In bicycle accidents involving motorists, the drivers of motor vehicles are rarely injured, however, it’s easy for an injured cyclist to incur serious damage with potentially long-lasting consequences. After a bike accident, bicyclists are much more likely to suffer from serious injuries, such as broken bones, head trauma and spinal cord injuries that could leave them paralyzed.
In bicycle accident cases in Ontario, it is up to the driver to prove that they conducted themselves without negligence. While this burden of proof leads many cyclists to assume that they’ll automatically receive fair compensation for their injuries, property damage or pain and suffering, it is never guaranteed. If you have been involved in a serious cycling accident, hiring a bicycle accident lawyer is the best way to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. In this post, we will explain further the ins and outs of bicycle accident cases, including how to prove that someone is at fault.
What Should You Do After a Bicycle Accident?
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, whether it is a hit-and-run or the motorist stays at the scene, you should call the police, so a police report can be filed in a timely manner. Your lawyer and insurance company might refer to the accident report later. Make sure that the officer at the scene gets your side of the story as well as the driver’s.
Next, take pictures and videos of the accident. Snap pictures of the vehicle, your bicycle, your injuries and the surroundings so you have concrete evidence. Exchange contact and insurance information with the driver, and get contact information from witnesses.
Even if you don’t feel injured, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible after the collision. Some injuries, such as head and neck injuries, internal injuries and traumatic brain injuries, don’t manifest right away. You might feel fine until the shock wears off, then suffer from sudden pain, numbness or paralysis.
Document and photograph your injuries throughout treatment so you have a record that you could use in a court case. Your bicycle accident lawyer might use medical records to prove that you need compensation for severe injuries. You could also argue with documentation that you suffered emotional damages, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What Are Drivers’ Responsibilities On the Road?
Drivers have basic responsibilities, such as obeying traffic signs, driving at the speed limit and never driving under the influence. They should avoid distractions, such as eating and talking on the phone, and keep track of their surroundings. Drivers should take extra precautions when driving in a dangerous area, like a school or construction zone.
Drivers also have a responsibility to share the road with bicyclists and pedestrians. They should watch their surroundings, check for bicyclists before they merge or turn and obey red lights, especially at crosswalks. Drivers should remember that a bike accident is much more dangerous for the cyclist than it is for the driver and behave accordingly.
What Are Cyclists’ Responsibilities On the Road?
While the law initially sides with accident victims, bicyclists still have responsibilities to keep everyone safe on the road. If you act recklessly, the court might rule that the reverse onus is on you instead of the defendant. Contributory negligence could result in reduced compensation even if the driver is mostly at fault.
Bicyclists should follow basic laws, such as obeying traffic signals and riding in the same direction as the vehicular traffic. Avoid distractions, such as listening to music while you ride. Avoid wearing dark clothing when you ride at night. Wearing reflective clothing helps drivers keep a proper lookout for bicyclists.
Likewise, practice common sense, like riding across crosswalks when cars are stopped instead of pulling out in front of oncoming traffic. Otherwise, the driver could argue that you put everyone in danger, giving you a share of comparative negligence.
What Happens When You File a Claim?
A successful personal injury claim could result in financial compensation for your bicycle accident injuries, such as medical expenses, lost wages and decrease in your quality of life. Some car insurance policies have “no fault” benefits so you can file a claim with your own insurance company. However, your insurance benefits might not offer full compensation.
If you don’t have insurance, your lawyer could help you submit a claim to the driver’s insurance company. The company might ask you to explain the circumstances surrounding the accident to show that the driver was at fault. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer could help you file a claim and use documentation, such as police reports and medical records, to support your case.
Ontario law offers a Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF) for riders who don’t have insurance and can’t reach the driver’s insurance company. This fund pays a maximum of $200,000 per accident.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Hiring personal injury lawyers is instrumental to ensure that you secure the full compensation you deserve. An insurance company could refuse your claim or decline to pay the full amount. Personal injury lawyers can help you build a case and file a claim to greatly increase your chances of receiving fair compensation.
Contact Wynperle Law to discuss your case. Through a high level of professional expertise in bicycle accident and personal injury cases, we make sure your clients get the compensation you deserve.