Category Archives: Bicycle Accidents

What Is the Difference Between Punitive Damages and Actual Damages?

Monday, November 11, 2019

In a personal injury lawsuit, you have the right to collect compensatory damages for losses you suffered in an accident that was not your fault. The aftermath of these accidents can leave us with unexpected medical expenses, lost wages while we are healing, property damage, emotional anguish, and more – and filing a lawsuit provides a pathway to recover from these significant damages. There are many types of damages you can claim, including actual damages and punitive damages.

What Are Actual Damages?

Actual damages refer to the financial, physical, and emotional losses you suffered as a result of the accident. They make up the bulk of the settlement that the court can award you at the conclusion of your case, and seek to help you restore your financial standing to what it was prior to the accident. To claim these damages, you will need to prove that the accident was the direct cause for them.

Actual damages come in two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to the tangible financial losses you suffered from in the course of the accident. You can prove these damages in court by supplying invoices, receipts, and bills. Common economic damages include the following.

  • Past and future medical expenses for doctor’s visits, surgeries, hospitalization, etc.
  • Lost wages during recovery time or loss of earning the ability
  • Disability accommodations to a home or vehicle
  • Property damage

On the other hand, you cannot supply receipts or invoices to prove non-economic damages. These actual damages include the intangible losses you suffer in the wake of an accident, commonly known as pain and suffering damages. Some examples of non-economic damages include the following.

  • Emotional distress
  • Chronic pain
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Loss of quality of life

Courts calculate the amount of the non-economic damages you can claim in different ways. In most situations, the jury will examine the facts of your case after your attorney proves that the at-fault party is the cause of your injuries. Based on your case, the jury will assign an amount based on a combination of evidence and reasonability.

In the state of California, there are no caps on economic or non-economic damages in personal injury lawsuits. However, there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

What Are Punitive Damages?

On the other hand, the court does not intend for punitive damages to restore your financial standing to what it was prior to the accident. Their purpose is to punish the at-fault party in your case for dangerous, reckless, negligent, or intentional behavior. At the conclusion of your case, the at-fault party will have to pay punitive damages on top of actual damages – they will not affect the outcome of your settlement.

The court will determine whether or not the at-fault party acted in a way that warrants punitive damages and makes a decision on the amount he or she will have to pay. The amount can vary based on the circumstances of your case, and the more severe cases typically result in a higher amount of punitive damages.

Do You Need an Attorney for Your Personal Injury Case?

Calculating these damages and knowing exactly how much you can claim in civil court can be difficult. You may forget about a certain line item that you could claim as an economic loss, or remain unsure of whether or not you qualify for non-economic damages. If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, consider hiring a personal injury attorney to assist you with your case.

Your lawyer can help you determine which economic and non-economic damages you can claim, collect the evidence necessary to prove your economic losses, advise you on the amount of non-economic damages you might receive, and whether or not your case could qualify for punitive damages.

If you are grappling with the aftermath of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or reckless, you have legal options available to you. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to claim actual and punitive damages for your losses. If you have not done so already, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your case and to begin the filing process.

Posted by highrank at 6:05 pm

Bicycle Laws in California

Monday, July 3, 2017

Many Californians enjoy bicycling as a leisure activity, as exercise, or as an alternative method of transportation. Bicycling helps the environment by cutting down on fossil fuel consumption and pollution, and riding a bike is significantly less expensive than driving a car. However, despite these advantages, there are some risks associated with bicycling, and bicyclists in California need to know the state’s laws for bicycling to avoid liability for accidents and damages. If you have any further questions regarding bicycle accident liability in California, speak with a knowledgeable Bakersfield bike accident attorney.

California Bike Laws

Bicyclists must follow the traffic laws just like all other motor vehicle drivers. While some bicyclists understand this and ride safely in accordance with the local laws, others may assume they are not beholden to traffic laws since they are not driving motor vehicles. This is not the case, and a bicyclist who causes an accident due to ignoring the traffic laws could face severe legal penalties for doing so. Additionally, a bicyclist who suffers injuries due to his or her failure to abide by California’s traffic laws could lose his or her chance to secure compensation through a personal injury claim.

California follows a comparative negligence law, meaning an injured plaintiff can still sue for damages and secure compensation, even if he or she was partially at fault for those damages. A judge will assess the facts of the case and assign the plaintiff a “fault percentage.” One hypothetical example could involve a bicyclist who fails to signal a turn and collides with a car. The bicyclist sustains severe injuries, but traffic camera recordings show the bicyclist did not signal properly and made an unsafe turn. The judge still recognizes the car’s driver as having a higher duty of care due to the nature of the vehicle and assigns the bicyclist a 25% fault percentage. If the damages in the case are $100,000 and the bicyclist wins, he or she would lose 25% of the case award, receiving $75,000 instead.

Taking the Lane and Riding with Traffic

California state law allows bicyclists to “take the lane,” or move into position in front of another vehicle in the next lane after signaling the lane change. Bicyclists should ride as far to the right in the lane as possible unless making a left turn, avoiding a hazard, or taking a lane. Other drivers should yield to bicyclists taking a lane as they would for other drivers. If a bike lane is available, bicyclists should remain in the lane as long as it is safe to do so.

Bicycles must also ride with the flow of traffic. This means that whatever side of the road a bicyclist is riding, he or she should be traveling in the same direction as the traffic in the closest lane. This helps prevent accidents, particularly from drivers turning onto the street who probably don’t expect to see an oncoming bicycle.

Local ordinances may alter the bike laws in some areas, so bicyclists should be sure they understand their local bicycling laws to avoid accidents and traffic citations. Anyone injured while riding a bicycle, or anyone who sustains injuries or suffers losses due to a negligent bicyclist should reach out to a reliable Bakersfield personal injury lawyer to discuss their options for legal recourse.

Posted by highrank at 8:04 pm