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As people become more environmentally and health conscious, more and more are choosing to ride a bicycle. However, not all car drivers look out for cyclists and when an accident happens the results can be devastating for the victim and their loved ones. At Khan Law Firm, we defend the victims of bicycle accidents and help them navigate through the complicated legal process to get them the compensation they are owed for their injuries.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported a 2.3 percent increase in the number of bicycle fatalities in 2015, with 818 cyclists killed on the roadway. Seventy percent of fatal accidents happened in urban areas and over sixty percent occurred at non-intersections. Eighty-five percent of all fatal bicycle accidents and eighty percent of all bicycle accident injuries involved men, mostly ages 45 years and older.
A total of 96 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents are caused by a single vehicle striking the bicycle, and 84 percent of the time the cyclist is hit by the front of the car. Bicycle accidents happen for a number of reasons, but the most common causes include:
The injuries sustained by cyclists are almost always more severe than the injuries suffered by the driver of the other vehicle due to the lack of protection a bicycle provides. Even if the cyclist is wearing full protective gear, the injuries can still be acute and last a lifetime. Injuries commonly occurring in bicycle accidents includes:
Many of these injuries require years of rehabilitation or could become a permanent part of the victim’s life. Some injuries require around-the-clock care and a permanent aide in addition to numerous medical devices. The costs can be astronomical, which is why you need an experienced bicycle accident lawyer in Federal Way to help you with your claims.
Given the seriousness of bicycle accident injuries and their potentially life-altering effects, getting full compensation for your claims is of vital importance. You may be entitled to a number of damages following a bicycle accident, for compensatory and non-compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are for physical and out-of-pocket expenses, which includes:
Non-compensatory damages cover the cost of pain and suffering as well as other intangible damages, which can include the following:
For cases where a bicycle accident results in the death of the cyclist, the family of the victim is allowed to seek restitution for wrongful death. This includes compensation for loss of consortium, security, love, affection, care, companionship and funeral expenses.
Washington uses a pure comparative negligence standard when determining compensation for personal injury cases, including bicycle accidents. The court takes the total compensation awarded and reduces it by the percentage that the victim is found at fault for the accident. For example, if the total damages for a bicycle accident were $100,000 and the cyclist was found 25 percent at fault, the total award would be $75,000. Under Washington law, this also extends to family seeking damages for wrongful death.
After a bicycle accident occurs, the most important thing to do is seek medical treatment. Injuries are often more serious for cyclists, and the injuries could be internal so they might not be noticed right away. Your health and safety is top priority, and it also allows for a medical professional to document your injuries immediately after a crash. This can be incredibly helpful when building a case for damages. Furthermore, refusing medical treatment after an accident can be used against you because an insurance company will claim that you were not as injured as you said you were, and there is no documentation to corroborate your statement.
The police also need to be notified after a bicycle accident if it involved injury or more than $700 in damages. The police will take a statement from those involved, document the scene, and take witness statements. The accident report generated by the police can be used as evidence for a compensation case. If possible, try to also gather evidence yourself. Take photos and video, get the contact information of witnesses, and document the damage.
Within hours following an accident the insurance companies will start an investigation and begin to build a case against you. That’s why it is extremely important that you obtain a personal injury attorney with experience in bicycle accident cases as soon as possible after an accident. A lawyer will secure copies of all medical and accident reports, open their own investigation into the accident, and serve as a shield between you and the insurance companies. An attorney will focus on building you the best possible case for compensation while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
Insurance companies are there to try and settle an accident for as little money as possible. Even your own insurance company may not have your best interests at heart. Do not speak to an insurer or give any kind of statement without a lawyer. They may even offer a settlement, but it is almost always an offer worth far less than the compensation you deserve.
Cyclists have every right to be on the road and be treated equally with other vehicles. However, when accidents occur it is the cyclist that often suffers the most severe injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, contact the Federal Way bicycle accident attorneys at Khan Law Firm today for a free review of your claims.