Cycling has long been a popular form of exercise and recreation in the area.
Unfortunately, vehicle drivers are not always respectful of cyclists and their right to use the roads. If a collision occurs between a driver and a bicyclist, the resulting harm can be devastating, if not deadly.
If a motorist’s failure to be attentive to cyclists is the cause of your or a loved one’s bike crash, you may benefit from speaking with an experienced injury attorney. A Bucks County bicycle accident lawyer could help you seek damages to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Pennsylvania Laws Protecting Cyclists
The Commonwealth has several laws that are intended to keep cyclists safe. Children aged 12 and under must wear bicycle helmets by law. While helmets are not required for older children and adults, wearing one is beneficial not just for safety reasons, but also for legal reasons. A biker who is not wearing a helmet and suffers head injuries in a crash may be deemed partially responsible for their injuries.
75 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated §3303, requires motor vehicle drivers to pass cyclists on the left with at least four feet of space between the bicycle and the vehicle. This law also requires motorists to reduce their speed when passing someone riding a bicycle. If a motorist fails to observe these precautions and crashes into a biker, their failure to obey the law could be used as evidence of negligence against them by a Bucks County attorney.
Pennsylvania also has a law meant to reduce “dooring,” or a motorist opening the door of their vehicle into the path of an oncoming bicyclist. It requires motorists to ensure that it is reasonably safe for them to open the vehicle door before doing so, and leave the door open for no longer than is required to discharge passengers.
A skilled local lawyer can investigate the circumstances of a bicycle accident and determine whether any laws were broken. If so, that information could be used against the lawbreaker to establish negligence and liability for the cyclist’s injuries.
Potentially Liable Parties in Bike Crash
The motorist involved in a crash with a biker could be responsible, but other parties may potentially be negligent, and therefore partially liable. For instance, mechanical failure and poor road conditions also often play a role in causing crashes. A dedicated attorney in Bucks County could perform a thorough investigation to determine the identity of all the parties whose negligence may have contributed to an accident and bring a claim against all of them on behalf of an injured bicyclist.
If road conditions or road markings cause an accident, the governmental entity responsible for maintenance may have liability. If mechanical failure was an issue, the manufacturers might be liable. Additionally, should the motorist be driving as part of their work, their employer could have liability, as well.
Comparative Negligence in Bucks County
Pennsylvania law requires that each party in a wreck, including the injured person, be responsible for their own actions. However, even if a cyclist’s negligence contributed to their accident and resulting injuries, they could collect damages from other negligent parties in certain circumstances.
If an injury case goes to trial, the judge will hear the evidence and make a decision apportioning responsibility among the parties. If the judge assigns the plaintiff less than 50 percent of the blame for the accident, the plaintiff may collect a damage award that is reduced by their percentage of fault.
Compensatory Damages Available to Bucks County Cyclists
Monetary damages are awarded to compensate a biker for all their losses related to their accident which are often extensive. A capable Bucks County attorney can help an injured cyclist and their family document all the expenses and lifestyle changes they have experienced because of their bike accident.
Economic damages are quantifiable expenses that the injured person has either incurred or expects to incur in the future. These could include:
- Medical treatment related to the injury
- Medical care that will likely be required in the future
- Costs of necessary rehabilitation
- Ancillary expenses related to securing medical treatment
- Mental health care to deal with the emotional impact of the injury
- Expenses associated with accommodating any permanent disability the accident caused
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning opportunities if the injury will prevent the cyclist from resuming their prior employment
Non-economic damages compensate the injured bicyclist and their family for the intangible impact of an injury on their quality of life. Non-economic damages are awarded for pain and suffering, disfigurement, embarrassment, humiliation, and lost quality of life. A spouse could also seek non-economic damages for loss of consortium.
Many states limit the amount that a judge or jury could award in non-economic damages, but the Commonwealth does not. A judge or jury is free to award any amount of non-economic damages that seems appropriate in a particular case.
When are Punitive Damages Awarded?
Although compensatory damages could be awarded in any personal injury lawsuit, punitive damages are reserved for situations in which a defendant’s behavior is especially outrageous or malicious. As the name implies, punitive damages are intended to punish conduct that demonstrates a willful disregard for others’ wellbeing.
Notably, neither the Commonwealth nor a local government or agency within the Commonwealth can be held liable for punitive damages. Additionally, simple negligence does not justify an award of punitive damages.
For example, if a motorist intentionally ran a cyclist off the road, causing them significant injury, the cyclist might consider seeking punitive damages. A motorist who hit a cyclist while driving drunk also might be subject to punitive damages. A savvy injury lawyer in the area can evaluate the circumstances of a particular incident to determine whether seeking punitive damages might be appropriate.
Reach Out to a Bicycle Accident Attorney in Bucks County
If you were struck by a negligent driver when riding your bike, you could be eligible for legal recourse. Seeking guidance from a qualified legal representative could put you in a better position for a successful claim. However, you have a limited time to bring a lawsuit, so contact a Bucks County bicycle accident lawyer right away to schedule a complimentary case review.