Each year, 800 cyclists die in accidents with motor vehicles around the country, and Spokane and surrounding communities get their share of both injury accidents and fatalities. Cycling is becoming more popular in Spokane which achieved a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community Award from the League of American Bicyclists in 2014.
With this increased cycling ridership, unfortunately, comes an increase in bicycling accidents and fatalities.
Causes of Bicycle Deaths in Spokane
When a cyclist is riding among the cars and trucks on the road, it is vastly outweighed by those vehicles and exceptionally vulnerable. A simple bump from a car or truck can bring a cyclist down to the pavement and cause serious injury or death.
Some of the most dangerous accidents happen time an again for various reasons, and EMS workers see trends and are aware of some common accidents that have a higher risk of becoming a fatality for cyclists.
Most cyclist versus motor vehicle accidents happen when the driver can’t see the cyclist. This can cause a right hook accident where the motorist take a right-hand turn into the path of the bicycle, or even a dooring accident when the driver opens the car door into the cyclist.
Other times, a driver gets “tunnel vision” and doesn’t see the cyclist even though he or she is right in their field of view. This causes many crashes such as turning left into the path of a cyclist.
Wrongful Death Actions
If a cyclist survives one of these accidents, he or she can make a claim against the at-fault person to get compensation for their injuries and losses. However, when the cyclist dies, it them becomes a different type of claim based on the loss faced by the deceased’s family.
This is called a wrongful death claim, and like a personal injury claim, it’s based on the negligence of the at-fault driver. However, the losses that can be claimed are based on the losses the family faces and not what the deceased cyclist went through.
Some of these related to cyclists are:
- Medical bills before death: If these bills are owed by the estate (heirs) of the deceased, then they can be claimed as a loss.
- Loss of income: This is based on the loss of financial support that the survivors would have received had the person not died.
- Psychological pain and suffering: The pain and suffering of the cyclist can’t be claimed by the family, but the anguish and psychological pain of the family can.
- Loss of companionship and guidance: This is typically claimed be dependent children robbed of a parent.
- Loss of Consortium and companionship: Consortium deals with the loss of intimacy and companionship a spouse would have received.
- Funeral and burial costs: Based on the reasonable costs to the family for burying the deceased.
The Statute of Limitations
If you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, don’t delay getting help. There are deadlines and notices that must be filed, and if those are missed, then it’s possible that the claims could be lost. To determine what that filing deadline is and how to avoid it, it’s best to talk to an attorney who knows the law.