Arizona offers exquisite biking terrain — stark desert landscapes, long luxurious straightaways, and diversions into lush, mountainous wilderness. However, biking also carries risks. If you or someone you love recently got seriously hurt in a bike accident, you are probably confused, anxious, and overwhelmed about what to do. This page aims to offer useful insights – to serve in some ways as a “bicycle accident 101” course – so you and your family can feel calmer and clearer about your next steps.
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Do You Have a “Bicycle Accident Case” Or Not?
To win a bicycle injury case, three basic elements must be in place.
- Some person or party — through negligence, carelessness or other wrongdoing — caused or contributed to the bicycle accident.
Here are some examples:
- A driver texting on his cell phone veers into the bike lake, causing a biker to crash into the guardrail and break his leg;
- A careless driver opens her car door without looking behind her and “doors” a cyclist coming up behind her;
- A bike mechanic does a bad job installing or repairing a gear system; the gears lock at a crucial movement, precipitating a bad skid out;
- An Arizona municipality fails to mark a pothole caused by construction work; a bicyclist hits the pothole and goes flying over his handlebars.
- The accident led to real costs and damage to you.
The bicycle accident can lead to obvious direct consequences, such as broken bones, lacerations, spinal fractures, head injuries and damage to the bicycle. It can also lead to indirect and long term consequences, such lost productivity or time at work, expensive physical rehab, emotional trauma, and loss of consortium and companionship.
- The person or party has a way to compensate you.
Even if the person or party that caused the crash lacks insurance or assets that you can attach, you might still be able to obtain compensation.
For instance, maybe some other party (such as your own insurance) could pay you, or perhaps you could seek compensation from another person or party who contributed. If your bike’s steering locked as you tried to swerve away from a DUI driver, for instance, you could seek compensation from the bike manufacturer as well as from the driver.
What Compensation Might You Be Able to Obtain?
Here are some common damages sought:
- Money to pay for your damaged bike;
- Compensation for medical, surgical and therapeutic bills;
- Compensation for lost productivity at work;
- Loss of consortium;
- Pain and suffering;
- Punitive damages (if the person or entity responsibly engaged in truly grievous negligence, carelessness or wrongdoing).
What to Do Immediately After a Bicycle Accident
Here’s a list of strategies you can use to protect your rights and maximize your chances for justice and fair compensation.
- First things first, get medical help.
If you skid badly, tear up your knees and hit your head, you probably won’t need to be told to go to the hospital. However, cyclists often ignore minor scrapes and bruises. Sometimes, this can be dangerous. The shock of being thrown from your bike causes the brain to release adrenalin and the other “fight or flight” hormones, which can temporarily fool you into thinking that you’re not “that hurt.”
Head trauma, in particular, can be surprisingly subtle. A traumatic brain injury that is not identified and treated immediately can cause swelling and bleeding in brain, edema, and stroke.
When in doubt, go to the doctor, follow your physician’s instructions and track your medications and course of treatment. You might also keep a journal of your symptoms.
- Collect evidence and witness statements from the scene.
As a rule of thumb, strive to collect more evidence than you think you will need. Gather information, such as:
- License plate numbers;
- Insurance information;
- Phone numbers;
- Other identifying information of anyone involved in the incident;
- A copy of the police report;
- Pictures of the scene of the crash, including pictures of the vehicle(s) involved and any injuries.
Ask witnesses to write down and/or record what they saw, while the event is fresh in the mind. Witness testimony is like fruit; it tends to “go bad” over time, because human memory is notoriously porous and pliable. A witness’s direct statement given right after an accident tends to be worth more to the court (and to an insurance company) than such testimony remembered days or weeks after the event.
- Avoid discussing the accident with other drivers or with insurance company representatives, until you’ve spoken with a qualified bicycle accident attorney.
Stick to the observable facts. Avoid saying things to the driver like “it was kind of my fault” or, alternatively, making aggressive accusations. When insurance adjusters call you, remember that insurance companies are not “evil” but are financially motivated to minimize claims.
Their tactics to minimize liability can be subtle. For instance, an insurance adjuster might call you while you are lying in bed, still doozy from your concussion and broken leg, and ask “how are you feeling?” You might answer something like “better, thanks,” because you’re in slightly less pain than you were the day you got literally hit by a bus. You still might be in horrific pain, though.
However, the insurance company could use your admission that you felt “better” to demonstrate to the court that didn’t get hurt that badly. Those may sound like devious semantics; but, frustratingly, insurance companies engage in tactics like these quite frequently. An experienced Arizona bicycle accident attorney can help you fight back and protect your rights.
Getting the Help You Need
You are no doubt dealing with a lot of issues right now, including recovering from the accident and arranging emergency logistics, like getting childcare and recruiting people to fill in for you at work. However, time may be of the essence. Critical evidence from the accident might soon be lost, or witnesses might forget what they saw.
Fortunately, the Kelly Law team can help you take decisive, strategic steps to obtain fair compensation and justice and reclaim peace of mind. Call us today at 602-283-4122 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation to get the insight you need to put the accident behind you.