Will My Damages Be Reduced If I Was Partially At Fault For The Bicycle Accident?
Being partially at fault will affect your ability to recover from your damages. In California, an injury claim is not an all-or-nothing event. California negligence law is known as comparative negligence. This means that if two people are both negligent, their negligence or “fault” is compared against each other to determine the relative fault between them.
For instance, suppose you are riding your bicycle on the wrong side of the street and you are hit by a car pulling out of a driveway when the driver did not look both ways, left and right, before entering the street. You would both be at fault; you for riding on the wrong side of the street, and the driver of the car for simply not looking as seeing an approaching bicycle. Liability or percentage of fault would be shared. In any case, liability can be 100% in your favor, however, it could be 100% against you if it’s demonstrated that you were negligent or careless and the other party was not negligent at all. So, fault can be assigned as 50/50 shared negligence, or any ratio in between, like 80/20, 60/40, etc. depending upon the facts of the case.
How does this comparative liability affect your actual claim? If your injury claim had a settlement value of $100,000 and you were determined to be 50% at fault, your damages would be reduced by 50%, to $50,000. Even though you may have been partially at fault, your case is still valuable and worthwhile to pursue.
Just because you were partially at fault and another insurance company uses this information to deny your claim, you still have valuable rights to protect, including the right to pursue your claim for damages. The problem for those of you who have a comparative liability case, is that many lawyers are not equipped or interested in handling a comparative liability case because they are inexperienced or because those cases require a little more time, effort, and creative thinking. Some lawyers only want the easy cases that involve little risk.
It is important to retain an attorney with experience in these cases and who is willing to fight for you because your rights are important, they are valuable and they are worth protecting.
Does The Severity Of The Injury I Have From A Bicycle Accident Ensure The Likelihood Of A Larger Settlement?
When it comes to a claim, there are no guarantees. There is no “sure thing.” With that being said, if you suffer more severe injuries and require more medical care, invasive procedures like surgery, or if you injury does not resolve and is permanent, your case will have a higher value. Serious injuries typically translate to increased damages, higher medical costs for both the past and future care, larger loss of income, more pain and suffering, and greater interference with your ability to engage in the activities of daily living.
While our firm can’t guarantee that a more severe injury would guarantee a larger settlement or jury verdict, it does increase the likely value of your case. This is why making the mistakes of choosing the wrong attorney or not pursuing your case because some attorneys turn you away are costly errors that you can and should avoid.
Remember, there are two elements in any claim: the first is liability, and the second is damages. You never get to damages if you can’t demonstrate liability. Once you are able to demonstrate that the other party was negligent, and that negligence was a substantial factor in causing the incident and your injuries, you can now proceed to prove the damages in your case. At this point the amount of damages you recover depends your lawyer’s experience, his willingness to work and actively manage your case and not let it just unfold, and sometimes on his reputation with insurance companies.
If I Have Sustained Only Soft Tissue Injuries From My Bicycle Accident, Will That Make It Harder For Me To Get A Settlement From The At Fault Party?
The term “soft tissue injuries” is a euphemism that insurance companies tend to use. A euphemism is a substitute word or mild expression for something that is usually much worse. When you’re dealing with an insurance company and they claim that you sustained a soft tissue injury, what they’re trying to say is that your injuries are minimal, self-limiting, unimportant and of lower value.
While a “soft tissue injury” means that there were no fractures, no broken bones, a so-called soft tissue injury can be extremely painful, debilitating and cause significant impairment. Soft tissue injuries include deep scarring lacerations to your skin, ruptures of tendons, disc herniations in your spine, brain injuries and burns. As an experienced attorney with 44 years of experience in representing injured clients, I know that there is a lot more to an injury than what name an insurance company uses to describe it.
The belief that soft tissue injuries heal up quickly, go away, and don’t require much medical care is untrue. A soft tissue injury can be severe, painful, and long-lasting. A broken bone will heal and be stronger than it was before it was broken. It is not a soft tissue injury. A pinched nerve in your neck due to a herniated disc can torment you for the rest of your life and require far more medical care and generate more medical bills and require more loss of income than a fracture and is considered a soft tissue injury. So what an insurance company representative calls your injury is misleading and irrelevant.
While a soft tissue injury case may be more challenging and take more time to fairly settle, it is important that you choose and attorney who will relentlessly pursue your case and force the insurance company to pay a fair settlement or have a jury tell them what they must pay to compensate you.
With all of this being said, if you have sustained a soft tissue injury, it is important that you retain an experienced and seasoned trial lawyer to guide you through the claims process and lead you to a successful outcome.
For more information on Fault In A California Bicycle Accident Claim, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (818) 530-1770 today.
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