Yes, you can sue someone for hitting you on a bike if you can prove:
- The person who hit you had a duty of care towards you that is, they had a legal and moral responsibility to look out for others by behaving responsibly
- The person who hit you did not fulfill this duty of care
- The accident that injured you occurred because of their lack of caution
- Your injuries caused financial losses and other damages
How to Sue After a Bicycle Accident?
In bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles, the victim is frequently the bicyclist. That’s because bicycles offer so little protection compared to cars or trucks, and bicyclists inevitably bear the brunt of these collisions.
A bicyclist may get hit by another vehicle if the motor vehicle driver:
- Was drowsy or drunk
- Was looking at their phone or another device instead of the road
- Drove too fast
- Was traveling in the wrong direction
- Followed the bicyclist too closely
However, in some cases, the bicyclist does just as much (or even more) harm than the other party.
- When the bicyclist hits a pedestrian who has no protection whatsoever
- When the collision causes a car to come to an abrupt halt, causing whiplash and other injuries
- When the bicyclist does not hit someone directly but strays into their path and forces them to make an abrupt move that puts them in the path of another vehicle
This blog tells you how you can sue someone for hitting you on a bike. Remember that this is general information, and your case may follow a different trajectory, depending on your situation. A bicycle accident lawyer give you more personalized advice.
Build a Case
Your first step is to ensure that you have a strong, viable case that will stand up to legal scrutiny.
An excellent way to do this is to hire a lawyer who knows how to seek and compile evidence about your accident from whatever sources are available, including:
- The person driving the vehicle that struck you
- Any eyewitnesses to the accident
- Your doctor, who may provide a statement about your injuries or access to your medical records
- The responding police officer who filed an accident report (your lawyer can request a copy of this report as well)
- Video or photos from cell phone cameras, traffic cams, or surveillance footage
Your lawyer can also help you put together a list of all compensable damages and estimate the worth of those damages by collecting:
- Tax filings
- Interviews with relevant parties, including you and your doctor
File Within Deadlines
Under Georgia law, you generally have two years to file a lawsuit by notifying the liable party and the applicable court. This deadline is called the statute of limitations.
What happens if the statute of limitations runs out? If the court decides you have a legally valid reason for missing the deadline, they may give you extra time to file a case. But in most cases, you cannot seek damages
if you miss the filing deadline.
A bicycle accident lawyer can fill out and submit all legal paperwork promptly and efficiently, ensuring that you retain the right to file for compensation.
Try to Negotiate a Settlement
Many bicycle accident cases never make it to a courtroom. Because trials are often lengthy and expensive, insurance companies usually prefer to end the case quickly by paying a pretrial settlement.
The driver or their insurer would pay whatever compensation you get from a successful bicycle accident lawsuit. It just depends if they have sufficient (or any) insurance to cover your damages.
Your lawyer can help you through settlement negotiations by:
- Determining the liable party’s insurance situation
- Meeting with the liable party’s lawyer and/or their insurance company’s representatives
- Fighting on your behalf for a fair settlement
- Advising you about any settlement offers
- Drawing up the settlement paperwork
Go to Court
If your case is one of the few that end up in court, our team will continue to support you and make all arguments before a judge and jury. This process includes submitting evidence to the court and preparing witnesses to testify in your favor.
If you win the case and are awarded compensation by the judge or jury, the liable party is legally obligated to pay you.
Can I Sue Over a Fatal Bike Accident?
It all depends on your relationship with the deceased. Under Georgia law, widowed spouses and orphaned children (including children born out of wedlock) have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit if their spouse or parent was killed in a collision with a bicycle.
In many ways, wrongful death cases and personal injury cases are very much alike.
For example, they both:
- Give you two years to file your case
- Require you to find and present evidence against the at-fault party
- Determine how much money you may be entitled to receive based on factors specific to your circumstances
- Give you a chance to negotiate a fair settlement out of court with the liable party’s insurance company
- Allow you to take your case to trial as necessary
Differences Between Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Cases
There are also noticeable differences between wrongful death and personal injury cases. Perhaps the biggest difference is the types of damages you can seek.
Wrongful death victims may be able to pursue higher-value losses than personal injury victims, including:
- Loss of companionship, based on the fact that your loved one is no longer here to provide guidance, encouragement, or affection
- Loss of financial support, especially if the deceased was the sole or primary breadwinner of the family
- Funeral expenses and any other bills associated with laying your loved one to rest
You can also sue for any losses that your loved one incurred but did not have the chance to pursue on their own.
What if You Cannot Sue the Driver?
As we mentioned earlier, you must prove the other party's guilt before you can seek damages from them. If you cannot establish a driver's liability due to a lack of evidence or other factors, you may be able to file a lawsuit against someone else instead.
During their investigation, your lawyer will gather evidence of all aspects of your accident.
This process enables them to unearth other potential players you may not have even considered, such as:
- The car manufacturer: The driver may have lost control of their car due to an inherent flaw in the vehicle that they were unaware of when they purchased it. This would make the car’s manufacturer a potential plaintiff in your lawsuit.
- A bike manufacturer: Similarly, if the bike you were riding malfunctioned, the bike’s manufacturer could be held legally responsible for your injuries.
- The city or municipality: Local governments are responsible for ensuring that roadways are safe for all. If an environmental factor (such as a pothole) contributed to the accident, you may hold the government responsible although you must act quickly. Typically, the statute of limitations for claims involving cities or government entities is much shorter than a standard claim.
Preserving Your Rights After a Bike Accident
You can take several actions in the immediate aftermath of a bike accident to protect your rights and strengthen your claim.
- Get medical help: This ensures that your injuries will be diagnosed and treated quickly and demonstrates a connection between the accident and your need for medical care.
- Get the driver’s contact information: It may be easier to prove their role in your accident if you or your lawyer can talk to them. The police report may also include the driver’s contact information.
- Be careful about what you say: While it is important to cooperate with the police, try to keep your answers as short and to the point as possible. Do not speculate about the cause of the accident or say anything that could sound like an admission of guilt. Avoid talking to anyone about the accident or posting on social media. The insurance company will use anything you say or post against you.
- Do not speak to the insurance company: If the liable party’s insurer tries to talk to you, refer them to your lawyer. Do not respond directly, even if they offer a settlement. While the decision to accept a settlement is always yours, it’s a much better idea to let your lawyer evaluate their offer and speak on your behalf.
Look for a bicycle accident lawyer who will fight for you in court if they cannot reach a fair settlement.
Preventing Bike Accidents
Most bicyclists are responsible individuals who understand the potential risks of riding their bike on the road and know they must:
- Check their bike before each use to ensure the brakes work, and properly inflate the tires
- Never ride a bike after drinking or doing drugs (including over-the-counter or prescribed drugs that cause drowsiness or other impairing symptoms)
- Stay alert the entire time they are riding, so they can respond quickly to unexpected changes or hazards
- Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing when riding at night so others can see them coming
There are also actions that anyone on the roadway (including drivers, vehicle passengers, other bicyclists, and pedestrians) can take to minimize the dangers of a bicycle crash, regardless of the bicyclist’s behavior:
- Pay attention to your surroundings at all times
- Be extra careful at intersections, crosswalks, and areas with poor lighting or no sidewalks
- Stay on the sidewalk when walking (if possible)
- Always obey traffic signs, including red lights, stops signs, and “do not walk” signals
- Keep a close eye on small children so they do not stray into a bicyclist's path, and teach them about pedestrian safety
Let your lawyer know that you followed all the actions of a responsible cyclist. They can then use this information to build your case. Unfortunately, even the most cautious bicyclists can become accident victims without warning. Knowing that you can sue whoever caused your accident may be small consolation, but it’s still an important option to consider as you recover from your injuries.
There’s no need to take on the liable party or the legal system alone. A bike accident lawyer can fight for you and help you get the compensation you deserve. Call a bicycle accident attorney today to learn more about your legal options and answer your questions.