Bicycle accidents can cause severe injuries – some of which will last a lifetime. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bike accident, contact the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA to schedule your free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney. We have decades of success in protecting the rights of Florida bicycle accident victims.
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents
According to the Federal Highway Safety Administration,1 each year nearly 60,000 bicyclists are injured in motor vehicle crashes, 900 of whom are killed as a result. Nearly three-fourths of motor vehicle-bicycle crashes occur near driveways and intersections, while the majority of crashes also occur during the early evening when traffic is high and visibility low.
The following are common types of bicycle crashes:
- Parallel-path crashes;
- Open car door crashes;
- Crossing-path crashes;
- Rear-end crashes.
The immediate aftermath of any traffic accident is confusing, chaotic, and overwhelming. By knowing what to do, you can keep control of the situation, ensure your health and recovery, and protect your legal interests, as well.
- Call 911. The dispatcher will help you determine whether you need police, fire, medical, or any other assistance.
- Get any necessary medical attention on scene. Attend to any other victims as necessary, and as you are able to do so.
- Give your statement to police officers on scene. In the event of a hit and run accident, get as much identifying information as you can. A description of the driver or vehicle can help the police identify the hit and run driver. (A license plate number is particularly helpful in this regard.)
- If necessary, go to an emergency room or urgent care center to obtain any necessary emergency medical treatment.
Getting Appropriate Medical Treatment
After an accident, you may need follow-up or ongoing medical treatment. Certain injuries cannot be detected right away. Other injuries do appear right away, but they require lengthy treatment that cannot be administered in a single emergency department visit (such as physical therapy or chiropractic services). Don’t hesitate to get the medical treatment you need to appropriately treat your injuries.
- Get any immediate medical attention you require from paramedics on the accident scene or an emergency room visit.
- Schedule a visit with your primary care physician. He or she will help you develop a long-term treatment plan. They will order any necessary diagnostic testing or consultations with specialists.
- Determine what your ongoing treatment needs are by completing any diagnostic testing (such as x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, etc.) ordered by your doctor, and following the recommendations of any specialists you see.
- Ongoing treatment may include physical therapy, chiropractic services, pain management, etc. Be sure to address any injuries or problem areas – injuries which are ignored tend to get worse. If you are concerned about costs, consult with a personal injury attorney to explore options for paying for these services.
- Schedule any necessary follow–up appointments with your specialists or primary care physician. It is important that your doctors monitor your progress to confirm that your injuries are healing appropriately.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
If someone else is legally responsible (“liable”) for causing your bicycle accident, he or she is legally obligated to compensate you for all damage that resulted from the accident. This can include lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, property damage, and any other cost that is directly attributable to the accident. It is important to consult with a personal injury attorney to ensure that you are availing yourself of all the compensation to which you are entitled. Insurance companies are in the business of minimizing claims wherever possible. Having legal representation will both protect you from being taken advantage of, and also save you the stress and inconvenience of dealing with the insurance company.
A police report of the accident is often the most important piece of evidence. Once you have received any necessary medical treatment on the scene of an accident, be sure to get information from the officers on how to obtain a copy of their reports. In the event of a hit and run, try to get any identifying information you can. A license plate number is most helpful, but sometimes a description of the vehicle or driver is sufficient. If possible, you should also get the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident occur.
The actions you take immediately following a bicycle accident are critical to protecting your rights. While individual situations may require an adjustment to this plan, in general, you should follow these steps after being involved in a biking accident:
If you are involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, you may be required by law1 to report the accident. In Florida, the driver of a vehicle must report an accident if:
- The accident resulted in injury to or death of any person (including passengers and/or pedestrians); and/or
- The accident resulted in damage to any vehicle or other property of more than $500.
If your accident qualifies, you must report to the local police department immediately. If your accident did not occur within a municipality, you must report to either the county sheriff of the Florida Highway Patrol.
Take Note of the Scene: The officer that arrives on the scene will make some notes about the scene and the cause of the accident. But don’t simply believe the officer will catch every detail. Be sure to get contact information from every potential eyewitness. Take photos of the scene yourself to ensure it is fully documented.
You should also take pictures of your injuries and any damage done to your bike. It will be tremendously helpful down the road if you have evidence of exactly how everything looked after the accident occurred.
Delay Repairs: While you may be tempted to get your bike repaired and in riding shape as soon as possible, it may be best to delay repairs until you have spoken to a Florida personal injury attorney. Repairing your bike before the other party’s insurance adjuster has had a chance to examine the damage may compromise your right to recovery. Many insurers will not agree to pay for the damage they have not had the opportunity to inspect themselves, so it is critical that you do not do repairs until your claim has been fully processed. Further, an expert examination of your bike may help add evidence of how the accident occurred and support your claim that it was the other party’s fault.
Instead of rushing to get repairs, document the damage in as many ways as possible. Take photographs and videos and have local repair shops provide estimates for repairing the damage (but remember not to repair yet!).
Keep All Documents: and give them to your attorney. Every document you get from your insurer, the other party’s insurer, the police department, repair shop, doctor or from any other source should be kept and then given to your attorney to help in your claim for damages. Any document could be critically important in ways that might not yet be clear, so it is vital that you keep copies of everything.
Report Your Accident to Your Auto Insurer: Under Florida law, your own vehicle insurer will be responsible for paying some of your medical costs and lost wages if you are unable to work. This is true even though you weren’t in your car! Your insurer can explain the exact benefits to which you are entitled under your policy.
Tips for Staying Safe on Your Bicycle
- Always wear a helmet. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that helmet use reduces the chances of sustaining a head injury by fifty percent. It also reduces the chances of sustaining a head, neck or face injury by thirty-three percent.
- Both your bike and your safety equipment should be a good fit for you. Make sure that children have helmets which are properly fit to their head sizes.
- Make sure your bicycle and equipment are in good working condition before riding. Take special note of the brakes and chain. Tires should be fully inflated and free of debris.
- See and be seen! Drivers are not always expecting to see bicycles on the roadway. Wearing light-colored clothing or reflective devices (such as wristbands or safety vests) to help drivers see you. Be particularly cautious when riding at night.
- Bikers should also ride defensively: never assume that a car will yield the right of way to you (even when it is legally required to do so). Always be aware of your surroundings. You should also avoid unpredictable movements, as this makes it even more difficult for cars to avoid you. Signal your movements whenever possible.
- Do not become so engrossed in a smartphone or navigation system that you fail to see and respond to hazards in the roadway. If you are listening to music, leave one earbud or headphone out so you can hear oncoming traffic.
- Be cautious in parking lots or when passing parked cars along the street. Doors can open unexpectedly, and drivers in parking lots have diverted their attention to the task of parking. Leave plenty of space between your bike and a parked vehicle. Use extra caution whenever a nearby vehicle is backing up.
Contact an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today
Contact the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today to learn about your legal rights after a bicycle accident. Our Clearwater personal injury attorneys have extensive experience in aggressively pursuing personal injury claims, and we will fight hard to make sure you receive fair compensation. Call our office at (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation.