Nothing is more devastating than being involved in a catastrophic accident while riding a bicycle. Following the collision, the recovery is both emotionally and physically painful. Moreover, you might be despaired and feel lost about the way forward. The legal team at Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm understands what you're going through. We can work to assist you in receiving the compensation you deserve.
How Common Are Bicycle Accidents?
The last thing a cyclist thinks about when going out for a ride is whether they will get involved in an accident. It is only natural to believe that nothing will happen. Unluckily, that is not always in their control. Below are a few bicycle accident statistics as revealed by Crash Statistics:
- In 2016, approximately eight hundred cyclists died in single-car accidents
- Seven hundred and eighty-three cyclists succumbed to bicycle accidents in 2017 alone
- Seventy-one percent of bicycle accidents happen in urban areas
- Most accidents happen between 6 and 9 pm
- Only four percent of the accidents occur on bike lanes while fifty-eight percent of the accidents aren't at an intersection
- Around fifty-one percent of the accident happens during the day
- Most accidents take place on roads with a speed limit between thirty-five and forty-five miles per hour
Common Causes of Catastrophic Bike Accidents
Most motorists like to cite reckless cyclists as the cause for accidents, but their decision not to give right of way or carelessness are the leading factors. As a bicyclist, understanding the common causes of bike accidents will help you take a defensive and active tactic to stay out of harm.
- Dooring accidents - These are accidents that happen when cyclists run into car doors that have been opened into their path. They are popular on busy streets with heavy traffic, forcing cyclists to ride close to parked motor vehicles. It's the role of the motorist to ensure they check to make sure no vehicle or bicycle is coming before exiting the vehicle.
- Side swiping bicyclist - These accidents happen when drivers do not give the cyclists adequate room while passing.
- Rear-ending accidents - These accidents happen when motorists who are not focusing follow closely. They are common at stop signals.
- Speeding - Speed is a major factor in many collisions, including those involving bicycle riders. Motorists who are in a hurry have less time to react, and this could be catastrophic for unsuspecting cyclists.
- Influence of alcohol or drugs- Another major cause of bicycle accidents is drunk driving, and bicycle riders are at an increased risk because of the limited protection they have.
- Lane-Splitting - It occurs when you drive between two traffic lanes. It means you are in closer proximity to cars and have less reaction time. Lane-splitting is illegal in Nevada.
- Bad weather - Storms, snow, rain, hail, and sleet are hazardous for cyclists. Bad weather can result in wet roads, poor visibility, and motor vehicle motorists not seeing the cyclist.
Liable Parties In Bicycle Accidents
Because bicycles do not offer the same safety features as motor vehicles, injuries sustained can be catastrophic. Consequently, you need to study the accident circumstances to determine the liable party.
The common forms of negligence include the following:
- Unsafe or defective bicycle equipment - It can be tempting to think that an accident just happened, but there is always a reason why it happened. Defective bicycle tires, brakes, chains, and frames all increase the risk of the accident. Faulty safety gear and helmet, on the other hand, can make your injuries more severe. If the bicycle did not perform properly during the accident, you should have it examined for poor design, poor frame welding, and other defects.
- Hazardous/unsafe road conditions - Cyclists have the right to hazard-free roads just as motorists. Bicyclists are owed a greater duty of care because they are at an increased risk of sustaining injuries if the riding surface is unsafe. Spilled gravel, construction, potholes, fallen rocks, leaf piles, debris, and sudden changes in road surfaces are potential hazards that municipalities ought to address before they cause accidents. In areas where obstacles can't be avoided, the municipality should post signals cautioning of the hazard.
- Pedestrian negligence - As a cyclist, you should stop for a pedestrian, the same way motor vehicles do. And if a pedestrian steps off into your path, you might not have adequate time to avoid the accident or slow down. In this case, you should prove that the pedestrian's negligence was the leading cause of your accident.
- Your negligence- If you were engaging in unsafe conduct, you may be partially accountable for the accident and recover reduced damages as a result.
- Motorist's negligence - Driver's negligence can be anything from a driver leaving their car door open to swerving into a bicycle lane. Drivers should maintain a safe space when passing or driving next to cyclists and comply with the right of way laws. If your accident involved a motor vehicle, the odds are the driver is at fault.
Elements of Establishing Your Claim
There are numerous claims that you can file against the defendant. Your personal injury attorney should be able to help you decide which claim is likely to be successful as well as suits your case.
For the defendant to be held accountable, you should establish the elements below:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care
- The defendant broke the duty of care
- The defendant's conduct caused your injuries
Drivers and cyclists owe other road users the duty of care. Therefore, should the defendant fail to pay attention and cause an accident that injures somebody else, the defendant is negligent.
Negligence Per Se
You should establish the following facts for a liable party to be held responsible for negligence per se in Las Vegas:
- The defendant has a responsibility to adhere to specific laws
- The laws were designed to protect people
- The defendant broke the laws
- The violation caused your injuries
Drivers and bikers should comply with Nevada traffic law that is tailored to safeguard other road users. If, for instance, a driver caused a bicycle accident due to driving while intoxicated or speeding, they were negligent per se.
You must demonstrate the following facts for the liable party to be held responsible for strict product liability:
- The bicycle was defective due to manufacturing, warning, or design defect
- The defect existed when the bike left the manufacturer's possession
- The bicycle was used in the manufacturer's reasonably foreseeable way
- The defect caused your injuries
When a bicycle accident does not involve any other vehicle or bicycle, your attorney ought to examine whether the bicycle was defective. If that is the case, product liability could be the only possible claim you have.
Bicycle accidents are sometimes fatal, particularly if a large motor vehicle was involved. In this case, the deceased's family can bring a wrongful death claim. The family should establish that:
- The victim died
- The demise was due to another person's negligence or wrongful act
- The plaintiff is a personal representative or heir of the deceased
- The plaintiff incurred losses due to the death
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
Safety is vital when riding a bike, but irrespective of how safety conscious you are, at some point, you might get involved in a collision. Knowing what steps to take immediately after the accident makes the difference in how well you protect your rights, particularly if you are severely injured. The following checklist can assist you in preserving essential information and maintaining control:
Wait for the Law Enforcement Agency to Come to the Accident Scene
You should wait for law enforcers to reach the scene of the accident. The police will prepare and draft a police report. You might not realize that you have sustained injuries until hours following the crash. And sometimes minor injuries can later become catastrophic injuries. Should you leave the scene of the accident, you might be unable to know the liable driver.
Moreover, do not try negotiating with the motorist. Most motorists initially accept blame and apologize, only to deny their presence or negligence for the bicycle accident. Therefore, wait for the law enforcers to arrive so that they can draft a police report.
Additionally, when you wait for the law enforcers, they can ticket the motorist. It can be useful when settling your case with an insurer.
Get Your Side of the Story in the Police Report
From time to time, police officers will take motorists' statements and fail to speak with cyclists. You should do everything you can to have your version of the events in the report. Report all the injuries, irrespective of how minor. Recall, minor injuries can sometimes become severe.
Should the police fail to take in your statement in their report, you could have the police report amended.
Get Witness and Driver Contact Information
Get the driver's address, name, phone number, insurance details, vehicle license number, and driver's license number. Also, obtain the name and contact details of every person who witnessed your bicycle accident. Do not assume this information will be included in the report. If you're too injured and can't acquire these details, request somebody else to do it on your behalf.
An accident witness can be valuable when making your claim to the insurance provider. The witness can describe things concerning the accident which confirm your side of the story. They can also give you the information you didn't know that shows the other party was liable. Even a person who didn't witness the crash may have seen you after the accident and can confirm that you were in discomfort or pain.
If the witnesses aren't reached and their contact information confirmed immediately following the bicycle accident, what they have to say can be lost. Human beings' memories fade, and the recollection can be fuzzy and no longer valuable.
Document What Took Place
Take mental notes concerning the accident, including:
- What took place
- How it took place
- Where the accident happened
- Weather, traffic, and road conditions
Then remember to write all these details down.
Document the Injury
Seek medical care for all your injuries. Seeking medical care will act as evidence that you sustained injuries while a medical record will prove the degree of the injuries.
Take numerous photos of the injuries immediately following the accident.
Also, keep a journal of the physical signs and symptoms and make daily entries.
Preserve Your Accident's Evidence
Leave the bicycle and all damaged property in the same condition following your accident. Do not fix anything or have anything inspected. Do not wash your clothes.
Physical evidence can assist in establishing the degree of your injury. Damage to the bicycle can show how severe the accident was. Make sure you preserve any physical proof as it was during the accident.
If you cannot preserve the object, capture photos of it.
Seek Legal Advice
Most accidents between cars and bicycles are complicated. You need to engage a skilled personal injury lawyer. The attorney can:
- Represent you in your claim
- Negotiate with an insurer
- Advise you on the way forward
Do not speak with the insurer before speaking to a lawyer. Anything you say to the insurer can be used against you.
If your case allows it, the attorney can engage an expert to study and investigate your accident. The expert will acquire skid mark measurement, speak with witnesses, and take photos of the scene of the accident.
Common Bicycle Injuries
A catastrophic bicycle accident can result in life-altering injuries. It is because you are exposed to many elements. Typical bicycle injuries include the following:
- Amputation - It involves the removal of a part of or an entire limb through surgery following the accident. The surgery procedure can be done on a toe, leg, arm, feet, or finger.
- Bone fracture - If you are thrown from your bicycle or lay down, there is a likelihood that you will suffer from a broken bone injury. Hips, back, shoulders, and clavicles are subject to fractures. It is because most of your body is not protected during the accident. At least one surgery is needed.
- Leg injuries - As a cyclist, you should tuck your legs in and squeeze the bicycle if a catastrophic accident is about to take place. However, human reaction during a collision is to extend legs to break a fall, which leads to injured and broken legs.
- Head injury - You could experience a mild concussion, traumatic brain injury, or skull fracture bone fragments that pierce the brain. A TBI can result in permanent disabilities or even death. Nevada has a helmet law that is a protective measure to protect your head. Always put on your helmet; it can make the difference between dying and living.
- Dental injury- An accident can also lead to cracked or chipped teeth, broken mandibles, maxilla fractures, among other dental injuries.
- Spinal cord injury - Damage to the spinal cord can result in permanent changes to your life. It is because a spinal cord houses thousands of nerves, making it hard to treat the injury. Additionally, it can cause loss of bladder or bowel regulation, sexual sensitivity, fertility, and movement. Spinal cord injury happens when a cyclist is thrown from their bike.
- Facial injuries - Since your arms do little to stop you from falling, your face is more likely to hit the road surface with a significant impact. You can suffer from many injuries when this takes place, including fractures in your skull, eye damage, broken nose, cheekbones, or jaw. These injuries can result in severe pain and disfigurement.
- Paralysis - A bike accident can cause paralysis (loss of the ability to move a body part or the entire body).
- Joint dislocation - Joint dislocation occurs when a cyclist comes into contact with a motor vehicle or tries to break their fall.
- Neck injury - Tendons, vertebrae, muscles, nerves, and joints could be injured in an accident.
- Road rash - A road rash happens when a cyclist lays down on their bicycle, skidding across the road. It causes bruises, cuts, and damage. When this type of injury happens, it is essential to seek medical attention. Although the injuries might look superficial or minor, the pavement is dirty and could cause infection. Moreover, this injury can result in permanent nerve damage near the skin surface.
- Broken arms - Since there aren't restraints on the bike, most cyclists are ejected from the bicycles when they suddenly hit or collide with a road hazard. Usually, the cyclist's first instinct when falling is to use their arms to protect them from falling. Unluckily, the force is great, and instead of breaking the fall, the cyclist's arm breaks.
When Is It the Right Time to File Your Lawsuit?
Typically, the statute of limitations in Las Vegas is two years after you realize you are injured.
It is advisable to speak with a lawyer immediately after the accident. And even if the statute of limitations has passed, you are still advised to engage an attorney. Any seasoned attorney can identify loopholes that allow them to bring a viable claim.
However, the following are some of the reasons why the statute of limitations can be tolled:
- The statute of limitations doesn't run while the liable party is outside Nevada.
- The limitation period pauses when one of the accident parties is a citizen of a country which the United States is at war with
- The demise of the victim - Usually, the deceased's estate has a year after the demise to file a claim provided the statute of limitations was running at the time of death.
What Damages Will You Recover in Your Catastrophic Injury Claim?
If you have sustained an injury due to another person's negligence, you should seek economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include monetary losses like lost income and medical expenses. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, involve subjective and hard to quantify losses. In a catastrophic accident, non-economic losses are significant because the injuries can have life-altering consequences.
Potential damages that you can receive after a bicycle accident include:
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship, consortium, and support
- Wrongful death
- Compensation for future medical procedures or treatment
- Loss of income due to time missed from work when attending medical appointments and throughout the recovery period
- Reimbursement of medical expenses, including hospital stay, doctor bill, physical therapy, ambulance costs, and prescription
- Emotional distress
You are also permitted to recover punitive or exemplary damage if the defendant's conduct was egregious. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages seek to punish the defendant as well as serve as an example to deter other people from behaving the same way.
Please note, according to NRS 42.005, punitive damages are capped at:
- Three hundred thousand dollars if the compensatory damage amount awarded is less than one hundred thousand dollars, or
- Three (3) times the amount of compensatory damages awarded if the amount of the compensatory damage is one hundred thousand dollars or more
Nevertheless, there is no cap on the exemplary and punitive damages you can recover if:
- Your catastrophic accident involved a seller, distributor, or manufacturer of a defective bicycle.
- A driver who willfully took drugs or alcohol caused your accident.
What Happens If You are Partially Responsible for the Catastrophic Collision?
Although cyclists in Las Vegas have a right to the road, there are also specific requirements for bicycle riders. These requirements include:
- Wearing a helmet
- Carrying no luggage that interferes with your capability to operate handlebar
- Not interfering with a car's movement
- Adhering to all traffic rules
Should you fail to adhere to any of the above requirements and you are involved in a catastrophic accident, you'll assume some liability. And that is where Las Vegas bike accident claims get tricky; Nevada uses a comparative negligence rule.
Also referred to as comparative fault, Nevada comparative negligence law permits a plaintiff to recover a percentage of their damages provided at least one of the defendants was at least fifty percent accountable for the accident. However, a plaintiff is barred from receiving any damages when their percentage of liability is above fifty percent.
Find a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
A catastrophic bike accident has a detrimental effect and can cause life-enduring injuries. Taking care of the injuries is costly because it involves expensive medical costs, special treatment, and purchasing specialized equipment. These expenses can drain your bank account, particularly if you fail to get compensation. That is why you should speak with one of the experienced attorneys at Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm. We can analyze your case, gather evidence, represent you in court, and fight for your rights. Call us today at 702-996-1224 to book your initial consultation.