Vancouver Bicycle Accident Injury Claim
More so than many states, Washington is seeing an increase in the number of bike riders due to the great exercise it provides as well as an effort to be more environmentally conscious. With an increase in riders comes an inevitable increase in the number of Vancouver bicycle accident lawyers, involving a motor vehicle.
If you or a loved one were involved in a bicycle accident, contact a Vancouver WA bicycle accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Loren Scott Etengoff today.
Who Is Liable in a Bicycle Accident?
A cyclist involved in a crash with a motor vehicle is exposed to the danger of the impact with the vehicle as well as the pavement. Needless to say, with little or no protection available, the injuries to the cyclist can be severe. One of the primary issues raised in a bike accident case is the difficulty in seeing a bike rider. However, that does not exempt the driver from liability.
While motorists are typically at fault in bicycle vs. car accidents, other parties may also be responsible. For example, if a bicycle has a defective part that contributed to the wreck, the bike manufacturer may be liable. Or dangerous road conditions may cause an accident where in the city or a government agency should be liable for failing to properly maintain the roads. Even if an accident is partially your fault, you may still be able to recover damages.
Washington’s Bicycle Laws
While many motor vehicle driver’s act otherwise, by statute, when a cyclist rides on a Washington roadway, they have all the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver. Alternately, a bike rider may ride on a bike path, bike lane or shoulder of the road as safety concerns dictate. Additionally, cyclists may ride side-by-side on a roadway, but not more than two abreast.
Common Causes of Bike Accidents
There are several common causes of these types of accidents. Intersections remain the most dangerous places for a cyclist. A second leading cause a Vancouver bike accident attorney reports is a cyclist making a left turn. In both instances, a commonality is the driver of the motor vehicle’s failure to yield the right of way. Just as with two motor vehicles, a driver who does not follow the rules of the road will be liable for damages that result with a bike/auto crash.
The number one cause of bike accidents is driver error. Both the cyclist and the motor vehicle driver may be at fault. They should follow all laws and give appropriate right of way to one another. If a driver fails to see a bike or a cyclist does not follow rules of the road, they may cause an accident.
It’s important to determine the exact cause of your bicycle accident. The only way to hold the appropriate person responsible is to determine what happened. Once you establish a cause, you can exact legal liability. The person who is legally liable would have to pay for damages that their negligent actions caused. If more than one person is liable, you may be able to recover additional compensation. A Vancouver WA bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine the exact cause of your wreck.
A bicycle is far more likely to lose control than is a four-wheel vehicle under conditions of improper road maintenance. Such improper maintenance is yet another common cause of these accidents. Some issues to consider are:
- Improper grading
- Poor visibility
- Pot holes
- Sewer grates installed with the openings in the same direction as the traffic path
Because of the size of wheels and lightness of vehicle, bikes are often drastically impacted by poor road conditions. It is possible that a city, county, or government agency may be responsible for your injuries. If they failed to properly maintain roads, then they may be negligent in their duties to the public. This negligence can result in legal liability. However, it can be difficult to file a claim against the government. Contact a Vancouver WA bicycle accident lawyer to find out what you should do.
Dealing With Insurance Companies After a Bicycle Accident
After a wreck with a motor vehicle, you will likely file a personal injury claim with the insurance company of the driver who was responsible. This process can be complex. When a Vancouver WA bicycle accident lawyer begins the claims process, they will likely make a demand to the insurance company for an amount of compensation. The insurance company will likely reply with an initial settlement offer. However, the insurance company’s initial offer is typically extremely low and will rarely fully cover all of your losses. You should never accept the insurance company’s initial settlement offer.
Your bicycle accident attorney can present information to the insurance company that will encourage them to raise their settlement offer. This often requires in-depth investigation regarding the negligence of the at fault party. It also involves gathering extensive medical documents from any doctors or treatment facilities you’ve seen. The insurance company will want to see your medical bills as well as records from those visits. The insurance company may try to deny that their insured caused your conditions. Your attorney can present evidence that the person at fault is responsible for your injuries.
What If the Insurance Company Doesn’t Agree to a Settlement?
If the insurance company does not agree to a reasonable settlement in your bike accident claim, then you may have to schedule a mediation. A mediation takes place in conference rooms or offices and involves a third party, neutral mediator as well as both parties to the claim. You and your attorney will appear as well as the insurance company with the at fault party. Both sides will present evidence regarding fault and total damages, and both sides will make settlement offers. Most cases settle before or during mediation. However, if the insurance company further refuses any reasonable settlement offers, your Vancouver WA bicycle accident lawyer may have to take your case to court.
How Much Money Is My Bicycle Accident Case Worth?
Every case is different. But you should be able to recover at least as much money as you have lost in damages. Damages include things like medical costs, lost wages, property damage, and more. You may also be able to obtain compensation for pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and loss of companionship. An attorney can help you understand what types of compensation you can obtain.
If you lost a loved one in a bicycle accident, then you may also be able to file a wrongful death claim that recovers compensation. Your loved one likely had medical bills, and you may be dealing with funeral and burial costs and other losses. You shouldn’t have to shoulder that burden alone. The person responsible should pay for your damages.
Contact a Vancouver Bicycle Accident Lawyer for Legal Advice
Bike riders have rights. If you or a loved one has been injured in a riding accident, call the Law Offices of Loren S. Etengoff today.