Bike Accidents Are on the Rise in America
Across the United States, the number of accidents involving bicyclists has been increasing since 2009. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 857 people lost their lives in a bicycle accident in 2018. As it is expected, when a traffic accident involves a motor vehicle and a bicyclist, the cyclist is more likely to sustain serious injuries.
When a cyclist is involved in a traffic accident, the repercussions can last a lifetime. If the accident was caused as a result of a driver’s carelessness, the State of California allows the injured cyclist the opportunity to pursue financial compensation.
Compensation Available After a Bike Accident
Cyclists in California who have been injured by reckless drivers are entitled to financial compensation. Based on tort law, the driver can be held responsible for the accident if he or she acted negligently or acted intentionally at the time of the accident. Tort law seeks to make the injured cyclist whole again by compensating him or her for the injuries suffered. The goal is to put the injured party back in the same position held before the tort occurred.
California allows for two types of compensatory damages. Upon a successful personal injury claim, the injury cyclist can be awarded economic and non-economic damages.
What Economic Damages Entail
Like all tort victims, an injured cyclist is legally entitled to recover economic damages. These damages refer to the victim’s financial harm incurred by the accident. These damages can be calculated in monetary terms through receipts, bills, and wage records. Recoverable damages can include: Medical treatment expenses, Hospital bills, Therapy, rehabilitation, and at-home treatment costs, Loss of wages and benefits, Loss of earning capacity, Inability to provide household services, Loss of personal property, and Repair or replacement of property.
What Can Be Recovered Through Non-Economic Damages
Bike riders who have been seriously injured can face devastating consequences that do not implicate tangible monetary losses. Instead, these intangible losses can involve the physical and mental anguish that is usually associated in the aftermath of a bike accident.
Non-economic damages are not easily quantifiable and can be more abstract and subjective to the specifics of each individual case. Compensation for non-economic damages can include: Loss of quality of life; Pain and suffering; Emotional distress, and Loss of enjoyment of life.
How Punitive Damages Can Become Available
Although compensatory damages serve to make an injured person whole, a punitive damages award serves to punish the at-fault driver for his or her intentional and harmful actions. The goal of punitive damages is to prevent this type of conduct from reoccurring in the future.
Punitive damages can be seen as a deterrent of a criminal action and are applied when the at-fault driver has acted in a particularly egregious manner. Punitive damages are not likely to be included in a personal injury settlement unless a personal injury lawsuit has been filed. To obtain punitive damages, the injured victim will need to demonstrate, through clear and convincing evidence, that the at-fault driver engaged in deplorable conduct with malice.
Recover the Compensation You Deserve – Speak to a Knowledgeable Attorney Today
Bike accident cases are on the rise across the nation. Even if a person rides his or her bike with necessary precautions, the reality is that an accident can occur when least expected. Driver negligence is an issue bike riders can never fully prepare for, and when an accident happens, the consequences can be disastrous for the rider.
If you or a loved one has been injured while riding a bicycle, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney who will ensure maximum compensation is recovered. The attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP have many years of experience handling bike accident cases. Consider scheduling a free initial consultation with the firm today.
Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.