Being injured in a bicycle accident can leave you physically, emotionally, and financially worse off; and when the initial shock subsides, questions about potential compensation for your injuries are likely to arise. Let’s consider what compensation you can claim and why it’s important to talk with a Rockdale, TX or Navasota, TX personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Can I Claim Compensation for Injuries in a Bicycle Accident?
The short answer is: yes. If you were not primarily to blame for the accident, and if you have suffered genuine damages due to another person’s negligence, you can claim compensation. Here are the details:
Understanding Fault and Liability
In Texas, if another party’s negligence caused your accident, you are entitled to seek compensation. Negligence is a failure to act with reasonable care. For example, if a driver was texting and didn’t see you, this would likely be considered negligence. However, if your accident was a “true” accident, i.e., the other party was acting with all due care and following all traffic laws, you may not have a case.
Modified Comparative Fault
Texas follows a “modified comparative negligence” rule. This means if you are found partially at fault for the accident, your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are more than 50% at fault, you cannot recover any damages.
Essentially, the accident must have been primarily the other person or persons’ fault, and if you were at all at fault, your compensation will be reduced proportionally. For example, if the other driver was speeding and ran a red light, while you broke a more minor traffic rule on your bike, you might be found 20% at fault. If your final damages amount to $30,000, your final award would be lowered by 20% to $24,000.
Establishing liability is a critical part of your claim. In many bicycle accidents, the driver of the vehicle involved is at fault, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, liability may fall on a municipality for poor road maintenance or even a bicycle manufacturer for selling a defective product. To determine liability, it’s essential to gather evidence such as police reports, witness statements, and traffic camera footage. An experienced lawyer can help you collect and interpret this evidence to build a strong case.
Compensation for Medical Expenses
One of the primary concerns after a bicycle accident is covering medical expenses. These can include the immediate costs for things like emergency room fees, as well as ongoing expenses, such as physical therapy or rehabilitation. You are entitled to claim these expenses as part of your compensation. It’s important to keep detailed records of all your medical treatments and expenses as this documentation will be vital when negotiating with insurance companies or presenting your case in court.
Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
If your injuries prevent you from working, you can also claim compensation for lost wages. This includes not only the income you’ve lost but also the impact on your future earning capacity if your injuries are long-term or permanent. Calculating lost wages is relatively straightforward, but assessing the loss of future earning capacity can be much more difficult and requires the help of a skilled personal injury lawyer to ensure you’re not missing out on something you deserve.
Pain and Suffering
In addition to tangible losses like medical expenses and lost wages, you can also claim compensation for pain and suffering. This refers to the physical pain and emotional distress you experience as a result of the accident. Quantifying pain and suffering can be challenging, as it’s subjective and doesn’t have a fixed monetary value. However, it’s an essential component of your compensation, and an experienced personal injury attorney will know how to help you prove the extent of these damages.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Interactions with insurance companies are often an inevitable part of a bicycle accident claim. In Texas, the at-fault party’s insurance is typically responsible for covering your damages. However, dealing with insurance companies can be quite difficult in some cases. They often aim to settle claims quickly, and for as little as possible.
It’s important for you to understand that the initial settlement offers you are given may not fully cover your long-term needs and may even be designed to play off your understandable concerns about finances to get you to agree to cash in hand as soon as possible. A skilled lawyer can negotiate with these companies on your behalf and ensure that your final settlement reflects the true extent of your injuries and losses.
Impact of Pre-Existing Conditions
In Texas, the “eggshell plaintiff” rule applies, meaning you can’t be denied compensation just because you were more susceptible to injury than someone else. However, the at-fault party is only liable to the extent to which they worsened your pre-existing condition, and it’s common for the other side to argue that whatever worsening of your condition you’re experiencing is coincidental or due to the natural progression of your condition, rather than their fault. Having accurate and comprehensive medical records and accessing expert medical opinions are essential in these cases to explain the impact of the accident on your existing conditions.
Role of a Rockdale, TX or Navasota, TX Personal Injury Lawyer in Maximizing Your Claim
Having a knowledgeable lawyer on your side is vital if you hope to maximize your compensation. A lawyer can handle all aspects of your claim, from investigating the accident and gathering evidence to negotiating with insurance companies, finding expert witnesses, and representing you in court, if that becomes necessary. They can also help you understand the full range of damages you’re entitled to and ensure that every aspect of your injury and its impact on your life is accounted for in your claim.
Statute of Limitations
In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including bicycle accidents, is typically two years from the date of the accident. This means you have two years to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for your injuries. There are rare exceptions to this rule, such as when the injured party is a minor or in cases of delayed discovery of the injury. However, these are specific circumstances and should be discussed in detail with your lawyer.
Legal Procedures and Court Processes
If your case goes to court, the process begins with your lawyer filing a complaint, followed by the discovery phase, where both sides gather evidence. Pre-trial motions, settlement negotiations, and possibly a trial will follow this. In some cases, an insurance company may come to the table with a more feasible settlement once you’ve filed a case and they know you’re serious. No matter what happens, though, having an experienced lawyer is crucial to getting the best result.
A prompt and thorough response following an accident is always best if you want to get the best outcome for your claim. Seeking legal advice early on in the process can help you preserve critical evidence and provide you with the best chance of a successful outcome. If you’ve been in a bike accident, contact Brian Gutierrez, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer right now to get a free consultation and learn more.