Bicycle accidents can have devastating consequences, resulting in severe injuries and damages. In the United States, there were over 900 bicycle fatalities in 2020 alone, and thousands more suffered injuries due to accidents. Victims may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and other losses when a bicycle accident occurs.
On this page, we take a closer look at the legal process for bicycle accident lawsuits, including the steps involved in filing a claim, gathering evidence, and negotiating a settlement. We'll also provide information on the average settlement amounts for bicycle accident cases and some common factors that can affect the final settlement amount. Additionally, we'll offer a list of legal resources available to bicycle accident victims, including local bar associations, bicycle advocacy groups, and state departments of transportation.
We aim to provide victims with the information and resources they need to protect their legal rights and seek fair compensation for their injuries and losses. Whether you're a bicyclist who has been injured in an accident or a loved one of someone who has suffered as a result of a biking accident, this page will provide valuable insights into the legal process and the resources available to help you navigate it.
Do I Need a Bike Accident Attorney?
Hiring a bike accident attorney is a personal decision, but it can help individuals receive compensation for their damages. There are many reasons why hiring a bike accident attorney may be advantageous, including the following:
Insurance Issues: A lawyer can help navigate the complicated process of dealing with insurance companies and ensure the victim receives fair compensation for their damages and injuries.
Proving Liability: An attorney can investigate the accident and gather evidence to build a case and prove who was at fault. This could be particularly important if the person were hit by a car, as the driver may dispute who was at fault.
Medical Assistance: A lawyer can help people access medical treatment and ensure they receive proper compensation for their medical expenses and other related costs.
Negotiating a Settlement: If the person has suffered significant damages and injuries, a lawyer can deal with the insurance company to reach a settlement that adequately compensates them.
Court Representation: If the victim’s case goes to court, a lawyer can represent them and advocate for their rights.
Hiring a bicycle accident attorney can have many benefits; the list above is only a few examples. It is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident to determine what steps need to be taken to protect your rights.
Bicycle Accident Lawsuit Settlements: What to Expect
Pursuing a legal claim for a bicycle accident can be a complex process, and it's essential to be prepared for what to expect in a lawsuit settlement. Here is a list of critical steps and considerations to guide you through the process. While the specifics of each case can vary, this list will provide a general overview of the main stages of a bicycle accident lawsuit. By understanding the process, you can be better prepared to make informed decisions and work with your legal team to pursue a favorable outcome.
Investigation and Gathering Evidence
The investigation and gathering evidence step is a crucial part of a bicycle accident lawsuit, as it determines the strength of the case and sets the foundation for negotiations and potential trial proceedings.
The duration of this step can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the case, the number of witnesses and other parties involved, and other factors. It can take several months to a year to complete this step. Similarly, the costs associated with this step can vary, but the person's lawyer will often handle these expenses as part of their representation. This may include the cost of hiring experts, obtaining medical records, and conducting other investigations.
This step is typically time-consuming and expensive for victims with significant damages and injuries. In these cases, the attorney may need to conduct a more thorough investigation and gather more evidence to support the client's claims.
Several months to a year
Typically handled by the person’s lawyer as part of their representation
Filing a Complaint
The filing of a complaint is a formal step in a bicycle accident lawsuit and marks the beginning of the legal process.
This step often takes several weeks to a few months to complete. The length of time can depend on the case's complexity, the court's availability, and other factors. In addition, the costs associated with filing a complaint can vary, but most lawyers will handle this expense as a part of their representation. In some cases, the court may charge a filing fee, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the jurisdiction and the amount of the claims.
Several weeks to a few months
Typically handled by the person’s lawyer as part of their representation
After the complaint is filed, the discovery process begins. This involves exchanging information and evidence between the two parties and taking depositions, also known as sworn statements, from witnesses and other parties involved in the case.
This step often takes several months to a year to complete. The length of time can depend on the complexity of the case, the number of witnesses and other parties involved, and other factors. Your lawyer may handle any incurred expenses as part of their representation. These costs may include the fees for obtaining medical records, conducting depositions, and hiring experts, among others. In some cases, the court may require the parties to pay for certain expenses, such as producing and exchanging documents.
Several months to a year
Typically handled by the person's lawyer as part of their representation, additional expenses may include producing and exchanging documents.
The settlement negotiations step is an opportunity for the parties involved in a bike accident lawsuit to resolve their dispute without going to trial. The duration of this step can vary greatly, but in most cases, it can take several weeks to several months to complete. This depends on the case's complexity and the parties' willingness to reach an agreement.
The costs associated with settlement negotiations are typically lower than those associated with the trial, as they do not require the parties to go through the entire legal process. However, the parties may still incur expenses, such as hiring experts or negotiating with the insurance company. The person's lawyer typically handles these costs as part of their representation.
In some cases, the parties may reach an agreement during settlement negotiations, and the case will be resolved without a trial. In these instances, the person may recover compensation for damages and injuries more quickly than if they went to trial.
Several weeks to several months
Typically handled by the person's lawyer as part of their representation, additional expenses may include hiring experts or negotiating with the insurance company.
The trial step is the final stage of the legal process, where a judge or jury decides the case after a formal presentation of evidence and arguments by both parties.
In most cases, the trial can take several days to several weeks. However, the length of time can depend on the number of witnesses and evidence presented and the case's complexity.
The costs associated with a trial can be substantial. They may include court fees, the costs of hiring expert witnesses, the costs of producing and exchanging documents, and other expenses. These costs can vary greatly depending on the case's complexity and the trial's length. The victim's lawyer will often handle these expenses as part of their representation, and they may recover some of these costs as part of the settlement or judgment.
In addition to the financial costs, a trial can be emotionally draining and stressful. The victim must testify in court and be cross-examined by the other party's lawyer. Therefore, it's vital to be prepared for the potential impact of a trial on your well-being and mental health.
Several days to several weeks
Typically handled by the person's lawyer as part of their representation, additional expenses may include court fees, hiring expert witnesses, and producing and exchanging documents.
If either party is unhappy with the trial's outcome, they may choose to appeal the decision. This involves asking a higher court to review the case and potentially overturn the lower court's decision. However, appeals are generally not guaranteed, and a higher court may choose not to review the case or may affirm the lower court's decision. Additionally, a party may only appeal on specific legal grounds, such as errors in the application of the law or the admission or exclusion of evidence, and not based on factual disputes.
The appeal process is generally longer than the trial process because it involves written briefs and oral arguments by the parties involved. In most cases, it takes several months to a year to complete. Costs can also be substantial, requiring the parties to pay additional legal fees and expenses. Sometimes, the losing party may be required to pay the other party's attorney's fees and expenses.
Several months to a year
Requires additional legal fees and expenses, including fees for preparing the written briefs, hiring expert witnesses, and paying for oral arguments
Average Settlements for Bike Accidents
Settlements for bike accidents can vary widely depending on various factors, including the severity of the injuries, the extent of the property damage, and the specific circumstances of the accident. The jurisdiction may also influence settlement amounts, the insurance companies involved, and the skills of the attorneys representing the parties.
Head injuries are a common and potentially severe consequence of bicycle accidents. A blow to the head can cause various injuries, including concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and skull fractures. In addition, even a seemingly minor head injury can have long-lasting and sometimes permanent effects on an individual's physical and cognitive functioning. For these reasons, head injuries often have the highest settlement, ranging from $2.8 million to upwards of $9.1 million.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries (SCI) are a critical and potentially life-changing consequence of bicycle accidents. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves running from the brain down the back, transmitting signals between the brain and the rest of the body. When the spinal cord is damaged in a bicycle accident, it can lead to various complications, including paralysis, difficulty breathing, loss of bowel or bladder control, and sexual dysfunction. Victims may also experience soft neck tissue injuries, compression fractures, or herniated discs.
The average settlement for an SCI can vary greatly but usually falls between $10,000 to $350,000.
Internal injuries, including internal bleeding, are another potential consequence of bicycle accidents, and they can range in severity from minor to life-threatening. An internal injury is any injury that occurs to organs within the body, such as the liver, spleen, or kidneys. In a bicycle accident, internal injuries can occur from the impact of the collision or the force of the body hitting an object, such as the handlebars or pavement.
Internal injuries can be acute and life-threatening, especially if they go undiagnosed or untreated. As a result, the value of a bicycle accident claim can vary widely depending on various factors unique to each case. Some claims are worth a few thousand dollars, and others exceed $1 million.
Legal Resources for Bicycle Accident Victims
Bicycle accidents can cause dire injuries and damages; victims need to know their legal rights and options. In addition to seeing medical attention and contacting insurance companies, several legal resources are available to help bicycle accident victims seek compensation and justice. Here are a few resources that can be helpful for those who have been involved in a bicycle accident.
Local Bar Associations
A local bar association is a professional organization for attorneys that can be a helpful resource for victims of bicycle accidents. First, they can provide referrals to personal injury attorneys who have experience handling similar cases. They can also offer legal information and resources, including informational pamphlets, guides to the legal process, and referrals to legal help in the community. Some local bar associations offer free legal clinics where individuals can meet with attorneys to discuss their cases and receive legal advice. Other bar associations have pro bono programs that provide free legal services to low-income individuals.
The League of American Bicyclists
The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) has been working since 1880 to promote bicycling for transportation, recreation, and fitness. The organization offers bicyclists a range of resources and services, including advocacy efforts, education programs, and legal support for victims of biking accidents.
The LAB's legal support is provided through its Bicycle Friendly America program, which offers legal guidance to victims of biking accidents, including information on legal rights and options and referrals to local attorneys with experience with these cases. In addition, the LAB offers a range of resources for safe cycling, including safety tips, information on bicycle laws, and training programs for bicyclists of all ages and skill levels. This organization also advocates for policies and infrastructure improvements that promote safer and more accessible bicycling.
Department of Transportation
Your state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) can be a helpful legal resource for bicycle accident victims in several ways. First, they offer resources for safe cycling, including educational materials on bicycle laws and safety tips. State DOTs are responsible for maintaining roadways and transportation infrastructure, so if an accident occurs in dangerous road conditions, DOTs can be held liable. By reporting such issues, bicyclists can help bring attention to potential hazards and advocate for improvements to make the roads safer for cyclists. State DOTs may also advocate for policies and programs that promote safer cycling and better infrastructure, collect data on bicycle accidents, and refer victims to legal resources if needed.
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