While bicycle accidents may be less frequent compared to motor vehicle collisions, they carry a disproportionately high risk of resulting in severe and often fatal injuries. These incidents leave bicyclists particularly vulnerable to catastrophic harm, and tragically, the potential for loss of life looms large.
In the aftermath of a bicycle-motor vehicle collision, common perception often places blame squarely on the cyclist. However, the responsibility frequently rests with careless and reckless motorists. Should you or a family member suffer catastrophic injuries because of a bicycle accident, seek the help of a personal injury lawyer. At Dallas Horton & Associates, we are advocates for bicycle accident victims in Las Vegas, ensuring they secure the equitable compensation they rightfully deserve. Our unwavering dedication facilitates your recovery journey and strives for a favorable outcome.
Filing a Bicycle Accident Lawsuit in Nevada
Filing a bicycle accident lawsuit in Nevada is a process that requires careful consideration and adherence to legal procedures. In the unfortunate event that you've been involved in a bicycle accident, you follow certain procedures.
The first and foremost step after a bicycle accident, even if you feel fine initially, is to seek immediate medical attention. Injuries sustained in accidents may not always manifest right away due to the adrenaline rush and shock. It's crucial to have a medical professional assess your condition thoroughly.
In many cases, personal injury cases, including bicycle accidents, can be resolved through negotiation and settlement. This involves discussions between your attorney and the at-fault party (or parties) to reach an agreement on compensation for your injuries and damages. Negotiation can be a faster and less stressful way to resolve a case without going to trial.
If negotiations fail to yield a satisfactory settlement or if the at-fault party's insurance defense firm refuses to provide fair compensation, your attorney may recommend taking the bicycle accident case to trial. Trial preparation is an extensive process that involves gathering evidence, including:
- Video surveillance footage from nearby security cameras or other sources captured the accident.
- Medical records and expert medical testimony to establish the extent and impact of your injuries.
- Eyewitness accounts. These provide valuable insights into what occurred.
- Accident reconstruction expert testimony. Experts may be called upon to reconstruct the accident and determine liability.
- Weather reports and conditions at the time of the accident. These can be relevant to the case.
- Police reports by officers who responded to the accident scene.
During a bicycle accident lawsuit, your attorney will have the responsibility to prove "by a preponderance of the evidence" that the defendants were liable for the accident. This burden of proof is lower than what is required in criminal trials, where guilt must be established "beyond a reasonable doubt." Negotiations can continue even after the trial has commenced. In many cases, defendants may become more willing to settle when they realize that the trial is not proceeding in their favor. This ongoing negotiation process aims to reach a fair resolution for all parties involved.
Liable Parties in a Bicycle Accident
Determining whom to sue in the aftermath of a bicycle accident in Nevada is a critical aspect of pursuing legal action. The responsible party or parties must be held accountable for their actions or negligence. Potential defendants include:
The Other Motor Vehicle Driver or Bicycle Rider
One of the primary parties you may consider suing is the other motor vehicle driver involved in the accident or even another bicycle rider, if applicable. This is especially relevant when their actions directly contributed to the accident. Some common scenarios include:
- If the other driver or rider failed to yield the right-of-way, drove in a designated bike lane, or engaged in reckless behavior, they may be liable for your injuries.
- "Dooring" occurs when a motor vehicle occupant opens a car door without looking first, leading to a collision with a passing cyclist. In such cases, the driver may be at fault for not exercising due care.
The Bike Manufacturer
If the bicycle was defective in some way, the manufacturer could be liable for your injuries. Defects can occur in various forms, such as design flaws, manufacturing errors, or inadequate warnings about potential dangers associated with the bike's use.
The City or County
Poor road maintenance can also contribute to bicycle accidents. If the accident resulted from road conditions, such as potholes, obscured stop signs, or other hazards caused by negligence on the part of the city or county, they may be considered liable.
The Bike Helmet Manufacturer
Bicycle helmets are designed to protect riders in the event of an accident. However, if your helmet fails to provide adequate protection, leading to more serious injuries, the manufacturer of the helmet might be a potential defendant.
What Can I Sue For?
When pursuing a bicycle accident lawsuit in Nevada, it's crucial to understand the various legal claims and the types of damages you can seek. Each claim serves a specific purpose in addressing the injuries and losses you've experienced due to the accident.
Negligence and Negligence Per Se
Negligence is a fundamental legal claim in bicycle accident cases in Nevada. To establish a negligence claim, you must prove three essential elements:
- Duty of Care - The defendant owed a duty of care to you as a road user. In the context of bicycle accidents, all road users, including drivers and cyclists, have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly.
- Breach of Duty - The defendant breached their duty of care through their actions or negligence. This breach could include behaviors like failing to yield the right-of-way, disregarding traffic signals, or engaging in distracted driving.
- Causation - The defendant's breach of duty directly caused your injuries. You must demonstrate that the negligent actions of the defendant were a substantial factor in the occurrence of the accident and your subsequent injuries.
In bicycle accident cases, negligence claims are often pursued against the other driver or cyclist involved in the accident. These claims seek to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions and recover compensation for the damages and injuries you suffered due to their negligence.
Negligence claims can be complex, and gathering evidence to establish each element is crucial. This evidence may include eyewitness testimony, accident reports, medical records, and expert opinions. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process of proving negligence and seeking the compensation you deserve.
Product liability is a legal claim that focuses on the bike itself when it's considered a factor in the accident. To establish product liability, four critical elements must be proven:
- Defective Bike - It must be demonstrated that the bicycle was defective in some way. Defects can take various forms, including design flaws, manufacturing errors, or inadequate warnings about potential dangers associated with the bike's use.
- Defect at the Time of Sale - The defect must have existed when the bicycle left the possession of the manufacturer or retailer. This means that the bike was flawed before it even reached the consumer.
- Foreseeable Use - The bicycle must have been used in a manner that was reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer. This includes typical and expected uses of the product.
- Causation - The defect in the bicycle must have directly caused your injury. It's essential to establish a direct link between the bicycle's defect and the accident that led to your injuries.
In bicycle accident cases where there are no other vehicles involved in the crash, and the bicycle itself is considered a potential cause of the accident, a product liability claim may be pursued. This claim seeks to hold the manufacturer or retailer accountable for providing a defective product that led to your injuries.
Product liability claims can be complex, as they often involve technical aspects related to the design and manufacturing of the bicycle. Gathering evidence and expert opinions to demonstrate the defect and its causal relationship to the accident is essential. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the intricacies of product liability claims and work towards obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages.
Tragically, bicycle accidents can sometimes result in fatalities, particularly when they involve collisions with larger vehicles. In such devastating cases, the surviving family members and the estate of the victim can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. To successfully establish a wrongful death claim in Nevada, four critical elements must be proven:
- Victim's Death - It must be demonstrated that the victim passed away as a direct result of the accident. This is a fundamental element of a wrongful death claim.
- Wrongful Act or Negligence - The victim's death must have occurred due to another party's wrongful act or negligence. This wrongful act or negligence can include actions such as reckless driving, failure to yield, or other behaviors that led to the accident.
- Plaintiff's Relationship - The individual filing the wrongful death claim must be an heir or personal representative of the victim. Typically, this includes immediate family members, such as spouses, children, or parents.
- Monetary Damages - The plaintiff must have suffered monetary damages as a direct result of the victim's death. These damages can encompass a wide range of financial and emotional losses.
Wrongful death claims seek to provide compensation for the financial and emotional losses experienced by the victim's surviving family members and estate. These losses can include medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of financial support, and the emotional suffering endured by the family due to the loss of their loved one.
Damages You Could Receive After a Bicycle Accident
When pursuing a bicycle accident lawsuit in Nevada, understanding the types of damages you can seek is crucial. Damages are the monetary compensation awarded to you for the injuries and losses you've suffered as a result of the accident.
Compensatory damages aim to provide financial recovery for specific losses and expenses incurred due to the bicycle accident. They can be divided into two main categories:
Economic/ Special Damages
Economic damages, also known as special damages, are monetary losses that can be easily quantified. They are typically awarded in personal injury cases to compensate the plaintiff for the costs of medical care, lost wages, and other expenses that were directly caused by the defendant's negligence.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills and medical expenses. This category encompasses all medical costs related to your injuries. It includes expenses such as ambulance rides, emergency room visits, hospitalization, surgical procedures, medications, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and any other necessary medical treatments.
- Lost wages or loss of earnings. If the accident caused you to miss work or affected your ability to earn a living, you can seek compensation for the income you lost during your recovery period. This can also extend to future lost earning capacity if your injuries have long-term implications for your ability to work.
- Future lost earning capacity.
- Property damage. If your bicycle or any personal property was damaged in the accident, you can seek reimbursement for repair or replacement costs.
- Out-of-pocket expenses. This category includes various expenses related to the accident, such as costs for household assistance, towing, rental vehicles, and any other out-of-pocket costs directly associated with your injuries.
Nevada law does not place any limits on the amount of economic damages that can be awarded in a personal injury case. However, you must prove that the defendant's negligence was the direct cause of their economic losses.
Non-Economic/ General Damages
Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, compensate you for the intangible, non-financial losses and suffering you've endured due to the accident. Here are the specific types of non-economic or general damages you can seek:
- Pain and suffering (present and future). This category of damages addresses the physical and emotional pain and suffering you've experienced as a result of the bicycle accident. It encompasses both the immediate suffering and any ongoing or future pain related to your injuries.
- Loss of companionship. If the accident has affected your ability to maintain relationships and companionship with loved ones, you can seek compensation for the loss of companionship. This can include the impact on your relationships with family members and close friends.
- Mental anguish. Emotional distress resulting from the accident can be compensated as mental anguish damages. This can include conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other emotional suffering you've endured.
- Loss of quality of life. If your injuries have significantly diminished your overall quality of life, you may be eligible for damages to address this loss. This category acknowledges the impact of the accident on your daily life and activities.
- Emotional distress, such as PTSD. Emotional distress damages cover the psychological impact of the accident, especially in cases where you've developed conditions like PTSD or other emotional disorders due to the traumatic event.
- Disfigurement, including scarring. If the accident has left you with visible scarring or disfigurement, you can seek damages to address the emotional and psychological impact of altered physical appearance.
- Disability, such as being bound to a wheelchair. If your injuries have resulted in a disability that requires significant lifestyle adjustments, you can pursue compensation for the challenges and limitations you now face.
Non-economic or general damages are complex to calculate because they involve assessing the profound impact of the accident on your overall well-being. These damages aim to provide you with fair compensation for the emotional and physical suffering you've endured, helping you on your path to recovery and healing after the accident.
Also, Nevada law does place some limits on the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded in a personal injury case. For example, in medical malpractice cases, the total amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded is capped at $350,000.
Punitive damages, while not a common component of bicycle accident lawsuits, can come into play in exceptional cases where the defendant's conduct was particularly reckless, intentional, or egregious. Unlike compensatory damages, which aim to compensate the victim for their losses, punitive damages serve a different purpose: to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future. To pursue punitive damages in a bicycle accident lawsuit in Nevada, several factors must be considered:
- The defendant's conduct must have been exceptionally reckless, willful, or malicious. This goes beyond typical negligence and involves a higher level of culpability.
- You must provide clear and convincing evidence of the defendant's wrongful behavior. This can include actions such as driving under the influence, intentional acts, or gross negligence.
- Punitive damages are not automatic; they must be requested explicitly in your legal claim. Your attorney will need to argue for their inclusion based on the defendant's conduct.
- Nevada law places limitations on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded. In most cases, the cap is set at three times the amount of compensatory damages or $300,000, whichever is greater. However, there are exceptions for cases involving specific wrongful conduct.
These damages are designed to send a message that such conduct will not be tolerated, and they can result in significant financial penalties for the defendant.
When Can I Sue?
Knowing when you can pursue a bicycle accident lawsuit in Nevada is crucial for taking the appropriate legal action. The timing of your lawsuit can significantly impact your ability to seek compensation for your injuries and losses.
In Nevada, like in most states, there is a legal timeframe within which you must file a personal injury lawsuit, including bicycle accident cases. This timeframe is known as the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for bicycle accidents is typically two years. If you fail to initiate legal proceedings within this time frame, you may lose your right to seek compensation.
You want to be mindful of this deadline and take prompt action if you intend to pursue a bicycle accident lawsuit. Failing to file within the statute of limitations can result in the dismissal of your case, regardless of the strength of your claim.
While the two-year statute of limitations is the general rule, there are exceptions. Sometimes, injuries resulting from a bicycle accident may not become apparent immediately. If you discover injuries or their severity after the accident date, the statute of limitations may begin from the date of the injury discovery rather than the accident date.
If the injured party is a minor (under the age of 18), the statute of limitations may be extended. In such cases, the two-year period typically starts on the minor's 18th birthday.
When a bicycle accident involves a government entity or employee, such as a collision with a city vehicle, there may be specific rules and shorter timeframes for filing a claim. It's essential to consult with an attorney promptly in these cases.
When You Are Partially To Blame
After a bicycle accident, it is not uncommon for questions to arise regarding liability and fault. You may wonder about your legal options if you believe that you bear some responsibility for the accident.
Nevada follows a legal principle known as "comparative negligence" or "comparative fault" when it comes to determining liability in personal injury cases, including bicycle accidents. Comparative negligence allows for a fair assessment of fault, even when multiple parties share responsibility for an accident.
In cases where more than one party is at fault, including the injured bicyclist, each party is assigned a percentage of fault based on their contribution to the accident. The compensation you receive in a bicycle accident lawsuit is adjusted based on your percentage of fault. Specifically, your total recovery is reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are found to be 20% at fault for the accident, your compensation is reduced by 20%.
Common Injuries After Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents can result in a wide range of injuries, some of which can be severe and life-altering. Understanding the common types of injuries that cyclists may sustain in accidents is essential for both prevention and seeking appropriate medical and legal assistance.
Fractures, also known as broken bones, are among the most common injuries in bicycle accidents. These injuries can vary in severity, ranging from minor fractures that require simple casts to complex fractures necessitating surgical intervention. Common bone fractures in bicycle accidents include those of the arms, legs, wrists, and collarbones. Recovery from fractures can be lengthy and may involve physical therapy.
Disfigurement refers to injuries that result in permanent alterations to a person's physical appearance. In bicycle accidents, disfigurement can occur due to lacerations, burns, or other traumatic injuries that cause scarring or significant changes in the affected area. Disfigurement can have lasting emotional and psychological effects in addition to physical consequences.
Lacerations are deep cuts or open wounds that can result from contact with sharp objects, such as pavement or debris, during a bicycle accident. These injuries can vary in size and severity. When left untreated or improperly cared for, lacerations can lead to infections, which can further complicate the healing process.
Bicycle accidents can also lead to organ damage, which can affect internal organs such as the spleen, liver, or kidneys. These injuries may not always be immediately apparent, and their severity can vary. Internal organ damage can be life-threatening and may require surgery or other medical interventions.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a serious and potentially life-changing injury that can occur if a cyclist's head sustains an impact during an accident. TBIs can range from concussions to more severe brain injuries that result in cognitive impairments, memory problems, or even permanent disability. Helmets can significantly reduce the risk of TBI in bicycle accidents.
Tragically, some bicycle accidents result in fatalities. The combination of a cyclist's vulnerability and the force of impact from a motor vehicle or other objects can lead to fatal injuries. In such cases, surviving family members may have the option to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation and justice.
Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
A bicycle accident resulting in catastrophic injury can strip away more than just your means of livelihood in Las Vegas. At Dallas Horton & Associates, our unwavering commitment lies in assisting victims of catastrophic bicycle accidents in their pursuit of rightful compensation. Even in situations where responsibility may initially seem to rest with you, hope is not extinguished unless you surrender.
Our legal team will conduct comprehensive investigations to ascertain the degree of culpability and determine the compensation you deserve. For a no-obligation assessment of your case, call us at 702-820-5917.