Southern Florida serves as a popular wintertime vacation destination for many northerners, with year-round sunny weather and warm temperatures. Consequently, biking season lasts all year in North Miami Beach. However, negligent motor vehicle drivers sometimes spoil the fun when they operate their vehicles carelessly and recklessly. When that happens, serious accidents can take place and injuries can result. If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a bicycle accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence on a roadway, you may be eligible to recover monetary compensation for all of your injuries and damages. The North Miami Beach bicycle accident attorneys at Sibley Dolman know how difficult it is to negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. They can advocate on your behalf and fight for your right to monetary compensation.
Florida Bicycle Laws
As with motor vehicle drivers, Florida law also imposes restrictions and regulations on individuals who operate their bicycles on roadways within the state. Some of the most important Florida bicycle laws include:
All bicycle operators younger than 16 must wear helmets while riding bicycles. However, an injured bicyclist’s failure to wear a helmet cannot be construed as negligence or contributory negligence under the circumstances.
All bicyclists must follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicle drivers, and the same traffic laws that apply to motor vehicles also apply to bicycles.
All bicyclists must operate their bicycles in a designated bike lane if one is available.
Motor Vehicle Drivers Cause Bicycle Accidents
When motor vehicle drivers operate their vehicles in a careless or reckless manner, they can collide with bicycles and bring about serious accidents and injuries. These accidents can also take place when motor vehicle drivers fail to appreciate that bicycles are slow-moving vehicles and fail to share the road with them. Motor vehicle driver negligence may include distracted driving (for example, improper cell phone use or texting while driving), disregarding traffic laws and regulations, or failing to yield the right-of-way to a cyclist when required.
“Dooring” accidents are also common causes of bicycle accidents. Dooring takes place when the driver or passenger of a parked car fails to notice a bicyclist and suddenly opens the car door in the cyclist’s path. This negligent action on the part of the motor vehicle operator or passenger may cause the cyclist to fall from the bike, violently striking the ground and sustaining serious injuries. A North Miami Beach bicycle accident attorney can help you pursue compensation from negligent motor vehicle drivers and owners.
Bicycle Accidents and Visibility
Much like with motorcycles, bicycles suffer from a severe lack of visibility when motor vehicle drivers are concerned. It is because of this that bicyclists have such a high risk of colliding with motor vehicles. This is made even worse when bicyclists ride in the evening when there is even less light for bicyclist visibility. It is because of this lack of visibility that bicyclists should invest in ways to increase their visibility. Simple things a bicyclist can do is put reflectors on their bicycle or reflective tape on the bike or even on their clothing. Lights on the bicycle are even better options since it removes the need for an outside light source to increase visibility at night.
Products Liability in Bicycle Accidents
Sometimes, bicycle accidents take place through no fault of the bicycle operator or other motor vehicle driver. In some cases, these accidents occur due to improperly manufactured or distributed bicycles or bicycle parts. Defective bicycle parts may include handlebars, seats, tires, and pedals. When a defective bicycle or bicycle part is placed into the stream of commerce, then the bicycle or parts manufacturer or distributor may be deemed strictly liable or negligent for any damages that result in injured consumers. A bicycle accident attorney can help you pursue a products liability claim against a product manufacturer or distributor.
What You Should do After Suffering a Bicycle Accident Injury
The aftermath of a bicycle accident is a crucial period of time where the actions you take can determine the outcome of a potential bicycle accident injury claim or lawsuit. Following a bicycle accident, the first and foremost priority should be the preservation of your health. That means getting yourself out of immediate danger and them seeking medical assistance as soon as possible. Even if an accident does not seem particularly bad, you could still have sustained injuries that won’t display symptoms immediately. Not only is this important for your health but failing to seek immediate medical attention after a bicycle accident does not look good to the insurance company if one files a bicycle accident injury claim. The insurance company may try to discredit the validity of your injury by reasoning that if you didn’t need immediate medical attention then it must not be very severe.
Speak to Law Enforcement About the Accident
The police can be a great help in the aftermath of a bicycle accident. It is their job to provide any emergency assistance that they can when someone is in an accident and to document the accident in a police report. This documentation can be very useful since the police are fairly credible in terms of their documentation of accidents which can cover a number of details. When speaking to the police in a statement, be concise, to the point, and simply state the facts with no conjecture or opinions of your own.
Avoid Mentioning the Accident on Social Media
Whatever you say on social media can potentially be used against you. Insurance companies try to gather all the information possible on claimants and this includes information on social media. Insurance companies can twist statements that you make on social media to discredit your claim and do not need any more insight into your life other than what is pertinent to a claim. There are many people that make the mistake of posting pictures of themselves engaging in recreational activities on social media after suffering an injury. The insurance company may see this and reason that if you are well enough to engage in these activities then you must not be very injured.
Recovering Damages in Bicycle Accident Cases
In Florida, generally speaking, accident victims can only pursue a claim or lawsuit against an at-fault motor vehicle driver if they sustain permanent injuries or non-permanent injuries where their medical treatments and lost wages exceed $10,000. For an injured cyclist to recover compensation for injuries and damages sustained in an accident, he or she must show that the motor vehicle driver failed to act reasonably under the circumstances and that as a result, the injured cyclist sustained serious injuries and damages.
Serious and potentially permanent injuries sustained in south Florida bicycle accident cases may include fractures, concussions and other traumatic brain injuries, serious soft tissue injuries, permanent scars and, in the worst cases, death. After proving negligence on the part of the at-fault motor vehicle driver or owner, the injured cyclist may recover compensation for all related medical bills and expenses (including those for medical treatment, physical therapy, surgeries, and other medical procedures), lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, lost earning capacity (in cases involving permanent damages), and lost spousal support. A bicycle accident attorney can advocate for you every step of the way and help you obtain all of the damages to which you are entitled.
Wrongful Death Cases
In bicycle accident cases where the accident victim dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, the deceased’s survivors may open an estate on behalf of the decedent bicyclist. The survivors will need to appoint a personal representative who can administer the estate. After opening an estate and appointing a personal representative, the personal representative may bring a claim for wrongful death and recover compensation on behalf of the estate.
North Miami Beach Bicycle Accident Lawyers Answer Your Questions
Going out for a bike ride in North Miami Beach is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the sun and fresh air of South Florida. It is also a healthy and economical way to get around town.
And yet, more people die in bicycle accidents in Florida than in any other state, and cyclists who escape a crash with their lives often suffer severe injuries. In the blink of an eye, their lives change forever.
If someone else’s careless or reckless actions caused your North Miami Beach bicycle accident, then you deserve compensation for your injuries and losses. The most reliable way to obtain that compensation is to work with a skilled, experienced North Miami Beach bicycle accident lawyer at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP.
Below we answer some frequently asked questions about North Miami Beach bicycle accidents. For answers to your specific questions about a cycling crash that left you or a loved one injured, contact our experienced South Florida bicycle accident injury attorneys today.
Do I really need a lawyer for my North Miami Beach bicycle accident case?
Yes, you really do. And, it should be a lawyer with experience representing accident victims throughout South Florida. Having a skilled, seasoned lawyer advocate on your behalf can make the difference between receiving maximum compensation for your injuries and losses, and receiving no money at all.
Do not listen to anyone who tells you that you can represent yourself. That might be true in theory, but in practice it is a recipe for disaster. No one takes people who represent themselves seriously. Insurance representatives and defense lawyers take advantage of their inexperience and lack of know-how. They always end up leaving more money on the table than they could ever theoretically save by going without legal representation.
Trust us. We’ve seen people try to act as their own lawyers. Don’t do it. It’s a costly mistake.
How much will a North Miami Beach bicycle accident lawyer cost me?
We’re glad you asked. The first meeting with our experienced North Miami Beach bicycle accident attorneys is always free of charge. You have nothing to lose by sitting down with a law firm that has represented thousands of people in cases like yours.
All of our North Miami Beach bicycle accident attorneys represent our clients on contingency. That means they take an agreed percentage of the money they recover on your behalf as their fee. You pay us no money upfront. In other words, you pay us only if you get paid first.
Do not let cost deter you from seeking legal help after suffering injuries in a North Miami Beach bicycling accident. You likely have the right to significant financial compensation, if you act quickly. Contact our experienced North Miami Beach bicycle accident injury attorneys today for your free case evaluation.
How do I collect money from the person who caused my North Miami Beach bicycle accident?
Under Florida law, anyone whose careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful actions caused your bicycle accident in North Miami Beach may have a legal liability to pay you damages for your injuries and losses. To hold a person financially responsible for the harm you suffered, you must typically take legal action with the help of an experienced lawyer.
Legal action may include demanding payment and negotiating with the at-fault party or that party’s insurance carrier, and/or filing a lawsuit against that party seeking money damages in Florida court. In taking legal action, an attorney typically gathers and presents evidence that proves someone else’s liability to you for money damages. Using that evidence (and the law) as leverage, the lawyer will often attempt to reach a fair and reasonable settlement with the liable party and, failing that, may take your case to trial in a Florida courtroom.
Do I have to take legal action soon in my North Miami Beach bike accident case?
In most cases, yes.
Florida’s statute of limitations for a bicycle accident claim is only four years from the date of your injury in most cases. If you do not take legal action within that window of time, you generally lose your right to receive compensation from the individual, company, or government agency that injured you.
Four years might sound like a long time, but it isn’t. A lawyer will often need time to investigate your case, and it may take months, even a year or more, before you have made enough progress in your medical recovery to have a clear picture of your future financial needs. Plus, the particular facts and circumstances of your North Miami Beach bicycle accident could shorten the deadline.
For that reason, the most advantageous time to seek the advice of an experienced North Miami Beach bicycle accident attorney is … now. The sooner you hire an attorney with experience in cases like yours, the better your chances of building the strongest possible case for compensation.
What is my North Miami Beach bicycle accident case worth?
This is the most common question we get from clients after they suffer a bicycle accident injury. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to it. Every North Miami Beach bicycle accident has its own unique facts and circumstances that affect the type and amount of damages a victim might recover.
What we can tell you is that, as a general matter, the types of compensation you may have the right to recover from the party at fault cour ability to recover damages and the amount depends on many factors, including:
- The severity of your injuries and your prognosis for recovery;
- The effect the injuries have had on your ability to work;
- The impact of the injuries on your life and personal relationships; and
- The financial resources of the party with legal liability to you.
As you can imagine, these (and other) factors vary widely from one case to the next.
This variation affects the potential amount of money an injured cyclist may recover, because as a general matter, a significant portion of the damages recoverable through legal action consists of:
- Medical costs relating to past and future treatment of the injury, including hospitalizations, surgeries, doctor visits, medication, and medical equipment.
- Non-medical expenses incurred because of the accident or injury, including property repair and replacement costs, and fees for non-medical services you would not have hired but for the injury.
- Current and future lost wages resulting from time missed at work while recovering, and relating to any disability that prevents you from working in your former capacity.
- Pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life caused by your North Miami Beach bicycle accident injuries.
Using the services of a skilled bicycle accident injury attorney in North Miami Beach constitutes the most reliable way to build the strongest possible case for compensation.
How long will it take to get paid for my North Miami Beach bicycle accident claim?
First, remember that there is no guarantee that a legal action will end with you receiving compensation. But that is the goal, of course, and an experienced North Miami Beach lawyer will work hard to achieve that outcome.
The timeline for achieving a favorable resolution of a case varies widely depending upon the circumstances.
Most of the factors affecting the timeline for a North Miami Beach bicycle accident injury claim lie beyond any party’s or lawyer’s ability to control completely.
Those factors often include:
- The amount of money at stake;
- The number of parties involved in the legal action;
- The degree of dispute between the parties over facts or law; and
- The personalities and working styles of the parties, lawyers, and insurance representatives.
One factor you do control, however, is when you get started seeking compensation for your bicycle accident injuries. The sooner you speak with a skilled North Miami Beach bicycle crash injury lawyer, the better the chances of your case reaching a favorable resolution as fast as possible.
Should I talk to the insurance company?
It depends on what insurance company you mean.
Your own insurance company? Yes, but stick to the facts. To some extent, you will probably have to speak with your own insurance company after suffering injuries in a North Miami Beach cycling accident, though you’re better off letting us handle those communications for you.
First, if you carry or are covered by a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy, then you must notify your carrier of your injuries right away (usually in connection with seeking immediate medical care) to preserve your right to coverage of your medical expenses and some lost wages. You may also need to speak with your health insurer and/or long-term disability carrier, if you have those types of insurance.
In speaking with your own insurance company, stick to the facts. Do not give your insurer any reason to think you did something wrong to cause the accident that could serve as a basis for a denial or your claim or an increase in your premiums.
Also, sometimes you and the person at fault for your North Miami Beach bicycle accident may carry insurance issued by the same insurance company. In that case, follow the tips below until you have spoken with an attorney about how to handle the situation.
Someone else’s insurance company? No way. If someone else’s insurance company wants to talk to you directly, beware. This insurer is not your friend. If its representatives try to contact you, chances are they are either looking for some ammunition to use against you, or they want to trick you into accepting a lowball settlement offer that does not begin to give you the full value of your legal claim against their customer. In either event, you have nothing to gain from having a conversation, and potentially lots to lose.
Instead, let your attorney handle all interactions with someone else’s insurance company. Experienced attorneys speak the same language as insurers, and can put you on a level playing field in negotiations with them. Never try to negotiate with someone else’s insurance company on your own. They will take advantage of you.
Do I have legal obligations as a cyclist in North Miami Beach?
Yes, you do, but do not let worries about whether you followed the rules in connection with your accident keep you from speaking with a lawyer. Even if you made some mistakes on your bike, chances are someone else’s careless actions played the most significant role in causing your crash and injuries.
What rules do you have to follow as a North Miami Beach cyclist? Generally speaking, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on Florida roads as motorists. Florida law considers a bicycle a vehicle, and a bicyclist a driver. So when riding your bike in North Miami Beach, you must stop at all stop signs, obey traffic lights, signal your turns, and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.
Also, in Florida, bicycle riders under the age of sixteen must wear a helmet. You do not have to wear a helmet if you are older, but you should. Studies consistently show helmets reduce the risk of serious head injury in a bicycle crash. To keep yourself safe, also remember to wear visible clothing with reflective fabric on it, maintain your bike in good working condition, and use a headlight and taillight on your bike (especially if you plan on riding between dusk and dawn).
Of course, the other side of that coin is that motorists must treat bicyclists with the same care and respect as any other road-user. For instance, car, truck, and bus drivers must change lanes when passing you on your bicycle, must yield the right of way to you, and must not drive aggressively in a manner that might throw you off balance and cause a crash.
When other drivers violate these rules and an accident results, they could be held liable for your injuries.
Contact a North Miami Beach Bicycle Accident Attorney Today for a Free Legal Consultation and Case Evaluation
Motor vehicle drivers who operate their vehicles carelessly and recklessly pose a risk to everyone else on the road—and in particular, innocent pedestrians and bicyclists. Moreover, bicycle manufacturers and parts manufacturers who place defective products into the stream of commerce significantly increase the likelihood of bicycle accidents and injuries on Florida roadways. The North Miami Beach bicycle accident attorneys at Sibley Dolman have the legal knowledge and experience to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company on your behalf. If the insurance company contests liability or otherwise refuses to offer a favorable settlement for your case, our attorneys are not afraid to litigate your case by filing a legal complaint, or by taking your case all the way to trial, if necessary. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a bicycle accident attorney, please call us at (305)-676-8154 or contact us online.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
1820 NE 163rd St #306,
North Miami Beach, FL 33162