laws
Several laws are relevant to personal injury claims. Familiarizing yourself with them helps you understand what factors impact the process and outcome of a bike accident claim.
No-Fault Accident Insurance
Massachusetts’ no-fault auto insurance laws require drivers to carry personal injury protection. The coverage pays for medical expenses, wage losses at a rate of 75% and up to $8,000 in replacement services expenses. Policies pay for these damages for drivers, their passengers, cyclists and pedestrians, regardless of who is at fault.
If you sustain injuries in a bicycle-vehicle collision, the driver’s PIP insurance should pay for covered damages. However, these policies are often insufficient to cover all relevant losses. For instance, they do not cover non-economic damages like physical pain and suffering.
Cyclists are expected to adhere to the rules of the road, just as motorists are. However, a few legal stipulations provide additional guidelines for drivers and riders sharing the roads. These rules come into play if you pursue a personal injury lawsuit. The laws govern passing and turning behaviors for motorists.
The laws also outline cyclists’ responsibilities and required actions. Massachusetts does not require helmets for anyone over the age of 16. If a rider is older, a determination of liability cannot rest on whether the cyclist wore a helmet.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the regulatory deadline states establish for legal matters. Massachusetts sets a three-year time limit for filing a personal injury claim. If you get hurt in a bicycle accident, you have until three years after the crash to file a lawsuit.
Like many others, you may think you should wait until you heal, so you know the final costs, but the deadline can sneak up on you faster than you think. You don’t want to miss the cutoff. If you do, you have no way of recovering your losses. A bicycle accident lawyer can handle determining future expenses.
Modified Comparative Fault
When you file a personal injury claim, your role in the accident impacts the outcome of your case. Most states follow one of two forms of comparative fault rules. In the 13 states that adhere to pure comparative fault, the law allows claimants to receive a portion of the damage award, as long as they aren’t entirely to blame. However, the courts reduce the amount by their percentage of liability. If they are 65% at fault, they can still receive 35% of the awarded sum.
The 33 states following a modified comparative fault rule allow damage recovery when claimants share fault for the accident. However, unlike pure comparative fault states, there is a threshold for recovery in these states. Some states establish a 50% threshold, barring compensation for claimants who are 50% or more to blame. Other states, like Massachusetts, set the threshold at 51%.
Learn How an Injury Lawyer Can Help
Despite cyclist vulnerabilities due to the nature of riding and the lack of sufficient bicycle infrastructure, bicycle accidents are rarely as clear-cut as you might think. You may also run into issues with the insurance company. Insurers are not motivated to ensure cyclists receive adequate compensation. The company’s claims adjuster may try to talk you into a lowball settlement or attempt to deny the severity of your injuries.
An attorney from Jason Stone Injury Lawyers can help you deal with the insurance company. When you work with us, we handle the communications and negotiations with the claims adjuster. We understand how these companies work and know their tactics to avoid paying a fair settlement.
Pursuing Legal Action
If your medical expenses exceed insurance limits or your injuries are severe, you may be able to seek compensation through legal avenues. A bike accident lawyer can evaluate the facts in your case to determine if you have a valid legal claim. If you do and choose to proceed, your Jason Stone Injury Lawyer team is here to help you through the process.
Compiling the Evidence
Gathering evidence in a personal injury claim requires understanding what to look for, and the resources to persist when obtaining proof presents challenges. Injury lawyers have a team of professionals with the knowledge, experience and time to compile the evidence. They seek proof from a variety of sources. The more proof you have, the stronger your case.
Calculating the Damages
An accident lawyer knows how to calculate the damages for the full extent of your injuries. These damages include economic expenses and non-economic costs. They also consider your future; if your injuries are severe, you may be dealing with medical issues for years to come. The lawyer also incorporates any loss of work capacity and earning potential into the damage calculations. Non-economic considerations include:
- Emotional trauma
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of relationships
- Disfigurement or dismemberment impacts
Taken together, these damages generally far exceed what insurance policies cover. However, the impacts of a serious accident are often extensive, and you deserve compensation that recognizes this fact.
Filing the Paperwork
Injury lawyers handle completing and filing the legal complaint paperwork. This documentation includes information about your case, including the facts, legal justification for filing and the damages you seek. The court uses the documentation to determine your case’s validity and serve the defendant.
Negotiating With the Defense
An injury lawyer takes care of pre-trial negotiations with the other side. Your attorney will not back down from a fair settlement and will protect your rights throughout the process. If the defense does not agree to the compensation you deserve, your lawyer represents you in court. Few personal injury cases make it to trial, but you want an attorney who isn’t afraid to go the distance for you.
Get the Help You Deserve
If you were injured in a bicycle accident involving a vehicle, you deserve fair compensation. The Jason Stone Injury Lawyers team is here to help. We understand the financial burden you are under. Our Stone Cold Guarantee ensures we only get paid after we win your case. Give us a call today: There’s No Obligation, Just Information®.