If you suffered injuries in a bicycle accident in Port Richey, you have important legal rights that you should take steps to protect. Injured cyclists have the right to obtain compensation for their accident-related losses, and a negligent driver who hits you must be held responsible. This encourages safer driving habits in the future so the roads of Port Richey will be made safer for all bicyclists.
To find out if you have a claim, call Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Port Richey bicycle accident lawyer.
Despite being in the burgeoning metropolitan area of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater, Port Richey has remained small since being settled in 1883. This limits traffic, which in turn makes the roads of Port Richey more inviting for bicycling enthusiasts.
There are also many biking trails throughout Port Richey and New Port Richey, including:
While bicycling is a healthy and enjoyable hobby, it can also be a dangerous one. Orlando Weekly reports that Florida has the most bicycle deaths in the United States. Florida also experienced a threefold increase in the number of fatalities among bicycle riders aged twenty and older between 1975 and 2017. Despite having less than 7 percent of the U.S. population, Florida accounted for 16 percent of the U.S. bicycle fatalities in 2017.
Recent years in the Port Richey area have produced highs of 152 bicycle crashes, 139 injuries, and 10 fatalities.
These are alarming facts that show just how dangerous it is to ride a bicycle here.
The first step in handling a bicycle accident claim is to determine who is legally at fault (liable) for causing your injuries. Some many individuals and companies could be found liable for causing your bike accident. It is important to work with a bike injury attorney who can identify the proper defendant—and find all potential defendants —to obtain the compensation to which you are legally entitled.
Negligent drivers account for a significant number of bicycle accident claims. If the driver was not paying attention, using a mobile device, speeding, or impaired by drugs or alcohol, it is highly likely that the driver will be found negligent. Negligent drivers have a legal obligation to compensate victims for the injuries they cause. This is why Florida—like other states—requires drivers to carry auto insurance with minimum amounts of liability coverage. Your bike accident lawyer will file a claim with the driver’s insurance company. If the company accepts liability, your attorney will then negotiate the value of your claim with the company’s claim adjuster.
Under Florida law, if a defective product causes an injury, victims can often recover compensation from the product’s manufacturer. This legal principle applies to cars, trucks, motorcycles, and the companies that manufacture them. Sometimes, issues like defective brakes, headlights, windshield wipers, accelerator pedals, or other vehicle components can cause serious bicycle accidents. When this occurs, victims may bring a claim against a vehicle or vehicle parts manufacturer.
Product liability laws extend to all manufacturers, including bicycle manufacturers. This means that you can also sue the manufacturer of a defective bicycle or defective safety equipment that caused your injuries. Examples of bicycle or safety equipment that could be defective include helmets, brakes, derailleurs, seats, handlebars, tires, or wheels. Because it can be difficult to determine whether defective equipment contributed to your accident, it’s always a good idea to have your case reviewed by an attorney.
Sometimes bicycle accidents occur because of poor road conditions. Poor conditions can be the result of inadequate road maintenance resulting in conditions like potholes or uneven pavement. Construction companies can be held liable for injuries that are caused by their poor work. Uneven paving, improperly sealed cracks, or crumbling asphalt can all be the result of negligence in the road repair process. These seemingly minor adverse conditions can have devastating consequences for bicyclists who are vulnerable to every bump and crack in the road.
Government agencies are often immune to lawsuits due to a legal doctrine known as sovereign immunity. This doctrine prevents public officials from being sued for negligence committed in their official capacities. However, the State of Florida has waived sovereign immunity for itself and its subdivisions by statute. This means that victims can sue the state and its government agencies for personal injuries sustained through the state’s negligence.
Claims against government agencies are subject to strict limitations with respect to timing and the amount of compensation you can recover. As a result, if you believe you have sustained injuries in an accident caused by the negligence of a government agency or worker, you should speak to a Port Richey bicycle accident lawyer as soon as you can.
One of the most common questions our Port Richey bicycle accident lawyers hear is, “what is my claim worth?” The answer to this question depends on your injuries, how the accident occurred, who the at-fault party is, where the accident happened, and many other factors. Injury victims are entitled to compensation for specific costs and losses. By understanding each area of compensation, you will have a better idea of what your overall award will be.
You are entitled to compensation for all medical expenses you incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence. This includes doctor bills, prescriptions, over the counter medications, and assistive devices such as slings, crutches, braces, or wheelchairs. You are also entitled to compensation for the future medical bills you will incur throughout your life.
With permanent injuries, such as those involving spinal cord injuries or brain damage, these costs can be well into the millions of dollars. Since it is not possible to know exactly how much your future medical bills will be, your injury lawyer will likely have to hire a life care planner or economist to make projections about these costs.
In addition to medical care, many injury victims also need rehabilitative care. This type of care can include physical therapy, chiropractic care, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and many other types of services. If your injuries are comprehensive or severe, you might need all of these services, and you might need them for years to come. The person or party who caused your injuries is obligated to compensate you for all the services you will need.
You are also entitled to compensation for any lost wages that were caused by your injuries. This can include time off work for medical appointments, reduced hours, and other scheduling changes that ultimately reduced your paycheck. Lost wages are usually a simple calculation of the number of hours you missed multiplied by your hourly rate.
If you are salaried, you will receive prorated pay based on a forty-hour workweek. If you can prove that you lost any commissions, bonuses, overtime, or other special compensation, you can seek compensation for these losses as well.
If you have suffered permanent injuries, your injuries will likely impact your future earning potential. You might have to accept a part-time position or limit your responsibilities at a reduced rate of pay. Some injury victims never return to any kind of work.
Whatever the situation, if your accident has decreased your future earning capacity, the at-fault has a legal obligation to make up the difference. This difference should include any employment benefits such as health insurance or retirement contributions paid by your employer that you miss out on as a result of the accident.
In some cases, it is fairly clear exactly how much your income has been reduced. If, for example, you made a full-time salary of $50,000 per year before the accident and had to take a part-time job at $25,000 per year after the accident, then the at-fault party would likely have to compensate you for the $25,000 per year you lost. In other cases, it is less clear how your accident has affected your income.
Your lawyer might need to get expert testimony from an economist to prove the amount of your claim. The at-fault party’s lawyer might also challenge your stated earning capacity. In this case, the defense could hire a vocational expert to assess your ability to earn a living in the current job marketplace.
The expenses we have discussed up to here are tangible. You can establish them with receipts, an economist’s projections, or an itemized statement from a medical office. But there are many intangible losses that injury victims suffer. These are often more devastating than the tangible losses that have an easily ascertainable value.
Imagine, for example, that you can’t walk across the stage at your own graduation because you were in a wheelchair after a bike accident. Or that you could never pick up your own children because of permanent damage to your arm. These are very real and painful losses. Unfortunately, they do not lend themselves to an easy valuation.
Insurance companies try to solve this problem by simply multiplying the amount of your medical bills by a set amount. This is usually between one and three, depending on the severity of your injuries and the extent of their client’s negligence. While this method might be easy for them, it is hardly fair to you. It does not account for your particular circumstances.
What if you were allergic to pain medication? This would increase your pain, and it would take more money to compensate you for it. What if you had an underlying medical condition that made your recovery more difficult? A person who suffers from osteoporosis, for example, will have a far more difficult time recovering from a broken bone. These are just some of the many circumstances that could increase your pain and suffering. A fair settlement offer must account for your specific pain and suffering—not the simple number the insurance company came up with.
A good bike injury lawyer can explain exactly how your injuries have affected your life. If the insurance company will not make an offer that fairly accounts for all of your intangible losses, you have the right to take your case to a jury and let your peers decide what your pain and suffering is fairly worth.
Unlike an insurance company that focuses on statistics and formulas, jurors are people who have the same struggles that you do. They can connect with an injury victim who testifies that she could not hold her own children due to the accident. While going to trial can be a lengthy, painful, and expensive process, it is sometimes the only way to get the compensation you fairly deserve.
After a bicycle accident, you will likely feel overwhelmed by the legal process. You don’t have to handle the paperwork and fight the insurance company on your own. Our experienced team of personal injury attorneys knows how to get insurance companies to pay up, and we will never collect legal fees unless we win your case. Call the Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers at (727) 845-5972 or contact us online for a free consultation.
“The Nicoletti Law firm is by far the best law firm for your needs. The entire firm treats you as family and are there for you when needed the most. Above all else they will give you straight honest answers and guide you to the best outcome for your case. Highly recommend this firm.”
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NICOLETTI WALKER ACCIDENT INJURY LAWYERS – PORT RICHEY
Port Richey 34668