After a serious bicycle accident in Florida, you may become overwhelmed with medical bills and lost wages at a time when you should be focusing your energies on recovery. Personal injury protection (PIP) policies are quickly exhausted and you may find that you are left to handle insurance companies on your own. When this occurs, you need an experienced and skilled Florida bicycle accident attorney in your corner.
Dolman Law Group has been assisting Florida bicyclists with filing Florida bicycle accident claims for over a decade now and can help you too. Filing a bicycle accident claim requires experience, specialized knowledge, and certain skills that the average bicycle accident victim will not have. Consider speaking to Dolman Law Group about what our Florida bicycle accident lawyers bring to the table and how you can take legal action to get back on your feet after a severe collision with a motor vehicle while riding a bicycle.
With offices located throughout Florida, including Clearwater, North Miami, Tampa, and Boca Raton, we are there wherever you need us. Call us today at (727) 451-6900 to begin exploring your legal options or fill out our confidential contact form. We offer in-person consultations in our offices, at your home, or even in your hospital room. We can also arrange to meet virtually during this time.
Common Causes of Florida Bicycle Accidents
For those who love outdoor cycling, it doesn't get much better than bicycling in Florida. The great weather and splendid scenery make it the perfect place to cycle for transportation or recreation. Unfortunately, it also has one of the highest per-capita bicyclist death rates in the country, with 9,356 bicycle crashes, including 720 fatalities and 1,543 incapacitating injuries in 2018.
As with all accidents, there may be one main factor or a combination of factors causing the accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 30 percent of bicyclists injured in an accident are struck by a car. Motorists often do not leave enough room between their vehicle and the bicycle. Cars frequently rear-end bicyclists, particularly at stop signs. Approximately 11 percent of the time, accidents happen when a vehicle crosses the path of a bicyclist in an intersection or emerges from an alley or driveway.
The most common accidents involved bike-vehicle crashes when the drivers of the vehicles were between 20 and 24 years old. This was surprising to many Floridians, who often blame the aging snowbird population for road-related accidents, but drivers older than 75 were least likely to be involved when cars and bikes collided.
Common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Driver inattention. Bicyclists are just as much in danger from distracted drivers as are other vehicle drivers on the road. Drivers are about three times more likely to crash if they are making a phone call while driving and 23 times more likely to crash when texting and driving. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that every day, there are 1,161 people injured, and eight people killed because of distracted drivers. However, bicyclists are also distracted when they are using hands-free devices or wearing headphones while riding, possibly causing them to swerve into traffic or across intersections with oncoming traffic.
- Failure to yield. Drivers are often unaware that they must yield to bicyclists on the road, but failure to yield accidents may also happen when a driver is speeding or driving aggressively. Such accidents frequently occur at intersections, and approximately 45 percent of crashes between bicycles and motor vehicles take place at intersections. Almost half of all bicycle accidents happen when a motor vehicle makes a left turn and hits an oncoming cyclist.
- Speeding. When a driver is speeding, they require greater stopping time and have less time to avoid potential collisions. Even in areas with a low-speed limit, a driver going too fast puts bicyclists at risk.
- Dangerous road conditions. Road hazards are especially risky for bicyclists. In fact, 13 percent of bike accident injuries are the result of substandard road or bike lane conditions, which can cause a cyclist or other vehicle to swerve to avoid a dangerous condition. Bikes are less stable than four-wheeled vehicles, so sudden changes in the road surface, such as ruts, potholes, or sewer grates, may cause an accident. If a road hazard causes the accident, the state, county, city, or other entity responsible for road maintenance may be liable.
- Riding at night. More than half of all bicycle accidents happen after dark. Bicyclists are more difficult to see, and the motorist may see the cyclist too late to avoid a collision. Bicycles should have reflectors and lights to make them more visible, and riders are more visible when wearing reflective gear.
- “Dooring.” On busy streets, bicyclists have to ride closer to parked cars. “Dooring” happens when the motorist fails to check for oncoming traffic, opens the door, and strikes the cyclist.
- Impaired driving. Drugs and alcohol cause one out of three motor vehicle-related fatalities. Consuming drugs or alcohol before driving leads to diminished cognitive abilities, so the chances are greater that the driver does not see the bicyclist. In 2017, alcohol played a part in 37 percent of all fatal bicyclist crashes.
- Bad weather. Accidents are more likely to occur in bad weather. Bicycles have relatively thin tires, and when riding in the rain, sleet, snow, or ice, traction is affected. Drivers may have difficulty seeing bicyclists in bad weather conditions.
Common Injuries Suffered After a Bicycle Accident
When a bicycle and a car collide, the cyclist will most likely suffer severe injuries. Bike accidents often result in fatalities, especially when the car is going fast, or the cyclist is not wearing a helmet.
The most serious injuries suffered in a bike accident include traumatic brain injuries. Unfortunately, traumatic brain injuries can result in lifelong disabilities for injured riders. Even what appears to be a minor impact can result in fatal injuries depending on the way in which the cyclist hits the ground, vehicle, or another object.
Catastrophic injuries bicyclists may sustain include:
- Head and brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions or skull fractures, may leave the injured person with permanent disabilities.
- Internal injuries. A bicycle accident may result in damage to the internal organs, such as the spleen, liver, or kidneys. Other dangerous injuries, such as those to the bowel and pancreas, are very serious and may take days to discover.
- Neck and back injuries. An injured bicyclist may suffer severe spinal cord damage.
- Soft tissue injuries. These may include damaged ligaments, tendons, or muscles, which can cause pain, swelling, bruising, and damage.
- Fractures. Broken bones are painful, debilitating, and may require surgery.
Florida Bicycle Accident Damages
According to a study done by the University of California San Fransisco, the average cost of bicycle accident injuries caused by motor vehicles can cost around $77,308. If you were injured in a bicycle accident, the court may award these damages, depending on the facts of your case:
- Any medical bills and expenses related to the accident, including ambulances, emergency care, tests, hospitalization, doctor visits, rehabilitation, or ongoing care
- Compensation for lost wages
- Past, present, and future pain, suffering, and inconvenience
- Past, present, and future mental anguish and emotional distress
- Loss of earning capacity in cases of permanent physical or mental impairment
- Compensation for permanent injuries and damages
- Payment of all causally related bills for psychological or psychiatric treatment
- Loss of consortium, companionship, or spousal support
- Compensation for future medical treatment or procedures (including future surgeries and hospital stays)
- Rehabilitation expenses, including physical rehabilitation and vocational retraining if required.
- Long-term medical and nursing care as a result of your injury.
- Wrongful death.
Why Hire a Florida Bicycle Injury Attorney?
While hiring an attorney after a bicycle accident is not legally required, it is the best way to ensure your case moves forward with the best possible results. The amount of money offered by an insurance company to settle your personal injury claim may seem like a good deal to you but these insurance companies only have their best interest in mind, not yours. This is why we advise you to try not to speak with insurance companies on your own.
Personal injury lawyers provide a number of essential skills and resources that are integral to your bicycle accident claim. Their assistance provides a wealth of knowledge and experience that can help to deal with the many curve balls a bicycle accident case can throw at you. A bicycle accident lawyer also can shoulder the burden that taking legal action can create for those that are likely still recuperating from their injuries and have a number of affairs that need to be taken care of. There is also a high correlation between cases that are handled by personal injury lawyers and high value settlements attained in claims. Hiring a qualified accident lawyer will save you some peace of mind as well as potentially maximize the compensation you could receive for your pain and suffering.
Recovering for Your Injuries After a Florida Bike Accident
Seeking compensation for bicycle accident injuries will often require the filing of a personal injury claim. If your personal injury protection coverage is insufficient to cover your bicycle accident damages then typically you would file a claim by contacting the at-fault driver's insurance so that they can open a claim. The insurance company will determine if you are owed compensation because of their client's actions and then pay for the related damages. This is a somewhat simplified description of a process that can end up being much more complicated thanks to things like multiple involved parties, comparative negligence, developing injury complications, etc.
In order to file a bicycle accident claim successfully, you need to have suffered a severe injury, that injury needs to have been caused by the negligence of a party that owed you a duty of care, and you need to be able to prove the negligence of said liable party. This requires some work gathering evidence, assembling medical documents, etc. so you can prove your case when the insurance company evaluates your claim to determine its credibility. Eventually, the insurance company will offer a settlement and after some negotiation hopefully, a compromise as to what is an appropriate amount can be reached.
Otherwise, you would have to file a lawsuit and take the matter to court which is an even longer and more complicated process both parties typically want to avoid, hence a settlement. It goes without saying that trying to handle all of this on your own is generally a bad idea. Save yourself the trouble of making a serious mistake due to ignorance of legal nuance and consider speaking to a bicycle accident lawyer after you suffer a serious injury because of a crash involving an automobile while riding your bike.
Why Choose Dolman Law Group as Your Bicycle Accident Lawyers
For years Dolman Law Group has been representing injured plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits who have suffered due to someone else's negligent actions. Without the experience, education, and resources offered by a personal injury lawyer, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to try to take advantage of you and attempt to offer you a low settlement amount quickly, or you may have your claim denied altogether.
Dolman Law Group will gather evidence, contact witnesses, assess and calculate your damages, help you gather necessary documentation, and communicate with the insurance company to ensure every aspect of your case is handled properly. Our attorneys will work closely with you to make sure any questions you might have along the way are answered.
Dolman Law Group Case Results
Dolman Law Group has helped many injured victims successfully attain compensation for their bicycle accident injuries. Our firm is devoted to getting you results which means we will go all the way to trial with you if needed. We want to help you by leveling the playing field with insurance companies at the negotiating table and in the courtroom. When Dolman Law Group is on your side, you can rest assured that we will remain with you every step of the way as you seek compensation after a bicycle accident.
Below are a few results from our various personal injury cases:
- $5 million for a car accident resulting in severe burns
- $3.2 million for a semi-truck accident resulting in brain injuries
- $1.4 million for a motorcycle accident resulting in serious injuries
- $425 thousand for a car accident resulting in a lower back injury
Reported Bicycle Accidents Involving Injuries in Florida
Even if certain factors—in addition to another driver's negligence—contributed to your Florida bike accident, you may still be entitled to compensation, either from the driver's insurance policy or in a court of law.
What to Do After a Florida Bicycle Accident
The first and most important step is to seek medical care as soon as possible.
Even if you think you have no injuries or that your injuries are minor, some injuries do not show up until days or even weeks later, so prompt medical attention is important.
- When biking, carry a cell phone, some form of identification, and emergency contact information.
- Call the police. Even if the crash appears to be minor, an official police report may be valuable in the event of a lawsuit.
- Leave your bike in the same state it was after the crash, if possible. It is best if the police see the accident scene undisturbed.
- Get the basic information, such as the name and insurance information of the driver, and the names of any passengers and witnesses.
- Take photos of injuries, your bicycle, and the accident scene.
- Never admit fault. Do not publish photos of or information about your accident on social media. Insurance adjusters and private investigators may read your posts, and it may harm your case.
- Make no statement to insurance or other people until you talk to a lawyer.
If you or a loved one were injured in a bicycle accident, consult an experienced Florida cycling accident lawyer at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA to discuss your legal options.
Florida Cycling Laws: Your Rights as a Florida Cyclist
Often, motorists and bicyclists don't think of bicycles as a vehicle. However, Florida law defines a bicycle as a vehicle, and the bicyclist is a driver. Both cyclists and car drivers must exercise care and obey the rules of the road. Florida statute 316.2065 states that “Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.”
Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways as motor vehicles, but they must also obey the same traffic laws as the drivers of other vehicles. These laws include riding with the flow of traffic, obeying stop signs and red lights, using lights at night, yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway, and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks.
Cyclists are not required to ride on the shoulder, although they may ride on the shoulder if they choose. However, bicyclists should never hug the curb or ride in the gutter, both of which increase the risk of a crash. Cyclists may ride a bike on a sidewalk in Florida, but some local governments may forbid it. However, when biking on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk, they have all the same responsibilities as pedestrians.
Important Florida Bicycle Laws
There are some basic rules and regulations for bicyclists as provided under Florida's bike law, section 316.2065 of the Florida Statutes.
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic controls and signals.
- Bicyclists must use a fixed, regular seat for riding. You are only permitted to ride your bike if you're sitting on the seat.
- The number of riders and passengers on any bicycle is limited to the maximum number for that bike. You may have a passenger on your bike if the bike was made for more than one person, or if the cyclist is an adult carrying a child securely in a backpack or sling. Children under 4 years old or who weigh 40 pounds or less must travel in a seat or carrier appropriate for a child of that size or age. The seat or carrier must protect the child from all moving parts of the bike.
- Cyclists must keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times while riding.
- Every bicycle must have a brake that can stop the bike within 25 feet.
- Bikers must ride reasonably close to the right-hand curb of the road. There are some exceptions to this rule including when passing, making a left turn when a lane is too narrow to share with a car safely, or if traveling on a one-way street with at least two lanes.
- If two cyclists are riding abreast, they must stay within a single lane.
- The use of headphones, earbuds, or listening devices other than hearing aids is prohibited.
- Florida Statutes section 316.2065(7) requires the use of lights and/ or reflectors for bicycles operated between sunset and sunrise.
- Parents and guardians have a responsibility to ensure that their children obey all the provisions of Florida's bicycle law.
- A bicycle rider or passenger who is under 16 years of age must wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet that meets the federal safety standard for bicycle helmets, as defined by the Code of Federal Regulations (16 C.F.R. Part 1203). This includes a child riding in a trailer attached to a bike.
Florida Bicycle Accident FAQ
What are the basics of Florida bicycle accident lawsuits?
In a bicycle accident lawsuit, the main issue is whether someone's negligence caused the accident and the resulting injuries. Negligence by a driver can take many forms, including ignoring traffic signals, speeding, drifting into a bike lane, or failing to maintain the basic duty of care owed to everyone else on the road. In addition to a driver's negligence, liability may arise from a defective bicycle, confusing bicycle lanes, or poorly maintained roads.
If you are injured in a bicycle accident and decide to take legal action by suing the defendant and opening a bike accident claim, you and your attorney need to prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care and that they failed to perform this duty of care either by their action or failure to act, that the defendant caused your bicycle accident and that as a result, you suffered damages.
Each bicycle accident is unique, and determining liability comes down to specific facts of the accident. Evidence, such as police reports, photos, or witness testimony helps prove the facts and establish liability.
What are the responsibilities of drivers to Florida bicyclists?
Drivers must pay attention to their own driving, but must also pay attention to other vehicles around them. Bicyclists have little or no protection. Therefore, in the event of a crash, their injuries are often serious or fatal. A “Share the road” sign may be present if the road is too narrow for both bikes and cars in one lane.
In those circumstances, the bicyclist has full use of the lane and motorists may only pass if it is safe.
- Motorists should be aware that bicyclists usually ride in the right half of the lane, except in certain circumstances.
- Accidents often happen when a motorist makes a right turn in front of a bicyclist. Drivers should assume the bicyclist is moving straight ahead at an intersection unless they have signaled a turn.
- When making left turns, drivers must yield to oncoming bicyclists, just as they would to other vehicles.
- Overtaking and passing are especially risky when sharing the road with a cyclist. According to Florida law, if a driver is overtaking a bicycle, they must allow a distance of at least 3 feet between the motor vehicle and bicycle. The driver must pass to the left at a safe distance and must only return to the right side of the roadway when safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.
- Motorists should be alert to hazards such as potholes, drain grates, and debris, as these can cause bike accidents, and bicyclists may need space to maneuver around hazards.
- Always be especially careful around children on bicycles. Allow plenty of space and watch out for unexpected movements.
What are other factors that place Florida cyclists at risk?
Driving a car responsibly and staying alert can reduce the risk of accidents, though Florida cyclists have no way of ensuring they are sharing the road with responsible, attentive drivers at all times.
Other risk factors include:
- Distracted driving has become a serious problem because people try to multitask while operating a vehicle.
- Operating any vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous.
- It is hazardous to drive faster than the posted speed limit or too fast for road conditions. A speeding driver may be slow to react to a dangerous situation or cannot stop in time.
- Treacherous road conditions and poor visibility can impair drivers' response time. Drivers must be aware that there may be bicyclists on the road even in ice, snow, sleet, or heavy rain. Sun glare is also a risk.
- Unclear bicycle lanes are confusing and dangerous for everyone on the roads.
- Poorly maintained roads are a hazard for both bicyclists and motorists.
Call an Experienced Florida Bicycle Accident Attorney as Soon as Possible
Bike accident law is a complex field due to the legal standards and protections that apply to Florida cyclists. It takes a cycling attorney who understands that Florida cyclists have the same rights to use the road as drivers and that motorists should respect these rights. If you or a loved one were injured as the result of a bike accident, the Florida Bicycle Accident Attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has the personal injury team in Florida you need. Call our office today at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online for a free, no-risk consultation about your injuries.
*The above information was written and reviewed by either Attorney Matthew Dolman or another injury lawyer at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA which has a combined 90 plus years of experience practicing Florida personal injury law. Matthew Dolman himself has been practicing personal injury law in Clearwater and St. Petersburg for the last fifteen (15) years. The information provided comes from extensive research and years of experience trying legal cases in courtrooms throughout Florida.