Pre-COVID, more and more Americans each year were commuting to work on bicycles. While still a small fraction of overall daily commuters, numbers were on the rise. While no statistics are available on bicycle commuting during the pandemic, continued growth in bicycle commuting likely stalled. After all, many Americans suddenly found themselves in “nonessential” jobs and were either laid off or otherwise found themselves unemployed. However, it seems likely that the upward trend in commuting via bicycle will continue as life becomes a little more normal, whenever that might turn out to be.
If so, then bicycle accidents in traffic crashes likely will become an issue again.
In 2018, there were 857 traffic fatalities among bicycle riders. Each year, there are about 450,000 bicycle-related injuries nationwide. Whether commuting, exercising, or just out for some fun, bicycle riders on the roadways have the same rights – and responsibilities – as any other vehicle on the roads. Given their near-total lack of protection, bicyclists involved in a traffic accident are far more likely to be injured, perhaps seriously, than the occupants of a car or truck. If you were the injured bicyclist, how do you determine your damages from a traffic accident?
Negligence, Damages Principles of Traffic Accidents Apply
Because a bicycle is legally equivalent to a motor vehicle on the roads, liability for an accident operates on the same principles as a traffic accident between motor vehicles: the negligent driver is liable for the damages suffered by the non-negligent driver. Determining what those damages are likewise will follow the same general principles as those that apply in calculating damages from any other traffic accident. Aside from emotional distress or damages for pain and suffering, which are intangibles, damages in any accident, including traffic accidents, fall into several general, provable categories, including:
- Lost wages from work time lost because of your injuries. This can include wage losses already suffered as well as losses in the future from work you are reasonably certain to miss – particularly if your injuries mean you can never return to work
- Medical bills for treatment, therapy, and nursing care required
- Costs incurred for tasks you could not perform while injured, such as yard work, housekeeping, or childcare
- Any out-of-pocket costs, including prescriptions and other medicine, or other costs incurred because of your injuries, such as cab fares for travel to medical appointments
- Damage to personal property suffered in the accident, such as the cost of repairing or replacing your bicycle or any other personal items damaged or destroyed in the accident, like that expensive new smartphone
Damages for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and future medical expenses are both harder to calculate and harder to prove. However, such damages are available under Georgia law, which presumes the presence of pain and suffering in cases involving injury. The amount awarded can depend upon the severity of the injuries, how much pain the injury involved, and, often, the sympathy of the jury.
If You Have Been Injured in A Bicycle Accident, Talk To The Atlanta Personal Injury Attorneys of Slappey & Sadd
If you suffered injuries in a traffic accident while riding your bicycle, you should explore the possibility of compensation for your damages. You will need an attorney with the experience to make sure you receive the largest amount possible to cover your economic losses as well as your pain and suffering. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case. Our attorneys serve the entire state of Georgia, including Smyrna, Decatur, and Marietta.