Over 1,000 bicyclists died in crashes in the US, and another 467,000 experienced bicycle-related injuries in 2015, according to the CDC. Data from 2010 shows that fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries resulted in medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion.
With those grim statistics in mind, even with the protection of a helmet and preventive equipment to ride a bicycle safely, there are still many possibilities for crash-related injuries requiring compensation. Cyclists can be knocked off their bikes by a car, truck, van, golf cart, dog, or pedestrian. Common types of intersection crashes are right cross, left cross, right hook, and rear-ending.
Types of Bicycle Crashes
A right cross happens when a car pulls out from the right side of the street, parking lot, or driveway and the car hits the cyclist or the cyclist hits the car. A left cross happens when a car from the opposite direction turns left in front of the cyclist or runs into the cyclist. A right hook happens when a car passes a cyclist on the cyclist’s left and then the car makes an immediate right, crashing into the cyclist. Rear-ending happens when a car behind a cyclist fails to brake in time, typically at an intersection.
Distracted drivers can swerve into designated bike lanes and cause a crash. Riders can be injured navigating construction zones. Drivers who’ve parallel parked their car can open their door into a passing cyclist. Aggressive, impaired, and speeding drivers pose a danger to cyclists
Types of Injuries
Injuries in bicycle accidents can vary from lacerations, cognitive changes from concussions, and soft tissue damage (contusions, road rash, sprains, whiplash) to hip, femur, collarbone and other fractures, spinal injuries, and neurological damage from TBIs—traumatic brain injuries. Temporary and permanent disability can result from serious bicycle crashes, with medical costs running astronomically high.
Basically there is no average settlement figure because each case is based on the type and severity of injury including whether its effect will be only temporary or life changing. Insurance companies consider collisions between bicyclists and vehicle drivers to be auto accidents. In hit-and-run accidents or those in which the driver doesn’t have insurance or has limited coverage, cyclists must rely on their own uninsured/ underinsured auto policies. In cases related to equipment failure, damages may be sought from the manufacturer.
So what type of compensation is available for victims of bicycle crashes where negligence and/or carelessness are at play? Compensation falls into two categories: economic and non-economic (also known as general) damages.
Injured cyclists are entitled to collect economic damages to cover medical bills—both for present costs and expected future medical treatment—as well as for lost wages, reduced future income, and property damage. This type of compensation would cover actual out-of-pocket medical costs such as ambulance transport, hospital care, prescription medications, surgery, medical equipment, nursing care, and therapy. Economic damages also cover medical care you will likely need in the future, including such things as surgeries, injections, therapies, medicines, and counseling.
Settlement figures can range from a low amount for a soft tissue injury that may only take weeks to heal to a very large recovery for an injury claim involving a severe or permanent injury such as herniated discs, loss of bodily function, paralysis, traumatic brain injury, or even wrongful death. Also eligible for coverage would be surgeries to repair fractured or separated shoulders, collar bones, hip fractures or replacements, and disc herniation injuries.
Non-economic or General Compensation
There is no set formula to calculate general or non-economic damages because they are dependent on the severity of injuries. This type of compensation is calculated to cover pain and suffering encompassing physical, mental, and emotional damage. Non-economic losses are more unpredictable and will vary widely based on how your physical injuries have affected your life. These include the familiar terms of pain and suffering, but also include things such as the loss of the enjoyment of life due to limitations or restrictions of your activities from pain or other injury. Non-economic compensation includes emotional suffering and loss caused by your injuries. Common examples would be permanent deformity, anxiety, flashbacks, depression, and loss of enjoyment of life activities previously enjoyed by the bicycle crash victim.
As a cyclist, even if you were found to have contributed to the crash because of something you did, you may still be able to receive a reduced level of compensation. For example, if you were only 20 percent responsible for the crash, then you would be entitled to 80 percent of the full value of your claim.
We’re Here to Help Answer Your Questions
Even after calculating every single cost involved in your claim, a reputable bicycle personal injury attorney will be able to successfully determine the total financial settlement to which you’re entitled. Attorney Jim Dodson is an active cyclist and, as a personal injury attorney, has decades of experience dealing with insurance companies and other entities required to compensate you for total damages.