Ontario’s cyclists enjoy the same rights and obligations as other vehicles sharing the road. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for careless – and even aggressive – drivers to strike bicyclists and cause serious injuries.
Below are five things you must know if you are a cyclist who has recently been injured in a bike accident in Ontario.
1. You must take fast action to protect your rights – There are many reasons to act quickly after a bike accident in Ontario. The first priority is securing prompt medical attention. Consult a physician, even if you think your injuries are relatively minor. Potentially fatal injuries, such as brain trauma and internal bleeding, may not be apparent immediately. Continue with prescribed medical treatment until a doctor clears you of injury.
Next, it’s important to notify your auto insurance company of the accident – you have just seven business days in which to do so. Your policy should cover your injuries, even though you were not driving at the time of the accident. You must complete an application for Accident Benefits within 30 business days of receipt. Failure to hit these deadlines could cause you to lose out on valuable benefits.
2. Medical benefits and other compensation is available – Accident Benefits aim to address the financial losses associated with your injuries. Available money may include up to $50,000 in Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits. This can pay for necessary medical care or physical therapy to help you cope with back injuries. More money may be available for catastrophic injuries, such as brain trauma, paralysis or the loss of a limb.
Other benefits address lost income as well as the cost of home healthcare and other expenses.
3. A lawyer can help you protect your potential settlement – You are not obligated to work with a lawyer. That said, your odds of securing a fair and substantial settlement may improve if you hire a lawyer familiar with Ontario’s bike laws and cyclists’ rights. Furthermore, a lawyer can provide personalized advice on how to communicate with insurance companies and how to present a compelling case for fair compensation.
4. You may have grounds for a lawsuit – You may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver who caused your accident. This will depend on your ability to prove you were not at fault or partially at fault for your crash or injuries.
Bear in mind, the Ontario Highway Traffic Act views bicycles as vehicles. Any violation of traffic laws – such as riding through a red light or failing to signal a turn – may hinder your ability to sue a driver successfully. A lawyer can be helpful if you’re pursuing a tort claim. He or she can review the facts of your case to help determine if you have grounds for a suit and how it would impact payment of Accident Benefits.
5. There are steps you can take to increase the chances of a fair settlement – You may improve your chances of a full financial recovery by following your lawyer’s advice, reporting the accident to the police, preserving all evidence of the accident and meeting all deadlines in applying for Accident Benefits.
Did a careless driver recently strike you while you were riding your bike in Ontario? Call 1-800-JUSTICE® to schedule a free case evaluation.