Florida Bicycle Accident Misconceptions
With its mild climate and flat landscape, Florida is an ideal place for bicyclists to commute to work, explore local communities and nature preserves, or exercise. Consequently, Florida leads the nation in bicycle accidents and is home to the most dangerous county for bicyclists in the nation.
Bicyclists often have to compete with larger vehicles for road space. The motorists around them are trusted with the responsibility of operating their vehicles in a manner conducive to the safety of their fellow drivers and other road users.
Seeking Compensation for Florida Bicycle Accident Injuries
When a driver's recklessness causes a bicycle accident, they can be found liable for the damages they inflicted in a bicycle accident injury lawsuit to compensate an injured bicyclist for the damages they suffered. Seeking out a respected personal injury lawyer is paramount to the success of any Florida bicycle accident injury lawsuit.
In honor of Florida Bicycle Month, we are going to set the record straight on several common myths about bicycle accidents.
Myth 1: Bicyclists Don't Belong on the Road
If you've been involved in a bike accident and a driver tells you that you don't belong in the street, that simply isn't true. Bicyclists should ride with the flow of traffic in a bike lane, or as far to the right side of the road as possible. Some bicycle lanes are considered unsafe, so cyclists may opt to use the sidewalk instead.
While they are entitled to the road, cyclists also have the responsibility to observe traffic laws and equip their bikes with lights so they can be seen in the dark. In Florida, bicyclists are technically also allowed to ride on the sidewalk, provided that they yield to pedestrians and alert them when they intend to pass.
In turn, drivers are expected to exercise caution when they encounter bicyclists. Too often, they fail. In 2019, Florida saw 57 bicyclist fatalities due to a driver's failure to yield the right of way. At Dolman Law, we will fiercely protect your right to the road and assist you in recovering any expenses you have shouldered as a result of your injuries.
Myth 2: Bicycle Accidents Are Usually the Bicyclist's Fault
A common misconception is that bicycle riders are the trigger for accidents because they don't abide by the rules of the road. As we have seen, bicyclists are actually required to abide by the same laws as cars. When accidents occur, it is typically caused by driver error, as in the case of a left-hook bicycle accident.
When a bicycle collides with a car or truck, it's typically the bicyclist who walks away with catastrophic injuries. Unlike a car, the frame of a bicycle offers no protection. It may even cause injury if a limb is crushed, breaking a bone or causing damage to the soft tissue, or if the sharp edge of a pedal slashes the skin. In the case of a spinal cord injury, a bicyclist may never walk again.
This can leave injured bicyclists with a long road to recovery involving everything from stitches to surgery. In a worst-case scenario, a bicycle accident could result in a wrongful death lawsuit if a negligent driver's actions resulted in a fatality.
Myth 3: You Can't Seek Compensation After a Bicycle Accident If You Didn't Wear a Helmet
All cyclists under 16 are required to wear a helmet when bicycling, and it is highly recommended for adults to do the same. Shockingly, a study conducted by AAA found that 36% of bicyclists do not wear helmets when they ride, despite the significant risks.
Failing to wear a properly fitting helmet can leave bicyclists vulnerable to sustaining a traumatic brain injury. This can range from a straightforward concussion and skin lacerations to debilitating and permanent cognitive deficits. Wearing a bicycle helmet can help absorb the impact of a crash or at a minimum create a protective barrier between you and the road.
If you were injured in a bike accident and you weren't wearing your helmet, that doesn't mean you're out of luck. However, you should seek the counsel of a bicycle accident lawyer who is familiar with personal injury claims so that they can protect your right to no-fault compensation and benefits.
Myth 4: Bicycles Don't Require Lights at Night
Florida law requires bicyclists to have a white light on the front of their bike and a red light on the back when riding between sunset and sunrise to ensure maximum visibility. Not only does this allow them to see you, but it also allows you to see them.
Requiring a front-facing lamp allows cyclists to identify and accommodate potential road hazards. Provisions have already been made to allow bicyclists to exercise their best judgment to temporarily exit the bike lane to avoid an accident with a car, or when there is a hazard in the road, such as a pothole.
The rear red light is for the benefit of drivers, and they can be held liable for endangering bicyclists by encroaching on their space. In cases of poor road maintenance, the government has a duty to its citizens to provide safe roads for bicyclists and motorists alike, especially when the consequences of negligence can prove disastrous.
Myth 5: Bike Helmets Can't Stop Damage From Severe Car Collisions so Don't Bother
It is true that a severe car accident like a head-on collision with a bicyclist can still do damage even if someone is wearing a helmet. However, a proper bike helmet can still significantly minimize the amount of damage that would occur. In a direct collision, you may still suffer a concussion through a bicycle helmet. It can happen but on the other hand, you could suffer way worse without the headgear. Would you rather live with a traumatic brain injury or die? A helmet can mean that difference.
You theoretically can suffer a traumatic brain injury like a concussion from getting bumped off a bike in a very low-speed collision by hitting your head on the ground or another static object. You have no idea what will happen when you get on your bike so you may as well take the very simple precaution of wearing a helmet.
Drivers Can be Held Liable for Florida Bicycle Accidents
It is the responsibility of any driver to check the bike lanes and sidewalks before proceeding into an intersection or making a turn, lest they be found negligent. They must also signal their intent to turn and give bicyclists a buffer in the bike lane.
If they commit a breach of duty to a bicyclist, they can be found liable for gross negligence and sued for a range of damages in a bicycle accident lawsuit. If you're unsure of what to do after a bicycle accident, after seeking medical attention you should contact a knowledgeable lawyer to start the process of filing a personal injury claim.
Personal Protection Insurance in a Florida Bicycle Accident Claim
Florida bicyclists are not mandated to have Personal Protection Insurance to cover their bikes, so the damages would likely first be taken out of the driver's PIP coverage or your own if you have it through another vehicle. In order to obtain further damages, you would have to prove that the driver was negligent in their conduct.
If your injuries and associated costs exceed PIP coverage, it's time to bring in a professional. Calculating damages in a bicycle accident lawsuit may prove complex and is best handled by a Florida bicycle accident attorney.
Understanding Comparative Negligence in a Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
Like most states, Florida has a policy of comparative negligence for personal injury claims. What this means for victims of a bicycle accident is they can still recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the crash, as long as the other party is more at fault you can still recover some damages.
Example of the Role of Comparative Negligence in a Bicycle Accident Claim
Let's say you're biking home from a friend's house. You stayed later than you planned to, and it's a short ride so you didn't bother with a helmet. On your way home, a car accidentally hits you in the bike lane because they didn't see you.
You fall off and hit your head on the curb, causing a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A judge may determine that while you should have been wearing a helmet, the driver is more at fault because you were using the bike lane and had the appropriate lighting attached to your bike, so you are eligible for damages.
However, because your injuries would have been less severe with a helmet, you may find yourself with a settlement that has the percentage of fault you contributed subtracted. You may receive less compensation than normal but you may still get enough compensation to cover most of your damages like for your medical bills, surgeries, and pain and suffering.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me Recover Damages in a Bicycle Accident Lawsuit?
After a serious bicycle accident, you may have sustained injuries that will require long-term care, and the scope of costs may not be immediately clear. You may not know what steps to take after a bicycle crash, which can put you at a disadvantage when it comes to a personal injury claim.
As experienced personal injury attorneys, we are familiar with the future expenses our clients often incur, such as home modifications, physical rehabilitation, or treatment for mental illness after a TBI. Other common bicycle accident damages include lost wages for days you've had to miss work and lost earning capacity if your injuries prevent you from carrying out your job.
The insurance company is not on your side. It is their job to protect their bottom line, not to properly compensate you. At Dolman Law Group, we will negotiate a settlement that is reflective of your suffering, leverage expert witness testimony to validate your experience, and use our substantial resources and collective expertise to take on big insurance companies at trial.
Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
When an insurance company stands to lose a lot of money, such as in a case where a bicycle accident caused serious injuries, it is critical to retain the legal services of a qualified team of lawyers or risk letting them undermine your claim.
At Dolman Law Group, we know how overwhelming the process of filing a personal injury claim can appear from the outside, and we recognize the value of your trust in us to handle that claim. When you hire Dolman Law Group, you can feel secure that you will be treated like a priority, not potential profit. Our record of excellence as Florida bicycle accident attorneys speaks for itself.
Misconceptions about bicycle accidents may impede injured cyclists from seeking the damages they are owed. At Dolman Law Group, we provide all of our prospective clients with the opportunity to have a free, no-commitment consultation to discuss the damages you may be eligible for.
Contact us at (833) 55-CRASH for auto accidents, or (727) 451-6900 for other claims, You can also send us an email on our contact us page.