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Bicycle Accidents And Legal Liability
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Who Holds Legal – and Financial – Liability in Bicycle Accidents
Bicycling is on the upswing, but accidents, death and injury are too. When vehicle or road maintenance is at fault, litigation might recover resultant costs.
Without question, America is returning to bicycling as a means of smart fitness and even smarter transportation. Our roads and streets, in Los Angeles and throughout the country, have been built exclusively for cars and trucks for many decades, but such programs as the “Bikes Belong Green Lane Project” are establishing dedicated paths on roadways that clearly communicate where cars and bikes can travel in harmony. The pilot cities for this program include San Francisco, Portland (Oregon), Austin (Texas), Chicago, Memphis and Washington, DC.
But the program also highlights the risks inherent in bicycling, even while bikers fully are entitled to using most streets and boulevards. At least 618 bicyclists died in crashes with motor vehicles last year, while another 52,000 riders were injured in collisions – which some say is a gross underestimation of the actual number. These statistics alone do not tell the full story of what happens when a biker is injured or killed:
Bike injuries and death tend to happen to younger people, who might lose a lifetime of earnings because they can no longer work. These losses can go well into the millions.
Bike injuries can incur one million or more dollars in healthcare, medical and rehabilitation costs.
Bike injuries can lead to emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium for the injured and his or her partners.
Who bears responsibility for these costs? It can vary by accident, but if the biker was abiding by the rules, the driver or drivers of a vehicle, and sometimes the municipality in charge of road maintenance and safety, can be found responsible for all costs. Of course, the injured or survivors are urged to contact a bike accident attorney as soon as possible in the aftermath of an accident.
A bicycle accident victim should work with a personal injury lawyer because an attorney can hire a medical economist to determine the life-long costs of a serious injury. The lawyer will also conduct an expert investigation into the circumstances of the accident to make sure the defendant does not unfairly claim the accident was the fault of the bicyclist. As with all personal injury litigation, the client pays nothing until a satisfactory judgment is achieved for the victim.
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