If you live in South Florida, you’ve heard it before: You live where people vacation.
But whether you live here or you’re on vacation, one commonality is that you’re probably already aware that places like Westen, Pembroke Pines, Key Biscayne, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, or Hillsborough Beach are great places to bike.
Florida’s no mountainous landscape, so when cycling the mostly-flat grounds you might be surprised to find that you or a loved one could still have an accident. But this also might mean you’re unsure how to deal with one.
No matter what kind of accident, you can file a bike accident lawsuit with the help of a bike accident lawyer to learn about the types of damages you’re able to claim.
That’s where we come in. We’re here to help.
Here are the types of damages you can claim when it doesn’t feel like a vacation anymore.
Starting Point: Injury Law
To understand the types of damages available to you or a loved one in the unfortunate result of a biking accident, it helps to understand the legality that presents them.
Claims in a bike accident lawsuit fall under personal injury law, which is a further section of torts law. Torts covers injury or harm inflicted either by actions or omission, what’s otherwise known as negligence.
These are civil laws, accounting for one party falling short in our civilian responsibility to withhold wrong or harm when able. This type of law protects injured parties and provides means for compensation when a case is well-argued to display wrong and claim needs for reconciliation.
These are outlined by common law and state statutory law, which are interpreted by judges who determine wrongs and responsibility and then decide and award damages.
This is important to know because it’s the framework your bike accident attorney functions within in order to ensure you receive as much as possible.
In law, a “reasonable person” is defined as someone who’s behavior is legally appropriate. Each citizen has a duty to act responsibly, considering the care and well-being of others without inflicting unnecessary harm.
Someone who behaves outside of this standard would be deemed “negligent.” A display of negligence is what the court is then able to use to award damages to the injured party, the plaintiff.
Proveable negligence is what makes a case like a bike accident lawsuit actionable, which is when facts or circumstances are adequate enough to file a legal claim.
Filing a bike accident claim with the help of an attorney is one of the first steps to receive any eligible types of damages.
Types of Damages
In law, damages are a determined sum of money the law allows when one party infringes on another, inflicting harm when harm could have been avoided.
For example, if your cycle got hit by a car while biking, the driver most likely had the responsibility to avoid the infraction and could have avoided the encounter.
There are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages are most often known as “actual damages”. These types of damages fall within two categories: special and general.
These are measurable items caused or impaired by the accident, including:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Transportation costs
- Damage to property or cost needed to repair damaged property
- Cost of accommodations now needed, like a wheelchair, prosthetics, etc.
- Loss of income or expenses for searching for a new job
In the Supreme Court case where compensatory damages were dignified, the court declared that these types of compensation should be the exact amount of the injured party’s loss or expense. “Nothing more, nothing less.”
General damages aren’t numerically measurable. They fall under more “intangible” categories, for example:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental or emotional distress
- Lessened life quality
- Loss of companionship
- Mental or emotional distress due to physical disfiguration or impairment
These damages are a bit harder to receive because they aren’t as easily measured as things like a hospital bill or a regular pay stub.
Because these categories lack tangible reference, they can seem more ambiguous. We’ll break it down.
Outside of what your injuries might cost in the hospital, you’ll likely suffer from physical pain at least the duration of your injury, maybe longer. Pain and suffering can also account for the anticipated future.
But that’s not limited to only physical pain. An accident can also cause a person pain and suffering mentally and emotionally.
Depending on the circumstances, this could include newly afflicted anxiety, humiliation, shock, or extreme fears. Sometimes this could require counselling or therapy which would contribute to further expenses. The plaintiff might experience mental disturbances like post-traumatic stress disorder, sleeping problems, or mood disorders.
Any one reason within each type of damage could cause a further loss of enjoyment of life. A new medical condition or impairment could affect future life.
How is it Measured?
Judges and juries aren’t provided charts to assess these subjective damages in order to determine the amount awarded to plaintiffs. Personal discretion is used within a jury, and judges will rely on guidance and experience. Many states have damage cap laws with a maximum amount able to be awarded.
Insurance companies often use multipliers of other special damage amounts in order to determine general damage amounts for various pain and suffering reasons.
But it doesn’t always stop there. And sometimes it shouldn’t.
Depending on your circumstance, a court might see fit to require that the defendant pay punitive damages. These are inflicted usually for two reasons, as a:
- Punishment for harm
- Deterrent from anticipated repetition
Punitive damages are invoked if the defendant inflicted damage intentionally or as a result of wanton and willful conduct (reckless behavior).
If a person acted with disregard after the ability to acknowledge wrongdoing or harm to a possible injured party, punitive damages could be considered.
The Final Stretch: Starting the Process
Getting into a bike accident, like an accident including a cycle hit by a car, isn’t part of the scenic route you were probably anticipating.
But the best thing you can do from here is to make sure your bike accident attorney has the best experience possible. That way, you’re compensated to the fullest extent and can eventually feel excited to get back on that bike.
With experience practicing law in areas like Westen, Pembroke Pines, Key Biscayne, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, or Hillsborough Beach, we can provide the best guidance possible.
To find out what types of damages you’re able to receive, be sure to contact us here.