Bicycle Accident Wrongful Death
Over the past decade, more and more people have turned to bicycles as a means of transportation. According to a study by the Outdoor Foundation, bicycling has become the second most popular outdoor activity in the U.S. The reasons for this are clear. Not only does bicycling present a “greener” alternative to driving, but it also presents a healthier way to get around. However, bicycling, like all outdoor activities, also has its risks. A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that 677 bicyclists were killed in 2019, a significant increase from 2018, which saw 623 bicyclist fatalities.
Based in Austin Texas, the experienced bicycle accident attorneys at the Law Office of Joel A. Levine have represented many families who have experienced the death of a loved one due to a fatal bike crash. Many of the victims were involved in entirely preventable accidents. We do not tolerate such grave injustices and work hard to win wrongful death claim cases for those who have suffered the same. To learn more about our case history and the services we provide, call us at 512-982-1510.
Causes of Bicyclist Fatalities
Most fatal bicycle accidents occur due to misconduct on the part of motorists. Bicyclists have the right to share the road with other vehicles; motorists are legally obligated to practice safe driving around bicyclists. Yet, not all motorists choose to behave according to these expectations. Bicyclist fatalities are often caused by:
- Drivers who pass cyclists in an unsafe or aggressive manner.
- Drivers who turn into the cyclist’s path.
- Drivers who speed or run red lights or stop signs.
- Drivers who are in an impaired state.
There can also be accident cases where a motorist is not involved. Bad road conditions or other instances of faulty infrastructure may also lead to fatal bike accidents. The government is expected to provide safe streets and adequate signage for bicyclists and motorists. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable for any harm that befalls the affected victim.
Losses and Recovery
Family members or other loved ones who were dependent on the victim of a fatal bike accident may file a wrongful death claim. Under Texas law, they may recover damages according to the losses they sustained upon the death of the victim, including:
- Loss of Love, Society, Companionship, Comfort, Protection, Care, and Consortium: In determining the amount of these damages, several things are taken into consideration, including the closeness of the relationship involved, the age and health of the survivor, and the life expectancy of the decedent.
- Loss of Services: Where a decedent performed domestic services for the survivor, such as babysitting, the survivor may recover the value of those lost services in a wrongful death action.
- Loss of Financial Contributions: Where a survivor received expected financial contributions from the decedent, they can be recovered from the negligent party. Examples of items in this category include income, benefits, and support payments that would typically have been used to support the surviving person.
- Loss of Training and Advice: Where the survivor would have received training and advice from the decedent, the survivor can recover the value of the loss. A typical example of damages in this category is the advice, training, and moral support children receive from their parents.
- Funeral and Burial Expenses: Reasonable funeral and burial expenses incurred by a survivor may be recovered in a lawsuit for wrongful death. These expenses must be considered reasonable before they are recoverable.
A lawsuit for wrongful death is intended to compensate the survivor for their own losses, not for the losses incurred by the decedent prior to death. Therefore, a survivor cannot recover for the following things:
- Parents’ pain, suffering, or anguish experienced by the decedent prior to death
- Parents’ medical expenses or other expenditures incurred by the decedent prior to death
Even though these elements are not recoverable in a wrongful death action, another remedy is available to repay these expenses and other elements to the decedent’s estate. This is called survival action. A survival action can be maintained where the injured party dies from the injuries inflicted by a negligent person. The decedent’s representative, i.e., the executor of their estate-brings this type of lawsuit and recovers for all economic losses personally by the decedent before death. A survivor action does not include damages for the pain and suffering experienced by the decedent, only actual quantifiable loss, such as medical bills and lost wages.
Do I Have a Wrongful Death Claim?
If your family member, spouse, or loved the negligence of another fatally injures one, you may have a claim for wrongful death. This type of legal claim allows certain surviving family members to recover damages from those responsible for the losses they suffer as a result.
To recover damages for wrongful death, an individual must be within one of the following categories:
- Surviving Spouse or Domestic Partner (must meet specific criteria of the state)
- Children, including adopted children
- Dependent persons (Parents can recover from their child’s death if they were dependent or if there are no other survivors)
- Minors residing in the same household, other than children, who were dependent upon the decedent
- Others, including dependent spouses who were not legally married to the decedent but believed in good faith that they were
Usually, more than one family member will be within the class of persons able to bring this type of lawsuit.
Helping Families Find Peace
The death of a loved one is a devastating event, and those who were close to the deceased may need a long period of mourning before they are able to move on. At the Law Office of Joel A. Levine, we do our best to have our clients’ cases concluded efficiently and satisfactorily so they can start engaging in the process of mental and emotional recovery without having to worry about financial and legal issues. Contact us today if you need the representation of a lawyer who cares.