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Whether you are a competitive cyclist or recreational rider you are exposed to risks on the road. It is essential that as riders we remain vigilant, because any accident with a vehicle, the cyclist is the loser. Some of us are recent converts to cycling. Like a lot of things, when you try it you gain a greater appreciation of people who are really good at it.
Cycling is an excellent way for those of us who are trying to fight aging process and a great sport for camaraderie and motivation of other riders to keep getting out on the road. The down side is that, if you are in a cycling accident, you will sustain dramatically more severe and life-altering injuries than other vehicle accidents.
Successfully representing bicycle accident victims necessitates knowing the nuances. It also requires an understanding of basic bicycle mechanics and the bicycling laws in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.
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Midwest Cycling Law: Can We Ride Side by Side?
One frequently asked question amongst cyclists is can we ride side by side or do we need to be single file. Answer: all over the Midwest states have specific statutes allows cyclists to ride their bicycles side by side.
Bicycle Accident Experience
At Hausmann-McNally, S.C., our personal injury attorneys have many years of practical experience in negotiating and litigating personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims resulting from cycling accidents. We have settled, resolved and litigated for clients whose accidents involved:
- Fractured and broken bones
- Spinal cord injury
- Orthopedic injury
- Brain injury
- Other catastrophic injuries
- Connective tissue injuries
- Bike replacement dispute
- Bike repair cost dispute
- Insurance dispute
- Psychological damage
How Bike Accidents Happen
Whatever the jurisdiction vehicle/bicycle accident happened there are a few common scenarios that these accidents happen:
- Wide Right Turn — the vehicle goes around a cyclist and makes the right tun in front of the cyclist. All in order to save a few seconds in their day.
- Left Hand Turn, where a vehicle turns left into the path of a cyclist going the opposite direction. In this situation, the motorist often never sees the cyclist until it is too late.
- Other situations occur, such as vehicle doors open into a cyclists path or a vehicle rear ending the cyclist. No matter how the accident happens or how severe it is they should be treated in a certain manner.
What Hausmann-McNally Can Do For Injured Cyclists
Our firm handles all property damage claims that accompany a personal injury claim at no fee. Handling property damage claims for expensive road bikes is not unlike handling property damage claims for motorcycles. We have never resolved a property damage claim for a Harley-Davidson without taking it to a licensed Harley-Davidson dealer. Like Harleys, bicycle damage should be looked at by a reputable bike shop and documentation should be attained from them. Harleys can have custom paint jobs and other add ons that need to be quantified. In most bicycle claims we will demand that the insurance company declare the the bike and all damaged clothing a total loss and pay full replacement value. Injured cyclists require and deserve the most experienced and skilled legal representation and medical care. Our lawyers and staff have accumulated a wealth of experience in understanding and representing cyclists who have sustained severe injuries that include fractures, orthopedic disability, neurological impairment, head trauma, skeletal injuries, wounds, abrasions, muscular damage and other serious injuries. We also have the means to retain expert witnesses if we feel they are necessary to bolster your case. This is a service not all law firms can afford to provide. Drivers are required by law to share the road with other vehicles, including cyclists. When an accident results from the carelessness, recklessness, or negligence of another, you have the legal right to seek compensation for:
- Medical bills/hospital bills
- Physical therapy
- Rehabilitation services
- Lost wages
- Future loss of earning capacity
- Long-term care
- Psychological and psychiatric counseling
- Social services
- Repair and replacement of your bicycle
What To Do After A Bicycle Accident
- Report the accident. Drivers and cyclists have a duty to report any accident where there is at least $1,000 worth of property damage 346.70(1) Given the price of some of today’s bicycles that does not take much damage. More importantly the police officer will get the drivers insurance information, address, phone number and license plate number. The police officer will also get a statement from the vehicle driver at the scene which usually is the most accurate recitation of the facts of the accident.
- Getting checked out. Most cyclists have a great deal of concern of their health which leads them out on the roads in the first place. Cyclists also may have a higher pain threshold than the general public and may want to “shake it off.” Be overcautious with your body. A cyclist colliding with a vehicle can be violent. You should get checked out. If you do not have any pain in the following days consider yourself lucky.
- In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of accident. You have three years to file a lawsuit but you do not have that kind of time to get care. If you have pain and go home and ice or heat or take hot baths for three months and tell the insurance company “hey, I had a terrible three months.” The insurance company is going to say “prove it.”
- I always tell people you don’t have a right to feel any better than you felt on the day of the accident, but you shouldn’t feel any worse either. By getting medical care you are hopefully receiving care that will help you heal faster and alleviate long term problems. The by-product of this care is that the medical records are in fact, proof of your claim.
- When getting care, use your health insurance. The vehicles insurance company will not pay your bills as you go and will not pay you until you are prepared to sign a release. Using your health insurance will keep the bill collectors off your back. Your health insurance will then have what is called a right of subrogation against the vehicles insurance company. The health insurance claim flows through your own claim against the vehicle’s insurance company. Your health insurance company will be paid back when you are ready to settle your injury claim and not before.
- Property Damage. If the vehicle driver is at fault, their auto liability insurance should cover the damage done to your bike. You should take it to a bike shop to have it thoroughly inspected. You don’t want to be on a bike that has sustained undetected cracks to the frame. If there is a situation like this you should demand that the bike be declared a total loss. A bike shop can put this in writing for you.
- Realize that insurance adjusters are used to looking at vehicles and aren’t as knowledgeable about bikes as you are. You need to make sure that you have more than enough information to get a fair value for the bike. It is likely that you will need to educate the adjuster on how much your bike is actually worth.
Short Course: What To Do After A Bicycle Accident
- Call the police and insist that the officer files a police report. If an officer does not respond, go to the nearest police station and file an accident report within 72 hours of the accident
- Get the driver’s information, address, phone number and license plate number.
- Get the name, phone number and address of every witness.
- Get the necessary medical attention to get yourself back to the same condition you were in before you were hit. Use your health Insurance to pay your bills.
- Have your bike thoroughly inspected by a bike shop and realize you will have to educate and document the value of your bike for the insurance adjuster.
- Do not minimize the damage to either you or your bike
- Do not give a statement to the vehicle driver’s insurance company without first consulting an attorney.
- Do not rush in to any settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries and bike damage.