Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Lawyer

August 28, 2018 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman

A bicycle accident can devastate the victim and the victim's family. Every year, bicyclists die and suffer serious injuries on Florida roads through no fault of their own. Their injuries cause enormous physical, emotional, and financial pain to them and their loved ones. It can take months, even years, to recover from just the bodily injuries or the shock of losing a loved one. The financial damages might last even longer.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a bicycle accident in the Ft. Lauderdale area, the experienced bike accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, may be able to help. Our Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident lawyers have represented bicycle accident victims and their families to help ensure they receive the justice and financial compensation they need and deserve.

Why Hire an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney?

Recovering compensation for injuries sustained in a Florida bicycle accident can be complicated. Victims often find it frustrating to navigate Florida's unusual no-fault insurance rules while trying to pay for mounting medical expenses and dealing with lost income. In addition, insurance may not cover some of the most devastating costs of a bicycle accident injury or death, or the insurance company may fight payment. 

Victims and their families often do not realize that there may be other options for recovering compensation from at-fault parties, even after no-fault insurance has paid out. For example, it may be possible to file a liability auto insurance claim or sue the driver who caused the crash.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help victims sort through these issues. Often, the sooner victims and their families consult an attorney after a bicycle accident, the better their chances of recovering the maximum compensation to which they're entitled. Not only are there deadlines on filing a lawsuit, but evidence to build a strong claim can disappear quickly after a crash.

Common Bicycle Accident Injuries

Bicyclists are some of the most vulnerable people on Broward County roads. Their only crash protection is usually just a helmet. These helmets are generally plastic and Styrofoam, made to reduce the risk of an injury in a fall, not a collision with a car. Unfortunately, bicycle accidents often end in the death of the bike rider. Even when the rider survives, the injuries can be massive, including:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury, including paralysis
  • Broken bones, cracked ribs, loss of or damage to limbs
  • Nerve damage
  • Soft tissue injuries (head, neck, back, legs)
  • Disfigurement (including road rash, scarring)

Damages That a Lawyer May Help Recover in Florida Bicycle Accident Cases

Under Florida's no-fault insurance laws, bike accident victims may be entitled to receive compensation from their injury protection insurance coverage no matter who is at fault for the accident. Together with the victim's health insurance, that coverage may cover immediate medical expenses resulting from a bicycle accident. But what about all of the other costs?

An experienced bicycle accident attorney may be able to help victims, and their families recover the costs of:

  • Medical care
  • Long-term care and rehabilitation services
  • Lost earnings, including past and future
  • Funeral expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • In some limited cases, punitive damages

If the bicyclist does not have no-fault insurance, it may also be possible to pursue damages based on the at-fault driver's auto liability coverage. However, many people who ride a bicycle regularly may not have a car or car insurance coverage. This could include children, college students, bike commuters, and others. In addition, there are many other circumstances when turning to the at-fault driver's insurance is the best option.

Having an attorney on your side after a Fort Lauderdale bicycle versus car accident makes it easier to understand your options and navigate the process of seeking and recovering compensation. 

Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

In Fort Lauderdale, bicycling is more than just a fun way to get exercise. It's flexible transportation for traveling throughout the city. Families bike together. Cyclists ride for exercise, sport, and pure enthusiasm. Businesses and independent workers rely on cycles to earn a living. Sadly, cycling's growing popularity has an unanticipated cost. As more bicycles share the road with trucks, cars, busses, and commercial vehicles, the injury and death toll steadily rise.

We recognize that cycling is an integral part of life in Florida. But, if you're a cycling enthusiast, mounting casualties won't likely change your commitment to two-wheeled transportation. That's why we created our Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident FAQ. It's crucial information for motorists and bicyclists who need to understand common cycling issues.

Why Has Bicycling Increased?

These factors contribute to the rise in bicycles as a transportation choice:

  • Exercise: Bicycles offer a fun aerobic workout and build muscles in the torso and lower body.
  • Outdoor activities: Cycling is a great way to tour parks and see the city.
  • Cost-efficiency: Bicycles cost thousands of dollars less than a car or truck. They don't require fuel, and maintenance is economical.
  • Eco-friendly: Bikes run on human power. When you ride a bike, you don't generate harmful fuel emissions.

Do Bicycle Accidents Frequently Occur in Florida?

Fatal bicycle accidents occur more often in Florida than in any other state. This likely has a lot to do with the weather. In addition, there are many retirees, vacationers, families, and others looking for outdoor recreational opportunities in Florida. 

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department's crash dashboard keeps a running tally of annual casualty statistics.

  • 6,642 bicycle accidents occurred in 2019
  • 6,221 cyclists reported injuries
  • 161 cyclists sustained fatal injuries
  • 715 bicycle accidents occurred in the Fort Lauderdale area
  • 676 cyclists reported injuries
  • 11 bicyclists sustained fatal injuries in the Fort Lauderdale area

How do Our Bicycle Accident Statistics Compare with National Bicycle Accident Statistics?

Florida has a reputation as the deadliest state for bicycle riders because more fatalities occur here than in any other state. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's Bicycle Traffic Safety Facts analyzes data from accidents that occurred in one recent year. The data shows that California had a similar number of fatalities, but Florida has a higher fatality rate based on population.

Here are additional key facts from the NHTSA annual bicycle accident statistics:

  • 857 cyclists died in the United States in one recent year
  • California had 155 fatalities, the second highest after Florida
  • Cyclists make up 2.3 percent of all traffic fatalities nationally
  • The national bicycle accident fatality rate is 2.62 per one million residents
  • Florida's bicycle accident fatality rate is 7.5 per one million residents
  • Louisiana's bicycle accident fatality rate is 6.22 per one million residents, the second-highest rate in the country

When do Most Fatal Bicycle Accidents Occur?

NHTSA's traffic data shows a consistent bicycle accident pattern. There is no specific time of day when someone is more likely to suffer injuries or die in a car versus a bicycle crash. Fatal bicycle/vehicle accidents happen every day of the week and at all hours of the day and night.

  • Fatalities take place 24-hours a day: daylight, 50 percent; dark, 46 percent; dawn, 2 percent; and dusk, 2 percent
  • Cyclists sustain fatal accident injuries more frequently on weekends
  • 19 percent of weekday fatalities and 23 percent of weekend fatalities occurred between 6 p.m. and 8:59 p.m.
  • 18 percent of weekday bicycle fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 5:59 p.m.
  • 20 percent of weekend cyclist fatalities happened between 9 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.

What Are the Most Dangerous Areas for Bicyclists to Ride?

Bicycles are popular in all parts of the state, but fatal accidents occur most frequently in urban locations. Populations and traffic are denser in urban areas. Bicyclists often ride among private passenger cars and trucks, buses, and large commercial vehicles. Some vehicles don't share the road as they should, violating traffic laws and putting bicyclists in danger.

The NHTSA suggests that Florida tourism plays a role in traffic congestion that contributes to bicycle accidents. People on vacation look for recreational activities to enjoy, and cycling is a popular, family-friendly option. However, those visiting the area may be less familiar with traffic patterns, places where drivers often speed or violate laws, and road conditions. This could also affect the risk of becoming the victim of a crash.

Some statistics that show which areas are the most dangerous for cyclists include: 

  • NHTSA's 2018 statistics show that 79 percent of bicyclist fatalities occurred in urban areas
  • 21 percent of fatal accidents in 2018 took place on rural roads
  • 27 percent happened at an intersection
  • 60 percent of fatal accidents took place along roadways
  • 11 percent occurred on shoulders, in parking lanes, on sidewalks, and in roadway medians

How do Bicycle Accidents Occur?

When bicyclists share the road with vehicle drivers, they become victims of the same bad driving behaviors that injure other vehicle operators. When a car crashes into a bicycle, drunk driving, speeding, drugged-driving, and other driver issues are often a factor. NHTSA statistics show that alcohol was a factor in 37 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents.

A Right to The Road, the Governor's Highway Safety Association's report on bicycle safety, reports a list of first events common to bicycle accident fatalities.

  • Vehicle drivers overtake bicyclists while moving in the same direction, colliding because the driver did not leave enough space for the cyclist.
  • Motorists cut off cyclists by turning into their path, often failing to yield the right-of-way.
  • Vehicles strike cyclists after entering the road from an alley, parking lot, or driveway, failing to look for the cyclist before pulling out.
  • Motorists open vehicle doors while parallel parked without looking, cutting off a bicyclist's path.
  • Vehicle drivers fail to “see” bicyclists for a variety of reasons
  • Drivers misjudge bicyclists' speed or distance

Who Is Involved in Bicycle Accidents More Frequently?

Both men and women use bikes for transportation, exercise, and sport. However, men sustain fatal injuries at rates far higher than women. This may be because they are more likely to take risks such as forgoing safety gear, speeding, riding while intoxicated, and riding in more dangerous areas. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) confirms this is true in all types of traffic accidents.

National statistics published by the NHTSA reveal the following numbers:

  • Of the 857 cyclists fatally injured in one recent year, 88 percent were male
  • Men cyclists sustained fatal accident injuries at seven times the rate of women
  • 47 was the average age of a fatally injured bicyclist
  • Bicyclists aged 55 to 59 were fatally injured most frequently
  • Four percent of bicycle accident fatality victims were younger than 15

Many people think of children riding bikes and do not consider how many adults enjoy cycling regularly. Yet, as you can see, 96 percent of those killed in bicycle versus car accidents during the year in question were age 15 or over.

What Types of Accidents Cause Bicycle Fatalities?

NHTSA's Traffic Safety Facts show the types of vehicles and impacts most often in fatal bicycle accidents.

  • In 81.8 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents involving a single vehicle, drivers crashed into the bicycle with the front of their vehicles.
  • Light trucks crashed into bicycles, causing 356 of the fatal bicycle accidents in the country.
  • In 88 percent of light truck/bicycle crashes, the truck's front struck the bicyclist.
  • Two percent of bicyclists' fatalities occurred after a vehicle struck the bicycle in the rear.
  • In 28 percent of the fatal bicycle accidents involving a large truck, the truck's right side was the point of impact.
  • In 48 percent of bus accidents where the cyclist died, the bus's right side was the point of impact.
  • The NHTSA believes that large vehicles' right-side impacts occur because of wide turns.

What Type of Injuries do Bicycle Accidents Cause?

Because of weight, balance, and other vehicle differences, bicyclists are often seriously, catastrophically, or fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes. The force of an initial impact with a vehicle easily breaks bones, injures muscles and tissues, and causes internal damage. An initial impact often sends the cyclists and their bike to the pavement or into a stationary object. This second impact often causes additional injuries. Bicyclists often sustain multiple injuries, making recovery a long-term challenge.

Some of the most common injuries include:

  • Multiple fractures
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Internal organ damage
  • Muscle and soft tissue damage
  • Road burns
  • Lacerations
  • Fatal injuries

Size and weight are the simplest answers. But, of course, it's more complicated than that. In a vehicle/bicycle crash, several factors make serious, catastrophic, and fatal injuries inevitable.

Bicycle size and weight: When a vehicle/bicycle crash occurs, weight and size often determine the severity (along with speed). Bicycles are far smaller than a car and weigh an average of 19 pounds. Sport, competition, and e-bikes weigh between 38 and 70 pounds. 

At 4,000 plus pounds, the smallest car easily damages a bicycle. Speed enhances the force, allowing the weight to cause even more destruction. The potential for serious injury increases when a collision involves a bus, large truck, or another commercial vehicle.

Balance: Balance is the most challenging part of learning to ride a bicycle. Regardless of a cyclist's bike-riding skill, a crash will throw them off balance and may even force them to the pavement.

Protection: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Bicycle Safety Page explains that helmets protect riders from severe head injuries. Lights and reflectors enhance visibility, but bikers are at a safety disadvantage by all other measures. They have no protective compartments, no steel reinforcements, and no airbags or physical restraints for enhanced protection.

Infrastructure: Physical separation from vehicle traffic is the most workable option for preventing bicycle accidents. Bike trails and dedicated bike lanes eliminate the risks of sharing lanes with cars and trucks.

Do Florida Statues Apply to Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Riders?

Cyclists have the same rights as motor vehicle drivers in Florida, but their responsibilities vary. State law gives certain mobility devices “bicycle” status. The provisions also apply to low-powered devices, such as e-bicycles.

Here are a few of the key stipulations:

  • A bicycle owner doesn't have to register a bike
  • Cyclists don't have to obtain a driver's license
  • Cyclists and passengers under age 16 must wear a secure helmet that fits properly
  • Violation of the helmet statute is a non-criminal offense
  • Bicycles must have a white headlight after sunset. It must be visible from 500 feet
  • Bikes must also have a red rear reflector and red rear light visible from at least 600 feet

Fort Lauderdale has its own bicycle code that addresses bicycle registration and where people can ride and park their bikes.

What Bicycle Safety Concerns Are Most Important?

Several safety issues affect the Fort Lauderdale cycling community. As a cyclist, you must determine what issues most affect you and take steps to remain safe. Motor vehicles are a common concern, as fatal accidents often occur when drivers fail to share the road. When drivers run red lights, drive distracted, or drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol, they increase the chances that they'll cause an accident. Several local and national organizations focus on other pressing concerns.

Governor's Highway Safety Association. The GHSA recommends what they've characterized as a 3-E approach (engineering, education, enforcement) to ensure bicycle safety.

  • Engineering improvements: These include colorfully marked bike lanes that create a separate bike travel area, contra-flow lanes for traveling against traffic, bicycle boulevards that give priority to cyclists, bike boxes that allow a visible stopping area for bikes that allows them to stop closer to the intersection.
  • Enforcement: The GHSA recommends focused officer training, greater public interaction, high-visibility enforcement, and special enforcement activities.
  • Driver and Cyclist Education: Cyclists and motorists must understand existing laws to comply appropriately. Police officers must provide information and participate in community training events.

Fort Lauderdale Complete Streets. Florida's Complete Streets program is a roadmap for implementing street designs favorable to all modes of transportation. In addition, the plan includes recommendations that accommodate bicyclists.

  • Well-designed bicycle accommodations: bicycle lanes, shared-use paths, slow traffic speeds.
  • Shade where possible: landscaping, trees, and shading devices.
  • Shelter amenities: safe bike access, shelters, bike racks.

Florida Bicycle Association. The Florida Bicycle Association expects motorists and cyclists to learn and follow the rules. Therefore, the association supports ideas, education, advocacy, and information that promote bicycle safety.

  • Adult bicyclists shouldn't ride on the sidewalk.
  • Vehicle operators should stop impatient driving behaviors that contribute to cycle accidents and injuries.
  • Bicyclists should "ride big" and claim full travel lanes to discourage dangerous passing.
  • Lawmakers must pass legislation to ensure bikers' safety and guarantee their rights.

Do I Need a Lawyer If I'm Injured in a Bicycle Accident?

A bicycle accident attorney protects your legal interests while you concentrate on your recovery. Bicycle accident cases are sometimes legally complicated. Victims often sustain serious and catastrophic injuries. To minimize future complications, attorneys address the legal and damage issues early on. In addition, they intervene with insurance carriers on your behalf and help you avoid unfair treatment.

During your initial legal consultation, you have a chance to explain your position and discuss your concerns. Then, an attorney reviews your legal options, but you don't have to make an immediate commitment. Instead, you decide when and if you want to make a claim or file a lawsuit against the responsible parties.

Who May Face Liability for Damages in a Florida Bicycle Accident?

Even though Florida is currently a no-fault insurance state, who is at fault for a bicycle accident can still matter. When a bike accident victim dies or sustains serious injuries, the victim or the victim's family may be able to seek damages from responsible parties, including:

  • Drivers making left turns in front of the bicyclist
  • Passengers opening doors into a bicyclist's path
  • Anyone responsible for poor road conditions
  • Anyone responsible for obstructing a bike lane
  • Drivers who speed
  • Drivers who do not give bicyclists a three-foot berth

How Do Those Liable Try to Get Out of Paying Their Fair Share?

Insurance companies responsible for paying out benefits to victims of bicycle accidents often try to pay as little as possible. But, on the other hand, they may pounce quickly, trying to get victims or their families to sign releases or make statements that cause victims to lose their rights to coverage for serious medical conditions. The same goes for other parties who may be at fault for an accident. 

Even though Florida is a no-fault insurance state, when bicycle accident injuries are really bad or result in the wrongful death of accident victims, it's common for everyone involved to try and point the finger at someone else. Sometimes, they even try to blame the victims, who often cannot speak for themselves.

To avoid becoming a victim of these tactics, it can help to have an experienced Florida bicycle accident attorney by your side who protects your rights and steers you away from falling prey to people trying to avoid paying their fair share.

How Much Will a Bicycle Accident Lawyer Cost Me?

The last thing bike accident victims want to worry about is how they are going to pay for an attorney to protect their rights. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we understand that concern, and in appropriate cases, we may agree to represent bicycle accident victims on a contingency fee basis. 

In these cases, our client pays nothing out of pocket, and we receive payment for our fees and the court costs we advance only out of any settlement or jury verdict we obtain on our client's behalf.

Call the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Bicycle Accident Attorneys at Dolman Law Group

If you or a loved one is the victim of a bicycle accident, the experienced bicycle accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA's Ft. Lauderdale office may be able to help. Call us today at (754) 208-1130 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options.

Fort Lauderdale Office
150 E Davie Blvd Suite 201-2
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Phone: (754) 208-1130

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Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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