Building a Bicycle Accident Claim
As outlined below, evidence is the most important part of a bicycle accident claim. A victim/plaintiff must prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence (“more likely than not”). Although this burden of proof is very low, there’s usually a relationship between the amount of evidence a victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of compensation jurors award.
Because bicycle accidents cause such serious injuries, these settlements are often significant. Bicyclists make up less than 1 percent of vehicle traffic, but they account for well over 2 percent of roadway fatalities. Even if these victims survive, they usually sustain permanent injuries, like broken bones that never entirely heal.
Bicycle crash victims who partner with a Seattle personal injury lawyer receive about 80 percent of the settlement money awarded in these cases. Everyone else gets the leftovers. In attorney-guided settlements, the compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Victims without lawyers are usually lucky if the settlement offsets a portion of their medical bills.
Medical bills and other medical records, witness statements, including the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony, and the police accident report usually make up the bulk of the evidence in a bicycle crash claim. However, the evidence in one or more of these areas could be weak.
Witness statements are a good example. Many eyewitnesses are not credible or not competent to testify. Experienced insurance company lawyers know how to erode a witness’ credibility and transform a compelling witness into one that looks like a liar. Furthermore, many eyewitnesses have a relationship with a party in the case, belong to certain advocacy groups, or are otherwise barred from testifying in court.
On a related note, if the victim died in the accident, the victim’s testimony, which is a critical piece of the puzzle, is obviously unavailable.
A Seattle personal injury lawyer typically uses electronic evidence to fill in any gaps. Surveillance camera footage is a good example. Unlike people, devices are never biased or inaccurate, as long as they were working properly at the time. Furthermore, the old saying is often true. Generally, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Driver error causes about 98 percent of the bicycle wrecks in King County. This driver error is usually negligence, or a lack of care.
Sometimes, a safety law, like the traffic law, establishes the standard of care. So, if emergency responders cited the tortfeasor (negligent driver) for making an illegal turn or another traffic law violation, the tortfeasor could be liable for damages as a matter of law. The additional evidence outlined above is usually only relevant to the amount of damages.
Unfortunately for victims, emergency responders often don’t issue citations, even in fatal bicycle accident cases. Since, in their view, the matter is a civil dispute between insurance companies, they don’t want to get involved.
So, in most cases, an attorney uses the ordinary negligence doctrine to obtain compensation. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care to avoid accidents if possible. If they breach that duty, and if that breach substantially causes injury, the tortfeasor is liable for damages.
Rely on a Diligent King County Lawyer
Bicycle crash victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Seattle, contact the Emerald Law Group. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.