The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have helped many people just like you recover the compensation they deserved and needed to piece their lives back together. For answers to specific questions about the Sarasota-area cycling accident that injured you or a loved one, contact our experienced Sarasota bicycle accident injury attorneys today.
Sarasota is a prime location for cyclists, in no small part due to the fantastic beaches and amazing weather. In fact, Sarasota is such a famous biking town that its several beautiful and much-loved trails, designed especially for people who enjoy being on their bicycles, seemed a necessity to the town's residents. The Sarasota area has begun a project that will create a 75-mile chain of trails that will be named Pinellas Trail Loop.
To say that the many individuals who live in or near Sarasota adore being outdoors on their bikes is no overstatement. As you walk or drive through the town, you will no doubt see many enthusiastic bikers on the trails and roads of Sarasota.
With limited physical protection, however, cyclists often sustain catastrophic and even fatal injuries in traffic accidents. Crashes caused by someone else's careless, reckless, or intentional actions regularly put bicyclists in the hospital throughout the Sarasota region.
Cyclists harmed in a preventable bicycle accident caused by someone else's wrongful decisions or actions deserve compensation for their injuries and losses.
Bike Accidents in Sarasota
Sarasota is a fantastic area for cyclists, with great weather and scenic trails for recreational bicycling, and a growing number of roads featuring designated bike lanes or cycling-friendly paved road shoulders for getting around on two wheels.
Whether people ride for fitness, personal enjoyment, or simply to get from Point A to Point B, riding a bicycle in and around Sarasota still comes with risks of traffic accidents and serious injury. After all, Florida holds the unfortunate distinction as one of the top three most dangerous states for cyclists in the country.
Based on information from The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), bicycle accidents are a significant safety concern in Florida, as of 2014. During that year, there were 139 cyclist fatalities, which represented 20 percent of the total in the nation. From 2011 to 2014, 26,036 bicycle accidents occurred in the state. More data released by FDOT includes:
- The highest number of bike accidents took place on urban roadways.
- Of crashes that occurred on rural roadways, 16.9 percent resulted in fatalities. Fewer crashes took place, but deaths associated with these accidents were higher in number.
- Nighttime cycling resulted in more fatalities than daytime crashes.
- Sarasota County statistics note that in one recent year the total number of bicycle crashes that occurred was 170.
- The total number of fatalities from bicycle crashes for that same year was 5.
- Injuries due to bicycle crashes in Sarasota County in in one recent year numbered 46.
In 2013, 116 bicyclists died in Florida accidents. In 2012, more than 6,000 cyclists were injured in Florida alone. This posed a significant increase from 2010. No matter how much different cities work to promote bicycling safety, the struggle to stay safe on the road is real. For example, Jupiter spent $5 million to improve local roadways, including adding bike paths. In 2014, the state began building bike lanes seven feet wide rather than the former four feet. Unfortunately, many bike accidents persist.
While Sarasota does not top the list of most dangerous biking cities in the state, you should pay close attention to the risk factors involved in biking accidents. The Tampa Bay metropolitan area has the highest rate of bicyclist fatality in the country. Pinellas County has the highest rate of bicyclist fatalities within that region.
If you were in a bike accident, it is natural to feel helpless. After all, you may be contending with more than painful injuries. You might also face lost income, mounting medical bills, and emotional suffering. Trying to navigate the legal processes involved in an accident may feel like too much effort.
The best way to take control over your situation is to learn more about bicycle accidents in Florida. Knowing what action to take and where to go next can provide you with the relief you need to begin pursuing your civil court case.
How to Avoid Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle safety experts say the best way to avoid being hurt while riding is to drive defensively. Some tips offered by those in the know are:
- Use a headlight when you drive at night. Add headlamps attached to your helmet and reflective tape to your bicycle and your clothing.
- Avoid riding on sidewalks. A bicycle can hit a pedestrian on a cement walkway and cause severe injury to the individual. In some states (not Florida, however) it is illegal to ride on sidewalks.
- Never cycle on the left side of the road facing traffic. Some think the ability to see cars approaching them is safer than risking a rear-end accident from cycling on the right-hand side of the roadway. One study showed that riding the wrong way was three times more dangerous than riding on the right.
- Wear a helmet and knee pads when out and about on your bicycle. Researchers found that wearing a helmet can decrease the risk of fatality by 93 percent.
- Never ride in inclement weather.
- Stay focused when riding.
- Follow the same traffic regulations as motor vehicles.
- Slow down (most injuries occur when males ride too fast).
- Never ride while intoxicated.
- Wear gloves, eye protection, and wearing reflective and bright clothing.
- Stick to bicycle paths and trails.
What Causes Bike Accidents in Sarasota?
Many incidents can lead to bike accidents. Sometimes the fault of the accident rests on another driver, pedestrian, or cyclist. These are among the most common contributors and causes to bicycle accidents.
- Motorist negligence - Bicycle accidents happen because of a car, truck, or bus driver's dangerous actions when sharing the road with a cyclist. Speeding, aggressive driving, impaired driving, distracted driving, and failure to yield the right-of-way to a cyclist all commonly contribute to dangerous bicycle accidents in the Sarasota region.
- Distractions – As a bicyclist, you have probably seen drivers looking at their phones when they ought to be looking at the road. On a bicycle, you are already more difficult to see than a car. When drivers fail to pay attention to the road, it is much easier for them to avoid seeing you before an accident. Additionally, many drivers in the area may be tourists who are unable to focus on finding their destination and paying close attention to the road. Densely packed areas do not help either.
- Speeding – A driver may opt to speed through the streets, making it difficult to see a cyclist riding up ahead. As a result, the driver might hit the cyclist from behind without ever even slowing down.
- Failure to check blind spots – Bicycles are easy to miss on the road, and a driver merging into another lane might not see a cyclist in his or her blind spot. As a result, a driver could merge into you, sweeping you into other vehicles or onto the ground. Some parked drivers might fail to look before opening a car door, prompting an accident.
- Aggression – The nature of cycling means that sometimes you may be riding in the lane of traffic. Because bicyclists tend to be slower than the rest of traffic, drivers often become impatient. Drivers may try to intimidate cyclists by riding too closely or trying to pass them recklessly. They may even purposely pass very close to the cyclist, prompting him or her to ride dangerously.
- Impairment – Sometimes drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol cause bicycle accidents as a result of their impairments. Not only are drivers under the influence less likely to focus, but they may also have poor judgment and even poor vision. In cases involving bicycle rider fatalities, alcohol was involved in many cases in recent years.
- Poor maintenance – To stay safe on two wheels, cyclists need roads designed with bikes in mind, and maintained in a condition that does not put them at risk of losing control. Unfortunately, some roads around Sarasota lack reliable bike lanes, present traffic patterns that are unfriendly to cyclists, or have surfaces so rough that cyclists cannot safely navigate them, all of which can lead to a dangerous accident. In Sarasota, you may come across such a road or bike path. Potholes, cracks, and other hazards may pose a hazard for cyclists. You may have a civil case against the city or county, for example.
- Equipment defect – We all trust in the mechanical reliability of whatever vehicle we drive or ride. Unfortunately, sometimes our cars, trucks, and bikes have hidden mechanical defects that can lead to a sudden breakdown, loss of control, and crash. Bicycle manufacturers have a duty to sell only equipment that is safe to use, preventing malfunctions that could injure a user. In a case like this, you might pursue a court case against the bicycle manufacturer or a company who failed to repair your bicycle properly.
When you hire our Sarasota bicycle accident attorneys, we can help you determine the exact cause of your bicycle accident. The attorney will help you hold the necessary parties liable for your losses. No matter what caused your Sarasota bicycle accident, trust our experienced bicycle crash injury attorneys to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
What Are the Common Injuries Caused by Bicycle Accidents?
A Sarasota bicycle accident can cause virtually any injury imaginable. The injuries may range from minor to permanent, and you should always consult your doctor to receive a diagnosis. Your medical history may help your civil court case.
Frequent injuries include:
- Paralysis – A spinal cord injury could lead to permanent paralysis that prevents you from being able to work again. These injuries severely impact your quality of life and financial situation.
- Shoulder dislocation – Bicyclists often fall toward the ground with their arms extended. As a result, they may experience shoulder dislocation which may extend into injuries of the neck.
- Broken bones – One of the most-seen injuries in a bike crash is a broken clavicle. This bone can take up to six weeks to heal. Fractured ribs and broken bones are also common bicycle accident injuries. Falling on one's arms may lead to fractures of the shoulder. Broken bones can keep you from working or caring for your family and home as you used to.
- Traumatic brain injuries – The central cause of death in a bicycle accident is traumatic brain injury (TBI). The appearance of bicycle-related TBI, between the years of 1998 and 2012, increased 54 percent. Traumatic brain injuries are often serious with long-lasting consequences, including seizures and permanent brain damage.
- Nerve damage – Some cyclists report having long-term nerve damage, especially in their arms and shoulders. This injury is often linked to cyclists trying to catch themselves when they fall.
- Lower back pain – Long-term back pain is difficult to contend with and is often linked to the way one sits on a bike during impact.
- Deep lacerations and abrasions (road rash) is usually not a life-threatening wound, but you should never take it for granted. Doctors suggest that riders clean the affected areas and then apply antiseptic cream. Cyclists involved in a collision can also suffer from abrasions, lacerations, and other wounds.
- Internal injuries – If a rider falls and lands on upturned handlebars, abdominal organ damage is possible.
- Head and neck trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries to muscles, ligaments, and tendons
Many of these injuries can result in permanent disabilities or, in tragic cases, death. Speak with an attorney in Sarasota who represents bicycle accident victims right away to learn about your rights after a crash.
What Losses Are Involved in Bicycle Accidents?
Broadly put, the damages potentially available to you under Florida law to pay for your Sarasota bicycle accident injuries and losses typically include:
Economic damages, which consist of your actual expenses resulting from the accident and injuries, such as:
- Medical expenses and costs (past and future)
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Lost earning capacity
- Rehabilitative services
- Personal property damages
- Additional out-of-pocket expenses
Non-Economic damages, which account for the difficulty and harm the bicycle accident injuries caused, which typically include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical impairment, scarring, or disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
Punitive damages that, in some cases, punish and prevent future instances of the wrongful conduct that led to your Sarasota bicycle accident.
In other words, damages many cyclists sue for after an accident include more than just the costs of medical bills. After all, these issues can have a significant impact on your life, ranging from the physical to the emotional. You and your attorney will work together to determine the amount of damages you are eligible to receive based on your injuries.
- Medical expenses – Medical bills after an accident can be expensive, especially if you have long-term injuries. Surgeries can put you into debt, and insurance may not cover everything. In fact, many insurance companies actively seek to avoid paying for cyclist injuries.
- Lost earnings – Following a bicycle accident, you may not be able to work for a long period of time. During your recovery period, you may be entitled to receive compensation for the time you are unable to work.
- Pain and suffering – You may have long-term emotional or physical distress that impacts your life. If you have permanent injuries or disfigurement, you may sue for pain and suffering.
- Property damage – If your property, like your bike, was damaged in the accident, you may also include its cost in your losses.
No lawyer can guarantee what types of compensation you may have the right to recover for your Sarasota bicycle accident injuries. However, the most reliable way to give yourself a strong chance of recovering the full range of potential damages is to seek the help of an experienced Sarasota bicycle accident injury attorney as soon as possible.
Does Insurance Cover My Sarasota Bicycle Accident?
There's a good chance it does. First, if you carry or are covered under a Florida personal injury protection (PIP) policy, it will provide some coverage for your medical expenses and lost wages up to the limit of the policy. In addition, your health insurance may cover you against the costs of some of your injuries.
Finally, if someone else's careless, reckless, or intentional actions caused the accident and your injuries, then you may have the right to seek compensation by taking legal action for damages. That party's liability insurance may pay damages to you. If that party did not carry insurance, then you may file a claim against your own uninsured motorist coverage, if you carry it.
Talk to an experienced Sarasota bicycle accident injury attorney about how to make sure the insurance company—even your own PIP carrier—pays the benefits you need and deserve.
How Much Money Can I Recover for My Sarasota Bicycle Accident?
Similarly, lawyers cannot guarantee how much (if any) money you will ultimately recover for your Sarasota bicycle injuries.
Damages for a bicycle accident depend on the specific evidence and the particular facts of a case, such as:
- How severe are your injuries?
- What type of medical treatments will you need now and in the future?
- How long will your recovery take?
- What effects did this injury have on your daily life and your ability to work?
- What financial resources (insurance or assets) does the at-fault party have with which to pay damages to you?
An experienced Sarasota bicycle accident lawyer evaluates a client's claim to ensure that in taking legal action, the client seeks the maximum amount of compensation available under Florida law. Speak with our Sarasota bike accident lawyers today about the ways your bicycle crash has affected your life.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Bicycle Accident Claim in Sarasota?
Typically, if you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you have four years from the date of the injury to take legal action. Yet, many factors can shorten or extend that legal deadline. That is why it is imperative to speak with an experienced Sarasota bicycle accident injury attorney as quickly as possible after your accident. By acting quickly, you can help to ensure that evidence does not disappear, witnesses' memories have not faded, and that insurance companies and defense lawyers see that you and your lawyer mean business.
What Are Sarasota's Bicycle Laws?
Florida law does not require cyclists over the age of 16 to wear helmets while riding. In addition, Florida law does not consider failing to wear a helmet to be contributory negligence. While it is always safer to wear a helmet on a bicycle, the regulations also state that not wearing a head protector “may not be considered evidence of negligence or contributory negligence.” Wearing a helmet while riding is an extremely bright thing to do, but be aware that although helmets do provide significant protection from injuries for many cyclists, they cannot protect riders from head trauma 100 percent of the time. A severe impact can cause damage to the brain tissue even when wearing a helmet.
Numerous insurance companies often claim that a rider cannot recover full compensation because he or she was not wearing a helmet. Be careful about believing all you hear. Every case and every individual involved in a case is different.
Because Sarasota County is such a haven for bicyclists, the city of Venice has included some of the state's bicycle laws on its website:
- Bicyclists must obey traffic signals and traffic controls.
- Cyclers must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and must give an audible sound before passing others.
- If operating a cycle after sunset or before sunrise, a bicycle must have a white light that is visible 500 feet in front of the bicycle. Additionally, a red reflector and a red light that can be seen from 600 feet away in the rear.
- Cycle riders may not wear headphones or other listening devices when riding. The exception is the wearing of a hearing aid.
Helmets can provide protection from some injuries, but wearing a helmet does not protect you from every injury. No matter how safe you are as a cyclist, you might still face head trauma and tissue injuries from cycling accidents. Regardless of whether you were following Florida's bicycle laws, you should always consider hiring a personal injury attorney to manage your case.
What Bike Accidents Occur in Our Area?
Bicycle accidents occur throughout Sarasota, Sarasota County, and Florida at large each year. These cases are just the tip of the iceberg regarding bicycle accidents occurring in recent years:
- In May 2018, a bicyclist was killed in Sarasota County after a driver hit him as he was crossing US 41. The cyclist was 19-years-old, failed to observe a traffic signal, and had no protective gear. He was propelled from his bike.
- A 21-year-old cyclist was struck by a box truck at a four-way stop in Venice. The intersection is divided by a significant median which may have contributed to the accident.
- In June 2018, a Bradenton man was struck from behind by a vehicle when traveling on a bicycle in Manatee County. Charges are pending.
- Longboat Key encompasses 10 miles of bike path. While it is a wonderful place to ride a bicycle, serious accidents can occur on this stretch of road. In 2017, one bicyclist suffered severe injuries after another vehicle rear-ended him. The cyclist flew in the air and landed behind the car that hit him. This stretch of bike path has had at least 22 bicycle accidents since 2011.
- Children are not immune to serious bicycle accidents either. In 2012, a seven-year-old Sarasota boy rode his bicycle into traffic where he was hit by a truck. While the boy was in a crosswalk, he was riding against his light. The child suffered critical injuries.
What Should You Do After a Bicycle Accident?
The steps you take after getting into a Sarasota traffic accident as a bicyclist can affect your health, finances, and legal rights.
After a bicycle accident, however, follow these tips:
- Call the police. Always call the police to the scene of any Sarasota bicycle-involved traffic accident. Calling the police ensures an official report exists of your accident, and summons first responders to the scene to safeguard your health and safety.
- Seek immediate medical care. Allow an EMT to check you over at the scene of any Sarasota bicycle accident. If the EMT recommends an ambulance ride to the hospital, then take it and get the emergency care you need. If not, then be sure to follow up with your regular primary care doctor or at an urgent care clinic right away. Many potentially serious bicycle accident injuries may not show immediate symptoms, but a doctor can spot them with simple tests. By getting care as soon as possible, you protect yourself against any injury going unnoticed and getting worse. You also ensure that records exist of the connection between your accident and any injuries you suffered. Those records will come in handy in any legal action you take for compensation
- Collect evidence and contact information, if you can. Many, if not most, Sarasota cyclists who get into a traffic accident end up with significant injuries that prevent them from taking the steps described below. We recommend these steps only if you can do them safely and without putting yourself at risk of further injury. If you can, take photographs at the accident scene of everything you see. Take as many pictures or as much video as you can, so long as you can do it safely. Capture images of the vehicles, your bike, the surrounding area, traffic signals or signs, the road surface...everything you see. Also, get the names and contact information from everyone involved, including drivers, first responders, and witnesses. There is no such thing as too much information from an accident scene.
- Be wary of insurance companies. If an insurance company contacts you after your Sarasota bicycle accident—even your own PIP carrier—be on alert. The only reason an insurance company other than your own would reach out to you is if that company thinks its policyholder has a legal liability to you. Insurance companies want to avoid financial responsibility as much as possible. An insurance company that calls you may hope to get you to say something that undermines your legal rights, or might try to tempt you into accepting a lowball settlement offer before you have had the chance to speak with an experienced attorney about your rights to compensation. Leave conversations with the insurance company—including your own—to a skilled Sarasota bicycle accident attorney who can protect your rights.
What Do I Need to Prove for the At-Fault Driver's Insurance to Cover Me?
If a motorist caused the bicycle accident that injured you in Sarasota, then you may have the right to take legal action for money damages, and the at-fault motorist's insurance may pay those damages to you. To prove that motorist's liability and to obtain payment from the motorist's liability insurance, your lawyer generally must present evidence that the motorist's unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions caused the accident that injured you.
Should You Hire an Attorney for a Sarasota Bicycle Accident?
Bicycle accidents are expensive. Not only are you facing high medical bills based on your injuries, but you might also not be able to work for some time. Even when your health and injuries are stabilized, you are not out of the woods just yet. Insurance is often challenging to contend with and often involves difficult negotiation.
Sarasota bicycle accidents can have severe repercussions in the lives of cyclists and their families. Injuries can cause significant physical, emotional, and financial pain. Cyclists often miss work while recovering, and incur large expenses they never planned-for and cannot afford.
These victims deserve compensation for the harm done to them by someone else's dangerous decisions and actions.
An experienced Sarasota bicycle crash injury attorney can help. Personal injury attorneys deal with insurance adjusters all the time, and they know the tricks insurance companies use to avoid making payments. An attorney's job is to work at obtaining the maximum financial compensation available to pay for the cyclist's injuries and losses.
The specific actions an attorney takes may vary from case-to-case, but often include:
- Investigating the accident as quickly as possible to locate and preserve critical evidence and witness statements.
- Evaluating that evidence to determine who might have a legal liability to the injured cyclist, and which of those parties has the financial resources to pay.
- Calculating your real and potential losses.
- Filing a claim against insurers or another party to ensure you receive compensation for your injuries.
- Negotiating with insurance companies and defense lawyers to obtain a fair and reasonable settlement of the cyclist's claims.
- Taking the cyclist's case to Sarasota-area courts if negotiation alone does not yield an appropriate payment for the harm the cyclist suffered.
If you suffered harm as the result of a cycling accident caused by another party's negligence, contacting an attorney can greatly increase your odds of receiving due compensation for your injuries.
Call Our Sarasota Bike Accident Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a Sarasota bicycle accident, then you may have the right to receive substantial compensation. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or you can write to us using our online contact page. Contact our skilled and knowledgeable Sarasota bicycle accident lawyers today for a free case evaluation.