In a world where people are more conscious of their choices, including their mode of transportation, people now choose to travel in more sustainable ways. One of the best ways to do that is by riding the bicycle. The United States has seen an increase in bicycles, especially since Americans now use it for commute, exercise, and even entertainment. By law, bicycles on the roadway are regarded as vehicles, thereby awarding them with the same privileges, rights, and responsibilities as motor vehicles, such as cars and trucks.
Unfortunately, the rising trend in cycling has also led to a rise in road accidents. In 2018, 857 Americans were killed in traffic crashes. Given the vulnerability of the user against a bulky car, the cyclist is more likely to get injuries. That said, bicycle accidents are often fatal and catastrophic, especially since riders only have helmets, knee and elbow pads, coupled with gloves. That is nothing compared to a bulk of metal vehicles, particularly big cars.
While cyclists often adhere to the same rules of the road as car drivers, they rarely regard bicycles as such – in truth, most accidents are a cause of negligence on motor vehicle drivers, which is a trend often seen in the sunny state of Florida.
Florida’s Bicycle Accidents
Florida is known to be a sunny state, making bicycles a common mode of transportation. Basking in the sun before work is a welcome luxury, while some simply ride bicycles for fitness, sustainability, or simply just enjoying the sun.
No matter the reason, the government in Florida ensures that all riders follow the same basic rules as motorized vehicles, including traffic signs, signals, lights, and even staying at the designated lanes.
Despite these rules, however, accidents remain common. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles 2017 report, bicycles are involved in a total of 6,675 road crashes. 128 of these were fatal, making the mode of transportation still dangerous.
What are the common causes of bicycle accidents?
1 – Driver and rider inattentiveness
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) postulates that today’s drivers are increasingly becoming more distracted behind the wheel, which can be due to the constant need to be on mobile devices. 30% of bicycle accidents occur due to car collisions, with distracted car drivers manning the vehicles.
Unfortunately, some riders also fail to be attentive on the road. Despite being vulnerable to serious injuries, extreme caution must be exercised. Like vehicle drivers, however, riders now become distracted due to mobile devices and headphones, causing them to be distracted and veer into dangerous traffic.
2 – Riding in less than ideal situations
While cities are obligated by law to ensure all roadways are safe, many remain to be in dangerous states of disrepair. This is dangerous not just for bicyclists, but drivers as well—one wrong move could lead to an accident, and in most cases, fatal bicycle injuries.
Riding at night is also considered as dangerous, as most bicycle accidents happen at night. Many still fail to wear reflective gears during riding, thereby making them difficult to see.
What happens when I get into a bicycle accident?
Seeing as your bicycle’s aluminum frame is nothing compared to the big structures of cars, getting into a bicycle accident can be disastrous and fatal. Bear in mind that even a small car can weigh up to a whopping 3,000 pounds, which means your helmets and pads are nothing compared to the sheer weight of these cars. Some of the most common bicycle injuries include the following:
Torn muscles and sprains
Although these injuries can heal on their own after a few weeks, some cases are more severe than others. You may have to get the aching muscles checked to determine if you need any kind of treatment or therapy. Physicians may perform surgeries on torn muscles and require you to undergo physical therapy.
Injuries to the spine warrant serious medical attention because they may lead to paralysis and the loss of other bodily functions if left unchecked. Spinal injuries also often need surgery and physical therapy to heal and prevent them from worsening.
Although no blood will be lost outside of the body, internal bleeding can still pose significant dangers. It may lead to seizures and even organ failure.
Injuries to internal organs
Internal organ injuries are serious and require immediate medical attention, especially if the injured areas are vital organs, such as your heart and lungs. You may be confined for a long time depending on the damaged organ.
Although bones are hard and strong, they still are prone to damage due to accidents. This could be serious because bones are vital in helping you move and supporting your muscles and internal organs, and damaging them could impede these functions. Bones also take a long time to heal even with surgery and physical therapy.
Your helmet and skull may protect your brain, but with a strong enough impact, you can still suffer from brain injuries. Even minor concussions should not be taken lightly because any form of brain injury can affect your daily functions. Brain injuries could leave serious and lasting effects on your cognitive abilities, memory, and other psychological functions, especially if left unchecked.
Accidents are sudden and traumatic events that could leave a huge impact on your psychological well-being. The event can lead to post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or depression. The development of psychological disorders after these accidents are not unheard of and their impact on a person’s daily life can be debilitating.
Abrasions, minor wounds, and bruises
As far as bicycle accidents go, these injuries are inconvenient but minor. Unless they become infected, they should heal quickly and do not cause many complications. These don’t typically warrant any special medical attention.
Seeking medical treatment immediately after suffering from an accident is the only way to recover quickly, so never hesitate. Once you seek medical treatment, however, make sure to gather copies of all your medical records, including the bills. Bear in mind that you will be entitled to seek compensation for all your injuries, so gather as much evidence as you possibly can.
Why should I get a personal injury lawyer?
While gathering evidence is paramount, a victim seeking compensation for a bicycle accident will find it difficult to accomplish without proper legal advice. While these accidents are common, it involves legal processes you may be unfamiliar with. This makes it difficult for you to hold the other party accountable, especially since you’re still in recovery.
That said, make sure to hire a seasoned personal injury lawyer, preferably as soon as possible after the accident. Not only will you relieve some stress and enjoy legal aid, but you’ll also get peace of mind.
To fully grasp the importance of hiring a lawyer, here are several reasons you must take into consideration:
Reason #1: Your injuries may be more severe than you think
As a bicycle rider, you are much too exposed to the vehicle. You will end up on the ground, pinned in between pounds, and other less than ideal situations that may have caused you injuries you do not fully feel right away. Your head may be bleeding, but you likely have internal injuries going on, blocked by an adrenaline rush.
You may also end up unconscious or simply overjoyed at the fact that you survived – unfortunately, serious injuries may be lingering. No matter the outcome, seek the help of a lawyer right away.
Reason #2: Your judgment may be clouded
After an accident, it’s possible that you may not be in the best state of mind, no matter how minor your injuries may be. Bear in mind that you’ve been exposed to a near-death experience and although generally unscathed, trauma has now clouded your reasoning.
You will be unable to think clearly and act with your best interest in mind, so seek the help of a personal injury lawyer. They will gladly take charge of your situation, approaching your case in the best possible way.
Reason #3: Insurance companies cannot be trusted
While it’s true that you can gain proper compensation from insurance companies, understand that these people will unlikely be looking out for your best interest. With the help of your lawyer, however, you’ll be able to have the power of law by your side.
Any attempt to minimize the amount of compensation asked of them will disappear – that said, remember to discuss everything with your attorney before talking to your insurance company, especially when it comes to the extent of your injuries and your other plans.
Reason #3: Your medical bills can be costly
Following an injury, you will be taken to the hospital right away. This is the only way to know the extent of your injuries, as medical professionals need to examine you closely. You will be subjected to multiple tests like x-rays and CT scans, all in an attempt to determine possible issues and internal injuries you may have.
The question stands, however: who pays for your medical bills? With a lawyer by your side, finances will be easier to deal with. Bear in mind that this depends on your state, but most bills should be shouldered by the offending party.
Reason #4: You need to recover your losses
While most people may assume that a bicycle is but another piece of transportation, your bike can mean a lot to you and can come at hefty prices. Since insurance companies are yet to completely accommodate bicycles, it can be difficult to determine the amount of your loss.
As a result, you’ll be given an amount less than ideal. In some cases, insurance companies and offending parties only offer repairs. With a lawyer by your side, however, you will be properly compensated for your loss.
Staying safe: How can you avoid bicycle crashes?
In the world of cycling, there are two types of crashes. One of the most common is falls, while the more serious ones happen with cars. Regardless of the reason, however, prevention is always best when it comes to crash avoidance. Here are some tips you must take into consideration.
- Purchase a bike that suits you: A bike too big or small can be difficult to control, rendering you susceptible to accidents.
- Purchase a bike in the best condition: Even if it’s just a thin piece of metal, brakes are necessary to save your life.
- Invest in riding gear: Equipment isn’t just there to protect you—they’re meant to help keep yourself visible to other riders, particularly at night. Make sure to wear reflective gears and install reflectors on your bike.
- Keep your eyes on the road: Someone may have messaged you on your phone, but your eyes should remain on the road with both your hands on the handlebars.
- Your items must be stored away from the wheels: Make sure your belongings never get caught in the wheels. Carry them in a backpack or strap them safely onto your bike’s back.
- Stay alert: Remain focused, making sure that you are aware of your surroundings and the traffic. Drive with the flow, which should be the same direction as traffic.
- Obey the rules, signals, signs, and other road rules. Ride at slower speeds if necessary, but if you can, choose routes with fewer cars. Above all, stay in designated bicycle lanes.
Seeking the Help of a Bicycle Accident Attorney
People are aware of the impacts of their choices now more than ever, which is why the number of cyclists has increased dramatically over the past couple of years. Cycling is a fun activity, one that supports your overall health and at the same time, reduces your carbon footprint.
While the idea of phasing out cars may not be happening anytime soon, the idea of opting for a bicycle rather than a car is most ideal. Unfortunately, the roads are dangerous. If you find yourself suffering from bike accident injuries, understand your rights as a rider. You are entitled to the same rights and privileges as a car rider, and thereby, the same benefits.
Seek justice for your losses and seek the help of a personal injury attorney. Shiner Law Group is a law firm offering licenses attorneys in Florida and other surrounding areas, ensuring that injured people get the justice they deserve. Accidents are almost always the result of someone else’s carelessness and actions, so don’t hesitate to hold them accountable. Reach out to our team of experts today.