From providing a great workout to reducing your carbon footprint, cycling offers a host of benefits. It’s especially popular in California, where commuters can cycle 12 months out of the year, and recreational riders can enjoy breathtaking vistas on virtually every trail. Despite its many advantages, though, biking has a few major drawbacks. Because bikes lack a crumple zone, for example, cyclists have zero protection from forceful impacts when riding alongside moving traffic. As such, a drunk, distracted, or otherwise reckless driver can cause catastrophic injuries—and even death—upon causing an accident.
If you were seriously hurt in a bicycle accident, the resulting damages are probably adding up fast. Fortunately, you may be entitled to compensation for both the direct and indirect expenses associated with your injuries.
As long as you weren’t solely responsible for the accident, you may be able to bring a claim against the responsible party or their insurance carrier for the following damages:
1. Medical Expenses
California allows for the recovery of healthcare-related expenses that the plaintiff incurs as a result of his or her injuries. That means you may seek reimbursement for:
- Ambulance fees;
- Emergency department services;
- Office copays;
- Diagnostic tests;
- Prescription medication;
- Medical devices;
- Mobility aids;
- Ongoing rehabilitation;
- Home care;
- Psychological counseling; and
- Anticipated procedures or surgeries you will need as you reach various stages of recovery.
2. Lost Earnings
For many bicycle accident victims, the indirect costs that stem from their injuries are far more significant than the direct expenses. For example, if your doctor advises you to stay home from work to avoid exacerbating your condition, you could be forced to go several weeks—or even months—without a single paycheck. And if your injuries are so severe that they prevent you from returning to the workforce at all, you could essentially incur a lifetime of lost wages and benefits.
California tort law recognizes such losses and allows personal injury plaintiffs to seek compensation for their total value. In order to prove the extent of your lost wages or loss of earning capacity, your legal team may refer to paystubs, tax returns, economists, and experts within your industry who can speak on your career trajectory.
3. Property Repairs
Road bikes can be pricey. If your bike—or any other cycling equipment—was damaged in the accident, you may seek compensation for repairing or replacing it. If you must pay for alternative transportation in the meantime, you may include those expenses in the settlement negotiations, as well.
4. Home and Vehicle Modifications
If the injuries you sustained in the accident turn out to be permanently disabling, you may have to renovate your home and/or vehicle to accommodate your new limitations. Thankfully, the cost of doing so is considered a recoverable damage. Make sure to save all relevant quotes and invoices so you can prove such damages during the proceedings.
5. Replacement Services
While recovering from your injuries, you may need help with meal preparation, housekeeping, child care, and/or pet care. As long as any such replacement services are reasonably necessary, their cost should be recoverable. Send the receipts for any such services to your legal team so they can ensure all damages are accounted for when it comes time to commence the negotiations.
6. Non-Economic Damages
In the state of California, accident victims may pursue funds for non-economic damages like loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. While proving their extent can pose a challenge because such damages are intangible, a resourceful personal injury attorney should be able to propose various strategies for demonstrating your non-economic losses given the circumstances.
Your lawyer will probably encourage you to start a journal, for example, in which you recount how the injuries are harming your quality of life. Daily entries about your recovery will help contextualize your medical records by detailing the hurdles you face as a result of your injuries.
It may also be beneficial to consult a mental health professional and authorize him or her to discuss the impact the injuries have had on your well-being. Likewise, friends, loved ones, and colleagues can provide deposition about the changes they’ve noticed in your mood, behavior, and demeanor since the accident.
7. Punitive Damages
Because they’re almost always founded on ordinary negligence, bicycle accidents rarely warrant punitive damages. There are a few scenarios, however, in which a punitive award may be obtained.
Judges in California will consider awarding punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct constituted malice, fraud, or oppression. In other words, unless the motorist who struck you was intentionally trying to hurt you, your case is unlikely to call for a punitive award.
8. Loss of Consortium
If you have a spouse or registered domestic partner, he or she may be entitled to compensation for loss of consortium. This encompasses the loss of intimacy, moral support, and companionship that your husband or wife will incur as a result of your injuries.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Bicycle Accident Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
Not all personal injury attorneys are equipped to represent cyclists, but attorney Michael D. Waks has the knowledge, resources, and experience to help you navigate every stage of the proceedings. He is well-versed in the statutes and precedents that apply to bicycle accident claims, and he knows what it takes to win significant settlements and verdicts on behalf of his clients.
With an AV Preeminent rating from the Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating service, the Law Office of Michael D. Waks has recovered numerous six- and seven-figure payouts for injured parties and their loved ones. Call (562) 206-1939 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a bicycle accident lawyer in Long Beach.
Download Our Car Accident Emergency Response .PDF
If you often cycle alongside traffic, there’s a chance you will be involved in an accident at some point. Should this happen, you will want to refer to our Car Accident Emergency Response .pdf when recording the scene. This handy guide will ensure your case gets off to a strong start. Download it HERE for free, and print a copy for your pannier or backpack.
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