Personal Injury Claims, Part I: Filing Them
RIBike was approached recently by a writer from a Personal Injury Law website, with an offer to write content for us about what to do in case of a bike crash. Thanks to Deanna Power for submitting the pieces and to RIBike volunteer CJ for helping make the pieces work for Rhode Island bicyclists! The remaining two articles in this series will publish over the next two days.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Rhode Island
Crashing your bicycle is a terrifying, horrible event. Luckily, if a motorist injures you, there is financial recourse available. A personal injury claim can assist bicyclists with medical bills and other expenses associated with the crash, helping them get back on their feet (or seat).
Fault and a Personal Injury Claim
Before filing a claim, you must prove that you were not at fault at the crash. Because a bicycle must abide by the same laws drivers do, the guilty party will be whoever caused a traffic violation, such as not signaling before a turn, failing to yield, or running a stop light.
If bicyclists abide by the following laws as they ride, they’ll have a shot at winning a claim:
- Anyone age 15 and younger must wear a helmet
- Signal via hand before turning right or left at least 100 feet ahead of turn
- Not be “clinging” to other vehicles
- No carrying packages or items that require both hands to be off the handlebars
In addition, a bicycle should be equipped with the following safety features:
- A front light visible by up to 500 feet at night
- A red rear reflector
- Pedal reflectors
- Working brakes
- 20 square inches of side reflectors
- No sirens or whistles
Failure to equip any mandatory safety features could jeopardize your personal injury claim.
Comparative Negligence in Rhode Island
Rhode Island law states that both parties can be partially guilty for causing a crash. As long as you’re not found more than 50% at fault for a bicycle crash, you can still file a personal injury claim. Any negligence that you share with the party at fault will be deducted from any earnings. For example:
Austin was rear-ended while riding his bicycle at dusk. He was not at fault for the crash, but his bicycle did not have any red rear reflector. The court awarded Austin $15,000 for the settlement, but found him 10% responsible for the crash. His settlement was thus reduced to $13,500.
How to File a Claim
You can file a personal injury claim at most Rhode Island courthouses. Rhode Island additionally has the option to file a claim online, which can be done on the Rhode Island Judiciary’s website. You will have up to three years to file a claim after the crash takes place.
This article was not written by an attorney, and the accuracy of the content is not warranted or guaranteed. If you wish to receive legal advice about a specific problem, you should contact a licensed attorney in your area.