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Bicycle accidents can potentially lead to serious injury. Cyclists who have been injured are often disoriented and confused in the immediate aftermath of an accident. This article will provide helpful information about bicycle accidents, including what to do after an accident, what forms of compensation may be available to an injured cyclist, and how a Zinda Law Group attorney may be able to help.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident and would like to learn more about your options, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Albuquerque bike accident lawyers.
NEW MEXICO BICYCLE LAWS
Local Albuquerque laws set forth several regulations that cyclists and motorists must follow. The viability of your claim following an accident may depend on whether you were adhering to these regulations at the time of your accident. In other words, failure to follow one or all of these bicycle laws may decrease your chances of recovering compensation after an accident. Important regulations include:
- Cyclists have the same rights as motor vehicle drivers in using streets, highways, and roadways. All cyclists on the road are subject to the same laws that apply to motor vehicle drivers.
- Cyclists must follow all traffic control signals, signs, speed limits, and control devices that motor vehicles must follow. The only exception is if a police officer says or directs otherwise.
- Cyclists are prohibited from riding in areas where signs prohibit the use of bicycles.
- Wherever a bicycle lane is available and provides at least four feet of space, cyclists must stay in the bike lane except at intersections, to pass cyclists, cars, and obstacles, and to make a left or U-turn.
- If no bike lane is available and the road is wide enough, cyclists must ride as far to the right in the lane as possible.
- Motorists have a duty of care to act with caution around cyclists and wait to open a vehicle door until a cyclist passes.
- Cyclists have the right-of-way in bike lanes, and motorists must yield before turning.
- Cyclists can only ride on a sidewalk when a bike lane is not available.
- All cyclists need a lamp, a reflector, and a working brake.
- All cyclists must use appropriate hand signals for turning and stopping.
Read More: Albuquerque Bicycle Rules and Safety Tips
WHAT TO DO AFTER A BICYCLE ACCIDENT
1. Seek Medical Attention
The first and most important step you can take after being involved in a bicycle accident is to seek immediate medical attention from a trained professional. Some accidents are noticeably severe and require prompt action. However, you should seek medical attention even after seemingly minor accidents. Seeking prompt medical attention may help prevent any serious injury or future complications.
2. File a Report and Document the Accident
The next step to take after being injured in a bicycle accident is to file a report. If the accident occurred on the roadways, then the report should be filed with local law enforcement. If the accident occurred as a result of a defective bicycle, then the report should be filed with the company that sold or manufactured the bike. Filing a report will create an official record of the accident and may help prevent accidents.
It is also important to document the accident by creating and maintaining a thorough file that contains all files and paperwork relating to the accident. For instance, you should consider keeping copies of the report, witness statements, and any medical records.
3. Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Finally, you should contact an Albuquerque bicycle accident lawyer. A lawyer may wish to speak with you in person or over the phone to gather important facts regarding your case, such as when and where the accident occurred, and the types of injuries sustained. A lawyer may also want to search for and collect important evidence, such as witness statements and surveillance footage. Finally, an attorney may file any paperwork to ensure that a lawsuit is timely filed.
WHO CAN I SUE?
If your accident and resulting injuries were caused by the intentional, reckless, or negligent acts of a third party, then you may be able to pursue legal action to secure compensation for your injuries
When it comes to determining fault, it is important to analyze the circumstances giving rise to the accident. To determine what party or parties may be held accountable, consider where the accident occurred, how it occurred, and who was involved. The liable party is typically a motorist, but it could also be another cyclist, the manufacturer of a defective bicycle, or the local government for failing to fix a hazardous road condition, such as a pothole.
Deciding whether you should pursue legal action requires careful consideration of many factors, such as when the accident occurred, how the accident occurred, and the severity of your injuries. A personal injury attorney may provide legal advice regarding your rights and legal options.
Read More: Albuquerque Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
THE CLAIM FILING PROCESS
1. Contact an Attorney
A bicycle accident victim wishing to file a claim must first contact a personal injury attorney. As part of an initial consultation, the personal injury attorney may ask you questions about the accident to better understand your case. After the initial consultation, the attorney may be able to provide legal advice regarding your options moving forward.
Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case
The next step of the claim filing process is the investigation phase. The purpose of the investigation is for the attorney to collect as much helpful information as possible about the accident. For example, the attorney may interview witnesses, inspect the scene of the accident, review medical records, and gather additional evidence that may be used to strengthen your claim.
3. Settlement and Lawsuit
Before litigation, a bicycle accident victim may have the option to accept a settlement from the at-fault party or the at-fault party’s insurance company. An attorney may act on your behalf by negotiating the terms of a settlement that is structured to protect your rights. If it is not in your best interests to accept a settlement offer, your case may proceed to trial.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR COMPENSATION
Bicycle accident victims who can establish that their injuries were caused by the intentional, reckless, or negligent actions or omissions of a third party may be entitled to compensation, otherwise referred to as “damages.” The damages that may be awarded to a personal injury victim can be separated into two broad categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are damages that can be quantified or calculated. The primary forms of economic damages involved in bicycle accident cases may include:
- Medical bills
- Pharmacy bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost income (present and future)
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses that cannot be calculated on paper. Rather, non-economic damages are subjectively evaluated by the jury in a lawsuit. Types of non-economic damages in a bicycle accident case may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Discussing your case with a personal injury attorney may give you a better understanding of what compensation may be available to you after a bicycle accident.
Learn More: How to Calculate the Value of Case
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
Personal injury victims wishing to file a lawsuit must do so in a timely manner. A “statute of limitations” is a legal time-limit by which a person must initiate a lawsuit. If an accident victim fails to bring a claim within the statute of limitations, that party is effectively barred from litigating the claim in court.
In New Mexico, there is a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This means that a bicycle accident victim must file a lawsuit within three years of the date of the accident. For instance, if you sustained an injury in a bicycle accident that occurred on March 1, 2020, you must file a claim before March 1, 2023.
In certain situations, the three-year statute of limitations may be paused or “tolled”. Tolling has the effect of giving you extra time to initiate a lawsuit. However, tolling is rare. Consider discussing your case with a personal injury attorney to better understand the significance of New Mexico’s statute of limitations.
ZINDA LAW GROUP’S ALBUQUERQUE ATTORNEYS ARE READY TO FIGHT FOR YOU
Zinda Law Group’s team of personal injury attorneys may help protect your legal rights following an incident. Our Albuquerque attorneys have years of experience handling bicycle accident cases. We also have the resources necessary to strengthen your claim.
Our firm also believes that an injury victim should never have to worry about being able to afford high-quality legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we win your case. That's our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
If you would like to discuss the details of your case with an experienced Albuquerque bicycle accident lawyer, or to learn more about your rights following an accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free case evaluation.
Meetings with attorneys are by appointment only.