If you hit a cyclist with your car, under no circumstances should you admit fault. By doing so, you could open yourself up to liability should the cyclist move forward with legal action. After making sure that the accident scene is clear of any hazards, you should check with the cyclist to see if they need medical attention. In some situations, they might have only minor cuts and bruises. In serious cases, they could have a total loss of consciousness or need immediate medical intervention. If the latter is relevant to your situation, then you need to call 911.
Under Louisiana Revised Statutes, Title 32 §398, you are required to fill out a police report if:
- Anybody is injured or killed
- Property damage exceeds $500
After you hit a cyclist with your car, the days following the accident are of crucial importance. You may be contacted by the cyclist’s insurance company or legal representative. For this reason, you may want to consider working with a lawyer to protect your legal rights.
Louisiana Is a Comparative Fault State
The Wall Street Journal reports that Louisiana is the second-deadliest state for bicyclists, with Florida holding the number one spot. If you hit a cyclist with your car, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that even the most cautious drivers can still be in an accident.
According to Louisiana Civil Code 2323, Louisiana is a comparative fault state, meaning that after an accident, both parties can be assigned a portion of fault. For example, if you struck a cyclist when they were jaywalking, they could also be found responsible for the accident. Comparative fault states assign liability out of 100. You could be assigned 70% at fault for the accident, while the bicyclist could be 30% liable. This will affect the amount of compensation they can recover if they pursue legal action.
If you choose to work with a lawyer, they can explain in more detail what your percentage of fault could mean in your case.
The Damages a Cyclist Can Receive
In Louisiana, victims of vehicular accidents, including cyclists, can pursue a variety of economic and noneconomic losses. Economic damages are actual expenses and costs, like medical bills. Noneconomic damages relate to items that do not have a tangible value, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.
While your insurance may protect you for bodily injury and property claims, you can still face litigation if the other party suffered significant injuries or died. Keep in mind that just because a bicyclist is bringing litigation against you does not mean that they will be successful.
Yet, if they are successful, they may be able to recover damages for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damage
- Childcare cost, if their condition prevented them from caring for their family
- Pain and suffering and inconvenience
If you hit a cyclist with your car, they will likely first approach your insurance company to recover the cost of their damages. Yet, if they cannot reach a settlement agreement with your insurer, then they can take their case to court.
How to Protect Yourself from Potential Claims
You are going to want to take preventative measures to protect yourself from litigation.
Some of these steps include:
- Keeping documents that relate to the crash, including police reports, photos, videos, and other relevant information
- Alerting your insurance company to the situation so that they are prepared to handle it
- Seeking medical care, even if you do not appear to be injured by the collision
- Not speaking directly with the injured cyclist, their insurer, or their legal representatives without a lawyer working on your behalf
- Refraining from any actions or behaviors that would implicate you in the accident
Under Louisiana Revised Statute 13:5106, the state imposes a statutory cap of $500,000 for various damages following a collision. If you are found responsible for a bicycle accident, you could be facing a significant financial strain.
Call Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers Today
If you hit a bicyclist with your car, you may want the assistance of a lawyer who can guide you through the legal process. The complexities of lawsuits and insurance claims can be hard to navigate by yourself, and one mistake could cost you in the end.
Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers is here to help. Our team can investigate the circumstances of the collision, collect evidence that defers liability, and handle all communications with the involved parties.
Call us today at (337) 777-7777 for a free case evaluation.