Bicycle accidents are a widespread public health issue in Florida, as a state that ranks #1 in the U.S. for most bicycle deaths, and over 6,000 injuries from bicycle crashes in 2018.
Although bicycles can be a convenient and more eco-friendly method of getting from one place to another compared to motor vehicles, bicyclists are also at greater risk for injury and death compared to other drivers.
After getting into a bike accident, it’s important for bicyclists and other parties involved to be aware of what legal options may be available to help you seek compensation for injury from your insurance company or that of another party at-fault for the accident.
Florida bike accidents frequently cause serious and potentially permanent injuries that can have major effects on mobility, ability to work, health, and quality of life. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a bike accident, the bike accident lawyers of Florin|Roebig can help you file a claim for damages.
Causes Of Bike Accidents In Florida
Like accidents involving motor vehicles, bike accidents can occur in a number of different ways and be influenced by a variety of factors. Many of the bike accidents in Florida that are serious enough to cause personal injury or death occur due to the negligence of another driver, or environmental factors such as unsafe road and weather conditions.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the top causes of bike accidents include:
- failing to yield the right of way
- distracted driving (e.g. texting while driving/biking)
- driving or biking under the influence of alcohol
- making improper turns
- failing to follow traffic signs or stop at stop lights
- driving in designated bike lanes
The majority of fatal bicycle accidents in Florida occur in the evening on weekdays. Bicycle crashes also occur most often in urban areas and can be influenced by poor weather, poorly maintained roads, and visibility.
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Bike Accident Injuries
The most important safety tips for Florida bicyclists involve wearing a helmet, using protective and reflective gear, wearing bright clothing, and following traffic laws. Ensuring your bike is well-maintained with all parts functioning correctly can also be helpful for preventing crashes.
Unfortunately, adopting these safety measures can’t always necessarily prevent an accident or resulting injury—particularly if the accident occurs due to the negligence of another driver.
Bicycle accidents can cause a range of injuries from mild to severe, with the most serious accidents leading to permanent injury, disability, disfigurement, and death.
Types of injuries sustained in bike accidents include:
- broken bones
- road rash
- spinal cord injuries
- internal injuries
- head/neck injury
- traumatic brain injury
- dental injury
Serious bike crashes, particularly those that require medical attention, can have costly consequences. Emergency medical care may be required to attend to conditions such as injuries to the head, broken bones, and other dire consequences of a crash.
With or without insurance, many individuals can find themselves struggling to cover unexpected medical expenses—not to mention costs such as bike damage, damage to another vehicle, and counseling for psychological trauma.
Under Florida law, bicyclists who are injured at the fault of another party may be entitled to file a claim or lawsuit against the individual responsible to compensate for these expenses. This is based on the legal theory of negligence, which comes into play in situations where an accident has occurred due to the negligent or reckless behavior of another person or entity.
Determining Fault In Bicycle Accidents
Under Florida law, bicyclists and bike accidents are treated much the same as drivers of other motor vehicles, including standard passenger cars, large trucks, and motorcycles. This means that Florida cyclists are required to adhere to most legal duties and regulations that apply to drivers of other vehicles, with a few exceptions.
In determining who’s at fault for an accident, the standards to which drivers and cyclists are held can be important—particularly if the bicyclist has demonstrated behavior that might be deemed negligent, such as failing to wear a helmet, biking while intoxicated, or failing to yield.
However, most serious bike crashes in Florida occur due to the negligence of another driver. Examples of this include drivers who are intoxicated, text while driving, make turns without looking out for cyclists, fail to stop at stop signs, or neglect other important traffic safety laws.
These types of careless or negligent driving behaviors can determine liability in a traffic crash involving one or more drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians.
Depending on the nature of the bike accident, additional parties that can be held liable for bike accident-related injury or death might include:
- municipal or governmental agencies
- bike manufacturer
- manufacturer of defective bike parts
Can I File A Bike Accident Injury Claim?
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident due to the reckless behavior of another driver, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the person or entity responsible.
If you’re a family member or spouse of an individual who was wrongfully killed in a bike crash, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit to seek damages.
The primary elements of a successful bicycle accident injury claim include:
- duty of care to follow the rules of the road
- evidence that this duty of care was breached
- proof of bike accident-related injury
- evidence that the injury (or injuries) was directly caused by the breached duty of care
A bike accident lawyer can help you determine your legal options in the aftermath of an accident and help you file a winning claim, if applicable, to recover compensation for damages.
What If I’m Partially Responsible For A Bike Accident?
Injured bicyclists can be deemed partially responsible for the accident if they demonstrated negligent or reckless behavior at the time the accident occurred. This may include failing to wear a helmet, biking on the wrong side of the road, or failing to yield properly.
However, this does not affect a bicyclist’s ability to seek damages if the other party involved in the accident was the individual largely at-fault.
Partial responsibility for an accident is known as contributory negligence. In Florida, contributory negligence does not waive a victim’s right to file a claim to seek damages for personal injury or property damage.
What To Do After Getting Into A Bicycle Accident
Getting into a bicycle accident can be scary. Many people who get into accidents involving other people can feel panicked about what to do next and may feel unsure of what their legal obligations are to the other motorists involved.
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident involving one or more drivers or pedestrians, follow these steps:
1. Assess Your Injuries
After getting into an accident, your first step should be to assess yourself and others for injuries. If you’ve hit your head or are unable to move due to injury, call 9-1-1 right away. If you’re unable to do this yourself, ask the other driver or another witness on the scene to make the call.
2. Gather Information
Begin gathering information from the other drivers or pedestrians involved in the accident as soon as you are able.
This includes information such as:
- phone number
- insurance information
- driver’s license number
- license plate information
If there are any witnesses to the accident that have remained on-scene, be sure to get their contact information as well. They may be able to help support your version of events should you decide to take legal action against the other person at-fault.
3. Take Photos
Photographic evidence of the accident scene, your injuries, and all vehicles involved can serve as useful proof later on in the event that you file a claim with your insurance company or against the liable party.
Consider documenting other details of the accident as well—including time, date, location, weather, and road conditions—as soon as you are able.
4. Call The Police
If you’ve been in an accident serious enough to cause injury, the police will most likely need to be involved in order to file a report of the incident.
While getting the police involved can be intimidating, doing so may be necessary in order to prove that you took the appropriate steps to document the accident. It can also get important details about the accident on record.
5. Consider Contacting A Bike Accident Lawyer
Individuals that have suffered personal injury or property damage in the wake of a bike accident will likely need to file an accident claim if they wish to seek compensation for resulting damages.
Contacting a lawyer who has specialized experience in Florida bike accident laws is highly recommended not only to help you secure the best possible settlement, but to ensure you are not robbed of compensation you are owed for accident-related damages.
A lawyer can also advise you on how you can prepare a statement for your insurance company, or that of the liable party. It’s highly recommended that you do not speak to an insurance agent about an accident without first contacting a lawyer.
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Benefits Of Hiring A Florida Bike Accident Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer to serve as your legal representation in a bike accident case is the best way to secure a settlement that covers the full extent of your losses.
This may include compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, wrongful death, and lost wages as a result of being too injured to work.
At Florin|Roebig, our Florida bike accident lawyers can:
- determine your eligibility for filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim
- provide an estimate for how much your case is worth
- investigate the accident
- consult legal and medical experts
- gather evidence to support your version of events
- contact witnesses for testimony
- get an official accident report from the police
- handle communications with insurance companies, the defendant (liable party), and their legal representation (if applicable)
- communicate clearly and effectively with you every step of the way
- fight for the best possible settlement on your behalf
Florida Statute Of Limitations For Bike Accident Injury Claims
If you’ve been injured in a bike accident, it’s in your best interest to begin the process of filing a claim right away. Under Florida law, injured bicyclists have up to four years to file a personal injury claim, and up to two years for wrongful death.
The cost of a bike accident—to your health, your ability to work, or to your bike—can add up very quickly. Contacting a bike accident lawyer as soon as possible is the best way to accelerate your financial recovery and give yourself room to heal both physically and mentally.
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Contact Florin|Roebig For Help Filing A Bike Accident Claim
At Florin|Roebig, our Florida lawyers have extensive experience handling personal injury and wrongful death claims filed by victims of serious bicycle accidents.
With the number of costs that can pile up after a traffic crash, there’s no time to lose in finding a lawyer who can represent your case in a claim and effectively advocate for a fair settlement on your behalf.
Our award-winning bike accident lawyers are ready to hear your story, and can offer an initial case evaluation free of charge. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation and get started filing your bike accident claim.