Bicycling in Washington is a great way to get exercise, save money on gas, and reduce air pollution. It’s also an excellent way to enjoy the beautiful scenery of our state. But drivers don’t always pay attention to bicyclists on the roadways, and with more people on bicycles now than ever before, injury accidents are also on the increase. Here in Washington State alone, at least 670 people were injured in bicycle accidents in 2021.
If you were injured in a bicycle accident caused by another person’s negligence or recklessness, you are legally entitled to damages to cover the total costs involved with your recovery. But getting compensation is far from automatic, and insurance companies like to look for reasons not to pay. Let’s take a closer look at what kinds of damages you can recover in a bicycle accident case—and what to do to ensure you actually recover those damages.
Damages You May Recover
When you file a personal injury claim for a bicycle accident, you must demonstrate that the person at fault was negligent and that their negligence caused your injuries. When you are successful, you should be able to recover all of the following damages that apply:
- Medical expenses (both past and future)
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Lost earning capacity (if your injuries permanently affect your ability to work)
- Out-of-pocket costs (e.g., home care while you’re recovering)
- Pain and suffering
You Must Be Intentional in Recovering Damages
The total of the damages mentioned may come to much more money than you realize because your attorney is not just going to calculate your current losses but also estimate your future losses. You should also be compensated a fair amount for intangible losses like pain, suffering, emotional trauma, and more. Taken together, these damages are the amount needed not just to pay your bills but to make you whole.
And yet, you must also recognize that the defendant’s insurance isn’t going to hand over all that money just because you’re legally entitled to it. Not only will they try to undercalculate and pay the bare minimum, but because Washington is a pure comparative fault state, they can get your settlement reduced if they can show that you share some fault. This is precisely why it’s important to fight for your fair compensation. If you are the least bit passive, you may end up paying for more of the cost of your recovery than you realize.
Steps to Take to Protect Your Fair Compensation
Understanding that you must be proactive in getting compensated for your bicycle injuries, what can you do after a bicycle accident to protect your interests for filing a personal injury claim? Here are some tips that may help:
- Obtain a police report of the accident. The police report can provide strong evidence as to who is at fault in the accident.
- Gather evidence at the scene. Take photos and gather witness information and anything else that helps tell the story of what happened so you can prove your case.
- Get medical attention. Get checked out even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured because you may have internal injuries that aren’t evident yet. If you don’t get medical help to minimize any complications, it could work against your case in the long term.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away. Having a good attorney will improve your chances of full, timely compensation.