Bicycle Crash Compensation
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle crash, you may be wondering what to do next. You may have suffered serious injuries and are unable to work or take care of daily living activities. We can help. Attorney Michael Stephenson has experience with bicycle crash law throughout LA and the surrounding area. We will guide you through the complex process of making a personal injury claim and help you obtain compensation for your losses. Call us today at (424) 230–3240 to learn more.
Who Is Responsible for My Bicycle Crash?
Bicycle riders in California who suffer injury due to the negligence or recklessness of drivers may be able to obtain compensation. According to tort laws, a driver is responsible for a bicycle crash if:
- They acted negligently by breaching their duty of care that is reasonable considering the circumstances; or
- They acted intentionally or recklessly and caused injury to the biker.
Tort law seeks to make the victim whole by compensating for injuries caused negligently, intentionally, or recklessly by another person. The goal is for the victim to be in the same situation as they were prior to the injury caused by another party.
What Compensation Can I Get After a Bicycle Crash?
After a bicycle crash, you may be entitled to damages that fall into three categories:
These types of damages, sometimes called “special damages,” can be quantified in monetary terms. They represent actual financial harm done to the victim. Out-of-pocket expenses caused by the accident, represented by bills, receipts, and wage records, evidence economic damages. Some examples of economic damages include:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Past and future lost wages;
- Lost earning capacity;
- Loss of ability to provide household services;
- Loss or destruction of personal property;
- Costs of repair and replacement of property; and
- Expenses for things you can’t do as a result your injuries.
These damages, often called “general damages,” cannot be easily measured by money spent or bills accumulated. However, they still have a monetary value. Harm suffered may be abstract and subjective to each victim and individual injuries. Some examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Emotional distress; and
- Loss of consortium.
Economic and non-economic damages are considered compensatory in nature. That means they make you whole and compensate you for losses. However, punitive damages are different. They function to punish someone who had done wrong through intentional, harmful actions. The goal is to prevent this type of conduct in the future. Similar to criminal penalties, punitive damages punish and deter future reprehensible acts to protect society as a whole.
Punitive damages are often applied when someone acts in a particularly heinous manner. They are not typically included in settlements, but may be added to compensation in a lawsuit at trial. Under California tort law, the victim must prove with clear and convincing evidence that the actions taken were despicable conduct with malice. If the conduct was vile, or that which reasonable people would look down upon, then it may be considered despicable.
Punitive damages may be awarded in bicycle crash cases if the actions of the person responsible are considered intentional. For example, a driver who intentionally runs down a bicycle rider may be punished with punitive damages. Drunk drivers and hit-and-run situations may also warrant punitive damages to prevent the actions from occurring in the future. Distracted drivers may also be punished for intentionally using cell phones while driving.
If you have questions about whether punitive damages apply to your bicycle crash, contact an experienced LA bicycle accident lawyer. Call Michael Stephenson today at (424) 230-3240.
Subrogation Liens May Impact Your Compensation
When an insurance company pays for medical bills, property damage, or other types of losses, it may have a valid claim against the compensation you recover from the responsible party. When an insurance company does have such a claim, they may file a lien against any amount you recover from the defendant in your case. That lien would then be paid out of your recovered funds.
For example, if your health insurance company pays your medical bills, it may require that you reimburse it for those payments if you recover compensation from the party that is actually responsible for your injuries. You would be required to pay your health insurance company out of your settlement or judgment. Attorney Michael Stephenson will work to negotiate with insurance companies that have valid subrogation liens. It may be possible to reduce these liens so that your recovery is maximized.
Taxes May Also Affect Your Recovery
According to federal and California laws, personal injury recoveries are not typically taxable. That is, your settlement or jury verdict for compensatory damages should not be taxed. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Franchise Tax Board in California should not charge you a certain percentage of your recovery. Section 104 of the Internal Revenue Code excludes monetary awards from personal physical injuries or physical sicknesses from your gross income (26 U.S. Code Section 104).
While your compensatory damages (economic and non-economic damages) will not be taxed, punitive damages may be taxed. When you are awarded punitive damages, the award should be separate from compensatory damages so that you do not have to pay taxes on your entire recovery. Additionally, because IRC Section 104 applies to physical injuries, you may have to pay taxes on compensation paid for emotional injuries, such as emotional distress or mental anguish, unless you can prove there were physical injuries involved in your bicycle crash. If you were physically injured, your recovery, which may include emotional injuries, will not be taxed.
Contact a California Bicycle Crash Lawyer About Compensation Today
Compensation in bicycle crash cases can be complex. You may be eligible for economic as well as non-economic damages. You may also be able to recover for punitive damages. We can help you navigate the recovery process after a bicycle crash. Call us today at (424) 230–3240.