Florida was made for Cyclists
With almost near perfect weather, Florida was designed for people who enjoy the outdoors. Floridians and people who vacation in Florida love being outdoors – frankly, that is one of the biggest draws for people to want to live, play, and vacation in Florida. And, most of Florida’s roadways and nature areas were designed to allow and accommodate people who love to ride their bikes – in short, riding your bike around Florida was made for you and me.
As the number of residents increase, and the number of tourists skyrocket, the personal injury lawyers at Shiner Law Group wanted to provide some helpful information to our recreational and professional bicyclists who live and enjoy our beautiful weather year-round or those that just come to visit us for a few days or weeks each year.
Unfortunately, there has been an uptick in Bicycling accidents every year, Cycling injuries and deaths have always been a major problem – but recently there appears to be an increase of bicycle related injuries.
We certainly know that Florida is one of the most dangerous states for auto accidents in the United States (#1 Texas #2 California and #3 Florida) as compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (For 2018, the most recent year the numbers have been finalized). And, in lockstep, according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles database for 2018, Florida had 6,590 total bicycle crashes resulting in 160 Cyclists fatalities.
Worse, due to the impact of a normal passenger car (which typically weighs approximately 2-tons) most bicyclists who are involved in bicycle crashes suffer serious, and sometimes catastrophic, injuries. Although no two bicycle wrecks are the same, there are several typical types of bicycle accidents our professionals handle on a regular basis; some common injuries bicyclists suffer from accidents are listed below.
Common Injuries of Bicycle Accidents
- Pulled muscles and strains
- Road rash
- Soft tissue injuries
- Bruises, lacerations, scraps, and cuts
- Wrists and shoulder injuries
- Dislocated joints
- Leg, knee, and feet injuries
- Broken and shattered bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic Brain injuries
Common Causes of Bicycle vs Vehicle Accidents
- Drivers failing to see Cyclists
- Reckless drivers
- Poor road conditions
- Vehicles pulling out of common driveways
- Vehicles turning into the path of a cyclists
- Vehicles doors opening on unsuspecting cyclists
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents not Involving a Motor Vehicle
- Bicyclist falling off a bike
- Defective Bicycle
- Collision with another Bicycle
- Collision with a Pedestrian
- Collision with Road Debris or other objects
- Loss of Balance
In our experience, head injuries are the most common cause of Bicycle fatalities in the United States, which is why we recommend riders always wear helmets while riding, even short distances. Wearing a helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injuries in crashes according to the Journal of American Medical Association which recommends that helmet usage and helmet laws be increased throughout the US to help prevent more serious injuries while riding a bicycle, additional they encourage more education which they believe based on several studies will increase the use of helmets while riding a bicycle.
Who is Liable in a Bicycle Accident?
Of course, liability in bicycle accidents depend on the cause of the accident and who was at fault.
- If the driver of a vehicle causes a bicycle accident, then it is the drivers fault and the bicyclist may be able to file a claim against the driver or the driver’s insurance company.
- If the road was in poor condition, the bicyclist may be able to file a claim against the governmental agency responsible for maintaining the roadways, it could be the local, state of federal agencies.
- If debris from another vehicle caused the bicycle accident, the bicyclist may file a claim against the driver, company or insurance company that caused the debris to fall into the path of oncoming traffic, the debris should have been held in place properly.
- If the bicycle was designed improperly then the manufacture or repair shop could be held liable.
- If a pedestrian or another bicyclist caused the accident, then the cyclist may be able to file a claim against them or their insurance company.
- If a bicycle rider is “spooked’” and/or startled and is hurt (such as falls off their bike, swerves into a fixed object, etc.) then the person who startled that bicyclist can be held liable. For instance, if a car passes a bike rider and improperly honks their horn or swerves into the bicycle rider’s lane and the cyclist is injured then you can bring a claim against that person who caused the accident.
However, if it is determined that the accident was the fault of the cyclist, then the cyclist will not be able to collect any damages, and in some instances, they may be liable to pay for damages and injuries. This is why you need a good law firm to assist you in determining all issues of liability and giving you – the injured party – the best chance to make a recovery!
If both parties share fault, then each party may receive damages at a diminished rate according to the laws of comparative negligence. However, rules of negligence may vary from state to state, which is why it is imperative to seek out the experienced attorneys at Shiner Law Group to understand your rights.
Be Extra vigilant when Children are Around!
Drivers and cyclists have a greater duty of care when children are present, when driving in areas where it is known that children are present a drivers or cyclists obligations increase, such as when near schools, parks, or neighborhoods. It should be noted that a driver or cyclist is not automatically at fault in any accident involving children and legal assistance must be sought immediately.
What To Do If You Have Been In A Bicycle Accident
- 1. Ensure you are safe. If you are in the middle of the road and can move, immediately get to safety. If you are seriously injured, wait until medical personnel get there before being moved by others, however, make sure that they block the road to prevent additional accidents or harm to yourself or others.
- 2. Call 911 or have others call 911 for you, even if you do not believe you are injured, sometimes you may not feel pain for hours after an accident and a police report is essential for recording the accident. It is best to point to a specific person and ask them to call 911 instead of making a general plea. Report the version of events to the best of your ability, do not apologize or admit fault. Never say you are OK. If the other party flees the scene, get as much information about the car and driver down as possible, including the make and model of the car, the color, a description of the driver and the license plate if possible. Get the report number and the officers name and badge number and ask the police to secure all witnesses names and information.
- 3. Obtain and exchange information, including name, phone number, insurance etc., never admit fault, do not say I should have been more careful, do not negotiate a settlement with the other party.
- 4. Collect evidence if possible, take pictures of the scene, pictures of the damage to the other vehicle and to your bike, take pictures of your injuries too. If you were wearing a helmet, take pictures of the damage to the helmet, that will let you know if there may have been head injuries, keep all that you had on at the time of the accident, do not try and clean it, that includes, socks, shoes, pants, shirt, jacket and helmet. Write down your observations and memory of what occurred, detail if there were obstructions in the roadway or damage to the road. You can always ask a witness to take pictures for you as well and this should help you secure their contact information to make it easier to document the crash in the future.
- 5. Immediately seek medical assistance! See a doctor immediately after an accident, even if you were not hurt in an accident, you sill should see a medical professional, it’s important for your safety but also your health, if injured you may not realize you have a head injury or other injuries, a doctor is better suited to examine you and make those determinations, additionally, medical bills and medical records will be necessary for your case to better determine damages if a lawsuit is filed.
- 6. Never talk to the at fault party’s insurance company or lawyers without representation, never accept an offer before having a lawyer from Shiner Law Group review the matter. Doing so will give you the best opportunity to get the best recovery possible and to protect your interests!
Most importantly, hire an experienced bicycle injury attorney from Shiner Law Group to protect your legal rights.
Does Insurance Cover Cyclists?
Typically, your auto insurance will cover cycling accidents if it was the drivers fault, the insurance should cover damages and injuries sustained by the cyclist.
If the driver has personal injury protection coverage (also referred to as “PIP”), the at fault driver may also be eligible for damages and injuries.
Personal medical insurance may also cover costs of injuries sustained in an accident.
How To Win Money in a bicycle Accident Lawsuit!
First and most importantly call the bicycle accident attorneys at Shiner Law Group, we are South Florida’s Personal Injury Attorneys. Our experienced lawyers and professionals can help you maneuver through the legal and difficult situations that nearly all legal cases create.
Second, as with other type of injury cases, you must prove by a preponderance of evidence that it’s more likely that the defendant was negligent, this is done by proving the four essential foundations of a negligence case:
- Duty – the defendant owes a legal obligation to the plaintiff under the specific circumstances.
- Breach of Duty – the defendant breached that duty by failing to act in accordance with their obligations.
- Causation – the defendant’s actions or inactions caused the injuries.
- Damages – the plaintiff was harmed or injured as a result of the defendant’s causations.
These are the basic elements to prove negligence at trial or in pre-suit discussions.
What type of Damages can you Recover
- Economic Damages – Medical bills, property damages, lost wages
- Non-Economic Damages – Pain and suffering and quality of life issues
- Punitive Damages – a judge or jury may award additional damages to punish the at fault party for egregious offenses, such as drunk driving or illegal streetcar racing.
However, each case is unique, and damages will depend on the specific nature of your legal case and argument.
12 Tips for Sharing the Road!
- Do not wear headphones or earbuds while riding, this may reduce your ability to hear.
- Do not ride your bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to Florida Statutes §316.2065, your bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle, and as such you must follow all the traffic laws, signs, and controls on public roads. You can get a DUI in Florida while riding a bike!
- Do not text and Bike, Florida’s new Texting and driving law may extend to bicyclists as well.
- Use hand signals to indicate to other drivers you are about to turn.
- Travel the speed of other traffic, if not utilizing a bike lane. Always stay on the right most side of traffic.
- You are only permitted two bicyclists traveling side by side and if you are impeding traffic you must ride in a single file line.
- Yield to the right of way of pedestrians while riding on a sidewalk or crossing a crosswalk.
- In the evenings and at night you must have a white light which is visible to others from 500 feet on the front of your bike and a red reflector and a red light viable from 600 feet on the rear of your bike, flashing lights such as those on helmets are permissible.
- If a bicyclist or passenger is under the age of 16, they must be wearing a helmet. However, the lawyers at Shiner Law Group recommend everyone wear a helmet, please see our recommendation above.
- Vehicle Drivers are required to provide at least three feet of clearance when driving alongside or passing a cyclist.
- Vehicle Drivers are required to yield to any bicyclist in a bike lane when turning.
- Vehicle Drivers are required to check for bicyclists who may be approaching from behind before opening doors.
- You are required to have a light on your bike if you ride at night!
We Can Help With Any Bicycle Accident Questions
Call a legal firm that knows Florida and understands the personal injury laws of the state. Shiner Law Group has the experience necessary to take on the toughest cases, which is why choosing Shiner Law Group to represent you is the right move. We care about our clients and we care about you. Call us today and speak to a lawyer at Shiner Law Group at 561-777-7700 or fill out our free online consultation request.