Riding your bike anywhere can be a joyful experience, with the wind against your face and the health benefits riding can give you. But you are also more exposed to surrounding dangers while riding your bike, and you could be vulnerable to serious injuries if you tangle with an at-fault motorist or a road hazard.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident that was someone else’s fault, a bike injury attorney in Albuquerque from Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C. can win all the compensation and legal relief you deserve. We provide top-level, one-on-one representation that makes the most out of each client’s legal claim.
What Are My Rights and Obligations As a Bicyclist?
Under Albuquerque’s traffic code, bike riders must obey the same traffic laws as motorists while on the road, but there are some exceptions to this basic rule.
For instance, bicycles generally must ride to the right of cars and motorized vehicles in a lane if there is no bike lane, but a bicyclist does not have to follow this rule under the following circumstances:
- If there is a road hazard,
- If the bike rider is making a left turn or U-turn,
- If the bike needs to overtake a vehicle making a right-hand turn,
- If the right-hand lane is not wide enough to safely share with overtaking automobiles, or
- If the right-hand lane is not wide enough to make passing safe.
Bikes must yield to motorists on many occasions, but there are multiple duties that a motorist owes to the cyclists around them.
Under the Albuquerque code, those in motorized vehicles need to take special precautions to protect the safety of cyclists on the road. Motorists must do the following:
- Pass cyclists at a reasonable speed and safe distance (no less than five feet);
- Not harass or endanger a cyclist;
- Not open a car door or leave a car door open when it would unsafely interfere with bicycle traffic;
- Stay out of the bike lane, except to cross for making a turn or parking;
- Keep a proper lookout for cyclists when crossing a bike lane; and
- Yield the right-of-way to cyclists when crossing a bike lane.
A motorist’s violation of any one of these regulations could result in serious injuries and losses for a cyclist.
How Common Are Bicycle Accidents?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 38,886 cyclists were injured and 938 died in accidents with motor vehicles in 2020. The percentage of cyclist fatalities among all fatalities in New Mexico was 2% in 2020.
Cyclist fatalities and injuries can be the result of many actions and dangers, including the following:
- Driving or riding under the influence of an intoxicating substance,
- Distracted driving or riding,
- The mechanical failure of a car or bike,
- Failure to obey traffic rules, or
- Road hazards.
Suppose you were in a bicycle accident that caused you a serious injury. In that case, you might have the right to sue the other driver, the manufacturer of your bike, the manufacturer of the driver’s vehicle, or a governing body responsible for a road hazard that harmed you.
A bike injury attorney from Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C. can identify all liable parties in your bike accident case to ensure that you recoup the maximum amount of compensation available.
What Types of Injuries Do Victims in Bicycle Accidents Typically Suffer?
Unfortunately, the aftermath of a bicycle accident can be catastrophic. Without the frame of a car to protect your body, you can be more vulnerable to the following losses and injuries in a bike accident:
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- Bone fractures,
- Thoracic trauma,
- Spinal injuries, and
If you or someone close to you has been in a bicycle crash, you should seek medical care immediately. Not only can immediate medical attention save your life and reduce your recovery time, but it can also give you the evidence necessary to seek damages from the at-fault parties.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Recover in a Bicycle Accident Case?
If you are the victim in a personal injury case, including a bicycle accident, you have the right to receive compensation from the at-fault party in the following forms:
- Economic damages—to pay for direct financial losses related to the accident, including medical expenses, lost wages, costs of property repair or replacement, and lost earning capacity;
- Non-economic damages—to pay for pain and suffering, disfigurement, or changes in your quality of life related to the accident; and
- Punitive damages—to punish the at-fault party if they acted intentionally, with excessive recklessness, or with gross negligence.
Punitive damages are rarely awarded because they are not compensatory. Instead, they are punitive and reserved only for defendants who exhibited the most egregious misconduct.
Conversely, economic and non-economic damages are available in almost every case. Your success in obtaining these damages depends on the type of evidence you can present to the at-fault party’s insurance company or the court.
Gathering Evidence to Prove Your Right to Compensation
The quality of your evidence is crucial to a successful bike accident claim. Proof you may need to support your case could include the following:
- Medical records,
- Accident reconstruction reports,
- Photographs of your injuries,
- Employment records,
- Wage records,
- Witness testimony,
- Photographs of the scene of the accident, and
- Documents regarding the repair of your property and the property of the at-fault party.
Collecting all of the above may seem overwhelming, but a bicycle accident lawyer at Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C. can handle this task for you and obtain the best evidence for your case.
How Do I File a Claim for Compensation?
After enduring an injury in a bicycle accident, you have the option of filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company or initiating a lawsuit in civil court. In many cases, it may be in your best interest to submit an insurance claim before initiating a civil lawsuit.
You should have an attorney present during any interactions you have with an insurance company. The insurance company will likely try to negotiate a settlement with you.
But many insurance carriers will try to use your own statements and other tricky tactics to downplay your injuries, exaggerate your percentage of fault, and deny you full compensation.
Enlisting attorney assistance from the beginning can help ensure that you do not get caught in any traps set by the insurance company and that you do not accept an inadequate settlement offer.
If an insurance company refuses to give you a settlement offer that covers your losses, you can take the at-fault party to court. Keep in mind that you have only three years to file a personal injury lawsuit, so do not wait around when an insurance carrier is hesitant to pay you what you deserve.
It takes time to get through discovery and the negotiation process, and attorneys usually complete these steps first. Why? Because if they can negotiate a good settlement, it means you don’t have to file a lawsuit with the court at all.
Our experienced attorneys can aggressively negotiate with insurers and timely file any lawsuits necessary to win you compensation.
Speak to Our Albuquerque Bike Accident Attorneys Today
Whether you need us in court or in the negotiation room, we are ready to protect your interests in an Albuquerque bike accident case. If you need help, please contact us online or give us a call to schedule an appointment.