As a cyclist myself I know the joy that cycling brings, the sense of freedom and exhilaration of taking to the roads of Massachusetts. But as an injury lawyer in the Greater Boston area, I also know about the dangers we as cyclists confront every time we get on our bikes. Let’s face it, Massachusetts roads and drivers are notoriously considered among the least cycling-friendly in the region. We have a relatively short cycling season compared to warmer states and our drivers are less familiar with their legal obligation to share the roads. This has become even a bigger problem lately as the pandemic has made cycling more popular than ever.
I know firsthand the hazards cyclists face on Massachusetts’ roads because I deal with them myself. So, when a cycling client comes to us with serious injuries, I often can personally relate to the scenario they encountered on the road at the time of their crash. I can often say, “yes, that has almost happened to me” and unfortunately there are times I can even say “yes, that DID happen to me”.
So, if you are here because you have been injured in a cycling crash, you’ve come to the right place. We wish you a full and speedy recovery and we are here to help you make good legal decisions moving forward. In addition to having the trial skills and experience to successfully handle your case from beginning to end, we also have a deep understanding of what cyclists encounter on the road’s day in and day out. We believe this combination gives our cycling clients a true advantage.
We understand that you may have pressing questions you want to be answered before you make any decisions. That’s smart! So, we have provided below answers to some of the most common questions people ask after a cycling crash as well as related videos you may find helpful in making important decisions regarding your situation. q
Questions You May Have
- Who Pays My Medical Bills After A Bike Crash?
- Who Pays for My Lost Time from Work After A Bike Crash?
- Who Pays for My Damaged or Destroyed Bike?
- What Happens if I Am Partially at Fault for The Bicycle Crash?
- What if My Bike Crash Was Caused by A Dog?
- What if My Bicycle Crash Was Caused by Another Cyclist?
- How Much Does A Bicycle Accident Lawyer Cost? 1
- Do I Have to Go to The Lawyers Office to Get My Bicycle Accident Case Settled?
- How Long Will It Take to Get My Bicycle Crash Case Resolved?
- How Soon After My Bicycle Crash Should I Call A Lawyer?
Who Pays My Medical Bills After A Bike Crash?
If you are hit by a car in Massachusetts while riding your bicycle your medical bills will be covered by the personal injury protection (PIP) portion of your own auto insurance policy on your car or that of a family member with whom you were living with at the time of your accident. This is considered No-Fault insurance. If neither you nor your household members own a car then the PIP coverage on the car that hit you would be responsible for up to $8,000 in related medical expenses, depending on whether you carry private health insurance. After PIP is exhausted, your medical bills will be covered by your own medical insurance carrier, if you have such coverage. If you are uninsured your only other option is to seek payment from the driver of the car that hit you but that would only be an option if you were 50% or less responsible for the crash. 2
Who Pays for My Lost Time from Work After A Bike Crash?
If you are hit by a car in Massachusetts while riding your bicycle, a portion of your lost wages may be paid to you from the personal injury protection (PIP) portion of your own auto insurance policy on your car or that of a family member with whom you were living with at the time of your accident. This is considered No-Fault insurance. If neither you nor your household members own a car then the PIP coverage on the car that hit you would be responsible for up to $8,000 in total payments. So, this means that if some of this available $8,000 is used to pay medical bills as described above, the pool of funds available for your wages is reduced accordingly. If you have unpaid lost wages after exhausting PIP your only other option is to seek payment from the driver of the car that hit you but that would only be an option if you were 50% or less responsible for the crash. 3
Who Pays for My Damaged or Destroyed Bike?
It depends on how the crash occurred and whether someone else is at fault for the crash. Not all Massachusetts bicycle accidents involve serious injuries. In most cases, even in minor crashes, you can end with hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in damages to your bike frame and equipment. Repairs can be costly so understanding how to get your bike repaired or replaced is important.
If you crash because of weather conditions, a defect or object in the road, or simply because you misjudged a turn at speed, there isn’t anyone else to hold responsible for the damage to your bike. In such scenarios, your homeowner’s insurance may pay for the repair or replacement of the bicycle if it is covered under your policy. You will need to promptly call your insurance company to make sure your bike is properly covered and if it is be sure to get an estimate of the cost to repair or replace the bike from a reputable bike shop.
If you are hit by a car while riding your bike in Massachusetts, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy should cover damages to your bike that result from the accident. If another cyclist caused you to crash, you would seek payment from the at-fault cyclist’s homeowner’s or renter’s policy if they have one. 4
What Happens If I Am Partially At Fault for The Bicycle Crash?
It depends on how much at fault you are determined to be. Massachusetts is a “comparative negligence” jurisdiction. What this means is that in a negligence case against either a driver or another cyclist whichever the case may be each party’s relative fault is compared. If the injured party is deemed to be more than 50% at fault they are precluded from recovering any damages at all. If they are found to be 50% or less at fault they can recover but their total damages are reduced by their “comparative fault”. The real question initially is who says who is at fault? The police? The insurance companies? Who? I always tell people don’t accept anyone’s determination at fault before you talk to an experienced bike accident attorney. I can’t tell you how many times we have successfully handled cases where the initial determination by both the police and the insurance company put the fault on our client. Through thorough investigation and sometimes a hard fight we have proven that our client was not at fault and recovered damages for them. So my advice is to speak to a lawyer before you decide whether your bike crash case has merit or not. 5
What If My Bike Crash Was Caused by A Dog?
Many people enjoy riding their bikes on trails, whether they be converted rail trails or one of the many bike paths we have here in Massachusetts. These trails provide a safe place for cyclists, joggers, and people who just want to get out for a walk. These are also favorite spots for people to take their dogs for walks. Usually, all get along just fine but occasionally dogs and cyclists collide and one or both get injured. We have all encountered a dog being walked on or off a leash which allows it to be several feet away from its owner. This is when many crashes occur.
Another common scenario we see is an unleashed dog chasing a cyclist causing the cyclist to crash and injure themselves. We have successfully handled such cases here in the Greater Boston area. In Massachusetts, dog owners are strictly liable for the actions of their dogs. A dog owner has the absolute obligation to prevent their dog from causing injury to others. The only two exceptions to this strict rule are if someone is teasing or tormenting a dog or if the person injured is a trespasser on the owner’s property.
If you have been injured due to a dog encounter you may be pursued a claim under the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. 7
What If My Bicycle Crash Was Caused by Another Cyclist?
A less common crash scenario we see but a very dangerous one nonetheless, is when a cyclist is injured by another cyclist. These types of crashes can result in serious injuries and sometimes death. In a recent case we handled, our client was cycling with the flow of vehicular traffic as required, when another cyclist coming in the opposite, but the wrong direction struck our client causing very serious injuries. The cyclist traveling in the wrong direction had a homeowner’s policy who stepped in and provided coverage for their policyholder. The important thing to remember here is that in scenarios that DO NOT involve an automobile, the at-fault person, may be covered for their negligence through their homeowner’s policy or if they are renters, through their renter’s insurance. This fact is not common knowledge and it often prevents injured cyclists from pursuing their legal right to seek compensation when they are injured. Since the language found in homeowners and renter’s insurance policies vary, it is important to have an experienced bicycle attorney review the facts of your case as soon as possible after your accident.
Most apartment complexes in the greater Boston area require residents to have renter’s insurance and almost all homeowners have homeowner’s insurance, especially if they have a mortgage on their home. So, the chances of there being coverage for injuries suffered in a cycling accident are usually quite high. 6
How Much Does A Bicycle Accident Lawyer Cost?
The Typical Fee is 1/3rd of the settlement amount plus expenses paid by the attorney. There is no fee unless and until your bike crash case is successfully resolved. Most, if not all, injury attorneys will require a new client to sign a Contingent Fee Agreement. These agreements state that the lawyer receives a percentage of the client's gross recovery as their fee. The exact percentage can vary from attorney to attorney, but the range is most commonly between 25 and 40% of the settlement or verdict.
If you are hiring an attorney to handle your injury case, you will be asked to sign a Contingent Fee Agreement.
Before you do, be sure you understand the following:
- how the fee is calculated?
- whether you are required to pay any costs during the process?
- what type of costs are likely to be incurred in your case?
- if the case is unsuccessful will you owe the attorney anything?
- if you change lawyers will you owe anything to the lawyer?
- does the agreement cover both the trial of the case and an appeal if necessary?
Make sure you fully understand the agreement before you sign it. Take it home, think about any additional questions you may have. Sometimes just sleeping on it for a day or two will bring to mind more questions you would've liked answered. Do not feel pressured to sign right there in the lawyer's office. You sign it when you're comfortable and ready. 8
Do I Have to Go to The Lawyers Office to Get My Bicycle Accident Case Settled?
No. Many have come to know the term, TeleMedicine during the recent pandemic. But unlike the practice of medicine, where some things simply can’t be done through a Zoom call, TeleLaw often allows our clients to completely resolve their bike crash cases without ever requiring an in-person meeting.
We have met new clients, settled dozens of cases, and even conducted mediations and court hearings using Zoom.
So, if you have questions, reach out to us. It’s very likely we can help you from the comfort of your own home. 9
How Long Will It Take to Get My Bicycle Crash Case Resolved?
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “how long will it take to get my case settled?” My answer is almost always “it depends”. Not the most satisfying answer I understand but it is absolutely the most truthful.
It depends on the complexity of the case with respect to how the accident happened and how serious your injuries and how involved your medical treatment will be.
No two cycling accident cases are the same. To be successful, a cyclist must be able to prove that he or she was 50% or less at fault for the collision. If you are found to be over 50% at fault in Massachusetts, you cannot recover damages from the other person. Sometimes in order to gather the necessary evidence to prove who was at fault, much work needs to be done, which can and will slow the entire process.
The other factor that often dictates how long it takes to get your case settled is how badly hurt you were and what your medical treatment consists of. To fully and accurately evaluate your case we try to wait until you have reached a Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) prior to settling your case. MMI is the point at which you have either made a full recovery or have reached a point where you will recover no further. The more serious the injury the longer it usually takes to reach MMI. Sometimes a client will not reach this point within the 3-year statute of limitations and we must file a lawsuit to protect our client’s right to continue to pursue their case. In those cases, we will use medical experts to provide evidence on the need for future care. This allows either the insurance company for the at-fault party or the jury in the case of a trial to assess your full damages claim.
Once I speak to a client I can usually give them a good estimate on the time it will take to resolve their case but there is no general rule of thumb to use for all situations. 10
How Soon After My Bicycle Crash Should I Call A Lawyer?
As soon as you can after you have taken care of your medical issues. Most of the time you don’t need to call a lawyer immediately after a crash. Obviously, the first thing you should do is seek medical treatment. Then, when you’re ready, you should call an attorney to discuss your case. There are cases however that need an immediate investigation to ensure evidence is not lost and that witnesses are contacted before their memories begin to fade. Once we are contacted we can determine if immediate action is required. Call us at 617-889-5000 or contact us online and we will help you as soon as possible.
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Videos and Other Resources
We also have an extensive video library that will help answer any questions you have before you set foot into a lawyer's office or a courtroom. Learn what to say to your insurance company after an accident or the steps on how to best payback health and car insurance after an accident settlement, plus so much more! We currently have over 40 videos in our library.
Why Spada Law Group?
- Free onsite parking
- A warm welcome, including a private conference room and light refreshments
- An attentive, focused Case Manager and an Attorney who will listen to you and answer all of your questions
- A free packet of helpful information written by us to take with you
- Follow-up calls on a regular schedule from our legal team to answer additional questions and keep you informed of the process
- Transportation to our office for those who need it
- And NO pressure to sign anything at your initial consultation
If you want to learn more about Attorney Len Spada, the video below may give you a better understanding of who he is and where our firm’s philosophy of leveling the playing field for the average person comes from.