Did you know that while bicyclists only entail 1% of commuters they are 2% of victims who die due to a car accident?
While, thankfully, most bicyclists survive such accidents, it’s still an overwhelmingly high number. Often, those who do survive sustain serious injuries for several months. As a result, there needs to be a push to make our roads safer for bicyclists.
What happens if you fall prey to this? What happens if you get involved in a bicycle accident case? You have to fight back with a lawsuit.
Here’s how to file a bicycle accident lawsuit:
First Call 911
While you might be tempted to immediately threaten the driver with a lawsuit, you must follow protocol as well as think of your well-being first. You need to call 911 for two reasons.
First, there has to be a police report to eventually register a bicycle accident case. A police report is one of the most important bicycle accident lawsuit documents you’ll need to fight your case.
The second reason to call 911 is for medical services. Even if you feel fine, you want to get a medical report. Without a medical report, your case might get completely dismissed. A medical report is crucial to receive compensation if you’ve been seriously injured.
Take Pictures If Possible
Unless you’re incapacitated, you should take pictures of the incident. Take pictures of yourself and your bicycle. Take pictures of the car and of any surroundings.
You have every right to take such pictures and these are crucial to file your lawsuit. However, you must refrain from sharing these images on social media as this can compromise your case.
It’s possible that witnesses might take photos and videos and upload them on the internet. You can’t really stop them, but you should ask them to share the media with you. This might help you fight your case, and it’s something that a personal injury lawyer will use in your defense.
How to File a Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
Now let’s look at the process of how to file a bicycle accident lawsuit. Your lawyer can assist you with this process and it’s often best to have them do it for you.
Here’s how the process works:
The first step is to show your lawyer your evidence. This includes your police report, medical report, and any media reports. This will likely get presented in court to defend your case.
This is also the stage when you should reach out to witnesses. You’ll collect their statements or ask them to testify in court.
Hiring Your Lawyer
Once you’ve gathered evidence, you may want to reach out to your lawyer. Schedule. a consultation with them and show them your evidence. They’ll ask you about the incident and whether they’ll be able to fight your case.
If they take your case, they’ll explain how they’ll present your argument. They’ll discuss how much compensation they’ll fight for and what they’ll do to help you win the case.
This is also when they’ll tell you their fee. In most cases, a bicycle accident lawyer will not charge an upfront fee. Rather, if you win the case, they’ll ask for a commission from your compensation.
Filing Your Lawsuit
The final step in the lawsuit filing process is to file a case with your local court. Your lawyer will know the lawsuit filing deadline in your jurisdiction.
Once the lawsuit gets filed, the defendant will have to respond. You can then work to settle the case out of court or fight a case in court. Your lawyer will always fight to ensure you get your deserved compensation.
Let’s look at a few best practices to help you with the lawsuit filing process. Make sure you follow these to increase your chances of winning your case.
As mentioned earlier, you must gather evidence as soon as possible. After your bicycle accident, you must start taking photos and videos.
Make sure you capture as much media as possible. The more media and the more angles you get, the stronger your case will be.
You must also speak to a lawyer as fast as possible. Remember, there’s a tight deadline for when you can file your lawsuit. Make sure to have a shortlist of lawyers as not all of them will be able to take your case.
You’ll also have to prepare to go to court. In some cases, your lawyer can fight your case without you needing to be present. But in other cases, you’ll have to take the stand. Your lawyer will train you on how to present yourself in court.
As a side note, make sure you maintain your composure in court. The defense will try to break you down and make you hesitate with your answers. Ask your lawyer to train you on how to be confident when presenting yourself in court.
The final best practice is to understand how much compensation you deserve. Your compensation should cover your medical bills, the cost to repair or replace your bicycle, etc.
Your claim shouldn’t be absurd, but you also shouldn’t sell yourself short. Once you receive compensation, you can’t fight another case to receive additional compensation.
Now let’s explore more about being a cyclist and preventing future bicycle accidents.
Your Rights and Duties as a Cyclist
Cycling is still rather rare in American cities compared to the average European city. This is perhaps one of the many reasons why we, as a society, turn a blind eye to bicycle accidents.
But you must know that you have rights as a cyclist. These will come in handy when you’re fighting your case.
As a cyclist, you have to follow the same laws as a driver. You also have the same rights as a driver. You have the right of way and if there’s no bicycle path, you can cycle on the road.
However, as with drivers, you don’t have precedence over pedestrians. You must always give pedestrians the right of way. In some jurisdictions, you might be required to wear protective gear and have lights on your bicycle.
Even if this isn’t a requirement, you should always wear a helmet while cycling. Consider having lights installed on your bicycle, especially if you ride at night. If you don’t, then you can expect this to be used against you when you present your case.
Document Your Medical Journey
As mentioned earlier, even if you feel fine, you must call an ambulance following your bicycle accident.
You should keep a diary where you write down how you’re feeling. If you can’t write, then record a video or audio of yourself speaking. Video is better as it’s harder to fabricate. If you only record audio, be prepared to receive accusations that you’ve fabricated your testimony.
The purpose of documenting your medical journey is that you have to prove the seriousness of the bicycle accident. Even if you get into an accident, you might not receive compensation in some cases. You have to prove that your injuries were serious to make your case.
It’s also important in the grand scheme of things. As mentioned earlier, bicycle accidents are more common than we might think. If we show the seriousness of such accidents, we’ll make our roads safer for cyclists.
Taking Care of Your Health
After your accident and during your case, you must work to improve your overall well-being. Not to mention, this can also be used against you.
You must have regular visits to the doctor and show that you’re taking care of yourself. During your court case, you might have to prove that you’ve been working on your rehabilitation.
This shows the seriousness of your injuries. If you don’t take medicine or attend physical therapy, your injuries will get called into question. You have to show that you’re taking your injuries and recovery seriously.
This is also crucial for when you request a claim from your insurance provider. They’ll want to learn about your injuries and what steps you’re taking to look after yourself. You have to remember that insurance companies are often reluctant to pay you.
Sometimes you will have to fight them even while you’re fighting your case! Make sure you dedicate your time to improving your health while you fight your case.
Even if you win, you must become an activist! Many bicycle accident cases have been won. Yet, these accidents continue to persist. We must all be vigilant to prevent such issues from happening again in the future.
More Safety for Cyclists
Now you know how to file a bicycle accident lawsuit and what steps to take to win your case.
Your first step should be to call 911. You must file a police report as well as receive a medical report. Make sure you gather as much evidence as possible.
Afterward, you need to hire a lawyer to help you fight your case. You must also understand your duties and rights as a cyclist. You must also take care of your health as this is crucial for fighting your case.
Soon you’ll be able to ride again. In the meantime, ride on over to our blog to find more legal tips.