In Arizona, bicycles are classified as vehicles, which means that they follow many of the same laws as ordinary cars. Drivers should share the road with bicyclists but unfortunately drivers are often distracted around bicyclists or fail to yield. Sometimes drivers of vehicles allow themselves to become overcome with road rage related to a bicycle. In other cases, they simply forget to check for a bicyclist when opening their car door and this carelessness can result in devastating injuries. If you were injured in a bicycle accident in Arizona, Phoenix bicycle accident lawyer Freddy Saavedra may be able to help you.
Laws Related to Bicycle Accidents
Many bicycle accidents are caused by drivers of larger vehicles. There are no airbags and no structures to protect the bicyclist, so even if the driver walks away unscathed, the bicyclist may be catastrophically or even fatally injured. In order to hold a driver accountable for your injuries and losses, you will likely need to establish negligence in a personal injury lawsuit.
Establishing negligence requires you to show that it is more likely than not that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached the duty, and thereby caused your accident. Drivers may breach the duty to use reasonable care in many different ways, including by failing to leave enough room for a bicyclist, speeding, failing to obey traffic signals or signs, or failing to check for the possibility of a bicyclist before opening a door. Often, the specific cause of an accident will not emerge until a bicycle accident attorney in Phoenix conducts a careful investigation.
Certain laws pertain to bicyclists’ conduct in Arizona. For example, bicyclists are expected to ride as close to the curb as they can when traveling on city streets. Bicyclists are not supposed to ride on the sidewalk. When a group of bicyclists are traveling together, no more than two should ride together in a traffic lane. Moreover, a bicyclist needs to mount a white light on the front of the bicycle that could be seen by cars approaching from 500 feet away. The driver’s insurance adjustor will likely look very closely at the circumstances leading up to the accident to figure out whether you violated any of the rules and whether those violations contributed to the accident.
Arizona follows the doctrine of comparative negligence. This means that a jury will evaluate not only the driver’s negligence but also the bicyclist’s negligence. The damages will be reduced by an amount equal to the victim’s percentage of fault. Suppose that, for example, you were riding home one night without a white light on the front of your bicycle, and a driver ran a red light and hit you. The jury might find that you were 40% at fault and that the driver was 60% at fault. If the damages were $200,000, your Phoenix bicycle accident attorney could recover $120,000 for you from the driver.
Damages for Bicycle Accident Victims
The extent and nature of your injuries will determine the amount of your damages. You can recover economic and non-economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit if you can establish liability. These are compensatory damages, meaning that they are damages intended to put you back in the place in which you would have been had there been no negligence. Economic damages are tangible, concrete losses, such as medical expenses, surgical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, out-of-pocket costs, replacement services, alterations to the home, and lost income. Replacement services are the costs of paying someone else to do something that you can no longer do because of your injuries, such as housekeeping or child care.
Non-economic damages are intangible. They can include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. Generally, economic damages are stable and documented. However, retaining an experienced attorney can have a large impact on non-economic damages, which may be highly variable, depending on your unique characteristics and life.
Bicycle accidents can have devastating consequences. If you were injured in a bicycle accident in Arizona, you should talk to a seasoned personal injury attorney. Freddy Saavedra represents accident victims across Maricopa County. Contact us at (602) 753-8917 or via our online form.