Burlington is fortunate to have wonderful biking access. The Island Trail and the causeway provide great delight to adults and children, commuters, and tourists alike. Though some paths are friendly to bikers of all ability levels, others are simply bike lanes alongside traffic. Unfortunately, biking in the vicinity of cars can result in serious accidents and grave injuries.
Many people who have been hurt while bicycling in Burlington wonder why they would need a bicycle accident attorney. Getting compensated when you are hurt in a bike crash is not easy. Insurance information, medical records, witness statements and a hundred other things need to happen quickly and correctly in order to make sure you get what you are entitled to.
Many callers are also unaware that someone who is negligent and injures you is responsible for all of your bike crash injuries, including not only medical bills and lost wages but also pain and suffering. And the more hurt you are the more likely the insurance companies are to push back to see if they can reduce what they owe.
That’s okay. It’s our job to know how to investigate and develop a claim so you are made whole.
Do You Have to Sue To Get Compensated?
When you are injured on a bicycle because someone was negligent – whether driving their car, truck or motorcycle carelessly – you are entitled to recover for all the harms and losses that you suffer. That includes not only the things that cost you money – like medical bills – and lost money – like wages and benefits, but also the harms to you as a human being. These are what the law calls compensatory damages. And the value of the compensatory damages is often much larger than the cost of medical care, especially if the injuries are long-lasting or permanent.
Most legal claims start out as just that: insurance claims presented to an insurance adjuster. But insurance companies have their own ways of valuing human lives insurance companies don’t like to pay money, period. They usually, but not always, will pay only what they can get away with.
With proper care and attention, a settlement proposal can be crafted that reflects the full and true value of your claim. In many cases, after some negotiation, a settlement can be reached for most or all of the money available to compensate you for your injuries from the bike crash.
Sometimes, the insurance company does not believe their insured was at fault; or that the injuries you claim were caused by this accident; or that the harms you suffered are worth as much as they are.
In those cases, the civil justice system provides a remedy. You have the right under the United States and Vermont Constitutions to a jury trial where your community will dictate to the insurance company what the true value of your losses are. In order to get there, though, you will have to file a lawsuit.
How is Fault Determined After A Bike Accident?
Though biking as a means of transportation is becoming more and more common, drivers are still painfully unaware of what it means to share the road. In so many instances, Burlington bike accidents are preventable if the driver had been paying careful attention. Bicycle accident injuries can be severe even if you were wearing a helmet, and much worse if you weren’t.
Bike crashes can happen for any number of reasons. They commonly occur when:
- A motorist fails to yield
- A driver enters the roadway from a driveway or parking lot without noticing you
- A motorist fails to stop at a stop sign
- A person is driving drunk
- A person is texting while driving
- A driver opens the door of their car into a bike lane
If any of these happen, the driver who causes the injury will be considered negligent and at fault for the crash.
However, Vermont law also will look at your conduct. Even though you were the injured person, you also have an obligation to act carefully. Under Vermont law, you can be up to 50 percent at fault for your own injuries and still recover from the person who hit you. But if you are considered primarily at fault, you will recover nothing.
In the case of a bike helmet, this would come into play if you suffered a head injury while biking. If you suffer a leg injury, though, your failure to wear a helmet is less likely to have an impact on whether you recover from the person who harmed you.
Paying For Bills After A Bicycle Crash
There is no provision in Vermont law for getting your medical or other bills paid while attempting to settle a personal injury claim, or while prosecuting a civil lawsuit for damages resulting from a bike crash in Burlington. The only exception to this would be if you were on the job when you were hurt and are entitled to receive workers compensation benefits.
Unlike medical insurance, or unemployment insurance, the insurance payment for a personal injury from a bike crash is a one-time event. Only when the claim is fully resolved – by negotiation or trial – will you get paid for all of the harms, including your bills.
This can make life very tough for people who have high medical bills or live paycheck to paycheck and cannot work due to their bike crash injuries. That is why it is so very important to find an injury law firm that works with you to quickly get your claim together and get you paid. We hope to never see our clients file bankruptcy because of debts incurred from an injury that is someone else’s fault.
Speak to a Burlington Bicycle Accident Attorney Today
We know you are in tremendous pain and have likely suffered more severe injuries than your everyday car crash victim. So, your medical bills and treatment will be higher than the average injury victim. We can help you seek compensation for all of your damages including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and mental anguish.
We work hard from day one to collect all the information to stay one step ahead of the defense attorneys. From intake to trial, we work to ensure you are ready and prepared. Call a Burlington bicycle accident attorney at Champlain Valley Law today for a free consultation to get started on your case.