Injuries from a Temecula bicycle accidents can be traumatic, life-altering events with far-reaching consequences on the life of the victim and their loved ones. Distracted drivers, poorly maintained roadways, cyclist error, and loose dogs can all causes someone to be injured while riding a bicycle. Though many of these accidents go unreported, they are still a common source of personal injury claims and always worth getting in touch with a Temecula bike accident lawyer to learn more about your options.
When Am I Most at Risk for Injuries for A Bicycle Accident?
Impact from an accident with a motor vehicle is the most serious type of crash and the most common cause of death to a cyclist – these impacts are frequent and cause 29% of bicycle crashes each year. The estimated number of injuries to bicyclists is over 50,000 annually. In Temecula alone over 23 bicyclists are killed or injured annually; many of these victims were minors less than 15 years of age. As the number of people considering bicycles for recreation, fitness, and commuting continues to rise, the number of bicycle accident injuries can only be expect to rise as well.
How Do I Recover for Injuries from A Bicycle Accident?
The most common argument for recovery in personal injury cases is that a victim was injured by another party’s negligence. To recover on the theory of negligence, a bicycle accident victim must usually prove:
- Duty – Someone had a duty of care to act as an ordinarily prudent person would if placed in their situation.
- Breach – That person, through affirmative act or through omission, breached that duty.
- Causation – The breach of duty alleged caused the harm inflicted upon the victim.
- Harm – The victim suffered actual harm.
Once these requirements are satisfied, if the party alleged to be at fault cannot raise any valid defenses the victim will be entitled to recover the claimed damages they can prove.
What Types of Damages Am I Able to Recover in Temecula for My Bicycle Accident Injuries?
Of course you want to know how much your Temecula bicycle accident is worth. If you are injured in a bicycle accident there are several types of damages that you may be able to recover. Personal injury damages come in two forms – compensatory and exemplary. They must be claimed during a lawsuit in order to be awarded, and they must be demonstrated to have occurred for them to issue from a judge or jury.
Compensatory damages are damages intended to make a victim whole again for the harms they have suffered. In California, compensatory damages may be either economic or noneconomic in nature. Economic damages have a concrete value that may be established through receipts, paystubs, and other records. They may include:
- Past and future medical bills and expenses;
- Diminished future earning capacity;
- Repairs to damage of their property; and
- Funeral costs.
Noneconomic damages are more abstract than compensatory damages, as they address harms that are not quantifiable in concrete financial terms such as bills or receipts. Unlike compensation for physical injuries such as road rash or fractured bones, these damages are awarded for harm done to family relationships, mental trauma, and psychological suffering resulting from an accident or harms done to a victim. Common noneconomic damages are:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Permanent disability;
- Physical disfigurement; and
- Loss of consortium.
Exemplary damages, conversely, are not designed to make a victim whole but rather to punish egregiously bad behavior. They are also used to make an example of the perpetrator and discourage the repetition of the same or similar conduct in the future. Intentional, grossly reckless, or reprehensible behavior may all warrant a punitive damage award, the most common type of exemplary damages.
Punitive damages may be awarded if the victim demonstrates they were injured by a party acting with malice, oppression, or fraud. The standard of proof is more rigorous and higher than the standard needed to prove simple negligence and recover compensatory damages, which merely demands something be proven more likely true than untrue. Punitive damages are discretionary – there is no limit or standard for whether they are awarded or how much should be given. Juries and judges have discretion and must be considered anew in each individual case.
Can I Recover If I Am Partially at Fault for my Bicycle Accident?
If you are partially at fault for the bicycle accident that resulted in your injuries you are not automatically precluded from recovering damages. In California, the doctrine of pure comparative negligence is applied to determine fault among more than one party. A percentage of fault is determined for each party involved, and that percentage corresponds to the percentage of the damage award they must pay. A bicyclist determined to be 20% at fault their crash for, say, not obeying bicycling laws or improperly failing to use a marked bicycle lane, will only recover $80,000 of their $100,000 total damages from another party determined to be 80% responsible.
What Should I Do if I Have Been Injured in a Bicycle Accident?
If you were injured in Temecula in a bicycle accident, you should not wait to take action and ensure you can receive proper compensation for your damages. Time and other factors may impact your ability to fully recover, so you must be proactive in protecting your rights and gathering information for your case.
Avoid A Statute of Limitations Bar
California has a 2 year statute of limitations from the date of injury for personal injury claims including bicycle accidents. Generally, you must file a lawsuit within 2 years of the date of the accident to pursue a claim for personal injuries – otherwise you are barred from recovering and any suit you do file regarding the injuries from the bicycle accident will be dismissed by a court.
Keep and Gather Records
Part of your ability to prove your case and damages hinges on your ability to supply proof of your claims. It is important to keep records of medical treatment for your injuries, future treatment plans you’re your medical providers, receipts for treatment and expenses, wages you lost due to injury, and other damages. Additionally, communications from other parties involved or their insurers should be saved as they may aid you in creating a record of events or even securing an admission of their fault in your bicycle accident. You may also receive lowball settlement offers from insurers to try and deter you from pursuing litigation – these should be kept and shown to an attorney, as they can have implications as your claim progresses. Finally, you should get and keep official reports from police or other officials to aid you in creating a factually accurate accounting of the accident from an impartial party.
Consult a Personal Injury Attorney Experienced in Temecula Bicycle Accident Claims
Speaking with an experienced Temecula personal injury attorney at Walton Law is also advisable when determining the best way to proceed in recovering compensation for you injuries. You can contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or through our online Contact Page to set up an initial, risk free case review. There is no obligation and you pay nothing unless we recover in your case. Our skilled attorneys will review the facts of your unique situation to help you understand your options and determine the way to proceed that will help you or your loved one achieve the best possible outcome.