According to recent surveys, 100 million Americans have used bicycles at some point as a form of transportation. However, most of them don’t continue to bike to school or work regularly for fear of an accident.
53% of Americans stated that they are interested in riding their bike more often but are nervous about riding in traffic.
Their fears are, unfortunately, well-founded. Accidents, injury and even death occur fairly often. It is important to understand what happens when you’ve been in an accident and what you’re entitled to.
If you’ve been in a bike accident, you may wonder how much you are entitled to when it comes to a payout. The amount you’ll get will depend on the type of injury, whether it has permanently affected your life and how long you spent recovering.
Things like emotional damages and suffering will also be calculated into your compensation package.
If the worst has occurred and you lost a loved one in a bike accident, as the remaining members of the family or spouse, you may be entitled to a lump sum for your suffering.
Read on to learn about what you’re entitled to after a bike wreck and how the courts calculate it.
Determining Who Is At Fault
Before you receive any time of monetary package, a legal team will need to determine who is at fault for the accident. If, for example, you were not in the properly marked bike lane when you were hit, you may not receive anything. This is because you were not following the rules of the road when the accident occurred.
If you ran a red light or were going the wrong way on the road, this would also mean that you were at fault.
You will be responsible for damages if you are found to be the one who caused the accident. However, if the driver, or another cyclist, is the one who caused the accident, you may receive a settlement.
What is a Settlement?
A settlement is the amount of money you receive, most likely from the driver’s insurance, after the accident. This negotiation only takes place once the police and insurance company have determined that you are not at fault.
Most lawyers negotiate settlements for their clients out of court, though a lawyer must be highly adept at personal injury law. Settlements are final once both parties have reached an agreement, and you cannot go back and ask for more money.
How Do I Make Sure I Get a Fair Amount?
In order to calculate your damages, you will need to save the entire paper trail of your expenses. This means you will need to keep all documentation pertaining to medical bills or your work pay stubs, particularly if you were out of work for a long period of time. Without these crucial documents, your lawyer may not have the correct figures and may not ask for what you are fairly due.
Your lawyer cannot pull the amount out of the air, so it is important that you have proof of everything necessary. This way, your settlement will be calculated fairly.
Damages for a Bike Wreck: Lost Wages
If you’ve watched any courtroom dramas or read about any high profile cases, you’ll already know that in order for compensation to occur, he or she must assess the damages. But what exactly does that mean?
Your lawyer will likely separate damages into two categories, your economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are how much you spent or lost as a result of your bike accident.
If, for example, you were in the hospital for three weeks and could not return to work for four months after the fact, your lawyer may calculate five months of lost wages as part of your package. This is particularly true if you work a non-salaried position where you were not paid at all during the time you were recovering from your injuries.
In order to arrive at this figure, your lawyer will examine your pay stubs and your wage. If you normally work for $9 an hour, for example, and work 35 hours a week, this will be the figure your lawyer will use. If you had to take five months off, using this figure, you could be entitled to $6300 in lost wages.
If you are still unable to return to work, or can only return to work in a reduced capacity, this will also be a consideration. If, for example, you typically work for 35 hours a week at $9 an hour and can now only work 15 hours a week, you could receive money for the 20 hours you can’t work.
Economic Damages: Medical Bills
When you spend a considerable amount of time in the hospital either recovering or consulting with doctors, your bills will mount. Even if you have insurance, a bike wreck can clear out your bank account pretty quickly.
Your medical bills will, therefore, be part of the package you might receive when negotiating your payout. Your lawyer will not only calculate all of the medical bills you’ve accrued but will also take future medical bills into consideration.
If, for example, you know you will continue in physical therapy three times a week for at least five months after the settlement, you will receive money to cover the cost.
When calculating a settlement package, your lawyer will also estimate how much money you will need going forward. This will cover future doctor expenses and medical bills as well as any medications you might now take as a result of your injury.
Other Factors for Economic Loss
If you need to attend rehab or have to have special concessions made for your home due to your injury, this will also be calculated into your settlement package.
For example, if you had to use a wheelchair for several months and had to build a wheelchair ramp to allow you to get into your home, your settlement will reflect the cost.
Your settlement can also include nursing care in your home, loss of income for relatives who had to care for you and any other issues you may have pertaining directly to the injury.
You may have read about or heard of people receiving awards for pain and suffering, as well as other non-material categories. Although this may sound vague, a personal injury lawyer will understand exactly how to calculate it.
There are four major categories that you can receive compensation for when it comes to your bike injury settlement. These are pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment of life.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is distinct from emotional distress or loss of enjoyment of life. In order to receive compensation for pain and suffering, you will need to prove that the injuries persist. This means that if you broke your ankle in the accident, you can prove that your ankle still bothers you.
If your ankle still bothers you and it prevents you from doing household chores and playing soccer with your kids, this can also fall under the “pain and suffering” category.
Emotional distress is separate from pain and suffering, though some people conflate the two. Emotional distress comes from the inability to ride your bike again after the accident due to fear. Other emotional distress could take the form of anxiety or panic attacks.
Often, people who have been in serious accidents will suffer anxiety after the fact. You may have episodes of intense anxiety, particularly around the crash site. Or, you might find it difficult to drive near a cyclist.
All of the aforementioned account for emotional distress. If you have to receive therapy or medication to assuage your panic and anxiety, payment for the sessions could also end up being part of your settlement package.
Loss of Consortium
Your spouse or partner can claim a loss of consortium settlement. Although it may seem vague, it essentially means they receive compensation for the things you cannot do with them as a partner. For example, if you normally financially provide for them and you cannot, due to your injury, this is included.
Other things that your partner can claim for are a loss of sex or sex drive as a result of the accident or inability to have children. If you can no longer provide the assistance you used to due to your accident, your partner can also receive a settlement of this loss.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
While this may sound similar to pain and suffering, they are, in fact, different. If you used to dance for fun and can no longer do so due to your injuries, you can include this in your settlement package. Your inability do dance will go under loss of enjoyment of life.
What Kind of Settlement Will I Receive?
If you’ve been involved in a bike wreck, you will need to work closely with your lawyer to determine the exact settlement you feel entitled to receive.
For those who have lost a loved one to a bike wreck, a personal injury lawyer can also assist you in a settlement package.
For more information on personal injury and the law, visit our site.