New York Bike Accidents
In 2015 over 800 people were killed in bicycle accidents and thousands suffered serious injuries. Bicycling is extremely popular for people of all ages. In fact, a rite of passage for children is learning how to ride a bicycle without training wheels. While bicycling is relative safe, accidents do happen. Most often a car is involved when a bicycle crash occurs. This usually means that bicyclist is seriously injured. Because bikes are open air, there is nothing to protect the bicyclist’s body. As a result, where there are accidents bicyclists suffer injuries that are life-threatening. For example, head and brain injuries are among the top bicycle accident injuries. Other serious injuries include arm and wrist fractures since bicyclists tend to try to break their fall by extending their arms. Other injuries include back and spinal cord injuries that could lead to lifelong disability. Internal injuries that impact the abdominal area and internal organs can lead to death. As with any accident, after a bike accident make sure you get a medical evaluation to ensure that any injury is treated. The symptoms of some injuries, even serious ones such as brain injuries, may not appear until a day or two after the accident. Also contact an experienced New York bike accident lawyer who is familiar with not only personal injury law, but with the specific rules that apply to bicyclists.Common causes of bike accidents
There are many reasons that bike accidents occur. Some of the most frequent causes of bike accidents include:
- Failure of car drivers to yield right-of-way to bicyclist
- Failure of car drivers to check for cyclists before making a turn at an intersection
- Failure or car drivers to stop at a sign or red light
- Cars drifting into a bike lane
- Distracted driving, including texting while driving
- Drunk driving
Mike, an experienced bicyclist, was riding his bike in a residential area when Margaret, who was driving a sedan, rear-ended Mike when he stopped at a stop sign. At the time of the collision Margaret was talking on her cell phone. Mike suffered several serious injuries including fracturing both of his wrists. Because of his injuries Mike was not able to return to work as an architect while his arms were in casts.Compensable damages
Under New York law victims of bicycle accidents who are seriously injured have the right to seek compensation from the person who caused the accident. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be entitled to compensation for:
Medical bills. As a victim of a bike accident, you are entitled to demand compensation from the individual responsible for the accident that includes medical expenses. Medical expense includes the fees associated with your emergency room treatment, hospital stay, surgical fees, fees for other types of treatment, medication and the fees charged by doctors and specialists. If you require rehabilitation or in-home care, those fees as compensable expenses. It is important that you demand compensation for not only past medical bills that you accumulated at the time you filed your claim, but future medical expenses as well. With many injuries, especially serious ones, treatment may go on for weeks, months, and even years after the initial treatment. For example, a bike accident a victim could suffer an injury that results in a head injury so severe that the victim never recovers fully. As a result the victim can no longer care for himself and requires full-time medical assistance. Such lifetime care is compensable. It is important to work with an experienced expert who can determine the projected costs of medical care over the lifetime of the victim.
Lost income. If the injuries you suffered in a bike accident resulted in you having to miss work while you recover, you are entitled to demand that the person responsible for the accident reimburse you for income you lost because of the accident. It does not matter if you are full-time or part-time, hourly or salaried, weekly or monthly. You would even be entitled to lost income if you are self-employed and could not work because of injuries suffered in a bike accident that was caused by another person. For example, Jude was enjoying a Saturday afternoon riding his bike with his family when a car made a right turn in front of Jude, causing a collision. Jude suffered a concussion and cracked ribs. He missed 5 days of work. Jude, a fairly new employee, had not accumulated vacation or sick days. So he did not get paid anything for the 5 days that he missed. With the help of an experienced New York bike accident lawyer, Jude filed a claim against the driver of the car. Among other things, he demanded compensation for the wages he lost due to missing 5 days of work.
Injured bike accident victims are also entitled to compensation for vacation and sick pay. If you used sick days, vacation time, or any other compensated days off so you would continue to get paychecks while you were out recovering from your accident, you would still be entitled to compensation for lost wages. Because you no longer have those days to use for another reason, you did in fact lose compensation. You are entitled to compensation equal to the value of those days. Lost income would also include missed opportunities to earn bonuses or promotions, as well as the loss of other “perks” of employment.
To prove lost income, be prepared to show paystubs or other documentation from your employer of how much you make and how much time you missed. If you are self-employed, you would need to show how much time you missed working in your business and how much revenue you lost. Proof would include a drop in revenue and appointments for the period that coincides with you recuperating from your accident.
Pain and suffering. This includes compensation for chronic pain and other chronic symptoms, scarring, disfigurement, depression, and other emotional suffering. When suing for damages after a bike accident in New York, the victim can demand pain and suffering damage as compensation for the emotional distress they experienced as a result of their serious injuries. There are many factors that the court will consider in determining the pain and suffering damages. Each case is different. Factors that can impact the value of pain and suffering damages include the extent that the injuries affect the victim’s home life, work life, daily routine, and personal relationships. For example, pain and suffering damages would be appropriate if because of a brain injury in a bike accident the victim is no longer able to take his (or her) children to school, make meals, or perform other daily tasks that he enjoyed prior to the accident. Instead other family members have to step in and perform these activities, or the victim is required to hire others to perform some of these tasks. This would not only impact the victim’s daily routine, but also the daily routine of family members. As a result the entire family dynamic is stressed and changed. A back injury from a bike accident might impact the victim’s ability to perform work tasks such as lifting boxes, assisting patients, standing for a long time, or walking. In severe cases, a victim of a bike accident may suffer such severe injuries that he can no longer work at all, cutting short a promising career.
As an experienced bike accident attorney in New York will explain, the court is more likely to award significant pain and suffering damages in cases where the victim’s injuries are permanent. For example, victims with severe traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, permanent limps, and permanent scars are more likely to receive pain and suffering compensation. Similarly, the court will give significant weight in cases where the victim is required to undergo multiple surgeries or where recovery will take a long time.
Property loss. If you are a cyclist involved in a bike accident, your bike was probably damaged in some way in the accident. For example, a car hitting a bike could result in the bike being “totaled.” In addition to demanding compensation for the injuries you suffered, you have a right to also demand that the negligent defendant compensate you for the damage to your bike. Under New York law you would be entitled to the cost of repairs. If your bike was totaled in the accident, you can demand payment for the replacement value of your bike. This means that you would not be entitled to what it would cost to purchase a new bike, but what it would be cost to replace your bike based on its value at the time of the accident.
If your bike is repairable, we recommend that you get more than one estimate for the repairs. If the bike is totaled and it is beyond repair, try to get a copy of your original purchase receipt. If you no longer have it, you may be able to get it from the bike shop from where you purchased it. If you made upgrades to the bike that increased its value such as GPS, a rack, or a bottle cage you would be entitled to reimbursement for those items as well.
Wrongful death. Sadly, bike accidents sometimes result n the death of the victim. This is often due to a severe traumatic injury to the victim suffered when he (or she) is thrown from a bike, landing on his head. If a loved one is killed in a bike accident, you may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim. While it may seem as if the family members of a victim would have the right to file a wrongful death claim, that is not the case in New York. As a New York bike accident lawyer will explain, in New York a wrongful death claim can only be filed by the decedent’s personal representative. A personal representative is the person who receives letters of administration from the Surrogate’s Court giving the person the legal right to settle the decedent’s estate. The job of the personal representative is the seek damages for losses suffered by the decedent’s estate. However, he (or she) can also seek damages for losses suffered by the decedent’s family members.
Damage awards for wrongful death claims that result from bike accidents include funeral and burial expenses for the decedent, as well as reasonable medical expenses such as hospital, doctor, nursing home, or hospice care. In a bike accident wrongful death case, the plaintiff can also demand payment for lost wages and benefits for the period between the injury and the decedent’s death. In addition, compensable losses in a bike accident wrongful death case also include the value of support and services the decedent provide family members as well as the value of parental nurturing, care, and guidance that the decedent would have provided to his or her children. Conscious pain and suffering endured by the deceased due to the bike injury is also compensable.
While a bicycle accident may have some similarities to an accident involving only cars or trucks, there are nuances to handling a bike accident that only an experienced bike accident attorney serving New York will understand. Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates to discuss the details of your case. Our staff is experienced in handling claims from people injured in bike accidents as well as motorcycle accidents and car accidents. We will work hard to ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive the maximum compensation to which you are entitled. Contact us at 800.NY.NY.LAW (800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Suffolk County, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Westchester County.