If you were riding your bike when you got into a bike accident somewhere in or near Philadelphia, you likely suffered serious injuries in the crash, especially if it was caused by a motor vehicle like a car or truck. The costs of these injuries are frequently enough to significantly imperil your financial well-being, prolonging the suffering that you will be put through by someone else's negligence.
Luckily, with the help of a personal injury attorney in Philadelphia, like those at Gilman & Bedigian, you can recover compensation for the costs associated with your bike accident. These costs go far beyond just the amount reflected on your medical bills, contrary to what you were likely told by a representative from the insurance company in their initial offer.
The Two Types of Damages from Bike Crashes
Under Pennsylvania's body of personal injury law, courts recognize two different kinds of legal damages that are recoverable in a lawsuit based on negligence:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
Each one of these damage types can be broken down even further, into smaller categories that often, but not always, appear in bike accidents in the Philadelphia region.
Economic Damages from Bike Crashes in Philadelphia
In the context of a bike accident, economic damages are the losses that you suffer that can easily be distilled into a dollar amount. Whether because that dollar amount already appears on a bill that you had to pay or receipt that you received after making a payment, or because that amount represents income that you would have gained, were it not for the accident, your economic damages are fairly straightforward and easy to determine. They include:
- The medical bills you have already accrued
- The cost of the medical bills you are likely to pay, in the future
- Wages that you lost
- Wages that you are likely to be unable to earn, in the future, because of the effects of the crash
- Modifications to your home that you had to make
- The costs of repairing or replacing your bike or other tangible pieces of property
Medical Bills, Both Past and Future
The most obvious form of legal and economic damages that you likely suffered in a bike accident in Philadelphia came in the form of your medical bills, which cover all aspects of your treatment and recovery. While the medical bills that you have already had to pay often form a considerable chunk of the total damages that you can recover in a successful personal injury lawsuit, it is not the case that you can only recover them, and nothing more. This is a common tactic that insurance companies use to convince you not to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit for your compensation – they will only offer to pay for the medical bills that you have already had to cover, and try to persuade you that you can get nothing more.
However, recovering the medical expenses that you have already paid does not always go far enough: Many bike accidents cause injuries so severe that it takes years for you to make a full recovery. With Pennsylvania's statute of limitations for personal injury cases at two years, any treatment that you receive after that time period would go uncompensated – an outcome that the law recognizes as unfair. Therefore, you are allowed to predict the costs of your future medical bills and pursue them in a personal injury claim, in addition to what you have already paid.
You can also recover the costs of repairing or replacing whatever belongings you had that were damaged or destroyed in the bike accident. This often includes the bike that you were riding at the time of the crash, which can run from under $100, well into the thousands of dollars.
Additionally, if other pieces of equipment were damaged or broken in the crash, you can add those to the economic damages that you suffered in the collision. These include:
- Cycling clothes and shoes
- Bike add-ons like speedometers
- Bike helmet
Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
While you were on the road to recovery from a devastating bike accident, you likely also missed a lot of time at work, preventing you from making an income while you were receiving treatment. Even though you were not actively paying money, the income that you lost because of the effects of the accident is still one of the legal damages that you suffered in the state of Pennsylvania. It is also an economic damage because you can quickly determine how much income you lost through a conversation with your employer, a glance at your pay sheet, and a calculation of how many hours you missed on the job.
Additionally, many bike accidents end with severe injuries that debilitate you for long periods of time, or even permanently. If these injuries get in the way of you doing your job or prevent you from advancing in your profession – like if you work as a landscaper and the injuries sustained in the bike accident prevent you from standing for prolonged periods of time – then you can recover compensation for the earning capacity that you would have had, were it not for the crash.
Modifications to Your Home
While some bike accident injuries prevent you from working like you did before the crash, others make it difficult to even get around your own home. Many of the worst – like those that hurt your back, neck, or head, or lead to paralysis – require your home to be outfitted with things like wheelchair ramps or handicap bars to keep you mobile and safe. Because many of these home modifications are critically necessary for you to perform day-to-day tasks, and because they would not be needed were it not for the negligence of the person who caused the bike crash, the costs associated with them are recoverable in a personal injury lawsuit.
Non-Economic Damages in Bike Accidents
Non-economic damages are the losses you have sustained in the bicycle crash that is not easily distilled into a dollar amount. While economic damages are often meant to compensate you for outward injuries that you have suffered, non-economic damages aim to compensate you for internal injuries, like:
- The physical pain you have been through
- Your mental suffering, like your loss of life's enjoyments
- The emotional distress you and others went through because of the accident
- The loss of consortium your family members have been put through
While putting a dollar amount on these injuries is far more difficult, that does not mean that they are any less intense than the injuries that your economic damages aim to cover.
Compensation for Your Physical Pain
The most famous – and perhaps infamous – part of the non-economic damages that you can recover in a personal injury lawsuit after a bike crash is for your pain and suffering.
The pain aspect of this type of non-economic damage is meant to compensate you for the amount of pain that you suffered because of the injuries you sustained in the crash. Putting a dollar amount on your pain is tricky because not only are different injuries more or less painful but the agony of some last longer than others. Comparing road rash – which is incredibly painful, but only for a short period of time – with a broken pelvis – something that is still quite painful, and requires an extensive and painful recovery – can be difficult. Nevertheless, courts in Philadelphia put the question to a jury to determine how much you deserve to recover for the pain you have been put through, because of someone else's negligence.
Compensation for Your Suffering
The other half of your pain and suffering aims to compensate you for the loss of life's enjoyments that you now have to deal with, after the crash.
The suffering damages that come from bike accidents are often relatively high, at least when compared to other types of accidents in Philadelphia. This is because bikers often enjoy a very active lifestyle, and the injuries that they commonly sustain in a crash sidelines them from what they most enjoy doing, often for a long period of time. Being held away from your life's passion is depressing and difficult to deal with, especially when it is the result of an accident that you did not cause. It can leave you feeling victimized and hopeless.
While the injuries that you sustain from a bike accident can lead to long periods of mental and mental suffering, the memory of the crash, itself, can cause significant emotional distress both for the victim and for any witnesses who are closely tied to the victim.
If you were the victim in a bike accident, you can recover compensation for your own emotional distress that stems from the memory of the crash. This anxiety can be a huge difficulty in your life and can be costly, as well, as you seek psychotherapy to overcome the terrible memories of the incident. If you have outward, visible, or prominent scars from your injuries that serve as reminders of the terrible crash, this can be even more difficult. Because this anguish was only because of someone else's negligence, you should be compensated for what you have been put through.
Emotional distress is also one of the few types of damages that you can recover if you were not a victim of the crash. In the context of a bike accident, Pennsylvania's personal injury law allows two types of people to recover compensation for their emotional distress, even if they were not physically hurt in the accident:
- Those who were in the immediate zone of impact, but who escaped unharmed
- Bystanders who directly perceived a close family member get hurt in the bike crash
The idea behind allowing these people to recover compensation for their emotional distress is a recognition that even those who survive or escape a close encounter can still be scarred for life by the event, or can still suffer intensive flashbacks to the time when someone close to them was dreadfully hurt.
Loss of Consortium
The other type of non-economic damage that non-victims can receive compensation for after a bike accident is a loss of consortium. This is a derivative claim in a personal injury lawsuit that only the victim's spouse can utilize in Pennsylvania.
Compensation for loss of consortium recognizes that the victim and his or her spouse count on each other for many things and that the bike accident throws this tight relationship into uncertainty and difficulty. Allowing the victim's spouse to step into the lawsuit as a plaintiff and pursue a claim for compensation against the person who caused the bike accident is the law's way of ensuring that the spouse's interests in the situation are protected, as well.
Bike Accident Attorneys in Philadelphia: Gilman & Bedigian
The personal injury attorneys at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian represent all of those who have been hurt in a bike accident in the Philadelphia region. By advocating on your behalf and fighting for your rights and interests both inside the courtroom and outside of it, our skilled lawyers can take all the steps necessary for getting you the compensation that you need and deserve, even if you are pursuing a derivative claim for compensation for the injuries that a loved one has suffered.
Bike accidents are severe and the injuries that are often sustained in them can be life-changing. The treatment that is required to overcome these painful injuries is frequently long-lasting and can also be financially crippling, as well. That you would not have had to go through any of these adversities were it not for someone else's mistake or negligence can be the most difficult part of your case – it can leave you feeling victimized, powerless, and without hope.
Reach out to the personal injury and bike accident lawyers at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian for the legal help you need to recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us online.