Were you recently injured in a bicycle accident in West Palm Beach, FL? Our experienced West Palm Beach bicycle accident lawyers at Shiner Law Group are ready to help fight for your legal rights and get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (855) 462-6878 to speak with an attorney for a 100% free consultation.
You may be entitled to seek compensation for medical bills, loss of income, pain, and suffering, and more. Contact our West Palm Beach, FL law offices to discuss the legal options that might be available to you following your bicycle accident. The next steps are very important. Let Shiner Law Group help you with your bicycle accident case today.
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Were You Injured In A Bicycle Accident In Florida?
Cycling is an excellent low-impact activity, and many people in Florida take advantage of the beautiful climate to get out on their bikes. But there are risks involved when you take your ride to the streets. Annually, bicyclists make up about 2% of all fatalities associated with motor vehicle accidents nationwide. In 2020, 157 bicyclists died in Florida. However, thousands more cyclists have been injured in accidents involving motor vehicles. If you or a loved one is a victim of a bicycling accident, contacting a Florida bicycle accident lawyer can help you receive compensation to cover financial damages as well as physical and emotional suffering.
Why Would You Need an Attorney After a Bicycle Accident in Florida?
If you have been hurt in a bike accident, you’re likely tending to your injuries. While you’re focusing on healing, medical bills are racking up. You may have to take time off of work to recover, leaving you with a reduced income. If you have a family, you might have to contend with finding childcare or another adult to manage the household.
Plus, there are emotional factors to consider. A bicycle accident can leave you with PTSD and other psychological repercussions. Your life may feel as though it has come to a standstill, and it’s not easy to put the pieces back together as you’re struggling to get better.
Bicycle accident victims also have to consider the long-term effects of the incident. Will your injuries limit your ability to secure a job? Has your capacity for accomplishing daily living activities diminished? Are you unable to care for your children or loved ones?
It’s not easy to itemize the cost of the damages. However, receiving compensation can make up for the financial damages and help you manage the long-term ramifications. You may be entitled to file a lawsuit or claim against the party that was responsible for your accident. But insurance companies aim to mitigate their losses, which means that they may not provide the compensation that you need to move forward.
An experienced attorney, however, will be on your side. Moreover, personal injury lawyers understand the ins and outs of recovering compensation for damages sustained in this type of accident. They will work for you so that you get the benefits that you deserve.
What Factors Are Involved in Florida Bike Accidents?
There are several causes of bicycle accidents in Florida. Most of these types of collisions occur in urban areas. This indicates that high motor vehicle traffic and busy roads contribute to cycling dangers.
Driver negligence is a major factor when it comes to bicycle collisions with motor vehicles. Some examples of negligent driver behaviors that contribute to accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Reckless driving
- Failing to yield to bicyclists
- Neglecting to follow traffic signals and signs
- Driving in bike lanes
- Making illegal turns
- Driving under the influence
- Opening a car door into a bicyclist’s path
- Driver fatigue
However, vehicles aren’t always involved in bike accidents. A cyclist might get into a collision due to the following circumstances:
- Defective cycling equipment
- Snow, ice or debris accumulation
- Cracked or uneven pavement
- Obstructions in the path of travel
- Inadequate road markings or signage
What Types of Injuries Can You Sustain in a Florida Bicycle Accident?
Cyclists are only protected by the equipment that they can wear on their bodies. You can wear a helmet to reduce your risk of sustaining a serious head injury. Reflective clothing makes you more visible to cars. If they see you, they’re less likely to hit you.
However, you can’t wrap yourself in a cage when you ride. If you’re in an accident that involves high speeds on your part or that of a motor vehicle driver, your chances of getting significantly hurt are high.
The types of injuries that typically require medical attention include:
- Scrapes, cuts and bruises
- Road rash
- Bone fractures and dislocations
- Soft tissue damage
- Internal bleeding
- Abdominal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Injuries to the teeth, face or eyes
Emergency medical care can be expensive. You may struggle to cover these costs, but a Florida bicycle accident attorney can help.
Was the Bicycle Accident Your Fault?
It’s not always easy to determine fault in a bicycle accident. The laws of gravity make it possible for a cyclist to topple over and get hurt at any time. Plus, many bicyclists neglect to follow traffic and safety laws. Motor vehicle drivers aren’t the only ones that can cause accidents by texting while driving; cyclists often crash because they’re distracted while riding.
Some factors that may make a bicyclist liable for the accident include:
- Riding on the wrong side of the street – Cyclists are required to travel in the same direction as traffic.
- Neglecting to use the bike lane – If a bike lane is available, cyclists should use it. However, that’s not always possible. Obstructions in the bike lane can impede your ability to ride safely. Even if you use a bike lane, a vehicle can hit you if they cross the line or make a right turn as you’re riding by.
- Failing to follow bicycle and traffic laws – Riders over the age of 16 are supposed to follow the same traffic rules as motor vehicles. However, failing to follow certain rules doesn’t automatically make a biker liable for an accident.
- Neglecting to yield – Although a bicycle is considered to be a vehicle in Florida, cars still have to yield the right of way to cyclists. Still, a biker must yield to moving traffic in some instances, such as when entering a lane.
- Making sudden stops or turns without signaling first – Cyclists and motor vehicle drivers should understand and follow safety regulations, such as using hand signals. Unfortunately, drivers don’t always recognize or see a biker’s signals.
Florida laws regarding personal injury rely on the legal theory of negligence. If the victim can prove that the collision was caused by another party’s negligence, they may be entitled to compensation.
Little-Known Florida Bicycle Laws
Gliding down the road with the breeze at your back can make you feel a sense of freedom. Experienced riders may take unnecessary risks. Some of them go against Florida bicycle laws. Some of the rules for cyclists that you may not be familiar with include the following:
- You must sit on a fixed, properly installed seat.
- Riders can only carry as many passengers as the bike was designed for.
- You must keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
- Your brake must stop the bike within 25 feet.
- Wearing non-therapeutic listening devices, such as headphones, is prohibited.
- Riders and passengers under the age of 16 must wear a helmet.
Although the law states that you should ride as close to the curb as you can, that’s not always possible or safe. That’s where slippery debris, such as leaves and sand, tends to collect. It also increases the risk that you’ll be hit by someone opening a car door. Riding too close to the side of the street can make it difficult for cars in intersections to see you.
In many cases, it’s safer to ride in the center of the lane. Vehicle drivers may complain about this, but they’re required to share the road with you. If the driver is ranting about you being in their way, they see you. They’re required to yield to you until it’s safe to pass.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Bicycle Accident?
The parties that could be held liable for a bicycle accident include:
- Motor vehicle drivers
- The municipality
- The bike manufacturer
- A repair shop that completed faulty work
When a cyclist is responsible for their accident, however, they will be held liable. If they caused damage to property or a vehicle, they typically have to cover the costs of repairs. Sometimes, both parties are responsible. In that case, partial retribution may be awarded.
But determining fault in a bicycle accident isn’t always black and white. A reckless driver that hits a bicyclist from behind while the rider is in the bike lane is likely at fault. But what if that driver swerved into the bike lane, never touching the cyclist but forcing them to veer into a ditch?
You should never assume responsibility without speaking to a lawyer first. After an accident, you’re likely to be shocked and disoriented. You might not notice a critical factor that can make or break your personal injury case. A knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate the tricky legalities that are associated with bicycle accidents.
How to Avoid a Bicycle Crash in Florida
Because of your vulnerability as a cyclist, an accident can be serious or deadly. You know that avoiding bicycle collisions involves following safety guidelines and remaining alert. But not all cyclists are familiar with the following tips for staying safe on the road.
It can take up to two seconds for an alert vehicle driver to perceive, recognize and avoid an unexpected object in their path. At 30 miles an hour, a car can travel 55 feet in that time frame. Therefore, if a driver doesn’t see a cyclist well ahead of time, it may be too late.
Drivers typically focus their attention on areas where other cars might be. That’s one reason why bike accidents on straight roadways are more common than you think.
To make it easier for drivers to see you on your bike, you should wear colors that contrast with your surroundings. This is one reason that cyclists often wear neon. Lights also attract attention during the day or night.
Reflectors are also crucial for staying safe at night. It’s best to place reflectors on your lower body. Your back, chest, and shoulders stay relatively still while you’re cycling, and reflectors in those areas may not spark awareness in a driver. Reflective materials on your knees, feet, pedals, and tires are in constant motion and capture drivers’ attention.
Make Eye Contact
When you’re riding past a driveway or cross street, you may think that you’re quite conspicuous. However, drivers may not see you. If they do, they may not assess your speed or predict your intentions accurately. The result is a collision.
Whenever you’re about to enter the path of a vehicle, try to make eye contact with the driver. This helps them notice you. It’s especially important to follow this recommendation when you’re riding on the sidewalk, where a car may not look for a biker.
If you’re not sure whether a driver sees you, stop. Overconfidence and assumptions can lead to an accident.
Watch Out Behind You
Unfortunately, bicycle accidents that involve motor vehicles often happen when cyclists are being safe. Drivers are often looking at the oncoming traffic in the lane to their left instead of at the shoulder or bike lane. You could get hit from behind while cruising with the flow of traffic in the bike lane, stopping at red lights, and making eye contact with drivers in intersections.
Attaching a rear-view mirror to your handlebar or helmet helps you be aware of careless or negligent drivers that you might not see otherwise. If a vehicle looks like it’s getting too close, you can bail. Steer off the road entirely by moving to the right. You can also stop your bike.
What Should You Do if You’re in a Bicycle Accident in Florida?
If you happen to be in a bicycle accident, you might wonder what steps you should take. The checklist below can help you follow the best procedure to take care of yourself and protect your rights.
1. Call 911
Even if the collision felt mild or insignificant, you should call 911 after a bicycle accident. Doing this ensures that the proper emergency teams show up for you. At a minimum, the dispatcher will alert the police and EMS.
2. Assess Your Injuries
Be careful with your movements following an accident. If you have hurt your head, neck or spine, wait for the ambulance to arrive. Don’t move your body if you are experiencing significant pain.
After an accident, your adrenaline surges. This can obscure your pain and make you think that you’re not injured. Also, internal injuries may not be evident immediately. You should be examined by a medical professional to determine the extent of your injuries.
You can’t file a claim or lawsuit if you didn’t sustain injuries or property damage. Therefore, it’s vital to get checked out. Individuals who have been hurt in a bicycle accident have up to four years to file a claim. If an accident-related injury becomes evident in the months following the incident, you may still have a case. However, it’s best to begin the process as soon as you can.
3. Collect Information
Get the names and contact information of anyone else who was involved in the collision. It’s best to gather this data from their driver’s license. You should also record the license plates of any vehicles that were involved and takedown insurance information.
Don’t neglect to get the same information from witnesses. You may need their testimony if you file a lawsuit.
4. Document Details
Take photographs to use as evidence. You should capture images of the environment surrounding the accident, the vehicles or equipment that were involved, road conditions, and your injuries. Make a note of the date, time, location, weather, and other important details.
5. Speak With the Police
A police officer will likely show up to create a report. If you’re conscious, you’ll be asked several questions about the incident. You’re not required to answer all of the officer’s questions. However, staying completely silent may arouse suspicion.
Try to provide basic facts about the accident. Be careful to provide information that you have observed directly.
If you’re not sure what happened, don’t try to make up details. Tell the officer that you don’t know. You’ll be able to provide more details after you speak with your attorney.
Never say that you’re sorry or the accident was your fault. An experienced attorney will help you sort through the complex details to determine liability.
Speak With A Florida Bicycle Accident Lawyer Near Me
Contact a Florida bicycle accident attorney as soon as you can. You may be able to reach out to us from the scene of the accident or the hospital. You should take this step before you speak to an insurance agent about the accident.
The variables involved in a bicycle accident are complex. You may have a case of whether you were hit by a car or not. If you were hurt or your bike was damaged, you may be able to collect compensation to make up for the injuries. If a loved one was killed in a bicycle accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death suit.
It never hurts to talk things through with a lawyer before relaying all of the details to a police officer or insurance agent. At Shiner Law Group, we offer free consultations. Contact us to have your questions answered and find out if you are eligible to receive compensation for your bicycle accident.