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In Florida, cycling is a big part of our community, and thousands of residents utilize it as a way to get exercise and stay healthy. There are numerous places around the Tampa Bay area where biking is also a great way to commute to work or just explore the natural beauty that Florida has to offer.
The number of people who enjoy biking in Florida rises each year, as exercise and environmental responsibility both become more popular. Unfortunately, for some, a peaceful ride may turn into a terrifying experience. Thousands of bike riders are struck by vehicles every year in Florida and throughout the country. Some of those injuries will be severe and permanent.
Florida is the deadliest state for bicyclists
Florida has the highest rate of fatalities for bicyclists in the country. An average of 110 people are killed while biking, each year, in Florida. There are 5.7 biking fatalities for every million residents.
What makes Florida so dangerous for bicyclists?
There are many issues that contribute to the dangers of biking in Florida. Too many bicyclists in Florida do not take the necessary safety precautions while riding. These failures include:
- Failure to wear a helmet when biking
- A bicycle is considered a vehicle, and the law dictates that you ride with the flow of traffic. Unfortunately, far too many citizens of Florida still ride against traffic.
- Failure to follow traffic laws that apply to all vehicles
The factors that contribute to giving Florida the dubious distinction of being the most deadly place for bicycle riders include:
- An aging population
- Densely packed population centers
- Inadequate bike lanes in areas where they are needed
- Drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- A large number of tourists who are unfamiliar with Florida roads
What can cyclists do to stay safer on Florida roads?
Bicycle riding is a healthy and environmentally friendly means of transportation. To increase your chances of riding safely, follow the following suggestions:
- Ride on the roadway, or in bike lanes. Avoid riding your bike on the sidewalks.
- Remember that your bike should be operated like any other vehicle and follow the same rules of the road.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic and obey all traffic signs and signals.
- Signal your turns well in advance to give other vehicles time to react.
- Always wear a properly fitted helmet when riding your bicycle.
- Wear bright colors during the day, and have reflective gear for low light situations.
- Stay alert and remember that you may be hard for a car to see if you are in their blind spot.
- Respect motorists, and concede the right of way even if you are not legally obligated to do so. Remember, your safety is what matters.
What should drivers do to make Florida safer for bicyclists?
Drivers have a responsibility to make the roadways safe for everyone, including bicyclists. Drivers in Florida should:
- Avoid distracted driving at all times.
- Yield to bicyclists when necessary. They may not have the right of way, but yielding is a much better option than being involved in an accident where someone is injured or killed.
- Check mirrors and blind spots for bicycles before entering or exiting a lane of traffic.
- Reduce your speed when passing cyclists.
- Avoid honking at a bicyclist as it could startle them and cause them to swerve into traffic.
- Give bicyclists at least three foot of clearance when passing.
- Be alert for children on bicycles. Children often behave erratically, so expect the unexpected when passing a child on a bike.
What are my rights and responsibilities as a bicyclist in Florida?
Florida law provides all the same rights and responsibilities to cyclists as they do any other motorist. The law does dictate regulations for riding with a child under four years of age and dictates that you must wear a helmet if under sixteen. You should ride in a bike lane if it is provided, and to the far right-hand side of the road if possible.
Outside these regulations, the law recognizes your rights to a fair share of the roadway, along with the same duties applicable to other drivers.
What should you do if you were struck by a vehicle while riding a bicycle in Florida?
Just as you would do if you were involved in a car accident, make sure you identify the party that hit you and take pictures of the damage to both the car and your bicycle. If you can take pictures safely, they will be extremely useful in moving forward with a claim.
Call 911 and report the incident. Let the police document the incident and let the paramedics examine you at the scene. If they decide to transport you to the hospital, please go. Even if they do not choose to transport you, but you feel you may have an injury, seek immediate medical attention.
It is normal to experience an adrenaline surge in the immediate aftermath of an accident that can mask the symptoms of an injury. If there is any doubt, it is safer to get checked out by medical professionals.
If you do sustain an injury, document it with pictures, if possible. If you cannot take the photos, have a friend or relative do so, and document it in the various stages of healing. The old adage that a “picture is worth a thousand words” is never more true than in the legal realm of personal injury cases. Keep all medical records related to the accident.
I was not struck by a car, but something else caused my bicycle crash. Do I still have a potential claim?
When most people think about a bicycling accident, they think about a vehicle hitting a bicycle and causing damage. These types of accidents can be caused by a vehicle running a bike off the road, a car hitting a bicyclist in an intersection, a vehicle sideswiping a bike, etc. However, there are other ways a cyclist can be injured while riding that doesn’t involve a car.
If the county did not maintain the road a cyclist was riding down, and that caused the cyclist to fall, there may be a claim. If a dog attacks a cyclist while they are riding, they may have a claim. If something is in the road that causes a cyclist to wreck, whoever put it there may have potential liability for the injuries sustained.
If anything caused you to crash your bike outside your own personal negligence, and you sustained an injury or damage, there is the potential to recover damages. Take pictures of the roadway, object, or animal if you can do so safely. If there are witnesses who stop to render aid, collect their contact information if possible.
Recovering for damages after a bike accident
To recover damages you incurred from a bike accident, Our bicycle injury attorneys will pursue a cause of action for negligence. To prove that the driver that struck you was negligent, your attorney must prove:
- Duty—The driver of the vehicle had a duty to operate the motor vehicle in accordance with Florida law.
- Breach—The driver failed to operate the vehicle safely and legally.
- Cause—The breach caused the accident in which you were involved.
- Damages—You sustained an injury or other damages as a result of the accident.
Who can be held liable for an injury to a cyclist in Florida?
If you are struck by a car, you obviously have a claim against that driver and their insurance company. If a poorly maintained roadway caused your injury, you might have a potential claim against the government agency responsible for maintaining that portion of the road. If you were out riding and were attacked by an animal, usually a dog, you may have a claim against the owner for the animal, causing your injuries.
If some component of your bike failed and caused an injury, you may have a potential product liability claim for your damages. Product liability claims differ from other personal injury claims. The attorneys at Lopez Law Group have the skills and experience to handle product liability claims and help you recover the damages you deserve if a faulty product caused you to sustain injuries.
I may have contributed to the accident. Can I still make a claim?
Contributing to the accident does not mean you have no right to make a valid claim under Florida Law. There is a legal concept called comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is the process by which fault is accessed in an accident case. The driver of the vehicle that struck you could be found 80% at fault, but the cyclist could have been 20% at fault. If that distribution is determined to be accurate, the award due to the cyclist would be reduced by 20%.
In the above scenario, you are still entitled to make a claim, and you will have to file a claim to receive an award for your damages. You do not lose your ability to make a claim even if you contributed to the accident. Instead, you simply will not receive as much in damages as you would if you did not contribute to the accident.
Contact The Lopez Law Group Today!
Were you involved in a bicycle accident where you suffered injuries as a result? If so, the attorneys at the Lopez Law Group can assist. We have experience handling these sorts of claims, and we can speak with you regarding the strengths and weaknesses of your accident. We understand that being involved in a bicycle injury is a traumatic experience, and we are here to try and help make the process as easy as possible. Call us today at 727-933-0015 or fill out our contact for to get started. Our Florida attorneys are standing by, ready to assist you with your potential claim.
If you or someone you know was out on a bike and struck by an automobile, the attorneys at The Lopez Law Group stand ready to assist. With skills and knowledge of personal injury law in Florida, our attorneys can help guide you in determining if you have a case and the best way to proceed.