Unlike the occupants of enclosed motor vehicles, bicyclists have very little protection in an accident scenario. Since they do not have an outer shell between themselves and the ground, they will likely suffer severe injuries if they fall off their bikes in an accident.
Road rash is a common injury that bicyclists suffer in an accident. It typically occurs when a cyclist scrapes (or drags) their body along the ground for an extended time. It can often produce a large open wound that requires immediate medical care, including stitches.
In some cases, a cyclist may also need to undergo a medical procedure, such as surgery, to help their road rash injury heal. When the road rash injury finally recovers, it may leave significant scarring in a visible area on the cyclist's body.
You should take several critical legal steps if you suffered a road rash injury in a bicycle accident.
First, you should follow any recommended medical treatment regimen your healthcare provider prescribes.
Next, you should contact a knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer in your area as quickly as possible.
Your lawyer can take prompt legal action on your behalf, including filing a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company, negotiating your claim, and, if necessary, litigating your claim in court. Your lawyer will do everything possible to maximize the compensation you recover for your road rash injuries and other accident-related consequences.
How do Bicycle Accidents Usually Happen?
Collisions with bicycles usually happen when people drive recklessly and negligently. Drivers may violate common traffic laws or engage in distracted or intoxicated driving.
One common cause of bicycle accidents is excessive speeding by drivers. When drivers exceed posted speed limits, losing control of their vehicles is much easier, preventing them from stopping in time to avoid hitting a cyclist. A speeding driver may also be unable to stop their car in time to avoid a collision with a bicycle.
Bicycle accidents also sometimes result from failing to yield the right-of-way to cyclists at the appropriate times.
For example, a driver might negligently cause their vehicle to hit a cyclist lawfully traveling in a designated bicycle lane. They may also fail to yield the right-of-way to a cyclist at a traffic intersection equipped with a stop sign, yield sign, or traffic control device.
Another common type of bicycle accident is a dooring accident. These accidents occur when a driver negligently opens the door to their vehicle in the direct path of an oncoming cyclist. As a result, the cyclist may fall off their bicycle and land on the ground, suffering severe injuries.
Bicycle accidents can also occur when drivers fail to use their rearview mirrors and vehicle backup cameras if equipped. Drivers have a duty to use these devices when backing out of parking spaces. If they fail to do so, they may back directly into an oncoming bicyclist's path, causing the cyclist to fall to the ground.
Another common cause of bicycle accidents is distracted driving. Drivers often become distracted when they look at electronic devices in their vehicles, such as cellular phones, GPS navigation systems, and tablets. A driver may also listen to loud, distracting music while driving or fiddle with their entertainment system instead of observing the road.
Distracted drivers may look away from the road, failing to see a bicyclist in the vicinity.
Finally, some bicycle accidents directly result from drugged or intoxicated driving. A driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs may experience various physical symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, and blurred vision, preventing them from noticing an approaching cyclist. An intoxicated driver’s delayed reflexes and reaction time may prevent them from stopping in time to avoid hitting a cyclist.
If you suffered road rash injuries or other injuries in a recent bicycle accident, you should contact skilled legal counsel as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can make recommendations for your case and help you take the necessary actions to recover the compensation you deserve. Specifically, your lawyer can help you gather documents, file a claim, and negotiate with insurance company representatives.
Proving a Bicycle Accident Claim
In any bicycle accident claim or lawsuit, the injured cyclist has the legal burden of proof in the case. Therefore, they must establish several legal elements to recover monetary compensation for their road rash injuries and other consequences.
First, the injured cyclist must show the driver owed them a legal duty of care. Establishing this legal element of proof is usually easy since all motor vehicle drivers have a responsibility to follow posted traffic laws and regulations and refrain from distracted and intoxicated driving.
Next, the injured cyclist must establish the driver breached or violated their legal duty of care in some way. Usually, this means that the driver broke one or more road rules just before the accident.
Third, the injured cyclist must establish that as a direct result of the driver's negligence, the bicycle crash happened. Finally, the cyclist must show that as a direct result of the bicycle accident, they suffered at least one physical injury, such as road rash.
Proving these legal elements of proof in a bicycle accident claim can sometimes be challenging. This is especially true since insurance companies will not do you any favors when it comes to recovering the compensation you deserve.
Your lawyer can prove these legal elements by gathering the necessary documentation and, if necessary, retaining experts to testify in your case. For example, an expert accident reconstructionist can visit the scene of your bicycle accident, review police reports, speak with witnesses, and draft a report about how the bicycle accident likely happened and who caused it.
Next, your attorney can retain an expert medical provider who can testify as a witness in your case. That provider can establish, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that one or more of your injuries are permanent.
A permanent injury does not heal, even with significant time and treatment. In addition, a medical expert can causally relate your road rash injury or other medical complication to the bicycle accident.
Filing a Claim for Damages
A lawyer can be extremely helpful when filing a bicycle accident claim. First, your lawyer can gather the necessary documents and other evidence to prove your bicycle accident case.
For example, your lawyer can obtain copies of:
- Written statements from witnesses to the occurrence
- Police investigation reports state how the accident occurred and whether or not the at-fault driver received a citation.
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Property damage photographs
- Photographs of the bicycle accident victim's road rash injuries and other visible injuries
- Pertinent medical records and medical bills
- Lost income documentation from the accident victim, assuming they had to miss time from work after their accident
Your attorney will make these documents part of a settlement demand package they forward to the insurance company adjuster for review. Along with these documents, your lawyer will include a settlement demand letter which makes a demand for monetary settlement within the applicable insurance policy limits.
Your lawyer can help you pursue the maximum monetary compensation you deserve by aggressively negotiating with insurance company adjusters on your behalf.
First, your attorney can make an opening settlement demand and then respond to offers from adjusters. Your attorney can also point to your medical records and highlight the strengths of your personal injury claim while downplaying any weaknesses.
When accepting a bicycle accident settlement for road rash injuries and other complications, you are the decision maker. Therefore, you are the one who decides whether to accept or reject a pending settlement offer from the insurance company. However, your lawyer can make helpful recommendations about whether a particular settlement offer is favorable, given the circumstances of your unique case and injuries.
If the insurance company does not compensate you fairly for your injuries, you can file a lawsuit and litigate your case through court.
Litigating a Bike Accident Case
Bicycle accident litigation begins when a personal injury attorney files a lawsuit on behalf of their client in the court system. The defense attorney working for the insurance company then files a formal Answer to the court case.
During bicycle accident litigation, the parties will:
- Exchange documents and answer one another’s written questions, called Interrogatories
- Attend discovery depositions, during which time the defense lawyer will typically depose the bicycle accident victim
- Attend pre-trial and settlement conferences that the court schedules in due course
If the parties cannot settle their case out of court, they may take it to a civil jury trial. During this proceeding, both parties present evidence in support of their positions.
The jury then decides what, if any, monetary damages to award the accident victim for their physical injuries and other losses. The parties may consider ADR or alternative dispute resolution as an alternative to a jury trial. ADR proceedings typically include mediation or binding arbitration.
Your bicycle accident attorney can help you decide between settlement or litigation in your bicycle accident case.
Recovering Monetary Damages for Road Rash and Other Injuries
To recover monetary compensation for road rash injuries and other accident-related losses, you must successfully establish the legal elements of your bicycle accident claim. If you can accomplish this goal, you can recover various monetary damages for your accident-related losses.
Those damages may include compensation for:
- Related medical treatment expenses
- Lost earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment related to the accident
Your attorney can help you make intelligent and informed decisions throughout your case and come up with an estimate for your case's total monetary value.
Insurance companies regularly undervalue road rash injuries. They fail to consider the pain and suffering road rash can cause or the lifelong burden or permanent scarring. You want help from an attorney who knows how painful and costly road rash is.
Speak to a Bicycle Accident Attorney Right Away
If you sustained injuries in a recent bicycle accident, including road rash, time is of the essence. In fact, bicycle accident victims only have two years from their accident date to seek monetary recovery for all of their accident-related losses.
If an accident victim does not file a timely lawsuit in their case, the statute of limitations will prevent their recovery. Therefore, you should act now.
A skilled personal injury lawyer in your area can immediately file a claim or lawsuit in your case, especially if the statute of limitations time frame is running short. Your lawyer can then negotiate favorable settlement compensation or pursue litigation if the insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly for your injuries.