Bicycling is an important part of Washington’s recreation and transportation cultures. The state has even been recognized numerous times by the League of American Bicyclists as the most “bicycle-friendly state” in the country.
Even so, bicycle crashes can and do occur and the effects can be devastating for a victim and his or her family. You may have the right to pursue compensation if you or a close family member suffered injury in a bike accident.
Compensation may be available to address your financial and physical losses, such as:
- pain and suffering;
- medical costs; and
- lost income.
Washington is a fault-based state, meaning you may pursue compensation from the auto insurance coverage of the liable driver. You may also file a lawsuit against the driver or any other negligent parties who are liable for the accident.
We understand the stress and uncertainty that can accompany a personal injury action. Below, we have provided information to help you better understand your options for financial recovery.
What must I prove if I pursue action against a negligent driver?
Your case is based on the assertion that another person – typically the driver – acted with negligence. You must prove he or she is liable for your damages, such as physical injuries.
This requires you to prove the four elements of negligence:
- the defendant owed you a duty of care (for example, a driver has a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing injury to others);
- the defendant violated the duty of care (for instance, by speeding through a red light or violating the state’s law against texting while driving);
- the defendant’s actions caused your injuries (you may not sue for unrelated losses, such as pre-existing damage to your bicycle); and
- you suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s actions (for instance, medical bills and lost wages).
Your claim should provide ample evidence to support the elements of negligence. For instance, a witness statement may help prove a defendant was acting negligently by weaving in and out of traffic at the time of the crash. Meanwhile, doctors’ bills and x-rays may help illustrate the damages you or your loved one has incurred.
Can I still collect compensation if I was partially to blame for the crash?
You may still pursue compensation if you or your injured loved one was partially to blame for the bicycle accident. However, Washington’s model of comparative negligence – per chapter 4, section 22 of the RCW – reduces a plaintiff’s settlement or award in direct correlation to his or her degree of fault.
This model establishes a financial incentive in minimizing your liability for the accident. Example: If you hold 10 percent of the blame for an accident, a settlement of $100,000 would be reduced by $10,000. The final settlement would be $90,000. There is value in presenting substantial evidence to support your claim.
How can I learn more about my case?
You have just three years from the date of injury to file a personal injury case, so take advantage of Deno Millikan’s free case consultations by calling (425) 259-2222.