Bicycle Accident Injury Attorneys in Federal Way
Bicycle Accident Injury Lawyers in Federal Way
Washington ranks first in bicycle-friendly States in the U.S. by The League of American Bicyclists.
The state actively promotes awareness of bike riding for health, the environment, and easing traffic congestion in Seattle and elsewhere.
So, you might think that bicycle safety has improved – but there has actually been an increase in serious bicycling injuries and fatalities in recent years.
Bicycle accidents occur in a number of ways we may not always expect, including:
- Motor vehicle drivers not respecting the rules of the road
- Reckless drivers who drive too fast
- Distracted automobile drivers
- Fatigued driving
As a cyclist, the negligence of other road users can create major problems, no matter how safely you ride.
If you sustained injuries in a bicycle accident in Federal Way, the personal injury lawyers at Park Chenaur & Associates can help you claim the compensation you deserve.
What are the typical causes of bicycle accidents in Washington?
Given the popularity of cycling in the area, it’s disturbing that there are so many accidents. Many involve only the cyclist but when another road user is involved, it is often a car or motorbike.
Unfortunately, because of the vulnerability of cyclists and lack of protection compared to motor vehicle drivers, cyclists often come off far worse.
Some of the typical causes of bicycle accident injuries include:
- Intersection accidents: around half of all accidents involving another vehicle and a cyclist occur at an intersection.
- Riding against traffic: it’s against the law to drive against the traffic even on a bicycle so if you are involved in an accident you will have to accept at least part of the blame.
- Hazards: poor road surfaces with potholes or other hazards are a major cause of bicycle accidents as cyclists may have to swerve out of the bike lane to avoid them.
What injuries are commonly sustained in bike accidents?
Because of the lack of protection for cyclists on the roads, nearly every accident involving another road user is serious.
Unfortunately, many are life-threatening or fatal, especially if the cyclist was not wearing a helmet or the vehicle runs over the victim after a collision.
The most typical serious injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputated limbs
- Permanent disfigurement from scarring
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries and soft tissue damage
Some injuries cause partial or total paralysis, requiring long-term rehabilitation and 24-hour care for the rest of the victim’s life.
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury from a bicycle accident, our lawyers are experienced in such accidents and can guide you on the best steps to take for medical care and claim compensation from the at-fault party.
What actions should you take if you sustain a bicycle injury in Washington?
The actions you take after a bicycle accident will naturally depend on how badly hurt you are.
Perhaps in the direct aftermath of the accident you are not in a position to make decisions and are rushed to hospital for emergency medical care.
If you are conscious and able to make decisions, the actions you take can affect the process of making a claim for your injuries.
Here are some general guidelines if you find yourself in this position:
- Never admit fault – by apologizing to the other party involved for your part in the accident, you might jeopardize your chance of making a successful claim
- Gather the details of the other party – name, address, phone number, license plate number, insurance details, etc.
- Get witness details – if other people saw the accident, take their details to pass to your lawyer
- Report the incident – make sure the police investigate the accident if you were injured as fault may be assigned in their report (get a copy of this)
- Seek immediate medical help and keep all medical reports, receipts, etc. – gather as much evidence as possible of your injuries and the associated medical costs
Whose fault was the accident and how does it affect a claim?
In some cases, apportioning fault in a bicycle accident is straightforward. For example, where a car driver admits that he didn’t see you at an intersection and several witnesses observed the accident.
However, in most cases, it is more complex than this. There are often no witnesses and neither the driver nor the cyclist admits fault.
In this case, it could go to trial in a civil court and a judge may need to decide on liability and damages.
With Washington being a “comparative fault” state, you can be partly at fault for an accident but still claim damages. This is sometimes called “pure contributory negligence.”
For instance, if you were riding the wrong way down the street but a speeding driver hit you, it’s possible that you would share the fault 50-50.
In such cases, any settlement awarded in your favor would be reduced by your proportion of the fault (in the above case 50 percent).
Who is commonly liable for bicycle accidents?
Motorists are the party most commonly targeted in lawsuits– but not the only one.
Drivers have a duty of care to all road users and failure to observe this due to negligent or reckless behavior can lead to liability for a bicycle accident.
Sometimes, more than one party can be held liable – for instance, if there was a road hazard that caused another motorist to crash into your bike.
Cases can be complex and, depending on the circumstances of your accident, your lawyer may need to consider liability for the following parties:
- Road agencies or contractors: designing, building, and maintaining safe roads is the obligation of local and state governments. Failure to meet this obligation could see them being held liable for a cycling accident.
- Vehicle operators: commercial or governmental employers may be held liable if one of their employees (e.g. a bus, truck, or train driver) causes an accident with a cyclist.
- Bicycle manufacturers or equipment manufacturers: accidents can occur due to faulty bicycle parts, equipment or accessories, leading to potential lawsuits against the manufacturer.
Does premises liability exist for bicycle accidents?
Yes – all property owners in Washington (including the State) have a duty to protect the safety of bicycle riders and other road users. This includes keeping the roads free of hazards and providing adequate signage when there are dangers.
Filing a negligence claim against state or local government entails a separate procedure from a standard civil liability claim, so speak to your lawyer about this first.
What compensation can you receive?
For bicycle accident injuries, like all personal injuries in Federal Way, you may be able to claim for both economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses include:
- Current medical costs – the costs associated with an ambulance, emergency care, hospital, etc.
- Ongoing medical costs – medication, physical and mental therapy, wheelchair costs, etc.
- Property damage – any losses incurred to your property e.g. your car
- Loss of income – lost wages due to missed work
- Loss of potential income – losses you will suffer because of future lost work
The non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering – past and future pain and suffering, including mental health issues
- Loss of quality of life – often applicable if there is a more permanent injury
Are there limits to the compensation you can receive?
Personal injury claims are generally settled within the limits of the liable party’s insurance policy.
There are also limits imposed by Washington State for non-economic damages.
Do you need help claiming a bicycle accident injury?
Contact Park Chenaur today so we can get to work on your case immediately. Your initial consultation is free and we can come to you if you can’t make it into our office.