Were you hit while riding your bike? Check out these 4 bicycle accident tips that may help your case, then contact our Mississippi attorney.
1) Mistakes To Avoid
In my firm, we actually see a fair number of incidents involving bicyclists. They’re not that uncommon in Mississippi. This is a place where it’s warm and comfortable outside a large part of the year, so people tend to be more active. One of the things we always discuss with clients who have been involved in a situation where a bicyclist has been hit by a car or some other type of motor vehicle is that there’s some common mistakes that apply to bicycle accident cases that really are common across any number of personal injury cases.
With regard to a bicycle case, one of the common mistakes that people make is not getting the medical treatment that they need right away. With these types of cases, usually just because of the disparity between the weight of a motor vehicle and a car, we’re typically dealing with more serious injuries. That isn’t always the situation, but usually, just statistically, a collision between a bicycle and a motor vehicle has a higher risk of serious injury to the bicyclist; sometimes medical care happens automatically just because the person needs immediate medical help and they get it. After this initial treatment, however, you need to focus in a broader sense on getting the medical treatment that you need.
The victim of a bicycle accident needs to not only get the immediate medical treatment right after the collision happens, which is usually in the form of emergency treatment, but also through ongoing treatment. Do not overlook the physical therapy, the follow-up appointments, and whatever the medical staff and doctors are recommending that you do in order to fully recover. We want that first and foremost because that’s what it takes to get better, and we want your health to recover and be healthy. From a legal standpoint, which is what we’re here to talk about, it helps us make sure that we’re creating that record of what happened and that record of medical treatment that’s going to help prove the case.
Another thing that is a common mistake that people do that can be very devastating to a legal claim is waiting to get legal help and waiting too long to bring a claim. In Mississippi, the general statute of limitations is three years from when the injury occurs. There’s a fixed amount of time that a person has to bring a claim in order to satisfy that statute of limitations. If you bring a claim later than the statute of limitations, in this state or any other state, then your claim is barred, period, and there’s no bringing it after the fact. You will not get compensated and you cannot pursue the claim, so that is extremely important. Most people are hesitant and their first reaction is not to go sue someone, but it really is a matter of protecting your rights. If you have a claim and have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you have only a limited amount of time to bring that claim. It’s very important that it be done within the time limits of the law. Those time limits vary state by state, and, sometimes within a state, they vary by different circumstances.
That brings in the third point of mistakes that people often make, which is not having legal representation and an attorney on your side helping guide you through that process. The statute of limitations is just a perfect example of how someone who is not familiar with injury law and who does not regularly do litigation in injury claims may not be aware of the nuances of, for instance, the statute of limitations in the particular location and venue where your claim would be filed. They may not be aware of different options for venues. They may not be aware of the nuances of the statute and other legal aspects, so it’s really important that you bring in legal representation. If you’re not a lawyer, you’re definitely not going to know any of that. Sometimes the biggest danger is not knowing what you can’t possibly know. Having experienced, competent, legal help in pursuing your claim is important. Don’t make the mistake of not getting legal counsel for your bicycle injury case or any type of personal injury case.
That leads to another mistake that people commonly make, which is not getting an attorney who is experienced, has training, and specializes in the type of case that you have. If you have a personal injury case, particularly with bicycle injury cases, as we discussed earlier, a lot of times those injuries are more severe than a typical car wreck case or slip and fall case. Because of the disparity in weight and size between the motor vehicle and the bicycle, usually the injuries are more severe. Typically, there is strong negligence on the part of the motor vehicle, so the value of the case hinges on the complexities unique to these type cases such as showing the liability and showing the damages. As such, you want an attorney who has experience, first of all, in litigating injury claims, and second of all, has litigated these particular types of claims involving motor vehicle and bicycles.
An attorney with experience, specialized training, and a proven track record of pursuing personal injury cases is going to understand the ins and outs of how to proceed and get the best result for you in that particular kind of case. Just like you don’t go to a dentist to get heart surgery, you don’t go to a tax lawyer for a personal injury case. You want someone who deals with those types of claims day in and day out. That’s especially true with something as specialized as a bicycle injury case.
Those are some of the common mistakes that we see with these types of cases and, frankly, with other types of personal injury cases and something that you want to keep in mind. My name is Brad Morris. I’m with Brad Morris Law Firm, PLLC, and we’re here to answer your questions. I hope this video has helped answer some of them. You can reach us through our website or our phone number. If you have other questions, bottom line, we’re here to help.
2) Insurance Investigation
I’ve been asked the question, after a bicycle crash whether or not it is a good idea for that victim to talk directly with the insurance company of the vehicle that hit them. Let me just say, across the board, whether it’s a bicycle crash, a car wreck, some other type of injury, it’s my advice to not ever talk with an adjuster or with the insurance company for the other side without legal representation. That’s not being an attorney and just trying to squeeze our way into the lawsuit; it’s just a matter of fairness and making sure that the injured individual is properly represented and that they really do have a fair chance on adjusting that claim.
Given that scenario, anytime an individual is dealing directly with the other party’s insurance, there’s already a disparity from the very beginning there. That insurance adjuster or claims person for the other insurance company, that’s what they do all day, every day. They’ve had extensive training on how to adjust claims. They’ve had extensive experience doing it because that’s what they do as a full-time job. Their training and knowledge is built around looking for ways, in an adversarial type claim like that, to reduce the value or to find a basis to deny the claim. A person who doesn’t do that on a daily basis and who doesn’t have the experience doing that is at a disadvantage from the moment the conversation starts.
That’s why we recommend against people trying to adjust their own claims. I recommend that anyone, whether it be a bicycle injury or any other type of personal injury claim, not speak with representatives from the oppositional insurance carrier without representation. An attorney is going to know how to lodge objections, how to set up the interview process in a way that is more fair to you, and how to prepare the claim for you and make sure that the communication with the carrier or the claims adjuster is done in a way that protects your rights. If it’s just you and that adjuster for the other person’s carrier, there is nobody there protecting your rights but you. If you don’t do it on a daily basis and are not involved in litigating claims, you’re really putting yourself out there and taking a risk.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a bicycle injury, or really any type of personal injury, don’t try to do it alone. Get legal help. That adjuster can wait. Talk to them when you have someone on your side who can make sure that your interests are protected. At our firm, we’re here to answer your phone calls and questions. You can contact us through our website, too, to get you the help you need if you have a bicycle injury or other type of injury.
3) How Bike Accidents Differ From Car Accidents
On the subject of bicycle accident claims or claims involving a bicyclist who’s been hit by a motor vehicle , these are particularly specialized claims. There are a number of considerations to keep in mind with these cases. If you or a loved one or family member have been injured in this type of situation while riding a bicycle, the following are some considerations that you want to keep in mind in pursuing your claim and in choosing an attorney for that claim.
These claims are unique in the fact that there’s a big disparity, for one, between the two parties involved. What I mean by that is a motor vehicle weighs a lot more, can go faster, and just has a lot more energy and mass to it in a collision than a bicycle and the person riding it. Typically, in these types of cases, you’re dealing with more severe injuries than perhaps an auto crash where both parties have a lot of protection around them in the form of automobile. The injuries often are more sudden in nature, although that’s not always the case. Some things can come up as complications later on, but typically more severe injuries occur needing emergency treatment and, oftentimes, more extensive follow-up treatment. Unfortunately, these types of incidents also have a higher rate of death, so you may be dealing with a wrongful death claim, which has its own unique set of challenges and requirements.
I think another big difference with bicycle claims is the proof that you need and that you’re going to look for on the scene, in terms of approaching the scene of the wreck or collision. Gathering evidence and documenting evidence is much more important and sort of urgent in nature in that type of injury than a typical car wreck, for instance. The reason is that these are just not your typical type of collision or wreck, where you have two vehicles and you can look at damage to the vehicle. A lot can be recreated by experts, looking at that type of information and reconstructing what happened, whereas in a collision with a bicycle and a vehicle, the layout of the scene, where the bicycle ends up, where the person riding the bicycle ends up, is hard to document clearly to a level of detail that can help a reconstructionist piece together what happened. One, make sure that there is proper documentation, and, two, make sure that the experts, that the people pursuing the claim are documenting that and getting evidence from the scene as soon as practical.
That covers just some of the issues that make these bicycle injuries unique. Again, because the injuries are typically more severe and there’s going to be certain challenges and nuances in pursuing that type of claim.
As such, it’s important to have an attorney involved in your claim who has experience in these types of cases— an attorney who regularly pursues personal injury litigation and who can help you through every step of the process. At Brad Morris Law Firm, PLLC, we are here to help if you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident or injured by a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicycle. Just reach out to us on our website or call us on the phone and we’ll try to answer your questions and get you the help you need.
4) Partial Fault Cases
I was recently asked by someone who was involved in a bike collision about fault. They were riding their bicycle and collided with a motor vehicle, and fault in this situation was kind of in dispute. The client, who was the cyclist, may have had some fault in that situation. The problem is, the bicyclist was much more severely injured, which is very common in these types of scenarios. Common sense just tells us that a motor vehicle is a lot heavier, moves a lot faster, and is going to create more force than a person riding a bicycle, so usually it’s the bicyclist who ends up being more severely injured. Thank God, in this situation, the person wasn’t killed.
On the question of whether that bicyclist has a claim, even though the other side may assert the bicyclist had some portion of fault in what happened, the answer is, yes, absolutely, the injured bicyclist has a claim. In Mississippi, we have what’s called pure comparative fault. The rules for this, I have to say, vary significantly from state to state. It is absolutely important and critical that, if you have been injured in this type of scenario, you get an attorney to help walk you through that process. You need an attorney who understands the law in the context of the location where the case will be brought because the claim potentially could be brought places other than where the actual collision happened. For instance, it could be brought in the state where the defendant lives. Wherever that suit is being brought, it’s going to be critical that the attorney representing you be aware of and understand the apportionment of fault rules in that state.
Using Mississippi as an example, we have what is called pure comparative fault. What that means is that when multiple parties are involved in an incident, ultimately, a jury will decided is who is at fault and by what percentage. For instance, in the scenario between the bicyclist and the car, if a jury decided, for instance, that the car was 100% at fault, then the car driver would be 100% responsible for the injuries to that bicyclist. If the car was 75% at fault, but the bicyclist had some fault and is 25% responsible, under pure comparative fault, say, if the bicyclist had $100,000 for the claim, the car would be responsible for $75,000 of that or 75%; the bicyclist would have to take responsibility themselves for the other 25% or $25,000.
In states that do not have pure comparative fault, the plaintiff, if they have a portion of fault, may be precluded, sometimes entirely, from a recovery. For instance, there are scenarios in some states where if the bicyclist is just one percent or five percent at fault, and the car is 99% or 95% at fault, the bicyclist cannot bring a claim. They would be barred because they helped contribute to the collision. In other scenarios, the plaintiff can collect as long as that plaintiff, which would be the bicyclist, is less than 50% at fault. As long as they were less than half at fault, and the other party or parties combined were 50% or more at fault, then the plaintiff in this scenario, the bicyclist, could bring a claim.
Under a pure comparative fault situation such as we have in Mississippi, even in a scenario where the bicyclist is more than half at fault, they can still collect at that percentage.
It gets complicated in terms of trying to think through these issues. For attorneys who do this on a regular basis, who litigate and who understand the local rules and laws governing apportionment, it is pretty straightforward. That’s why you need an attorney and why you need someone who is familiar, not only with these types of claims, but also with that local venue where you’re going to be filing suit. At Brad Morris Law Firm, we handle these cases. Understand, if you’ve been injured in a scenario where you were riding a bicycle or a family member was and was hit by a motor vehicle, we’re here to help. Just reach out to us by phone or through our website, and we will try to answer your questions and get you the help that you need.
Are you or a loved one in the process of a personal injury claim in Mississippi and have questions? Check out these 4 bicycle accident tips that may help your case, contact experienced Mississippi bicycle accident attorney, Brad Morris, today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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