Who Pays for Injuries in a Bicycle Accident?
A bicycle is a fun way to get exercise and get to your destination. But no matter how safely you ride, you can’t always count on vehicle drivers doing the same. Wearing a helmet, long pants, long sleeves, knee and elbow pads, and reflective clothing can help mitigate some injuries, such as road rash, but can’t fully protect a bicyclist in the event of a collision with a vehicle.
If you or a loved one was injured by a vehicle driver while riding a bike, you may recover compensation from the at-fault driver for your injuries. Read on to learn more from our experienced bicycle accident attorneys at the law offices of George Salinas
Why Vehicles Hit Bicyclists
People driving motor vehicles hit bicyclists for many reasons, and most of the time it is an accident. No matter how alert you are, you cannot always avoid a motor vehicle coming at you.
A motorist might hit you if:
- The motorist does not see you. A motorist could sideswipe you in your lane, turn right on red right into you if you are in the right lane, or could even rear-end you as you are riding in your lane.
- The motorist runs a red light or stop sign as you are going through an intersection.
- The motorist does not stop at a T intersection or the end of a driveway or parking lot access and T-bones you.
- The motorist is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The motorist is distracted.
- The motorist is driving erratically.
- The motorist is speeding.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
Because a bicyclist doesn’t have the same protection as they would if they were inside a motor vehicle, bicycle accident injuries are usually more severe regardless if they were on a BMX bike, mountain bike, or even a road bike.
Injuries can include:
- Bumps, bruises, scratches, cuts, and scrapes.
- Open wounds that can later become infected.
- Road rash, which can be minor or can cover significant portions of the bicyclist’s body.
- Strains, sprains, pulled muscles, torn muscles, and other soft tissue injuries. In many cases, these injuries heal on their own, but in some cases, the accident victim might require surgery.
- Simple and compound fractures. As with any open wounds, the exit wound for a compound fracture can become infected.
- Internal injuries and bleeding.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
In cases of severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries or serious soft tissue injuries, doctors may recommend cognitive and/or physical therapy. In cases where an accident was significantly traumatic, the injured person might also require psychological therapy to treat depression, anxiety, or post traumatic stress disorder.
Recoverable Damages Following a Bicycle Accident
After being hit by a car as a bicyclist, you can seek compensation—also known as damages—for your injuries. If you lost a loved one in a bicycle accident, you can also seek damages. Compensatory damages include compensation for both economic and non-economic losses in an attempt to make you whole again.
Economic damages, sometimes referred to as special damages, have a clear monetary value, such as medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages, sometimes referred to as general damages, do not have a clear monetary value, such as pain and suffering.
The types of economic damages you can seek generally include:
- Past medical expenses incurred because of the accident and before a settlement or a trial award. A decedent’s heirs can also collect past medical expenses paid for accident-related injuries before their family member’s death.
- Future medical expenses you expect to incur after the settlement or trial award.
- Past and future lost wages. Even if you can go back to work in some capacity, you might collect partial lost wages if you must take a job that pays less than you made before the accident.
- Past and future expenses for physical, cognitive, and/or psychological therapy.
- Expenses to make your vehicle and home handicapped accessible.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property.
- Funeral, burial, and cremation expenses.
The non-economic damages you can seek include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of consortium.
- Loss of companionship.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Loss of use of a body part.
- Loss of use of a bodily function.
- Inconvenience if you have to pay someone for chores that you can no longer do yourself.
Texas Motor Vehicle Insurance
Since Texas is a fault state, so those who are at fault for an accident are fully liable for any accident-related injuries and other damages. Therefore if the vehicle driver was at fault for the bicycle accident, their insurance company pays for the bicyclist’s damages. In no-fault states, each person first relies on their own insurance coverage, but a cyclist can turn to the at-fault driver’s coverage if their damages exceed their own policy limits. In either case, if the defendant’s insurance isn’t enough to pay for all of your injuries, you can sue the defendant directly to recover damages.
Never discuss the accident with any insurance company—even your own. The insurance company is in business to make a profit. Paying out claims decreases the insurance company’s profit margin, so it will do anything possible to deny your claim or to offer you a settlement so low that it might not cover all of your medical expenses.
If the defendant’s insurance company contacts you, give them your name, the date, time, and location of the bicycle accident, and your bike accident attorney’s contact information. Let the insurance representative know that your bicycle accident attorney will contact the company shortly to discuss the accident.