One of the worst forms of accidents that can happen on the roads of Philadelphia are those that involve bikers. With little to protect themselves against an impact with the ground or with other vehicles, cyclists frequently suffer injuries far beyond what one would expect in a crash. These injuries often require extensive treatment and amass significant medical bills. Perhaps worst of all, the long-term repercussions that bikers face are often bad enough that they lose their ability to live the active and healthy lifestyle that they had been living, up until the moment of the crash.
What makes bike accidents even more frustrating for the victims is the fact that most of them are not caused by the cyclist. Instead, a majority of bike accidents in Philadelphia are caused by someone else, most frequently the driver of the car or truck that hit them.
The personal injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian represent injured bikers for all of these reasons. With our legal help, you can rest assured that everything is being done to recover the compensation that you need and deserve for the costs of the recovery you have been put through. Contact us online for effective legal representation.
Bike Accident Statistics in Philadelphia
Bike accidents are far from a rare occurrence in Philadelphia.
According to a 2015 report from the City of Philadelphia, which looked at data from the years 2009 through 2013, there was an average of 519 bike accidents in the city, every year. A significant portion of these crashes happened in the Center City area, particularly around the path of the Broad Street Line through the city. Another hot spot was in the University City neighborhood, along the Market-Frankford Line near the river.
Thankfully, very few of these bike accidents have proven to be fatal ones. In the time span covered by the study, there were fewer than five fatal bike crashes, every year, and none in 2013. Still, according to the Bicycle Coalition, the total number of bike and pedestrian fatalities in Philadelphia is staggering when compared to the total number of all traffic deaths: In 2017, 45% of the total number of traffic fatalities were bikers or walkers.
Looking at these numbers, though, it is also important to remember that a significant portion of the bike accidents that happen in the city go unreported, even if there were injuries in the crash. Many cyclists who get hit and only suffer minor injuries do not file a police report or otherwise document the incident. In some of these cases, the injuries that they have suffered in the crash were more severe than they anticipated, and seek medical attention later on.
Causes of Bike Accidents – Other Drivers
Most of the accidents involving bikers in Philadelphia were not the fault of the biker. Instead, they were caused by a variety of other factors. The most common of these factors was the driver of a motor vehicle.
In a 2012 report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it was discovered that 3% of those who had ridden a bike in the two years prior had been in a bike accident that required medical attention for their injuries. Out of these hurt cyclists, the driver of a motor vehicle caused their crash 29% of the time or nearly one out of every three.
When the bike accident and your injuries were caused by another driver, you deserve to be compensated for the costs of your recovery. After all, what you have suffered was not your fault, and it would be unfair to expect you to bear the cost of your treatment and your pain.
One of the most common causes of bike accidents that involve a motor vehicle is a distracted driver. When drivers try to multitask and split their attention between the road and something else, their ability to foresee road hazards and avoid dangerous conditions drops precipitously. If you are cycling on the side of the road and there is a distracted driver in your vicinity, the chances that you get hurt in a bike crash rise substantially.
The exact nature of the driver's distraction, unfortunately, can be almost anything that requires someone's attention and that is visible from the road. Some of the most common distractions that put bikers and others on the road at risk are:
- Calling someone on the phone
- Talking to a passenger
- Changing music on the radio or music player
- Adjusting a GPS device
- Applying makeup
Distractions like these can be costly. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than one out of every eight motor vehicle accidents that happened in the United States in 2015 was caused by a driver who was distracted. That ratio, however, only applies to the total number of vehicle crashes. When it comes to accidents between a motor vehicle and a bike, the number is likely even higher because drivers are already less likely to be paying attention to cyclists while on the road. The odds that a driver who is also distracted will see and account for a biker is even lower.
Distracted drivers belong to a larger category of people – negligent drivers. While distracted drivers have their attention split between the road and something else, negligent drivers are either not paying attention, at all, or are making other poor decisions while behind the wheel. Whether they are daydreaming or tired or misjudging how much space they are giving a biker while they pass them on the road, negligent drivers are all putting others at risk. This is particularly true for bikers, as even attentive drivers are less likely to take the extra means necessary to keep cyclists safe on the road.
Unfortunately, negligence takes on numerous different forms. When one of them is responsible for a bike accident that ends with you getting hurt, it would be unfair for you to have to pay for the costs associated with the crash, because you were not the one who caused it.
Another one of the most serious risks that bikers face on the roads of Philadelphia are drivers who are going above the speed limit. Not only do these drivers increase the likelihood of causing a bike accident through their lack of control of their vehicles; they also drastically increase the severity of any crash that they do cause.
When a driver speeds, their ability to react to road hazards is decreased because they are now traveling further distances in shorter times. Additionally, the speed makes it far more difficult for the driver to control his or her vehicle and be in the part of the road that they need to be in, to avoid a crash or provide enough space for a biker.
While this lack of reaction time and inability to control their vehicle makes it more likely for a crash to happen, the sheer speed at which a speeding driver is going makes any crash far more catastrophic. The force that a speeding vehicle brings into a bike accident is far more than what a law-abiding car brings, and that increased force makes the resulting impact much worse. With little safety gear to protect themselves against the crash, bikers are put at great risk by speeding drivers and the injuries they can suffer in a crash are much worse than normal.
Drunk or Drugged Drivers
If speeding drivers put bikers at risk of a crash in Philadelphia, drunk drivers and drugged drivers are even worse. Their inebriation makes them utterly unable to recognize road dangers, and prevent them from taking the proper precautions in the event that they do see a biker on the side of the road. The NHTSA put numbers on the dangers that inebriated drivers cause on the roads of the U.S. – in 2015, 29% of all traffic fatalities came at the hands of someone who had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit of 0.08%. While many of these fatalities came in single-vehicle accidents involving only the intoxicated driver, many others took the lives of an innocent person or biker.
Admittedly, cyclists are less likely to be put in harm's way by an intoxicated driver because these drivers tend to be on the road at night or very early in the morning when nearly all bikers are off the roads. However, the city of Philadelphia is known as one that likes to party, increasing the chances of a bike crash caused by a drunk driver just enough to make it worth worrying about.
Bike Accidents Caused by Drivers Who Open Car Doors
Yet another way for bike accidents to be caused by motor vehicles does not even require the car or truck to be moving or even turned on. Many drivers who are parked on the side of the streets in Philadelphia open their doors wide without looking over their shoulder to make sure there is no one coming. If you are a biker and are passing one of these vehicles at just the wrong time, you can get “doored” and suffer serious injuries in the accident if you have no time to take evasive maneuvers. If you do have time to avoid the door that has opened right into your path, the outcome can be even worse – you could automatically swerve into traffic and cause a crash, there.
Thankfully, Pennsylvania does have a law that can help. 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §3705 states that drivers cannot open “any door on a motor vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic.” Violating this law opens a driver up to liability for the injuries that they caused as a result of their negligence in opening their door.
Road Conditions Can Cause Bike Accidents
While the NHTSA report found that 29% of bike accidents were caused by a motor vehicle, it also found that another 13% of the injury-producing bike crashes were the result of a poor road condition. These crashes might seem like the biker's fault because they were typically the only ones involved in the accident. However, if the condition of the road or bike path that they were on was so bad that they could not have anticipated or avoided the crash, then the biker was not really the one who caused the accident. Instead, it was the person or the organization that was responsible for keeping the road or bike path clear and safe to use. In Philadelphia, where many of the roads are kept in “authentic” condition or made out of cobblestones, this can pose a significant problem for bikers.
Unfortunately, cases that stem from a bike accident caused by a poor road condition can be tricky because it was usually the city of Philadelphia who was responsible for keeping the road in good condition. Suing a town, municipality, or city in Pennsylvania is difficult because of the procedural hurdles that these organizations have put in place to protect them – and their taxpayer's money – from a lawsuit.
With that said, though, suing the city of Philadelphia for a bike accident that happened within city limits because of the dangerous condition of a road or bike path is not impossible. It just requires some extra steps. The personal injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian know how to pursue these claims and get you the compensation you need to pay for the injuries that only happened because of the city's negligence or inability to keep the roads maintained.
Bike Crashes and Aggressive Dogs
One of the more surprising discoveries in the NHTSA's report on the causes of bike crashes was that 4% of them were caused by dogs.
When an aggressive or territorial pet sees an incoming biker about to pass their house or near their owner, they can rush out at the biker and try to attack. If the biker does not see this attack coming, he or she can be so surprised that they veer out into traffic as an instinctual reaction and lead to a crash far worse than if the dog caught them.
Even in these cases where an attacking dog was only the first in a chain of events that led to a bike accident, the owner of the dog can still be held liable for the actions of their pet. This is true especially if the owner did not take reasonable precautions for restraining their animal and preventing the dog from causing a foreseeable crash.
Defective Bikes and Crashes
Finally, some bike accidents in Philadelphia are the result of something wrong or defective with the bike that the cyclist was riding at the time of the crash. Whether it was a wheel that broke, a tire that blew, a brake that slid, or a derailleur that suddenly switched gears and made you lose control of your bike, these defects can cause a bike accident that might not have been the fault of the cyclist.
In these cases, liability can reach back to the mechanic who tried to fix the part, but failed to do so, or even to the company that manufactured or designed the part before you even bought the bike. If their negligence was enough to foreseeably cause an accident, and you get hurt in the crash, then they can be held liable for your injuries through a personal injury lawsuit based on product liability law.
Injuries Commonly Suffered in a Bike Accident
While every bike crash is different, and each biker gets hurt in different ways that require a unique set of treatments, there are some injuries that are more common after a bike crash than others. Obviously, the kinds of injuries that you suffer will vary depending on the severity of the crash – when a truck hits a biker at high speeds, the cyclist will likely suffer different injuries than if the biker merely fell from their bike because of a pothole in a bike lane.
In spite of all of these variables that contribute to a bike crash, there are still some injuries that surface after a bike crash more than others.
One of those kinds of injuries that happen frequently after a bike accident is road rash. In nearly all bike accidents – from those that begin with a collision with a motor vehicle to those that happen when the biker loses control of their bike and falls because of a defective wheel – the cyclist ends up getting thrown from his or her bike. When the biker hits the ground, it is frequently on rough concrete, and the latent momentum from the speed of their ride makes the contact with the ground come at enough of an angle that the biker will likely be badly scraped from the fall.
In the short term, road rash is one of the most painful injuries that you can suffer in a bike accident. Having the outer layers of your skin scraped and burned off can be enough to numb any other pain that you should be feeling from the crash. The immediate care that is necessary for road rash is not much better, either – doctors and nurses have to scrub the affected area to clean and disinfect the wound.
While incredibly painful, intensely cleaning road rash is essential because your skin is your first and strongest line of defense against bacteria and infection. When compromised on such a large scale as with road rash, the risk of suffering a serious and life-threatening infection is very real.
Unfortunately, even after the immediate and significant health dangers of road rash are gone, the injury frequently leaves its victims with a significant scar as a token of their difficult ordeal. Such a prominent disfigurement can cause emotional distress from the constant visual reminder of the life-changing incident.
Another very common injury that bikers suffer in a crash is to their wrist. While far less serious than more other symptoms that commonly result from a bike accident, wrist injuries are so common in bike accidents that it would be remiss not to cover them.
Most wrist injuries, like road rash, come from when a biker gets thrown from his or her bike and to the ground. A natural instinct is to put out your hand to try to break your fall. While this does often reduce the force that the rest of your body experiences when you hit the ground, your wrist, hand, and forearm bear the brunt of the impact. At the very least, you can suffer a significant wrist sprain that keeps you out of action for a couple of weeks. In the worst cases, though, you can break your wrist, hand, and arm in complicated ways that require several surgeries to fully correct.
Unfortunately, wrist injuries like these are almost impossible to avoid. Throwing your hand out to break your fall and protect the rest of your body is a natural and almost subconscious reaction that has been ingrained in our minds over thousands of years. Reminding yourself not to put your wrist into harm's way and keep it at your side for a perhaps more effective falling technique is not something that many people are able to do, particularly in the heat of the moment of a bike crash.
Leg injuries are also very common for cyclists to suffer in bike crashes in Philadelphia. These types of injuries are especially prominent when a biker was hit by a motor vehicle, and in particular when that collision came from the side. Bike crashes like these often end with the cyclist suffering terrible injuries to his or her feet, ankles, knees, shins, femur, and pelvis.
Injuries like these can be very painful and also debilitating over the long term. Broken femurs, a broken pelvis, and torn knee ligaments – like the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the meniscus – are among the most painful injuries that you can suffer in a bike crash. Worse, the rehabilitation required to heal these injuries is among the most physically intense in the medical field.
This intensive rehabilitation process, together with the fact that many people fail to fully recover after some of the worst leg injuries that are possible in a bike crash, poses an extra difficulty for bikers. Because cyclists favor an active and healthy lifestyle that focuses on exercise and athleticism, they are far more likely to suffer mentally and emotionally from being sidelined by a leg injury sustained in a bike crash. While they progress through the long road to recovery, bikers will be unable to pursue the activity that gave them so much joy before the crash. This long spell of inactivity can weigh heavily on their psyche as they lose one of their life's chief enjoyments. If the healing and rehabilitation process does not bring them back to their prior levels of competition, it can serve as a reminder of the crash, which can be another source of emotional distress.
None of these long-lasting repercussions of the crash are the fault of the injured biker. Getting compensation from the person who ultimately caused the crash can be a huge part of your recovery process.
Back Injuries from Bike Crashes
Back injuries are also relatively common in bike accidents in the Philadelphia area, especially when the accident was caused by a car or truck. The impact in these collisions is often enough to jolt the biker in strange ways that their back muscles were poorly designed to deal with. The strains or tears to the back muscles that this impact can cause are not minor, and have widespread effects on the rest of the biker's body, as so much movement relies on these muscles.
For example, whiplash is a common injury that happens in bike accidents that were caused by a motor vehicle. While whiplash is a catch-all term for a whole host of muscle, tendon, and ligament strains and tears in the back, neck, and core, the vagueness of a whiplash injury betrays its severity – even minor bike crashes can lead to whiplash if the circumstances are right.
However, back injuries can also come in more evidently serious forms, like spinal fractures. These injuries are more likely the result of the fall that most bikers experience right after being hit by a motor vehicle, and can create nerve damage or even paralyzing injuries that drastically impact your quality of life.
The worst kind of injury that is relatively common in bike crashes is one to your head. Even the most athletic cyclist can hit their head when they fall from their bike, especially if they were thrown from their ride after a collision with a motor vehicle that came with such force that it disoriented them.
While wearing a helmet is known to protect bikers from head injuries, the worst bike accidents are so severe that you can still suffer one if you had one on and were wearing it correctly. Bike accidents involving cyclists who were not wearing helmets, though, often turn into fatal ones if the biker hits his or her head in their fall.
Fatal Bike Crashes
Finally, there are some bike accidents in Philadelphia that are so serious that the biker suffers fatal injuries. Because the biker themselves cannot protect their rights and interests in a personal injury lawsuit, the state of Pennsylvania allows wrongful death claims to be brought on behalf of the victim by their spouse, children, parent, or personal representative. While these wrongful death claims will not bring back your loved one, they can defray the often exorbitant costs of their medical bills and your other legal damages.
Types of Treatment for Bike Accident Injuries
After a bike crash in Philadelphia, you will likely have been hurt in a variety of ways. Many of these are in the form of painful physical injuries that require extensive treatment in order to heal properly. Before you have made a full recovery, the financial toll of all of this treatment often becomes eye-popping.
When you were not the one who was ultimately responsible for the crash happening, it can be frustrating and seem unfair to have to cover the costs of your own recovery. You had nothing to do with the crash happening, aside from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Recovering the compensation that you need and that you deserve for all of the treatment that you have had to receive is an important part of your recovery process, as well.
The first kind of medical attention that you will often need after a bike crash in Philadelphia is focused on stabilizing your injuries and getting you the care you need, immediately. This often includes:
- On-site treatment by emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
- An ambulance ride to the hospital
- In-transit care
- Emergency room treatment
- Cleaning and disinfecting road rash and other open injuries
- Sutures and stitches for lacerations and other open wounds
- Setting, casting, or splinting broken bones or other fractures
- Emergency surgeries to control life-threatening medical conditions
The extent of the emergency care that you need depends on the severity of the crash. Minor bike accidents rarely require emergency treatment, while serious crashes can lead to numerous emergency procedures.
Unfortunately, the immediate necessity of these treatments comes with a hefty price tag because hospitals and insurance companies understand that they can charge exorbitant amounts for the care that you need, immediately. Compensation for these costs is a huge part of a personal injury lawsuit.
Surgeries, Including Plastic Surgery
The worst injuries that you suffer in a bike accident often require one or more surgeries to recover from. Of course, the complexity and immediate need for each one of these procedures spans a huge range of possibilities. Both of these factors will strongly influence how much each surgical procedure will cost, and how much compensation you deserve.
On one end of the spectrum are surgeries that are relatively minor and not immediately necessary. These are often to fix small medical issues that are preventing you from making a complete recovery from the crash, like a slightly decreased range of motion in your hand after a wrist injury. Surgeries like these are far from life-saving and can be performed months or even years after the crash and still be effective. While they will still impact the quality of your life, the gains that they offer are minor when compared to other surgeries.
On the other end of the spectrum are the procedures that you need immediately, or that are necessary to take a huge leap forward in your recovery process. Surgical procedures like these are common when the injuries you have suffered include things like head, neck, or back injuries that can drastically impact your quality of life by reducing your range of motion or causing chronic pain.
Finally, it is important to note the place of plastic surgeries in this range of possible procedures. While many bike accident victims frown on the idea of plastic surgeries as something only vain people do, these procedures can nevertheless be an important part of your recovery if you have been left with prominent disfigurements from the crash. Plastic surgery can help cover these up, prevent them from serving as constant reminders of your terrible ordeal, and causing emotional distress for years after the accident.
Psychotherapy Also Helps Treat Your Injuries
Similar to the benefits of plastic surgery, psychotherapy can also be an integral part of your recovery after a bike accident. While the physical trauma of these crashes can be intense, overlooking the impact that the accident has had on your mind and psyche can ignore one of the worst injuries you have suffered. Getting medical help from a therapist can help you overcome the mental and emotional difficulties that you have suffered at the hands of the person who caused the crash, helping you to a full recovery that includes the mental trauma you have faced, as well.
Once the medical procedures are over and done with and you can see the end of your road to recovery, there is still the problem of returning to the strength and mobility that you enjoyed, before the bike accident.
This is where physical therapy comes in.
By providing you with a structured environment and professional oversight where you can develop the strength you need in the muscles that have been compromised the most, you can rebuild your strength, mobility, and athletic abilities back towards what you had, before the crash. Often a crucial aspect of your treatment towards the end of your recovery, physical therapy can help you not just heal from the accident, but fully and completely recover.
The worst types of injuries that you can suffer in a bike crash often require occupational therapy, which helps you perform basic tasks before you can move on to physical therapy. Back, head, and neck injuries that have debilitating and long-term effects on other parts of your body, including nerve injuries and paralysis, often require occupational therapy so you can relearn how to walk, talk, or perform basic motor skills. Going through occupational therapy is often the very first step on a very long road to recovery that victims of severe bike accidents have to undergo.
Your Legal Damages from a Bike Accident in Philadelphia
All of this treatment comes with a hefty price tag. Asking you to pay it when the crash was no fault of your own would be unfair.
Hiring a personal injury attorney to file a lawsuit on your behalf is the best way to put the costs of the crash where they should fall – at the feet of the person who was ultimately responsible for you getting hurt.
In the state of Pennsylvania, those costs are encapsulated in your legal damages. By totaling the amount of legal damages that you have suffered from the crash, you can determine the amount of compensation that you deserve to recover.
Our state recognizes two different types of legal damages: Economic damages and non-economic damages. Both of these types of damages are composed of smaller categories. Some of these categories will be more prevalent in some bike crashes than others, though most bike accidents create a wide variety of legal damages that span at least several of these smaller categories. How those damages amount will have a huge influence on the outcome of your case.
The losses that you have suffered in the bike crash that can easily be distilled into a dollar amount are your economic damages. Usually – though not always – they appear on bills that you have had to pay at some point on your road to recovery. Other times they are reflected in the absence of income that you stood to make, were it not for the bike accident that held you out of work.
The extent of your economic damages is far-reaching and goes way beyond just the medical bills that you have incurred. In the state of Pennsylvania, personal injury law recognizes the following types of economic damages that you can recover in a lawsuit:
- The cost of medical bills that you have paid
- The likely cost of medical bills you will accumulate in the future
- Wages and income that you lost while you were recovering
- Any loss to your ability to earn income, in the future
- The costs of property damage you sustained
- The price of any modifications you have had to make to your home
The Cost of Your Medical Bills
The most prominent part of your legal damages from a bike crash is the cost of the medical attention and treatment that you have needed to recover from the accident. Out of all of the legal damages that you can suffer, medical expenses are the most common because nearly all bike crashes cause some sort of injury to the cyclist.
Just because your medical expenses are the most obvious loss you have incurred in the crash, though, does not make them the only type of legal damage you have suffered. Unlike what you are likely to hear from an insurance company's initial offer, the costs of your injuries are not just limited to your out-of-pocket medical expenses.
The Cost of Your Future Medical Expenses
Pennsylvania personal injury law has a statute of limitations that only gives you two years after the bike crash to file a lawsuit. Just because you still have medical expenses to pay after those two years, though, does not mean that you are out of luck. Pennsylvania's personal injury law allows you to still recover expenses that have not vested yet if you can show that those expenses are substantially likely to happen and predict how much they will cost.
Recovering compensation for your future medical expenses is essential if the injuries that you suffered in the bike crash have long-term repercussions or cause debilitations that are permanent. Injuries to your head, your neck, or your back often cause nerve damage, chronic pain, or paralysis that require years of occupational therapy to recover from or have complications that permanently disable you. In either case, you are likely to need long-term help with an in-home nurse, or occupational and physical therapy sessions that last for decades.
Just because the costs for these treatments – treatments that are necessary for your recovery – fall outside of the two-year statute of limitations does not mean that you cannot recover them in a personal injury lawsuit. Such a harsh result is unfair, and the law recognizes it. Having a personal injury attorney on hand to help you determine the likely cost of your future expenses is an essential aspect of your case after a severe bike accident.
The Cost of Home Modifications
The cost of modifications to your home only comes up in a small handful of the worst bike accident cases. However, just because it is relatively rare does not mean that you cannot recover these costs in a personal injury claim. They are as much a part of your legal damages and financial losses as your medical bills, and denying you the recovery for an expense that you would have had to make, were it not for the negligence of someone else, would be unfair.
Home modifications are most common when the injuries you suffered in the bike accident were enough to severely hamper your mobility. Back injuries as well as serious leg injuries, including injuries to your pelvis, often put you in a wheelchair for extended periods of time. If your house is not accessible, installing a wheelchair ramp is critical. In other instances, renovating your bathroom so you can access the shower is a big piece of the puzzle.
Regardless of the details, if the modification to your home is necessary for your living situation while you recover or as you deal with your injuries, there is no reason why you should be the one to foot the bill.
The income that you would have made, but missed out on because of the crash, can also be recovered in a successful personal injury lawsuit.
Often overlooked because it was not necessarily an expense, your lost income nevertheless represents money that you would have had, were it not for the bike accident that put you into recovery mode.
Of course, the amount that you can recover in lost income depends on your job and on how long you missed work. For some bikers who are not the primary breadwinners for their family, it might not amount to much. For others, it can be quite substantial. Talking to your attorney as well as your boss can help you determine how much you deserve to be compensated for your lost wages.
Lost Earning Potential
The professional consequences of the injuries that you suffer in a bike accident are not confined to the amount of time you missed work. If your injuries are severe enough or impair your ability to do your job, you can face additional problems in your professional life even after you return to your previous position.
For example, if you work as a carpenter but suffer a severe wrist injury in a bike accident that significantly reduces your mobility, you might not be able to work at full capacity after you get back on the job. You might take a pay cut after being reassigned to a different position that you are able to perform at full capacity, or could even lose your job in its entirety.
Just like with lost wages from a bike accident, the earning potential you can lose will depend largely on the job you held before the crash. Regardless, you deserve to be compensated for the blow to your professional life.
Finally, nearly all bike accidents come with some form of property damage for the biker, particularly when the crash involved a motor vehicle of some type. Once again, because the cost of repairing or replacing what you have lost was only the result of someone else's negligence, there is no reason why you should be the one to pay.
While the cost of repairing or replacing your bike might not be very much for some victims, others have poured thousands of dollars into their ride. Whether that investment went into the frame, seat, or derailleur, for avid recreational cyclists, or into panniers and expensive locks, for commuters, you deserve to recover the losses that you suffered at the hands of someone else.
Non-Economic Damages from Bike Accidents
There are also losses that you can sustain in a Philadelphia bike crash that are much more difficult to describe in a dollar amount. These are your non-economic damages, and reflect the internal, non-physical ways that you have suffered. They include:
- The pain you experienced
- The loss of life's enjoyments you have suffered
- The emotional distress that you and others experienced
- Your family's loss of consortium
Even though these types of losses can be difficult to compare, Pennsylvania's personal injury law deals with these complexities by simply putting them to the jury in trial. Unfortunately, by telling jurors to come up with dollar amounts for the often inexpressible non-economic damages that you have suffered in the bike crash, the outcome can be difficult to predict. Having a skilled litigation and personal injury attorney present your case to the jury can make a big difference in getting the compensation you truly deserve.
Compensation for Your Pain
Many people are familiar with the phrase “pain and suffering” and its role in personal injury cases. However, these two types of non-economic damage are distinct in important ways.
The part that is meant to compensate you for your pain focuses on the negative feeling of agony that accompanies physical injuries. Traumatic injuries like road rash, a broken femur, or even a sprained wrist all come with pain – a pain that you would not have experienced were it not for the poor conduct or negligence of the person who caused the bike accident. Because this pain was not your fault, but you were forced to experience it, anyway, Pennsylvania's personal injury law holds whoever caused the crash liable for what you have been through.
Unfortunately, assigning a dollar amount for the pain that you have suffered is incredibly tricky because pain is an internal emotion that cannot be felt by anyone else. While it is evident that some injuries are more painful than others – a broken pelvis is clearly more painful than a sprained toe – comparing similar injuries to one another becomes difficult. Adding complexity to the issue is the fact that some injuries, like road rash, are incredibly painful for a short period of time, while others, like chronic pain after a wrist injury, can be dull but long-term.
Despite these complexities, the fact remains that there is no good reason why you should not be compensated for going through a painful experience that was no fault of your own.
Compensation for Suffering and the Loss of Life's Enjoyments
The other half of the pain and suffering equation deals not with the painful feeling you experience from your injuries, but rather with the mental and emotional emptiness that you can feel from the results of those injuries. Because these feelings of emptiness stem from an accident that you did not cause, you deserve to be compensated for them.
For example, a cyclist who derives great pleasure from going on long bike rides in the Philadelphia area, but who suffers a terrible injury to his or her leg after a bike crash, can feel depressed and bored from the fact that they can no longer go on the trips they used to enjoy so much.
This internal suffering can be as debilitating as the pain that a bike accident victim can feel. You deserve to be compensated for it.
The Emotional Distress to Yourself and to Others
While your suffering and the loss of life's enjoyments focuses on the emotional trauma that your injuries cause, the event of the bike crash can also create emotional scarring, as well. Unlike your suffering, though, the law recognizes that both you, as the victim of the bike accident, as well as innocent bystanders, can suffer emotionally from the sights and sounds of a crash.
Victims of a bike crash can be understandably scarred and mentally troubled by the memory of the crash. The sight of an oncoming vehicle in the instant before the collision can haunt the mind of even the most steadfast and stoic person. For many others, it can lead to restless nights, nightmares, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and all of the medical conditions that those symptoms can lead to. None of these problems would have happened if the person who caused the accident was acting reasonably, so there is no reason why you should not be compensated.
Pennsylvania personal injury law, however, also recognizes that people near the accident can also feel emotional distress from the incident, whether because they so narrowly escaped the danger or because they directly perceived a close family member getting severely hurt. In either one of these cases, you can file a derivative claim for compensation even though you were not directly and physically hurt by the accident.
Your Family's Loss of Consortium
Finally, injuries and victims of bike accidents do not exist in a vacuum. People are not isolated from each other, and other people feel the effects of a serious bike accident, too. As those effects only happened because of someone else's negligence, they are as compensable as the physical injuries that happened to the crash's direct victim.
If you have a family and you got hurt in a bike accident, your family members can also file a derivative personal injury claim for the often intangible effects that the crash has had on their lives. For example, your spouse can make a claim for loss of consortium based on the impact the accident has had to your marriage, particularly if the injuries you suffered leave you incapacitated and unable to provide for your spouse or the rest of your family.
Philadelphia Bike Accident Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
The personal injury attorneys at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian strive to represent anyone who has been hurt in a bike accident in or near the city of Philadelphia. By fighting for your rights and interests both inside the courtroom and outside of it, we can do all there is to be done to recover the compensation that you need and deserve from the people who caused you so much pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a bike accident in Philadelphia, contact us online for the legal representation you need to preserve your rights to compensation, protect your financial future, and overcome the obstacles thrown in your path by this terrible accident.