Understanding Damages Available From Bicycle Accidents And How To File A Claim

Posted on: 4 May 2015

Bicycle accidents are a major occurrence across the USA, with 49,000 injuries caused in 2012 alone. Unfortunately, many of these accidents resulted in no justice, as the injured person wasn't aware of what to do following the incident. If you regularly cycle to work or for leisure, it's important that you understand your rights and what steps to take in the event of an accident.

What You Can Claim For

The specific claims you can make will depend entirely on the severity of your case; however, there are a number of general things that are typically covered in the event of a bicycle collision. These are split up into two separate categories:

General Damages

This covers the extent of any physical and psychological damage that you incurred as a result of the collision. In addition to injuries, general damages also cover any loss of motion that you have experienced due to the accident. Things such as inability to drive, inability to carry out household chores and inability to take part in your favorite activities are all covered under general damages.

Special Damages

While general damages should be thought of as the effect of the accident on your life, special damages should be thought of as the effect of the accident on your finances. Common things that are claimed under special damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Money lost due to an inability to work.
  • Extensive bicycle repair that isn't covered by insurance.
  • Home care, physiotherapy or other forms of treatment that aren't deemed "primary treatment".
  • Travel costs incurred if you usually ride your bicycle to work.

With special damages, it is very hard to predict exactly what will be covered following your accident. As such, you should speak with an attorney immediately following the accident in order to understand what options are available and what you will be able to claim for.

Preparing to Make a Claim

With bicycle accidents, it's imperative that you take steps immediately following the accident to ensure that your claim has a high potential to be successful. Too many cyclists wait until a couple of weeks following the accident, when they realize the extent of their injuries, before preparing to make a claim.

However, this could result in an unsuccessful claim, as you have missed a vital window of opportunity to gather evidence that backs up your accident claim. As such, here are three important things you must remember if you are involved in a cycling accident:

Make Sure the Police Take Your Story

The first thing to do is to make every effort to have your version of events recorded in the accident report. Speak directly to the officers in charge and make your concerns heard. Hopefully, this will be more than enough for them to take down your statement; however if it isn't then you can contact the police office directly and have the report amended.

Gather as Much Evidence as Possible

Your best source of evidence is eyewitness reports from third parties. If drivers have stopped to help you out, ask them if they would be comfortable giving a witness statement in order to prove your innocence. If the driver saw the full incident unfold, they will usually be more than happy to help out.

In addition to witness accounts, you need to supply some physical evidence of the accident. Typically, photographs will suffice and will grant the court the opportunity to assess the extent of the damage or injuries. This will allow them to make a reasoned judgement on how much compensation you are entitled to.

Speak to a Professional

As with any legal dispute, it's important that you get the advice you need to make a claim. Personal injury attorneys are experts at handling cases of road accidents and, as such, will be able to advise you on what financial damages are available. They will also be able to prepare your evidence in a compelling manner that will help the courts see your side of the story.