Bicycle Accident Wrongful Death
If you have lost a loved one in a fatal bicycle accident caused by someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, the experienced California bicycle accident attorneys at Bisnar Chase can help you better understand your legal rights and options. For more than 35 years, our personal injury law firm has helped families of accident victims hold at-fault parties accountable. We understand that a wrongful death lawsuit is not just about monetary compensation. It is about making an effort to deter the act of negligence or wrongdoing that caused your loved one's death. Call us at (800) 561-4887 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.
What Does "Wrongful Death" Mean?
"Wrongful death" is a legal phrase that refers to death that is caused by the reckless or careless behavior of another person. It is important to understand that a wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit that can be filed by the survivors of a decedent against the person responsible for the death. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, which means that the survivors must prove that the negligence of the defendant caused your loved one's death.
For example, in a bicycle accident case involving an impaired driver, you may have to prove that a driver was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time. If a distracted driver caused the fatal bicycle accident, then, you may have to prove that the driver was talking on a cell phone or texting at the time of the collision. Such facts can be proved with police reports, cell phone records, eyewitness testimony, etc.
Difference Between Murder and Wrongful Death
It is also important to understand the difference between murder and wrongful death cases. A "murder" case is a criminal case. A defendant who is convicted of the crime will likely face penalties such as jail time, restitution and probation. However, it will not provide monetary support for struggling families who are trying to cope with the loss of a family member, who may have been their breadwinner or primary wage earner.
A wrongful death claim on the other hand is a civil action filed by immediate family members of the person who died such as a spouse, child, parent, sibling, partner or someone who may have been financially dependent on the decedent. Survivors, through a wrongful death claim, may seek compensation for damages they have suffered as a result of their loved one's passing.
Common Causes of Fatal Bicycle Accidents
Under California law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other vehicles. However, we often see that bicycle accidents occur due to the negligence or other motorists who don't properly share the roadway with bicyclists.
Here are some of the most common causes of fatal bicycle accidents that result in wrongful death claims:
- Driving at an excessive rate of speed or at a speed that is dangerous given traffic, weather and roadway conditions.
- Running a red light or a stop sign.
- Making an unsafe turn by failing to yield the right of way.
- Failing to yield the right of way to a bicyclist while turning into an alley or parking lot.
- Driving while distracted.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Intruding into a bike lane.
- "Dooring" a bicyclist. This occurs when a motorist opens the door to his or her parked car on the side of the road without paying attention to an oncoming bicyclist. In such cases cyclists collide with the opening door and fall down on the pavement, or worse, into the path of other oncoming traffic and get run over.
What Damages Can You Seek?
In California, survivors of victims can seek monetary damages for all harm that is suffered not just at present, but also harm they are likely to suffer in the future. Families of victims can seek the following damages:
- All emergency and medical expenses incurred by the victim's injury.
- All expenses relating to funeral and burial.
- Loss of earnings (past and projected). This includes support for things like food, clothing and shelter.
- Loss of services that could include household services such as taking care of the home or the children.
- Loss of love, comfort, society, companionship, affection and moral support.
- Loss of benefits such as health insurance.
- Loss of inheritance.
Why You Need and Experienced Lawyer
Bicycle accident wrongful death cases can be challenging because they may require lengthy and detailed investigations. It is critical to collect as much evidence as possible including police reports, photographs, contact information for others involved in the crash, eyewitness contact information and medical/coroner reports. An experienced wrongful death lawyer who has also successfully handled bicycle accident cases will be able to analyze all facets of the case, determine the damages and fight for your rights every step of the way.
The wrongful death lawyers at Bisnar Chase offer a no-fee guarantee, which means we do not charge you any fees or costs until we secure compensation for you. We understand the financial and emotional challenges your family is facing during this difficult time. We offer all our clients competent and compassionate legal representation. Contact us at (800) 561-4887 to find out how we can help you.