New Mexico Bicycle Accident Attorneys
There is a section of the Albuquerque Traffic Code than many Albuquerque bicyclists are aware of but few motorists seem to know about. It is section 8-3-3-5 and states in part: “…bicycles have the same rights as operators of automobiles…” Although these words are found within Albuquerque’s Traffic Code, it is not a unique Albuquerque bicycle law.
Looking at New Mexico’s Motor Vehicle Code yields a similar result. Section 66-3-702 states in part: “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle…” This is perhaps one of the least followed New Mexico traffic laws. For whatever reason, there exists a divide between New Mexico motorists and New Mexico bicyclists. Perhaps it is this mindset that is responsible for the numerous New Mexico bicycle accident and death cases that occur annually.
A New Mexico bicycle accident lawyer should be familiar with the unique laws and rules that protect bicyclists and not treat a bicycle accident case as though it is a regular car accident. This is even more important considering the serious injuries that typically result from bicycle accidents.
What Are the Most Common Injuries Suffered in Bicycle Accidents?
Some of the most common injuries suffered in New Mexico bicycle accidents include:
Scrapes and Lacerations
Almost any bicycle accident will cause scrapes or lacerations (cuts) and some bruising. They commonly occur on the knees, elbows, and shoulders. Deep or large lacerations can require stitches if they are longer than a half-inch or do not stop bleeding after 10 minutes of firm pressure.
Soft Tissue Injuries
The body’s connective tissues, such as muscles, ligaments, or tendons, are often harmed in a bicycle accident. The shoulder is especially prone to suffer soft tissue injuries in a bicycle accident since cyclists typically cannot break their fall with their hands. Additionally, when a bicyclist is rear-ended, they can experience whiplash, which happens when the muscles and ligaments in the neck extend beyond their typical range of motion.
Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are frequently caused by a bicyclist’s head hitting the ground, even if they are wearing a helmet. TBIs are the leading cause of bicycle accident fatalities and long-term disabilities. Brain injuries can range from mild concussions to severe TBIs that result in permanent cognitive impairment.
Lacerations and fractures to the face are common and can result in long-term physical impairments and disfigurement that require cosmetic surgery.
The impact of a bicycle accident can damage internal organs, which can be life-threatening if not treated. Dizziness, severe weakness, weakness on one side of the body, numbness, acute visual problems, severe abdominal pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and nausea are symptoms to look out for.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The force of being whipped around in a bicycle accident can cause stress to the spine, resulting in spinal cord injury (SCI). For example, a disc herniation, rupture, or fracture. SCIs range in severity but may cause chronic pain and limit mobility. Surgical intervention and physical therapy are often necessary.
What Should I Do After a Bike Accident in New Mexico?
The steps you take after a bike accident in New Mexico are critical. Here is what to do:
- Move to Safety: Immediately get off the road to ensure you are safe and avoid any oncoming traffic.
- Call 911: It is always best to notify the police, no matter the accident’s severity. Emergency responders will arrive to treat you and anyone in need, and an officer will create an accident report. The police report can end up being vital to your insurance claim.
- Document the Scene: Gather as much information from the scene as possible, if you do not require immediate transportation to the hospital. Take photos and videos of where the collision occurred, the surrounding area, the vehicle, your bike, and injuries.
- Witnesses: Ask any witnesses for their contact information and if they will make a brief recorded statement on your phone. Their statement can be essential in helping you recover compensation if they confirm your version of the events.
- Do Not Discuss Fault: Never discuss who was at fault while at the scene of the accident. Anything you say can unintentionally hurt your claim.
- Seek Medical Care: See a doctor as soon as possible if you are not immediately taken to the hospital. Even if you feel fine, some severe injuries can have delayed symptoms. In addition, you need medical documentation to link your harm and any potential injuries to the accident.
- Contact a New Mexico Beach Bicycle Accident Lawyer: Consult an experienced attorney for advice on your legal options and the best course of action.
Types of Damages Available in a Bicycle Accident Claim
When another party is responsible for your bicycle accident, you have the right to recover compensation for your losses. For example:
Any bills related to your medical care related to the accident, including emergency visits, surgeries, hospitalizations, physical therapy, rehabilitation, in-home care, prescription medications, etc. Anticipated costs for future medical care can also be included.
Any current and future lost income and benefits from being unable to work while you recover.
Diminished Earning Capacity
If your injuries have made a difference in the income, you can make now compared to before the bicycle accident.
Pain and Suffering
Compensation for the physical pain and discomfort caused by your injuries.
Compensation for any psychological symptoms or conditions you have had to endure, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, etc.
Only awarded in cases where a defendant (at-fault party) behaved with an extreme disregard for the safety of others.
How Much Will My Bike Accident Case Be Worth?
Since each bike accident case is unique, it is impossible to accurately predict how much compensation you will receive. However, there are guidelines that can be used to estimate its worth.
Liability and Strength of the Case
Strong evidence to support your claim that another party is at fault can dramatically increase the value of your case. On the other hand, if there is evidence you were partially or entirely responsible, you will receive less compensation than your case’s worth. This is because New Mexico courts follow a pure comparative negligence system, which means each party to a case is assigned a percentage of fault, and their compensation is reduced accordingly. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 and found 20% to blame, you will receive 80% of your award or $100,000; if you are found 80% responsible, you will receive 20% of your award or $20,000, etc.
Extent of Damages
The intent of damages is to put a victim back into the state they were in before an accident or as close as possible. As a result, the more severe your injuries, and financial and other losses, the higher your claim is typically worth. However, the court will normally also consider the following, which can add to or devalue your claim.
- The severity of your injury.
- Your age, occupation, past medical history, etc.
- The extent to which your injury has impacted your life and future.
- Whether you followed your doctor’s recommended treatment plan.
- The amount of expenses incurred as a result of the accident (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, etc.)
- The projected costs of future medical care.
- The physical and emotional pain and suffering you have and are experiencing.
- The degree of negligence exhibited by the defendant.
- Insurance policy limits for both you and the liable party.
Evidence of Causation
The strength of your evidence that links your injuries directly to the bicycle accident is also critical to your case’s worth. For example, if you did not seek medical care immediately following the accident, the insurance company can argue that your injuries are a pre-existing condition or not caused by the accident.
Bicycle Accident Claim Timeline in New Mexico
After filing a bicycle accident claim, in the best-case scenario, it will be settled in as little as 30 days. That is the goal of most insurance companies. However, under New Mexico law, insurers have 60 days to decide on a claim. Additionally, if your case is complex, the insurance company may submit an official request for an extension, which can prolong your settlement. Ultimately, it can take up to a couple of years in some cases. The timeline of your claim will often depend on many factors, for example:
If the insurance company doesn’t receive all the information they need with your proof-of-loss forms, it can delay the process if they have to ask for additional documentation.
Severe Injuries and Losses
If your injuries are severe, an attorney will typically advise you to hold off on settling your claim until you recover or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). The reason is that it is challenging to estimate the total value of your claim if you are still generating medical bills. Another reason a settlement will be prolonged when your losses are high is that the insurance company will complete a more extensive investigation to validate them and will also look for ways to reduce their liability.
The insurance company might raise suspicions about reimbursing medical care if you were already receiving it for a pre-existing injury. Although you are still entitled to compensation if you had a pre-existing injury or condition that was aggravated or made worse because of the bicycle accident.
The Policyholder’s Limits
If your losses are extensive and the at-fault party’s policy limits are substantial, their insurance company will take extra time to thoroughly review your claim and see if they can minimize their payout.
Contact our Bicycle Accident Attorneys
The New Mexico bicycle accident lawyers at the Fine Law Firm are aware of the unique demands that present themselves in a bicycle accident case and are prepared, if need be, to do what is necessary to maximize our client’s recovery. Considering many of the attorneys at the Fine Law Firm are avid bicyclists, we take these cases seriously and implement an aggressive approach to try to try to achieve the best result possible. Reach out to us for a free case evaluation.