In California, victims of a bicycle accident that was caused by a negligent driver are entitled to be fully compensated for their injuries. Our San Diego bike accident attorney explains that understanding what you can recover will help you determine the amount of compensation to ask for when you file your claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company and whether their settlement offer is a fair one that you should accept.
Economic Damages in Bicycle Accident Cases
Injured bicycle riders are entitled to two types of compensatory damages in California: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are also referred to as special damages and are awarded to compensate you for the monetary expenses you incurred due to the bike crash.
Special damages can be calculated from bills, receipts, and wage lost documents. You are entitled to recover both your past and future out-of-pocket damages.
You can suffer serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, internal injuries, or spinal injuries, in a bicycle accident because your body has no protection other than a helmet when you are struck by a much larger and heavier car or truck. You are entitled to be fully compensated for the costs you incur for the medical treatments you need for your injuries. These medical expenses include:
- Ambulance transportation
- Doctor visits
- Physical therapy
- Home health care
Lost Wages and Lost Earning Capacity
You may be off work for months or longer while you recover from your injuries. You should be compensated for your lost wages and other benefits of your job that you lost, such as vacation and sick time, bonuses, commissions, and more.
If your injuries are long-term, you may never fully recover from them and could be unable to perform the duties of your former job. You may have to make a job change where you make less money than you used to or could become permanently disabled. In this situation, you would be entitled to your future lost earning capacity as well as your past lost wages.
If you are unable to take care of your chores at your home or need assistance with your daily needs, you can be compensated for the cost to hire someone to take care of you. You may be able to recover this type of damages if a family member or friend takes on these duties for you.
You should be paid the cost to repair or replace your bicycle, helmet, and any other personal property that was damaged in the collision. You will need to obtain estimates of the cost to repair damaged items or to replace them if this is necessary in order to document this type of damages.
Non-Economic Damages You Can Recover
Non-economic damages are also referred to as general damages. They are awarded to compensate you for the physical and emotional pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of your life that you must endure due to your injuries.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering and emotional distress damages are awarded to compensate you for the physical and mental distress you suffer due to the accident and coping with your injuries.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
You can recover this compensation if you no longer are able to enjoy your life or participate in the same activities you once did due to your injuries.
Loss of Consortium
A claim for loss of consortium could be filed by your spouse or partner to compensate them for the companionship and support they lost from you because of the accident.
Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the negligent driver’s actions were grossly negligent. The purpose of this type of damages is to punish the motorist for their especially egregious conduct, not to compensate you as the victim.