After involvement in a bicycle crash, there are different types of damages a victim can recover should their bicycle accident claim be successful. These damages are classified into two primary groups, non-economic and economic damages. There is also another type of compensation known as punitive damages, which the court rarely awards the victim. If you’re a bicycle accident victim and have sustained severe injuries, you’ll need to seek compensation by bringing a personal injury claim.
Filing this lawsuit successfully and recovering the damages you deserve requires that you have a personal injury attorney by your side to defend your rights. The lawyer will help you to file the lawsuit, gather the necessary proof to help win your case, negotiate with the insurance company of the responsible party, or defend you in court should the case go to trial. The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm has helped and continues to help bicycle accident victims all over California to successfully file their claims and obtain a fair amount of damages. If you have a bicycle accident personal injury case, reach out as soon as possible. Let’s look at these damages in detail.
Economic compensations are also called special damages. They help to reimburse a victim for all the monetary losses he/she incurred due to the bicycle crash, and even future expenses. It is easier to calculate and place economic damages in monetary value since they cover tangible losses and are backed with hard proof like receipts, medical records, bills, wage/business records, etc. Here are the special damages for which you can be compensated:
When you get into a bicycle-related accident, you will likely suffer severe injuries because of the impact of the crash. The accident might lead to minor injuries like bruises and cuts or severe ones like traumatic brain injury, bone fractures, head injury, paralysis, or temporary or permanent disability. Regardless of the kind of injury you suffer, you have to seek medical care immediately after the crash to get checked up. Doctor checkup ensures that any injury that is not physical; for instance, internal bleeding is treated. Also, after an accident, there are injuries that you may fail to notice immediately until later when the dust has settled. Immediate checkup helps uncover these kinds of injuries so that they can be contained.
Under medical costs damages, you can get compensation for all the medical bills you had to pay in the course of treating your bicycle accident-related injuries and whatever medical costs you will have to pay in the future. Generally, these damages compensate for expenses like:
- Hospital bills
- Rehabilitative therapy expenses
- Physical therapy costs
- Cost of prescription medication
- Family physician expenses
- Surgery costs
- Laboratory fees
- Pain management treatment
- Costs for doctor visits
- Other doctor expenses
- Ambulance transportation
With help from your lawyer, doctor, and other health experts, you’ll be capable of determining the total amount of your medical costs before you claim for compensation.
Additionally, these parties will help recover damages for future medical bills if you haven’t fully recovered during the filing of the personal injury claim.
Aggravation of a Preexisting Disability or Condition
Sometimes, a bicycle crash could reinjure an already existing condition or injury. In case you had an emotional or physical disease or condition that was worsened by the responsible party’s wrongful behavior, you could be granted damages that will fairly and reasonably compensate for the impact the accident had on your condition.
Lost Wages (Present and Future)
If you aren’t fit to return to work after a bicycle crash, you may be eligible for recovery of lost wages damages up to the time of the hearing or settlement. Apart from the compensation for the lost income, you may also be compensated for your lost benefits like retirement and health benefits.
A severe injury may deny you the chance to carry on with your daily activities. You could spend a lot of time going in and out of the hospital, on physical or rehabilitative therapy sessions, or mobility issues. If you were under the employment of a company, you could easily receive compensation for lost wages compared to a person who is self-employed or unemployed. For self-employed victims, they will have to present proof before the jury, showing that were it not for the accident, they would be earning income for the entire lost period.
Lost income damages are calculated from the moment you got injured due to the collision to the period your case ends. However, you might be eligible for being compensated for future loss in case your injuries are quite severe that they threaten your future wages. In this scenario, there are several factors the court uses in determining whether or not you are entitled to damages of future earnings. These include your:
- Life expectancy
- Health condition
The jury can also use what you used to earn before the accident to determine the estimated amount you could receive in case your injuries affect your future wages. Lost income damages aim to help you recover the amount you would be earning if the accident hadn’t taken place.
Loss of Future Earning Capacity
Permanently or long-term injured victims are eligible for compensation for their inability to work and earn income in the future. Losing the freedom and ability to seek employment, start up a business, or otherwise losing your present job can be devastating and have life-changing consequences. In case whatever you would’ve reasonably earned were it not for the crash can be determined and substantiated, you could recover loss of future earning capacity damages.
Sometimes, you may suffer a permanent or long-term disability that could reveal itself way after your claim is settled or the hearing has ended. If there’s any sign of such a disability, it is crucial to ensure you accurately estimate all the income and benefits you will possibly lose in the future. Doing this is vital so that should the injuries limit your future earning capacity, you can easily claim these kinds of damages.
Property Damage Costs (Repair or Replacement Cost)
Under this form of damages, you can seek reimbursement if any of your property was destroyed in the crash. The items you can include in the claim if they were damaged include your cycling helmet, bicycle, clothing, the luggage you were carrying, and other additional attachments that you may have put on your bike during the accident. If the cost to repair your bicycle is lower than its worth before the crash, you have a right to seek compensations for the repair or replacement cost.
However, in case the repair cost for your bicycle is higher compared to its value before the accident occurred or your bike was destroyed beyond repair, you can only claim compensation that’s equal to the value of your bike before the accident took place. To receive these damages, you need to show as proof, documented estimates of the bicycle value, and proper paperwork from a licensed bicycle shop. Therefore, you need to take the bike to the experts to examine it and determine the extent of its damage. The experts should also determine the bicycle’s market value. Doing this will enable you to make estimates like:
- The bicycle’s worth in the state it was shortly before the accident- Ensure that what’s included in the bicycle evaluation records is equal to the present condition of your bike, for instance, the bicycle’s year and model. If you have a problem identifying your bike’s brand, seek assistance from recognized shops that buy or sell used bicycles.
- The bicycle’s repair cost- You have to obtain these estimates irrespective of whether the bike is beyond repair or it can still be repaired.
- The bike’s value in the state it was right after crash- In many cases, the bicycle’s value after a collision is usually low except if you attached additional components of your bike.
Loss of the Ability to Provide Household Services
Everyone in a given household has something to contribute towards the wellbeing of the family members, for instance, by performing different chores or rendering specific services. When injuries prevent you from taking your part in doing your services and duties, you can qualify for damages for the value of the servicers and chores. The justification behind these damages is that another person will be forced to do your household duties due to the injuries. Therefore, you might also be granted compensations for the value of the assistance-services offered by your family or friends under this similar theory.
Missed Plans or Activities
Often, people plan or buy costly activities beforehand, for example, vacations, sporting events, retreats, concert tickets, etc. If the injuries you sustained prevented you from fulfilling your plans, the plans will then be spoiled or ruined. If this was the case, you qualify for the recovery of the cost of the purchased and pre-planned activities.
Non-economic damages are also referred to as general damages. These compensate for intangible, no-quantifiable losses a victim sustains as a result of the accident. For instance, they cover for the pain, suffering, and emotional or psychological harm a victim goes through. These types of compensations aim to help the bicycle accident victims who may, due to their injuries, never return to their original lives. General damages you can recover in California include:
Pain and Suffering
Usually, bicycle accident-related injuries cause the victim excessive pain and suffering. Any victim that suffered, and there’s a likelihood of him/her continuing to suffer either mental or physical pain due to the crash, would receive these damages. The compensation for pain and suffering usually focuses on how severe an injury is, the pain, and prognosis of future pain a victim may experience caused by the bicycle crash. Whether or not your pain and suffering claim is successful depends on how prepared your attorney is. The lawyer must gather all the essential documentation showing the extent of the pain you are experiencing, how long you suffered, and other losses you incurred to build a solid case. Several forms of pain and suffering can be highlighted when seeking to be compensated for these kinds of damages. They include:
- Mental and emotional suffering
- The likelihood of your injuries worsening
- Your professional reputation as a complainant in the event of severe disfigurement
The greatest challenge about claiming these damages is that it is not simple to evaluate them. This makes it hard when negotiating for claims. Also, you can’t precisely tell the severity of a victim’s pain and suffering.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Severe injuries may hinder you from engaging in your hobbies like soccer, swimming, or the leisure activities in which you were taking part before.
Similarly, severe injuries sustained due to a bicycle crash may prevent you from having the pleasure or fulfillment you got from participating in various intellectual activities. Losing the capability of participating in mental and physical activities can significantly affect your manner of living. This is because you will be incapable of experiencing pleasure and enjoyment as you did before the crash.
You could recover damages for this kind of loss if you claim loss of enjoyment of life in your lawsuit. It’s impossible to determine the compensation amount you can get since it is significantly dependent on a judge’s discretion. However, you could still consult the members of your family to know what amount they can demand should they be in a similar situation. More importantly, you should seek the help of a skilled personal injury attorney so he/she can advise on the practical value of compensation you are possibly to get.
Emotional Distress and Mental Anguish
Compensations for emotional distress and mental anguish aim to reimburse you for psychological problems the injuries might have caused in your daily life. We have several signs that may show you are emotionally distressed. They include anxiety, lack of sleep, and fear. These kinds of damages are subjective and change from one person to another.
Thus, it’s critical to note any psychological symptoms you experience immediately after being involved in a bicycle accident. Ensure you inform your doctor about any psychological impairment signs so he/she can document them. The medical records about emotional distress are highly essential since you could present them as proof in your personal injury claim. You may still present the same documentation to your insurance provider when seeking compensation. Another way you could gather evidence is by maintaining a day to day record of how you have felt since you sustained injuries as a result of the accident. The record can be kept in your daily journal or personal diary.
Loss of Consortium
Should you sustain a severe injury, your registered domestic partner or spouse may bring a loss of consortium claim. Loss of consortium damages compensates a bicycle accident victim for the loss of his/her partner’s services and companionship. These include loss of comfort, companionship, love, assistance, care, affection, protection, enjoyment of sex, moral support, ability to sire children, etc. A loss of consortium lawsuit allows one to receive financial compensation for the present and also the future loss that’s likely to occur.
Whereas general and special damages aim to make a victim whole again, the court awards punitive damages to punish or warn the responsible party for their harmful, intentional behavior, and to try and prevent the conduct from retaking place going forward. As in criminal laws, punitive damages aim to punish and discourage deplorable acts to protect society.
Courts rarely award these kinds of damages. They are only awarded when the at-fault party acted intentionally, with gross negligence, or with malicious intent. You need to be able to prove beyond a doubt that the responsible party acted in the ways we have mentioned. Also, you have to show that it is the responsible party’s actions that directly caused the accident resulting in the injuries you sustained. You can prove this using:
- Photographic proof
- Witness statements
- Video evidence
- Expert testimony
- Medical and police reports
Compensation for Wrongful Death
Sometimes, a bicycle accident can result in the victim’s death. If this happens, the surviving family members of the victim can seek compensation for wrongful death. However, the California personal injury law doesn’t permit just any family member to bring this claim. The different members allowed to file this lawsuit include:
- The deceased’s spouse
- The victim’s children
- The dead’s domestic partner
- If there isn’t any surviving individual in the line of descent of the deceased, then the wrongful death claim can be filed by any person that would be entitled to the dead person’s property through intestate succession. These can be the parents or siblings of the deceased, based on who will be alive at the time of the victim’s death.
The following parties can also file a wrongful death claim if they can prove that they depended on the victim for financial support:
- The putative spouse of the victim and the children of that putative spouse
- The victim’s stepchildren
- The parents of the deceased
There are a variety of damages available if the wrongful death claim is successful. The precise amounts involved depend on an individual’s specific case. Generally, damages are divided based on whether the compensation goes to the surviving family members or the state for the losses they incurred due to the death. The losses attributed to the state are:
- Funeral costs
- Burial expenses
- Hospital and medical bills the deceased incurred due to the injury treatment before his/her death
- Lost income. This includes the deceased’s expected future income if not for his/her death
The losses awarded to the victim’s surviving members of the family are:
- Loss of the anticipated financial support
- The worth of the deceased’s household services
- Loss of any inheritance due to the victim’s death
- Loss of guidance, nurturing, and care the victim would have given
- Loss of companionship and love
- Loss of consortium
Your Compensation is Tax-Free
Usually, most of the damages you receive from your personal injury claim aren’t taxable under both California and federal law. This regulation applies regardless of whether the case was settled before trial or it proceeded to court, and you won. Neither the federal nor California government can tax whatever amount you receive after the verdict or settlement.
However, we have a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, punitive compensations are always taxed. Thus, if your claim involves you seeking punitive damages, your attorney can ask the jury or judge to separate their verdict into punitive and compensatory damages to prevent having your entire settlement taxed. Also, this rule applies only to the physical injuries one can see. Therefore, lawsuits that cover only emotional injury like emotional distress or mental anguish claims would be taxed unless your lawyer can prove even the slightest degree of a physical injury. However, in case you have valid physical injuries, the damages of emotional distress or mental anguish resulting from those injuries are also tax-free.
Find a Bicycle Accident Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
A bicycle accident appears to be a minor incident, but it could lead to injuries, ranging from slight to severe. For instance, you could sustain a slight cut, bruises, lacerations, severe head injuries, joint dislocations, and traumatic brain injuries. These injuries may be life-changing. Talk of the time you will spend nursing them and the money you will have to part with in the form of medical bills. Also, the injuries may hinder you from returning to work, and this means loss of income. Luckily, you can be compensated for your loss. And even though the compensations won’t get you back your original life, it will help you deal with all the pain and misfortune.
To recover a fair amount of damages, you need the help of an attorney. Attorneys at The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm have helped clients all around California to file their lawsuits and obtain their deserved compensation that helps them with a smooth recovery. If you have a bicycle accident personal injury case, please call us at 619-625-8707, so we can accord the help you need.