Injured While Bicycling? What You Need To Know Before Pursuing A Personal Injury Claim
In many cities, bicycling to work is a faster, cheaper, and healthier mode of transportation than driving or ride-sharing. However, bicycling is not without its risks, and cyclists who find themselves in the path of an oncoming vehicle may be seriously injured or even killed. If you've been injured in a biking accident, do you have any legal recourse? How will your personal injury claim proceed? Read on for a few things you'll need to know before filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Who Can You Sue?
Unlike vehicle collisions, which are most often the result of one or more driver's inattention or negligence, bicycling collisions can be due to inattention, negligence, or an issue like substandard lane markings, poor lighting, and other road conditions that make it hard for drivers to see bicyclists. Because of this, the decision of who to sue can sometimes be more complicated than simply filing a lawsuit against the driver who hit you.
Depending on the extent of your injuries and the financial recovery you'd like to seek, a crash scene investigator can identify all the potential causes of your accident and help you evaluate the strategic decision of who should be named as a defendant. Depending on the number of other bike-related accidents that have occurred in that location in recent years, it may make sense to name the city, county, or state as a defendant so that you may argue that this entity's actions -- or inaction -- contributed to your injuries.
What Happens After a Lawsuit is Filed?
Once you've filed a personal injury lawsuit and the defendant has filed an answer, the next step is for each party to conduct discovery to build their case. During the discovery process, you'll be asked to turn over information ranging from medical bills and physician statements to the names of any witnesses to the accident. Only after each party has received the discovery it has requested can the case proceed to trial or settlement. Failure to cooperate with the discovery process by withholding pertinent information or delaying turning over certain documents can result in dismissal of the case, for plaintiffs, or default judgment in the plaintiff's favor, for defendants.
What Damages Can You Recover?
As in other personal injury cases, you may be able to recover damages ranging from medical expenses and "pain and suffering", to property damage that will cover the cost to replace your bike or safety gear, lost wages, or punitive damages. It's important to note that while damages for medical expenses and other out-of-pocket costs are generally tax-free, damages for lost wages and other "compensatory" damages may be taxed -- just as the underlying wages would be. Talk to an accountant before filing your next tax return to ensure you're paying taxes only on the taxable portion of any award.
For more information, contact a bicycle accident lawyer in your area today.