Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Bicycle accidents in North Carolina and South Carolina can happen at any time. When a pedal cyclist is struck by a vehicle or is hurt by a faulty cycle, significant injuries can result. The cycling accident victim will likely need extensive medical treatment, possibly even hospitalization.
Significant debt can be acquired from hospital bills, missed work, and other costs while the victim recovers. Some victims may even die of the injuries, leaving families wondering what to do next.
Victims and their families should turn to an experienced bicycle accident lawyer in these situations. With the representation of an attorney, these individuals can seek compensation from all at-fault parties to pay for their medical bills and other losses.
The accident and injury lawyers at Auger & Auger have represented bike injury victims in North and South Carolina since 1994. We have helped countless clients win their cases and obtain the compensation they need to move on from their accidents.
If you or a close family member have been hurt in a bicycle accident, know that you can have an ally to provide legal advice and represent your interests in a personal injury case. You can speak with a cycling accident attorney at Auger & Auger at no charge when you schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
To schedule your free case evaluation, call (855) 969-5671 or contact us online today.
Types of Damages Commonly Available After a Bicycle Accident
A bicycle accident injury claim seeks to recover the victim’s financial costs and other losses. This can include economic damages like a hospital bill for surgery and non-economic damages like physical and mental pain and suffering.
Depending on the circumstances of a case, this compensation can be obtained through a settlement with an insurer or a court award following the end of a trial or arbitration. The majority of cases, fortunately, end in a settlement, saving victims and everyone else involved time and money.
Every cycling accident case is unique, but United States tort (injury) law typically provides a remedy for several types of losses, also known as damages:
- Medical bills past and future
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to treatment
- Lost wages compensating the victim for missed work income
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages, in rare instances
Working with an experienced bicycle injury lawyer can ensure that you consider all available forms of compensation and seek the maximum amount available under state and federal law.
Who Is at Fault for My Bicycle Accident
Handling bicycle accident cases often involves determining who was at fault for the accident and, thereby, liable for the resulting damages.
Most cases involving motor vehicle collisions will attempt to prove the fault of a driver through the legal principle of negligence. In simple terms, a negligence case establishes that the defendant had a duty of care that they ignored, directly causing harm and damages to the injury victim, or plaintiff. A breach of duty of care could involve breaking a law, such as speeding. Or, it can indicate a failure to act as a “reasonable person” would, such as a failure to check for bicycles in a driver’s blind spot before turning right.
Your cycling accident attorney will identify all parties involved and evaluate whether their actions could qualify as negligence. At-fault parties can include a residential driver or it can be a truck-driving employee of a big company. Sometimes, the negligent party was not a driver but instead a bike rental operation that failed to maintain their vehicles safely.
Some bicycle accident cases involve proving that the bike itself was defective. Manufacturers (and sometimes distributors or retailers) of products are strictly liable for the injuries their devices cause.
Since every bike crash injury case is unique, your attorney must determine what parties they should file a claim against, including the possibility of filing multiple claims at once.
Bike Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in the Carolinas
With their scenic byways and active communities, the Carolinas are no strangers to bicycle trips. Look out on any boardwalk in Charleston or the Outer Banks, and you’ll likely see plenty of bicycles.
At the same time, you can look in any emergency room in the Carolinas on a given week and see at least one injured cyclist. Data from the North Carolina DOT shows that the state saw 734 pedal-cycle accidents in 2017, leading to 686 reported injuries and 28 deaths.
South Carolina fares no better; a study by the SCDOT revealed that even though the state had just 16 cyclist fatalities in 2016, its accident rate per million population places them in the top ten states by the rate of cyclist fatalities.
Our roads and trails are outright dangerous and sometimes even deadly to those who use bicycles, and other pedaled non-motor vehicles.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
There are many ways to get hurt in a bicycle accident, especially if you are thrown off your bike or struck by a fast-moving vehicle. Here are some of the more common injuries we see in these cases:
- Head injuries. These can be anything from a minor bump or cut to a skull fracture, concussion, or traumatic brain injury (TBI). This is one reason that it’s very important to seek medical attention right away – even if you feel all right – to rule out any serious issues that need immediate attention. Sometimes symptoms of head injuries don’t appear immediately, and a TBI can occur even if you didn’t hit your head. North Carolina law requires all bike riders younger than 16 to wear a helmet, but wearing one at any age reduces the risk of severe head injuries. While many people recover from head injuries with treatment, some patients may experience permanent difficulties, pain, or disability.
- Facial injuries. These may happen with or without head injuries. While a helmet can protect much of your head, your face is still exposed. As a result, a rider may suffer from eye injuries, jaw fractures, a broken nose, teeth that are chipped or knocked out completely, or “road rash” on the face from contact with the pavement or ground. In some cases, permanent scarring may happen.
- Broken bones and other orthopedic issues. Broken legs, hands, wrists, or arms occur frequently. We also see a lot of dislocated shoulders that happen when the rider is thrown from their bike and puts their arms out to absorb the impact of the fall. Even the simplest broken bones can be expensive to treat, and more severe fractures may require surgery and weeks out of commission – and possibly out of work.
- Soft tissue injuries. You may experience whiplash if your bike is hit, especially from behind, and your head is jerked forward, straining the muscles in your neck. Other muscular injuries are also common.
- Back or neck injuries. Even minor back injuries can leave you in pain for days or weeks. A fracture or damage to the spinal cord can result in permanent paralysis, while other injuries may lead to chronic pain.
- Internal injuries. Hitting the ground can sometimes cause internal bleeding or bruising. In some cases, you may need surgery to treat these issues.
When considering your injuries, it’s easy to think only of your physical injuries and pain. However, a bicycle accident can be traumatic, and many people experience issues like insomnia or nightmares, anxiety, depression, mood changes, irritability, or symptoms of PTSD. You’re not alone if you feel that your mental health has suffered since your accident. A mental health professional can help you address these symptoms.
Talk to a Bicycle Accident Lawyer Before You Talk to Insurers
After your cycling accident, you may begin interacting with representatives from the insurance company of the driver who hit you. Be careful during these interactions because insurers have a motivation to reduce the amount paid out in claims.
One tactic insurers will use to reduce claims payouts is to offer accident victims a low settlement. This settlement may seem generous to the average person, but those experienced with bicycle accident cases will know whether the amount covers all damages, past and future.
Another strategy insurers use to coax accident victims into giving a recorded statement or making statements that allegedly contradict their claim narrative. An insurer may even request access to medical records in order to dispute whether an injury existed before the accident occurred. In some cases, the insurer will contend that the victim was partially responsible for the accident, making them ineligible to pursue compensation under North Carolina’s comparative negligence statute.
All of these possibilities illustrate how insurance companies are not looking out for the best interests of bicycle accident victims.
To protect your legal rights and improve your chances of a successful claim that compensates you for all your losses, you can seek out the services of bicycle accident attorneys in your area. They will negotiate with insurers on your behalf and advise your legal strategy to give your case the maximum chance of success.
When the Insurance Company Won’t Pay
If you’ve already filed a claim and talked to the insurance company, your claim may have been denied. This happens for a number of reasons, and many of them stem from the insurer’s desire to save money on claims. You may have been told that the accident was your fault, that the driver’s insurance doesn’t cover it for some other reason, that your injuries aren’t covered, etc. In these situations, we strongly suggest you speak to a lawyer instead of trying to reason with the insurance adjuster. It’s very easy to unintentionally make things worse when pleading your case to an insurer.
Insurance company reps know that most people have not read the policy in question in its entirety. Even if you have, the language is confusing and hard to follow. Additionally, to fully understand it, you also have to be an expert on insurance laws in the state. The insurance company is counting on you to give up and take their word for it when they say something isn’t covered or they aren’t obligated to pay – but you have other options. Don’t accept the insurer’s explanation until you’ve spoken to a qualified attorney.
In many cases, an experienced bicycle accident lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company, provide the documentation needed to prove you were not at fault, or let the insurance carrier know that you are prepared to prevent evidence in your case at a trial if necessary. Because an attorney is familiar with the ins and outs of insurance law in North and South Carolina, they can remind the insurance carrier of their legal responsibilities and work to refute claims that you were at fault. Often we can convince the insurer to consider a settlement, and if the insurance carrier still refuses, we are fully prepared to fight for you in court. We can also negotiate a more reasonable settlement if the insurer makes you a lowball offer that doesn’t cover all your damages.
There may also be some situations where we consider other options for seeking compensation. As mentioned above, some cases involve multiple defendants. In certain situations where you need expensive medical care, the insurance policy’s limit may be reached. For example, the driver who hit you may only have $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, but you might have $50,000 in medical bills – to say nothing of your other damages, like lost income. When this happens, we will help you explore other possibilities for recouping damages, such as making a claim on your own uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance or suing the driver directly.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with Auger & Auger
The attorneys at Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers are familiar with cycling accident cases like yours and are ready to represent you in your time of need.