According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) data, 2019 saw 583 reported bicycle crashes in the three Tampa Bay-area counties of Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Manatee. These accidents resulted in 11 fatalities and 546 injuries, the vast majority of them (no doubt) suffered by bicyclists.
Bicyclists face significant risks on Tampa-area roads. Only some of the local highways and byways have dedicated bicycle lanes. Our roads swell annually with tourists and visitors unfamiliar with local traffic patterns and rules of the road for cyclists. Finally, other than wearing a helmet, cyclists have virtually no way to protect themselves from serious injury or death in a collision with a motor vehicle.
If a Tampa bicycle crash caused by someone else’s careless or reckless actions has upended your life by causing serious injuries or a tragic loss of life, then you deserve the finest legal representation available in the Tampa area to secure compensation from those who caused you harm. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman can help. Contact our Tampa Bicycle Accident Lawyers today.
Bicycle Accident Lawyers in Tampa
Victims of Tampa Bay area bicycle accidents need not look far to find lawyers who claim to be able to help them recover compensation for their injuries. However, because of the severe harm bicycle accidents cause, those victims need more than just any lawyer. They need the finest legal representation available in the Tampa area, a team of lawyers with an intense commitment to client service and a track record of success. They need an attorney from the affiliated law firms of Sibley Dolman and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA.
Clients come to our law firms during some of the most difficult times of their lives. Our team welcomes them with open arms, ready to pursue justice, accountability, and compensation on their behalf from anyone whose actions harmed them. Every client of Sibley Dolman and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA receives individualized attention. Our personal injury lawyers are always available to answer questions and provide guidance. Our singular mission is to represent the interests of our injured clients, and we know that starts from understanding our clients’ needs and goals for taking legal action after a Tampa bike crash.
Why Tampa Cycling Accidents Happen
Under Florida law, a bicycle is a vehicle just like any other. As the Florida Bicycle Association puts it:
“Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways, and must obey the same traffic laws as the drivers of other vehicles. These laws include stopping for stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night, yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks.”
By the same token, Florida motorists have an obligation to treat cyclists as equal road users. Cyclists have a right to occupy an entire travel lane and to have motor vehicles yield to them just like any other vehicle. Cyclists do not have any obligation to ride on the shoulder to let motor vehicles pass.
Unfortunately, all too often, motorists treat cyclists as second class citizens on Tampa streets, leading to tragic accidents. Some of the most common ways these accidents happen include:
- Aggressive driving. Hurried drivers have a way of growing frustrated with cyclists. They try to speed around bicycles. They yell at bicyclists. They honk. They tailgate. They engage in all manner of scary, dangerous behaviors that risk throwing cyclists off balance and causing a tragic accident. There is no excuse for these behaviors. Cyclists deserve as much respect and courtesy as anyone else on the road.
- Failing to yield the right of way. A common form of cycling collision involves a car or truck turning or changing lanes directly into the path of a bicycle. These accidents frequently happen because the driver does not perceive the cyclist, even when the cyclist is perfectly visible when approaching a car from the opposite direction, or in the driver’s rear view mirror. To combat this so-called “in-attentional blindness,” drivers must always remind themselves to look out for vehicles of all shapes and sizes, including bicycles.
- Doorings. Anyone who has ridden a bicycle on a Tampa street that has parallel parking likely knows the danger of “getting doored.” As the name suggests, these are accidents that occur when a driver or passenger in a car parked on the side of a street opens a vehicle door directly into the path of a cyclist approaching from behind. The cyclist cannot stop in time to avoid crashing into a door, resulting in a nasty fall. Everyone can do their part to prevent doorings by opening car doors with the hand farthest from the door handle, a technique called the Dutch reach that forces passengers to turn their bodies and increases the chance they will see an approaching bicyclist.
- Impairment. Drivers who operate vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who get behind the wheel without enough sleep, put cyclists at risk. Impaired driving slows reflexes and dulls perception, increasing the likelihood that a driver will cause a tragic collision with a Tampa cyclist.
- Poor visibility. By their very size and shape, bicyclists face an uphill battle in making sure motorists see them. To maximize their own visibility, cyclists should always use front and rear blinking lights and wear bright clothing with reflective material. Ride to work and don’t want to change clothes? A reflective vest like those worn by road crews will do the trick.
Common Tampa Cycling Injuries
There is no single injury that typifies Tampa bicycle accidents. The reality is, in a collision between a bicycle and a motor vehicle, or a bicycle wreck caused by the actions of a motorist, the cyclist is lucky to escape alive. Serious, life-altering injuries are common in Tampa bicycle accidents, including:
- Spinal cord injuries. Cyclists usually fall from their bikes, and often tumble over their handlebars, in a crash. Their bodies collide with hard, uneven surfaces with significant force. These awkward falls commonly damage cyclist’s spinal columns and, in turn, the delicate bundle of nerves within the column known as the spinal cord. Bruising, nicks, and tears in the spinal cord interrupt the flow of messages from the brain to the body. They cause numbness, weakness, or paralysis that might go away in time, but just as easily might not. Permanent paralysis changes a cyclist’s life forever, and imposes massive costs that can run into the millions-of-dollars in the first year of treatment alone.
- Severe road rash. Thrown from the saddle in a wreck, a cyclist will commonly slide along the road surface for a distance. Friction with asphalt quickly tears away the cyclist’s (usually thin) clothing, and “sandpapers” away the exposed skin beneath. The resulting injury is known as “road rash,” which is much more akin to a severe burn than a skin problem. Road rash causes multiple traumas—laceration, abrasion, avulsion, and even thermal burn—which when combined can take months to heal. Dirt and grime also become embedded in the wound, risking infection and often leaving the victim with a discolored, disfiguring scar known as a “traumatic tattoo”.
- Traumatic brain injury. Florida law requires all cyclists 16 years old and younger to wear helmets, but really, all bicycle riders in Tampa should put on a helmet whenever they take to the roads. Helmets substantially reduce the risk of death and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a bicycle accident. A TBI occurs when the brain sustains damage from a blow or jolt to the head. When a severe TBI does not cause permanent loss of consciousness, it can leave a victim with significant, long-term cognitive, motor, and emotional impairments. Even a “mild” TBI, also known as a concussion, can leave a cyclist battling chronic headaches, confusion, and fatigue.
- Breaks, tears, and other orthopedic injuries. In most Tampa cycling accidents, the best case a rider can hope for is to escape the crash with a few broken bones, torn ligaments or tendons, or other orthopedic injuries that, with the proper care, will likely heal in time. Still, even these injuries can cause lasting disability and chronic pain.
No matter how a Tampa bicycle crash harms you or a loved one, the teams at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman have the resources and experience to help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Tampa Bicycle Accident Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
Bicycles are a serious transportation option for work, play, and sports. Tampa is the perfect location for bicycle enthusiasts. The weather is beautiful and the bike trails are plentiful. Bicycling is fun and exciting, but when cyclists share the road with other vehicles, the outcomes are sometimes catastrophic.
Bicyclists have the same legal rights as car and truck drivers, but they have an additional challenge. They must try to stay safe while riding among drunk drivers, distracted drivers, speeders, and other risk-taking motorists. When a car or truck collides with a bicycle, the vehicle operator usually drives away with minimal damage. Bicyclists often sustain serious, catastrophic, or even fatal injuries.
Bicycle/vehicle accidents are sometimes unavoidable. We’ve created our Tampa Bicycle Accident FAQ because we believe it’s important to understand the issues.
Why do so many people ride bicycles in Tampa?
Bicycle ridership has increased for many reasons. While they were once the ultimate transportation for children, adults generated recent increases in bicycle usage.
This has occurred for several reasons.
- They’re great for exercise, play, commuting, and earning a living.
- They are simple, affordable transportation.
- They cost far less to purchase and operate than a car or truck.
- They’re eco-friendly because they run on manual power instead of fossil fuel.
Do bicycle accidents occur very frequently in Florida?
Yes. The Florida Crash Dashboard provides a concise analysis of bicycle accidents in Florida and each of its counties.
It uses Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department accident data to create a simple visual readout.
- 191 injuries and 6 fatalities have occurred during 2020.
- During 2019 in Florida, 6,642 bicycle accidents occurred.
- Bicyclists sustained 6,221 injuries
- 146 cyclists died in accidents across the state.
- 544 bicycle crashes occurred in the Tampa area during 2019.
- 507 bicyclists sustained injuries in the Tampa area.
- 12 bicyclists lost their lives in the Tampa area during 2019.
How do Florida bicycle accident statistics compare to national trends?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication, Traffic Safety Facts: Bicycles and Other Cycles, reports national pedalcyclist accident data through 2018.
The NHTSA category, Pedalcyclist, includes “…two-wheel, non-motorized vehicles, tricycles, and unicycles powered solely by pedals…”
- Bicyclist fatalities increased annually over a 10-year period.
- The numbers rose from 628 fatalities to in 2009 to 857 in 2018.
- Florida had 161 bicycle accident fatalities in 2018, the highest number of any state.
- California was number two, with 155 bicyclists fatally injured in 2018.
- With 7.5 percent bicycle fatalities per 1 million residents, Florida has the highest bicycle fatality rate.
- Nationwide, 79 percent of fatal bicycle accidents occurred in urban areas.
Do bicycle accidents occur more frequently at night?
It seems reasonable that bicycle accidents would occur more often during low visibility hours. Historically, serious bicycle accidents occur almost equally during daytime and nighttime hours.
The NHTSA’s annual statistics confirm these facts.
- Fatalities take place 24-hours a day, under all lighting conditions: Daylight, 50 percent; dark, 46 percent; dawn, 2 percent; dusk, 2 percent.
- Bicycle accident fatalities occurred more frequently on weekends.
- Fatalities happened most often from 6:00 pm to 8:59 pm. 19 percent of weekday fatalities and 23 percent of weekend fatalities occur during these hours.
- On weekdays, 18 percent of fatalities happened most often between the hours of 3 pm and 5:59 pm.
- On weekends, 20 percent of cyclist fatalities occur between 9 pm and 11:59 pm.
Where do most fatal bicycle accidents occur?
In Florida, accidents occur most often in population-dense, urban areas, just as they do in other parts of the country. In cities, bicyclists share the road with trucks, cars, buses, and large commercial vehicles. The NHTSA also suggests that Florida’s tourism is a likely factor in the state’s high bicycle accident rate.
They provide these figures on fatal accident locations during one recent year.
- 79 percent of bicyclist fatalities occurred in urban areas.
- 21 percent of fatal accidents happen in rural locations.
- 27 percent happened at an intersection.
- 60 percent occurred in other locations along roadways.
- 11 percent occurred at highway-adjacent locations such as shoulders, parking lanes, sidewalks, and roadway medians.
What circumstances cause most bicycle accidents?
Bicycle/vehicle crash circumstances vary. They often involve distracted driving, drug-impaired driving, drunk driving, speeding, and drowsy driving. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association report, A Right to The Road, describes a “…unifying theme…” in many bicycle/vehicle crashes. In most cases, “…the motorist often fails to notice or observe the bicyclist.”
The GHSA report further refines their observations by identifying common accident first-events.
- A cyclist and motorist are traveling in the same lane and the vehicle overtakes the cyclist.
- A car or truck driver makes a turn, cutting off the cyclist’s path.
- A vehicle driver pulls into the stream of traffic from a parking lot or other non-roadway area.
- A vehicle operator “doors” an oncoming cyclist.
- A driver can’t see the bicycle due to inattentiveness, low visibility, or impaired visibility.
- A car or truck driver doesn’t properly judge a bicycle’s speed.
Who is most frequently involved in fatal bicycle accidents?
Child bicyclists were once more frequently injured than adults. Those statistics have changed over time. The NHTSA 2018 data reveals that adults are the most frequent bicycle accident victims.
Men sustain bicycle accidents more frequently than women.
- 88 percent of the fatal bicycle crash victims are adults.
- Male cyclists sustained fatal injuries at a rate 7 times higher than women.
- 2018 bicycle traffic fatality statistics show that 47 was the average age of a fatally injured bicyclist.
- Bicyclists age 55 to 59 sustained more fatal accident injuries than any other age group
- Of the bicycle accident victims killed in 2018, 4 percent were under age 15.
What types of bicycle accidents cause fatalities?
The NHTSA provides insight into the types of accidents that cause bicyclist fatalities. The agency’s “Traffic Safety Facts: Bicycles and Other Cyclists” publication describes the types of vehicles involved.
It also pinpoints the types of initial impacts.
- 81.8 percent of bicyclists sustained fatal injuries when the front of a vehicle struck their bicycle.
- Light trucks were involved in 356 fatal bicycle accidents nationwide during 2018.
- In 88 percent of these crashes, the front of the truck came into contact with the bicycle.
- 24 percent of large truck accidents involved an impact on the truck’s right side.
- 29 percent of bus-related fatal accidents involved the bus’s right side.
- 5 percent of fatal bicycle accidents involved a collision with a private passenger vehicle’s right side.
- 2 percent of bicyclists sustained fatal injuries when struck in the rear.
- Large trucks caused a higher percentage of rear-end accidents than other vehicles.
- The NHTSA believes large vehicle drivers’ tendency to make wide right turns is the primary factor in right-side collisions.
What kinds of injuries do bicyclists sustain in a vehicle/bicycle accident?
When a vehicle/bicycle crash occurs, the cyclist often sustains serious to catastrophic injuries. These sometimes include fractured bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, internal damage, and other conditions. It’s difficult to imagine how profoundly an accident affects a cyclist and their loved ones.
Outside Magazine provides an inside look in a recent piece “To the Driver Who Hit Me and Ran.” The author offers a first-hand account of his own horrific bicycle accident. The incident occurred in Boulder, Colorado, but it provides insight into the types of accidents that happen in Tampa, throughout Florida, and in locations across the country.
The victim describes what happened when a van struck his bicycle in the rear then left the scene. A passing motorist tells how he noticed the bicyclist on the side of the road and called an ambulance. The victim’s fiancée discusses retrieving his bicycle and how the accident impact broke it in half. The victim talks about his injuries: 24 broken ribs, fractured vertebrae, spinal cord injury, snapped femur, collapsed lung, shattered ankle, and a crushed pelvis. He explains how the Emergency doctor whose task was “putting me back together” told him how close he had been to losing his life.
The article also shares the cyclist’s X-rays and photos taken during his recovery. In the accompanying podcast “What Happens to a Cyclist’s Body When It’s Hit by a Car?“, the victim, his fiancée, and his rescuer discuss the victim’s post-accident events, treatment, and recovery. A brief video shows the victim walking with the help of a full leg brace and forearm crutches.
If I’m injured in a bicycle accident, who pays my medical bills?
First, your own auto insurance company pays your medical bills under your Personal Injury Protection coverage. They pay 80 percent of your medical bills and 60 percent of your lost wages up to your $10,000 PIP limit. Beyond this, you will likely need to rely on private health insurance (or another form of insurance like Medicaid), and/or pay out of pocket.
However, you have a legal right to make a liability claim against a driver who caused your accident when your injuries meet or exceed one of these thresholds:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Permanent injury
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Why do bicyclists sustain such serious injuries?
When a car crashes into a bicycle, the vehicle driver usually walks away unharmed. Bicyclists often deal with head-to-toe trauma.
These factors contribute to the big differences in the vehicle driver’s and the bicyclist’s post-accident status:
- Weight: Cars have an extreme weight advantage over a bicycle. A small car weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. Bicycle weights vary depending on the type of bike. Traditional bicycles weigh about 19 pounds. E-bikes weigh 38 to 70 pounds. Specialized bikes weigh more or less. At these weights, no bicycle can protect a rider from a 4,000-pound car’s impact. The differences are more profound when a vehicle crash occurs at moderate to fast speeds. The injury potential increases when a 10,000-pound bus, truck, or commercial vehicle causes the accident.
- Protection: Bicyclists have limited resources to protect riders from injury during an impact. Safety lights make bicycles more visible. An appropriate helmet protects a cyclist’s head during a crash. Cars and trucks have metal reinforcements, seatbelts, airbags, and other safety devices to protect drivers and passengers.
- Balance: Most cycles have two wheels. This makes balance difficult after a crash. When a collision occurs, the impact often sends a bicyclist to the pavement, into a pole or into the striking vehicle. Even a simple crash has the power to eliminate a biker’s balance and expose them to additional injuries.
- City infrastructure: Bicyclists need natural or constructed barriers to separate them from traffic. While separation won’t eliminate all bicycle/vehicle accidents, it can reduce them.
Do Florida laws cover bicycle riders?
Title XXIII Motor Vehicles §316.2065 details Florida’s bicycle statutes. §316.2128 outlines “Micromobility devices, motorized scooters, and miniature motorcycles,” and further designates these low-powered mobility devices as “bicycles.”
These statutes grant riders the same rights and privileges as bicycle riders.
- Bicycle owners aren’t required to register a bicycle or obtain a driver’s license.
- A rider cannot leave a child on a bike unattended.
- Cyclists age 16 and under and passengers must wear an appropriate helmet.
- A bicycle must have a white headlight after sunset. It must be visible at least 500 feet away.
- Bicycles must also have a red rear reflector and a red light that’s visible at least 600 feet away.
- Failure to comply with certain statutory requirements subjects a bicyclist to a non-criminal citation and a fine.
Which types of businesses use bicycle transportation?
Bicycles provide low-overhead business transportation. Independent contractors use them to cut their costs while earning a living independently. They’re convenient to use, and they’re economical to operate. They don’t require paid parking spaces and many buses have storage racks for owners to manage their bikes during trips.
Businesses, organizations, and independent gig workers use bicycles to perform many tasks.
- Courier and package delivery in Tampa
- Bicycle Policing
- Food delivery
- Pedicab transportation services
What are some of the most important bicycle accident safety concerns?
When a car or truck crashes into a bicycle, it’s often because of the vehicle operator’s and the bicyclist’s perceptions. Motorists don’t always accept that bicyclists, motorcycles, and other micromobility devices have a right to share the road. Bicyclists sometimes expect oncoming vehicles to see them, acknowledge their rights, and stop.
Organizations that follow bicycle accident issues offer key recommendations for addressing these and other safety issues.
- The GHSA suggests the 3-E approach: Engineering improvements, Enforcement, Education.
- The Florida Bicycle Association expects drivers and cyclists to learn and follow the rules. The organization lobbies for stricter safety laws. They also challenge motorists to avoid impatience when dealing with bicyclists.
- The Green Lane Project encourages cities to create protected bicycle lanes.
Do I need an attorney if I’m injured in a bicycle accident?
You have a better chance of recovering damages when you work with a personal injury attorney. Attorneys research legal issues, evaluate your damages, and deal with any insurance carriers. They protect your legal rights while you rest and heal from your injuries.
When you consult with our Tampa bicycle accident lawyers, your initial meeting is complimentary. You don’t have to commit to a claim or lawsuit. You simply discuss your accident and we will explain your potential legal options. You decide if or when you want to present a claim.
Steps to Take After a Tampa Bicycle Accident
For the most part, you cannot plan for the trauma of a bicycle accident. You can, however, get to know the basic steps to take after any kind of crash that will protect your or your loved one’s legal rights and financial interests. Those are:
Getting Needed Medical Care
No matter how you feel after a Tampa bike crash, always seek medical care right away. Do not trust your own assessment of whether you’ve sustained an injury. For one thing, few, if any, people can accurately judge their own health condition in the stressful moments after an accident. For another, many injuries take time to show symptoms, but can be diagnosed easily by a physician. What’s more, going to the doctor does not just protect your health, it also generates important records of your injury that can prove vital in a later legal action.
From the moment you crash your bicycle, it becomes a potentially crucial piece of evidence in a later legal action. It is up to you to preserve that evidence so that your lawyer and any experts your lawyer hires can evaluate it. Do not throw your bike away or get it fixed. Set it aside and do not touch it until your lawyer has had the chance to decide whether it might be useful in proving someone’s liability to you for damages.
Avoid Conversations With Insurance Adjusters and Their Lawyers
If you carry PIP insurance as the owner of a car or truck registered in Florida, then it will likely cover you for your initial medical expenses for minor injuries, and you should take care to comply with the policy terms to alert your insurer to your injuries.
Keep in mind that PIP coverage requires that you seek medical care for traffic accident injuries within 14 days or you risk losing your coverage. In alerting your carrier to the accident, stick to the facts, and never make stray comments that might suggest you are not injured, or that the accident was your fault.
When it comes to speaking with someone else’s insurance company (or lawyer), entirely different considerations apply. The only reason an insurance company that insures someone else would contact you, the injured cyclist, is if that company wants to limit the amount of money it might have to pay for your injuries.
Insurance adjusters—the people who investigate and negotiate insurance claims—often try to get accident victims to make statements that harm those victims’ rights, or offer tiny settlements hoping the victims will bite at “quick” money. Do not fall for these tactics. Refer any insurance company (or any lawyer) to your lawyer instead.
Speak With a Tampa Bicycle Accident Lawyer
You have nothing to lose in speaking with an experienced Tampa bicycle crash injury attorney, and potentially everything to gain. An initial meeting with a lawyer is always free of charge, and allows you and your lawyer to assess whether you have the legal right to recover financial damages from someone who caused your accident. A lawyer can also serve as an important buffer between you and the insurance companies who may try to contact you.
Tampa Attorneys for Injured Bicyclists
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman are Florida law firms representing victims of Tampa bicycle crashes and other traffic accidents. We have years of experience and a stellar track record of fighting to recover every dollar of compensation our clients deserve. With offices on both Florida coasts, our lawyers are ready to meet with you in person at your convenience. You can also contact us online or by phone at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) to schedule a time to talk with a member of our team.