Accidents between motor vehicles and bicycles can be among the worst that can happen on the roads of Baltimore. Without much in the way of protection, bikers involved in these crashes frequently suffer severe injuries that require extensive and costly medical treatment. Worse, many cyclists find themselves fighting an uphill battle to resume the active and athletic lifestyle that they held so dear, before the accident.
To make matters even worse, a huge portion of these accidents only happen because the driver of the car or truck made a mistake or acted negligently. Suffering such serious injuries through no fault of your own can be especially frustrating.
This is why the personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian in Baltimore strive to represent injured cyclists. With our legal representation, you can rest assured that everything is being done to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us online to get started on your case.
Bike Accident Statistics in Maryland
Bike accidents happen in Maryland and Baltimore surprisingly frequently.
According to figures that come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Maryland Department of Transportation (DOT), there were 851 bicycle accidents in Maryland in 2016. The strong majority of these accidents – 692 of them, amounting to 81% of the total – ended with the cyclist getting hurt. In 16 of those, the biker died from his or her injuries.
These numbers portray a disturbing trend: As the NHTSA and DOT's report makes clear, more bikers are getting hurt or dying on the roads of Maryland, every year. Additionally, most of these accidents, nearly seven in ten, occur in the summer months between May and October. Nearly one out of every four victims was under the age of 15.
While these numbers and trends are disturbing in their own right, it is also important to keep in mind that many – perhaps even most – of the bike accidents that happen on a daily basis go unreported if they do not cause an injury severe enough to warrant emergency medical attention. Many bikers who are involved in crashes with motor vehicles and are able to ride away frequently do so, even if they suffer scrapes or bruises from the collision.
Bike Accidents Caused by Drivers
Unfortunately, many bike accidents that happen in Baltimore or in the rest of Maryland are not the fault of the injured biker. According to another report by the NHTSA back in 2012, which learned that 3% of the people who had ridden a bike at some point within the last two years had been involved in a bike accident bad enough to cause injuries that required medical attention, 29% of those accidents were caused by other drivers.
In these cases, the costs of the biker's injuries should not be borne by the hurt biker. Getting compensation from the driver who was at fault is where skilled personal injury attorneys can be a big help.
In most of the bike accidents that were caused by motor vehicle drivers, the ultimate cause of the crash was that the driver was simply being negligent. Drivers rarely look out for bikers on the side of the road, let alone bikers who are riding among the cars on the street, and often make poor decisions that are based on a basic misunderstanding of what is happening around them. When they make these mistakes and put bikers in danger, they are typically acting negligently.
Of course, negligence takes many forms, from distracted driving to speeding to simply not paying attention. When the driver's negligence ends up hurting you, as a cyclist who is entitled to space on the roads of Baltimore, they should be held liable for the costs of the accident because they are more culpable than you were.
Out of all the negligent drivers on the roads in Baltimore, distracted drivers are probably the most common. Splitting their attention between the road and something else, distracted drivers try to do two things at once and often fail at both. Unfortunately, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time as a cyclist in Baltimore, distracted drivers can make a driving mistake that puts you at risk.
To make matters worse, distracted driving can come in a huge variety of forms, limited only to the creativity of the driver and his or her willingness to put others at risk so they can try multitasking. Some of the most egregious forms of distracted driving, though, include:
- Calling someone on the phone
- Changing the GPS device
- Adjusting the radio or music player
- Applying makeup or shaving
- Getting dressed
- Dealing with unruly children in the backseat
Needless to say, these distractions can be the cause of an accident with a biker. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than one in eight of the accidents that happened in the U.S. in 2015 were caused by a distracted driver. The number of accidents between a distracted driving in a motor vehicle and a biker, however, is likely even higher because distracted drivers tend not to look for or expect bikers on the road.
Speeding drivers also put bikers at significant risk in Baltimore. With more speed, drivers have far less time to react to road hazards, including cyclists that they did not notice or did not expect to encounter. Coupled with this decreased reaction time, the increased distance that it takes to stop a speeding car is enough to put bikers at severe risk. Add to these dangers the fact that speeding vehicles are less easy to control – especially around the curves and windy roadways that surround the city of Baltimore – drivers who speed are a serious danger to cyclists.
To make things still worse, the accidents that are caused by speeding drivers are far more severe than those that happen when the driver was abiding by the speed limit. Racing drivers carry much more force with their speed, exacerbating the impact of a collision with a biker – an impact that bikers have little protection against. This often causes severe personal injuries that require extensive and costly medical attention.
Drunk or drugged drivers also put bikers at risk every day on the roads of Baltimore. Inebriated drivers are far less able than sober drivers to notice and anticipate road hazards, and are generally unable to take the proper precautions to avoid a collision when one is imminent.
Their inability to drive a motor vehicle safely is proven by numbers from the NHTSA, which found that no fewer than 29% of the traffic fatalities in the U.S. during 2015 came in crashes that involved a driver who had a blood alcohol content at 0.08% or above.
On the one hand, bikers are less likely to deal with drunk or drugged drivers because intoxicated drivers tend to be on the road after dusk or late at night, often after partying or drinking in a bar until after midnight. By this time, many bikers have gotten off the roads. However, there are people who regularly ride their bikes at or after dusk, putting them on the road at the same time that drunk or drugged drivers begin making a more regular appearance. On the other hand, though, inebriated drivers have enough trouble navigating the roads and avoiding other cars or trucks. They rarely take into account the fact that bikers can also be on the roads, as well. The odds that an intoxicated driver fails to notice a cyclist spikes precipitously.
“Dooring” a Passing Biker
One of the most unique aspects of a driver's negligence that impacts bikers in Baltimore is when someone in a car that is parked on the side of a street throws their door open without seeing if someone is coming. While this practice rarely puts other drivers or motor vehicles at risk, it can be disastrous for bikers who are approaching from behind, as they have no way to anticipate the risk, are rarely able to avoid the sudden danger, and are likely to get seriously hurt in the collision with the car door.
Unfortunately, Maryland's laws, which are supposed to keep people safe, fail on this front. Maryland Code TR §21-1209(c) prohibits the practice of dooring, but only applies to people who open “the door of any motor vehicle with intent to strike, injure, or interfere with any person riding a bicycle.” While this is better than nothing, cyclists are left unprotected by the law if the driver only negligently opened their car door into their path and caused a collision.
Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit can be the only way left to protect your rights and interests and get the compensation that you need and deserve.
Bike Accidents Caused by Poor Road Conditions
While many of the bike accidents that were caused by someone else had the driver of a motor vehicle to blame, there are also instances where cyclists got hurt without being involved in a collision. In many of these cases, the cyclist suffered a serious fall because the road conditions that they were traveling on were in a sorry state, and this put them in danger that led to the crash.
According to the NHTSA's 2012 study on the causes of bicycle accidents, 13% of the bikers who said they were significantly hurt in the past two years said that the cause of their injuries was a poor road condition.
Cases like these can be tricky, in large part because the people who would ultimately be responsible for the road conditions that caused you harm – usually the town, municipality, city of Baltimore, or state of Maryland – has erected barriers that protect them from lawsuits that could potentially implicate taxpayer money.
However, just because a personal injury lawsuit could be tricky and procedurally difficult does not mean that it would be worthless to pursue. This is especially true when road conditions deteriorate and put numerous bikers at risk of being hurt, in addition to yourself. Pursuing a personal injury claim not only strives to get you the compensation that you deserve but can also serve as the impetus that the local government needs to fix the road condition that hurt you, in the first place.
Bike Accidents Caused by Dogs
Dogs can also cause bike crashes if they get defensive about an oncoming biker or get away from their owner and try to chase down a cyclist. These situations happen far more than one would think – the NHTSA's 2012 study found that 4% of bike accidents happened because of an attacking or aggressive dog.
When a dog runs out and chases a biker, however, the dog is not always the real problem. Cyclists may have to take evasive actions to avoid the dog or get so startled by the dog's aggressiveness that they veer into traffic and get hit by a car or truck. These crashes are often far worse than any accident that the dog could create but are still a very foreseeable result of the dog's viciousness.
In cases like these, the dog's owner could be held liable for the costs of the crash, including for your injuries and the other legal damages that you suffered. They are, after all, legally responsible for taking reasonable measures to ensure that their dog is restrained and cannot cause harm to others, including passing cyclists.
Bike Crashes Caused by Defective Bikes
Finally, some bike accidents happen because one or multiple parts of your bike are defective and prone to failure. If these defects materialize and break while you are on the road, it can cause you to lose control of your bike and careen into traffic, starting an accident.
While accidents like these might seem like they are the biker's fault, that is not necessarily the case. If the bike part was defectively designed, manufactured, installed, or advertised, then liability for the costs of the crash can actually pass through the biker and land on the party that actually acted negligently. Products liability cases like these can be tricky because there are often many players and lots of technical parts, but pursuing them is worthwhile not only because it can lead to compensation for your own injuries, but also because it can unearth problems with entire models of bikes that are putting hundreds of other cyclists at risk, every day.
Types of Injuries Frequently Suffered in a Bike Crash
There are lots of different kinds of injuries that you can suffer in a bike accident in Baltimore. Obviously, the severity of these injuries largely depends on the severity of the accident, which hinges on whether the crash was a collision with a motor vehicle or a fall, what type of vehicle hit you, how fast it was going, whether you were able to brace your fall, and countless other factors, as well.
Despite these numerous variables, there are still a small handful of injuries that tend to happen in a bike crash. The seriousness of these injuries spans a wide spectrum, from wrist sprains all the way to fatal injuries.
Perhaps the most common injury that cyclists suffer in a bike accident is a wrist injury. Most of these injuries occur after the initial collision with a motor vehicle, or just after a biker has run into the obstacle that causes him or her to fall. In nearly all of these cases, the wrist injury is the result of a biker trying to break their fall to the ground as they get thrown from their bike.
While throwing out your hand in an attempt to cushion your fall might be enough to minimize the other injuries that you suffer in the crash, it is almost certainly going to lead to at least a significant wrist injury, like a sprain. In the worst collisions, though, the force can be enough to break your wrist and seriously damage the surrounding muscles and tissues.
Unfortunately, there is very little that a biker can do to prevent these kinds of injuries, once a collision has happened. Throwing your hands out to protect yourself is a natural reaction, and even the most attentive and athletic rider who knows how to fall without getting hurt can struggle to do something else to protect themselves. Worse, there is little that a biker can do to protect against a serious wrist injury – wearing wrist guards is not something that cyclists find feasible or comfortable, especially on long journeys.
After wrist injuries, one of the most common injuries that you can suffer in a bike accident – particularly those that are caused by motor vehicles, and especially those that strike from the side – are leg injuries. These include injuries that impact your feet, ankles, shins and calves, knees, thighs, and pelvis.
While these injuries span a wide range of severity, the athletic lifestyle that most cyclists live makes even the most minor leg injury a fairly devastating blow: Any one of these types of injuries can sideline an avid cyclist for months, upending a lifestyle centered around physical activity.
Worse, many of these injuries – especially those that impact a biker's knees or pelvis – can be debilitating for a long period of time. Torn collateral ligaments in a cyclist's knees can require surgery, months of downtime, followed by many more months of intensive physical therapy before a biker can begin to approach the activity levels they enjoyed, before the crash. Pelvic injuries, if severe enough, can cause significant deformities that make those activity levels impossible, even after a full recovery.
Finally, leg injuries from bike crashes can be incredibly painful. Torn knee ligaments and broken femurs are some of the most painful injuries that you can suffer. Not only do they hurt during and immediately after the crash, though, the recovery process and physical therapy can be painful, as well. Throughout this process, and even after you have recovered from the leg injury, you will lose the enjoyment that you once felt when you rode your bike. This loss of one of your life's great enjoyments is not a small factor in the pain that came from the crash.
Road Rash from a Bike Accident
Another frequent result of a bike accident in Baltimore is road rash. Cyclists are often thrown from their bikes when they are hit by a motor vehicle or encounter a dangerous hazard on the roadway. When they fall, they almost always hit the asphalt they were riding on. Worse, the speed they were going creates momentum that their fall does not immediately stop. Instead, victims in bike crashes frequently skid on the pavement for several feet or roll from the contact.
The short-term repercussions of this highly-abrasive fall are extremely painful. Road rash can break through the outer layers of a cyclist's skin. In some cases, it can even penetrate through the inner layers of the skin and reach the muscular structure of an unfortunate cyclist. The pain from the incident can be intense, and the immediate treatment for road rash – which often involves rigorous cleaning to make sure the wound will not get infected – can almost be worse.
The long-term effects of road rash are not much better. If the wound is not closely cleaned and scrubbed, bacteria can get inside and create an infection – after all, your skin is your body's first and most important line of defense against harmful antibodies. Even if an infection is prevented and the road rash clears up, that does not mean that you will be left without a scar. In some cases, the disfigurement from a road rash can be prominent and permanent, causing mental anguish for years after the incident.
Back injuries are also relatively common in bike accidents, especially when the crash was caused by a motor vehicle. The force from these types of collisions is enough to jolt a biker in awkward ways that back muscles were not designed to withstand. This can create muscle strains that are very debilitating because of how much the rest of the body relies on the back or skeletal problems that require surgery to rectify.
One example of the kinds of back injuries that are prominent in bike crashes is whiplash. Whiplash is a kind of catch-all term for debilitating strains and tears to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your back, neck, and core. Often created when you get pushed or shoved in a sudden and unexpected way, you can suffer whiplash in even the most minor bike accidents on the road.
Whiplash is not the only form of back injury, though. You can also suffer a severe back injury from the fall that often accompanies the collision in a bike crash, especially if you hit the ground awkwardly or your head get jostled around. Spinal fractures, especially to your upper spine at the base of your head or neck, are not unheard of in bike accidents. Worse, wearing a helmet does nothing to protect you against these terrible injuries, which can lead to nerve damage and even paralysis.
Head injuries, unfortunately, are among the worst that you can suffer in a bike crash. Even the most athletic biker can suffer extreme head trauma after being thrown from their bike if the initial collision disoriented them so much that they were unable to prepare or brace themselves for their impact with the ground.
Even if you were wearing a helmet, the injuries that you can sustain in a violent and high-speed collision with a motor vehicle, especially a heavy one like a truck or SUV, can be debilitating. For bikers who were not wearing a helmet, being involved in a bike accident can quickly turn fatal. To make matters even worse, Maryland's contributory negligence rules for personal injury claims could prevent you from getting any compensation at all if you suffered head injuries and you we not wearing a helmet.
Fatal Bike Accidents
Finally, some bike accidents are so severe that the injuries that the cyclist suffers prove to be fatal. In these cases, Maryland's wrongful death statute can help the biker's family and loved ones get the compensation that they need and deserve. While no amount of money can replace someone who has been killed in a bike accident, the compensation that a wrongful death claim can lead to can be a big help for your future financial well-being; something that will be especially strained if the victim was the person in your family who earned the most income.
Treatment for Injuries Suffered in Baltimore Bike Accidents
If you have been hurt in a bike accident in Baltimore, the treatment that you will likely need in order to make a full recovery from your injuries can be intense and long-lasting. It can also be incredibly costly, especially if you do not have good insurance coverage.
Because you were not ultimately responsible for the bike crash, though, there is little reason why you should be the one to shoulder the costs of your treatment. After all, there was usually very little that you could have done to prevent the crash or avoid the bulk of the injuries that you suffered. Getting compensation for the costs that you have borne while you moved along the road to recovery is crucial if you want to protect your future stability. Making sure that you get compensated for all of the aspects of your treatment is important, as well.
Emergency Medical Attention
The first type of treatment that you are likely to need after a serious bike accident is emergency medical care. This includes:
- Ambulance services
- On-site and in-transit medical care by emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
- Emergency room treatment
- Stitching and suturing lacerations and other cuts
- Cleaning road rash and disinfecting open wounds
- Setting and splinting or casting broken or fractured bones
- Emergency surgical procedures to keep a severe medical condition under control
The nature and degree of this kind of medical attention depends on the severity of the crash, of course: Minor accidents are unlikely to require much in the way of EMT care or ambulatory services if you are able to get to the hospital on your own, while the most severe bike crashes can require extensive emergency care to keep life-threatening injuries from becoming fatal ones.
Needless to say, the cost of this kind of treatment is not cheap. Precisely because emergency care is required immediately after a bike accident, hospitals and insurance companies figure the costs of it should be very high to reflect its value. Getting compensation for the emergency care that you needed, therefore, is crucial for your financial well-being for years after the collision.
Surgeries, Including Emergency and Plastic Surgeries
Surgical procedures are also a common treatment for hurt bikers in Baltimore. Unfortunately, the necessity and the complexity of these internal procedures run a wide range, and this can drastically impact how costly they will be and how difficult it will be to recover.
On the one hand, some of the most common kinds of injuries that bikers suffer in a crash are to their wrists. It is not uncommon for cyclists to severely hurt their wrists when they extend their hands to break their fall from their bike. This impact, however, can easily sprain or break a biker's wrist. In these cases, the resulting surgeries that are necessary are important, but they are not life-saving, can be done over a larger period of time, and are relatively straightforward.
On the other hand, the severe head, neck, or back injuries that are relatively common in bike crashes are far more complex and can be immediately necessary to ensure you do not suffer a long-term disability or even to protect your survival. In many cases, numerous follow-up surgeries are required to account for complications from the first one, and to ensure you make as full of a recovery as possible.
Finally, there are also plastic surgeries that might be an aspect of your recovery. While plastic surgeries to correct a superficial blemish or a scar from the crash might seem like an unnecessary step to take, the mental and emotional trauma that they can bring to your life – even years after the incident – can become overwhelming as you try to move on.
Scars do not always have to be physical to cause emotional pain, though. The memory of the sights and sounds of the crash can also bring mental trauma and emotional distress, as well. Getting treatment for these types of injuries often requires psychotherapy sessions that take years to unravel the stress the crash caused so you can overcome its emotional disturbance.
Because psychotherapy would not have been necessary, were it not for the person who caused the bike crash, there is no reason why you should have to bear the burden of its cost. Getting compensation for your therapy sessions from the liable party is an important part of a personal injury lawsuit that stems from a bike crash.
Occupational and Physical Therapy
The treatment that is often necessary to fully recover from a bike accident in Baltimore is rarely quick and easy. In many cases, it takes years to fully overcome the setbacks that the crash put on your life. In these situations, occupational and physical therapy are usually integral aspects of your treatment.
Occupational therapy aims to build back basic physical abilities by forcing you to use the injured parts of your body in controlled environments that simulate daily activities. For example, bikers who have suffered severe wrist injuries and who risk losing strength and motion in their hand over time because of the accident can progress through occupational therapy sessions that force them to pick up, catch, and move tennis balls, clean dishes, or play games like Jenga.
Physical therapy is similar but focuses more on strengthening injured appendages and muscles than on building back dexterity and motor skills – while occupational therapy works by giving you lifelike tasks to do, physical therapy works by giving you weights to lift.
Despite the differences between the two, physical and occupational therapy are huge parts of your treatment and recovery if the bike accident that you were involved in was a serious one and ended with you suffering debilitating injuries. Getting you back on your feet requires strength building exercises that test and gradually strain the muscles and limbs that were impacted in the accident, moving you slowly back towards where you were before the accident happened.
Legal Damages in a Bike Crash
After all of this treatment that is necessary to recover from a bike crash, the question becomes who will have to pay the bills.
That is where a personal injury lawsuit comes into the picture.
Maryland's personal injury law recognizes two major types of damages – economic and non-economic damages – each of which can be further split into a handful of categories and types. These damages reflect all of the possible ways that you suffered from the accident, and are as wide-reaching and all-inclusive as possible, in order to ensure you get compensated for all that you have lost.
Of course, there will be cases where some types of damages do not apply to your case – one type of non-economic damage that you can pursue is on behalf of your spouse for his or her loss of consortium, leaving unmarried victims ineligible. However, for the most part, you will have suffered a wide variety of legal damages in a typical bike accident.
A significant portion of a personal injury case is ascertaining and then totaling these costs so the court knows how much you have suffered and how much compensation you deserve.
Economic Damages from a Bike Crash in Baltimore
The economic damages that you can suffer in a bike crash are those that are easily distilled into a dollar amount, which is usually reflected on the bills that you have paid or the receipts you have received when you made a payment. However, economic damages go further than just costs that you have shouldered while your case has progressed through the court system: They also include income that you would have made, were it not for the accident and your subsequent treatment, as well as future costs that you are likely to accrue.
In Maryland, then, your economic damages include:
- The medical bills that you have already paid for your recovery
- Medical expenses you are likely to bear in the future
- Wages and other income that you lost while you were recovering from the accident
- Earning potential that you can no longer count on, because of your injuries
- Property damage suffered in the accident
- The cost of any modifications you have had to make to your home in order to recover
Perhaps the most obvious expenses for which you deserve compensation are your medical bills, which can rapidly accumulate in even the most minor bike accidents because of how vulnerable bikers are to other motor vehicles on the road. These expenses are so prominent that many victims think that they are the only ways they have suffered in a bike crash – something that many insurance companies take advantage of when they make an initial settlement offer after a crash. Cyclists who have been hurt think that, if the medical bills they have had to pay are covered, there is little else to fight for in court.
While this is not the case, your medical bills can still be a significant portion of the damages that you can pursue after a biking accident. This is especially true if you do not have good health insurance to rely on as you begin the long road to recovery.
Future Medical Expenses
In Maryland, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims gives you three years to file a lawsuit after the time of the accident. However, in some of the worst bike accidents, the injuries that you have suffered can take far longer than that to heal. Neck, head, or back injuries are especially prone to long recovery times and extensive occupational and physical therapy sessions that span the course of years. Those that involve nerve damage or that result in paralysis can go even beyond that.
This also includes the long-term help that you are likely to need if the accident has left you permanently debilitated. Some bike accident victims are left unable to move, and force them to rely on paid help to do daily tasks in their own homes, like clean or cook. These expenses quickly accumulate but are likely to continue well into the future and past the window provided by the statute of limitations. They are also entirely foreseeable and their cost is easily calculable.
Rather than just cutting off the period of time for you to get compensable treatment, Maryland's personal injury law allows you and your attorney to seek reimbursement for the reasonably likely expenses you will have to make in the future, in addition to what you have already spent. After all, it is not like the crash was your fault, so it would be unfair for you to have to pay for the costs of your recovery just because your injuries were so severe that you could not overcome them in a three-year timeframe.
After your medical expenses, the costs of the property damage that you suffered in the crash is probably the second-most apparent way you have suffered as a result of the accident. Bikes – even those with the sturdiest frames – tend not to make it through a serious bike fall or even a moderate crash with a car or truck.
If you only had an inexpensive bicycle, this might not seem like a serious problem. If your bike was a serious investment that you have made, losing your bike can set you back thousands of dollars and make you feel like you have lost an important part of your very soul.
Regardless of the value of your ride, you deserve to be compensated for the costs associated with repairing it or replacing it if you were not at fault in the accident that damaged or destroyed it.
Frequently overlooked, the wages that you lost while you were too injured to return to work and while you received the treatment necessary for your recovery can also be recovered in a successful personal injury lawsuit. While this should come as no surprise, considering how these losses were no fault of your own and personal injury laws interest in making you whole, once again, many people fail to think of lost income as one of the ways that they were hurt in the crash.
For some bikers, this might not be a large sum: Minor accidents that created bruises, small fractures and some road rash may only have kept you out of work for a couple of days. Recreational cyclists who are retired or who do not make an income will not have lost anything, at all. However, major accidents that hold members of the workforce out of their job for months at a time can create huge amounts of lost income.
Determining how much income you have missed out on shows why your lost income falls under the banner of economic damages: By talking to your boss and reviewing your timesheets, you can determine how much time you have missed at work. Using your wage rate, you can quickly see how much income you have had to do without, while you recovered from the bike crash.
Earning Capacity Lost
In addition to losing wages, you can also lose the ability to earn money, particularly if the bike accident caused serious injuries that came with long-term debilitations. If those disabilities prevent you from performing the kinds of tasks that normally come with your chosen profession or current role, you could find yourself unable to return to work at your old position. You may have to take a wage cut, be unable to move up the ladder at work, or have to change professions, entirely in order to make things work out.
Obviously, some professions are more prone to suffering a loss in earning capacity than others are, after a bike accident. For example, accountants who sit in their cubicle or office all day will be largely immune from a reduction in their earning capacity unless the bike accident was truly crippling. Plumbers or landscapers, on the other hand, could find that they are unable to keep up with the rigors of their work after even a broken or badly sprained wrist or ankle.
Regardless of your profession, any impact that the crash has on your professional life should be compensated by the person who caused the accident. Putting the costs of the crash on your shoulders would be unfair.
Modifications to Your Home
Finally, many of the worst bike accidents end with injuries that are so serious that you will struggle to perform basic life activities in the confines of your own home. Modifying your house or apartment can be the only way to do things like take a shower, cook, or leave the house. The costs of these modifications, because they would not have accrued were it not for the accident, should not fall on the victim's shoulders – the at-fault party should pay for them.
Maryland's personal injury law recognizes this and allows bike accident victims to win compensation for the costs of modifying their home after a crash. This includes modifications from wheelchair ramps to specialized vehicles to accommodating shower stalls. Without these modifications, you would struggle to move around your own home and would have to rely on family members, friends, or paid help to perform even the most mundane activities on a daily basis.
Non-Economic Damages from a Bike Crash in Baltimore
You can also suffer losses that are less easily distilled into a dollar amount. These are your non-economic damages and reflect the ways that you have suffered from the crash on the inside. They include:
- The pain you experienced in the crash and during your recovery
- The suffering and anguish that comes with the loss of life's enjoyments
- Emotional distress
- The loss of consortium the crash has put on your family
While these losses do not come with a set dollar amount, that does not mean that they were not incredibly painful. Because they only happened after an accident that was not your fault, you deserve to be compensated for them, in addition to the economic damages that you have been put through.
Compensation for Your Physical Pain
Many injuries that you can suffer in a bike crash are incredibly painful, like broken femurs, a fractured pelvis, or torn knee ligaments. Others, like sprained wrists or ankles, are less painful.
Regardless of the severity of the pain that you experience, however, it is not something that you would have had to go through, were it not for the negligence that was ultimately responsible for the accident. If you were not at fault, therefore, the negligent party should compensate you for the horrible and painful experiences they put you through.
As with all kind of non-economic damages that you can pursue in a personal injury claim, though, things get tricky when you start trying to put a dollar amount on your pain. While it is clear that a torn ACL is more painful than a sprained wrist, how does it compare to a broken femur? How much does it matter that the rehabilitation and physical therapy for a torn ACL is largely considered to be one of the most painful you can go through? Is a dull but chronic pain from a broken elbow more compensable than the intensely painful but short-lived agony of road rash?
These are incredibly difficult and almost metaphysically impossible questions to answer. This is why Maryland's personal injury law uses a simple strategy: Put it to the jury. By letting jurors hear the evidence in your case, including details about how difficult it was to overcome your injuries and how painful the process has been, and then demanding that the jurors put a dollar amount on your losses that is immune to nearly all doubt, you can receive the compensation that you deserve. Having a skilled personal injury lawyer to bring out these details can be the best way to ensure this happens the way it is supposed to.
Suffering and the Loss of Life's Enjoyments
The injuries that are common in a bike accident can also lead to debilitations and difficulties that make it impossible for you to enjoy your life the way you had, before the unfortunate incident. Even if these debilitations are completely painless – when there is nerve damage or paralysis, they sometimes are – that does not mean that you are not suffering through the inactivity and difficulty that they put into your life.
Cyclists are especially prone to this kind of suffering, as they are far more likely to have lived a healthy life of activity outdoors than other accident victims. Being suddenly sidelined from your favorite activity because of someone else's negligence can seem unfair, and the feelings of frustration and loss are not insignificant. In some cases, the depression that these feelings can trigger can be so deep that it makes it difficult to overcome the other obstacles that the crash has put into your life's path.
Maryland recognizes that these are injuries, too, and that you deserve compensation for the loss of your life's enjoyments, as well. Pursuing these damages in a personal injury suit can make a huge difference to your future well-being.
Emotional Distress to Yourself and to Others
The sights and sounds in the seconds before, during, and after a bike accident are things that are not easy to forget. Until you come to terms with them, though, they will likely plague your memories with flashbacks of the incident that changed your life. In some cases, that mental anguish can expand into physical problems, as well, amounting to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Once again, these disturbances would not have happened, were it not for the at-fault party's negligence and the accident that it caused. Therefore, Maryland personal injury law holds those damages compensable in a lawsuit.
However, the emotional distress of the victim is not the only kind that can be pursued in a lawsuit. People who are closely related to the victim – their spouse, for example – can also recover emotional distress damages if they directly perceived the accident, even if they did not suffer any physical injuries.
Loss of a Loved One's Consortium
In Maryland, the law recognizes that accident victims do not live in a vacuum. They are often integral members of their family, extended family, or in their local community. The repercussions of an accident that hurt a biker, therefore, are prone to trickling down into the biker's support system and hurting those who depend on the victim for their happiness.
This is why Maryland allows a bike accident victim's spouse to attach a claim for their loss of consortium to the victim's personal injury claim. A loss of consortium allegation aims to pursue compensation for the losses to the marriage that resulted from the accident. They are especially important when the injuries that the victim felt were so severe that the marriage is unlikely to ever be the same, again.
Baltimore Bike Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Having a personal injury attorney with you throughout the process is the best way to ensure that you recover the amount you need and deserve after a bike accident. Many aspects of a personal injury claim rely on your ability to identify and advance your best argument for compensation – something that is not always intuitive and that is frequently fact intensive. Having a lawyer at your side to make sure you have the facts ready to help you win is the best way to protect your future.
Contact the personal injury lawyers at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian online.