St. Petersburg Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Serving You and The State of Florida
Bicycle Injury Lawyer in St. Petersburg Florida
Serving you and the State of Florida
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 it 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 feet 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 to 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.
Common injuries after a cyclist versus vehicle crash in Florida
Injuries sustained in these types of accidents can range from sprains, strains, and bruising to fatalities. The mechanisms of injury are not hard to understand. A vehicle weighs, on average, 2,870 pounds. Add that to the speed at which the car might be moving when you are struck, and it is easy to see how dangerous the situation can become. The most common types of injuries include:
- Broken bones—The force of being struck by a vehicle, even at slow speeds, is often enough to lead to a nasty fall that can result in breaks of any bone in the body.
- Sprains and strains—Being struck by a vehicle can cause any number of strains and sprains, as mcucles and joints are violently forced to move in unnatural ways.
- Head injuries—Head injuries can result from the impact of the vehicle itself, or a result of your head striking the ground in the subsequent fall. Even mild head injuries can cause long-term issues such as:
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory issues
- Loss of some degree of cognitive ability
- Problems regulating emotions
- Neck and back injuries—The neck and back are vulnerable in an accident, and you could end up with ruptured discs or broken vertebrae. The vertebrae are the bones that form the spinal column, which protects your spinal cord. In some cases, the spinal cord itself can be damaged, causing significant life-long impairment. Serious injuries to the spine can result in numerous orthopedic surgeries to restore stability, and too often, chronic pain.
- Lacerations—A laceration is a cut through the skin that can range from minor enough for a bandaid to severe enough to require surgical care for debridement. Openings in the skin are a risk factor for infections, and lacerations leave behind scarring. The scarring can be disfiguring if it is severe or occurs in a prominent place such as your head or face.
In addition to the physical injuries sustained in an accident, there is emotional trauma as well. Everything happens so fast that it can be difficult for your mind to process the event. A serious accident that results in injuries can also leave you feeling fearful, anxious or depressed. The emotional scars from an accident can last long past when the physical scars fade.
You might also find yourself dealing with the burden of a long-term change in how you live your life due to your injuries. You might be physically unable to return to a particular type of job or lose the active lifestyle you love. Whatever the changes caused by your injuries, they can take a mental toll as you learn to negotiate your way forward.
If you notice signs of lingering emotional trauma, you should seek professional help right away. Symptoms of the effects of lingering emotional trauma include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Flashbacks when something triggers memories of the accident
- Difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, as well as nightmares
- New feelings of depression such as a lack of interest in things that once brought you pleasure, problems with keeping normal routines, or sadness for reasons you do not fully understand
Emotional issues are common after an accident, and you should not hesitate to talk to a trusted professional about the impact it is having on your life.
The financial ramifications of an automobile vs. bicycle accident in Florida
If you are injured in an accident caused by a vehicle striking you while walking, jogging, or running, the financial ramifications can be catastrophic. Even minor injuries, such as a sprained ankle, might make it impossible for you to work for some time. Serious injuries can come with a significant amount of time off work or even permanent disability.
In an instant, your life changes, and it can be a frightening time filled with worry about your physical health and your finances. The St. Petersburg bicycle accident attorneys at Lopez Law Group understand that no one plans for the ramifications of an accident. You should be able to focus on your physical recovery without having to worry about keeping the bills paid.
We encourage you to call us as soon as possible after an accident. Do not give a statement to any insurance company involved until you seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney in Florida. If you had no fault in the accident, an insurance company might try to make a settlement offer as soon as possible.
These insurance companies are not doing that out of concern for your well-being. They want you to accept a low initial settlement offer before contacting an attorney because they know a skilled personal injury attorney will usually be able to negotiate a significantly higher settlement.
Offering quick low-ball settlements are just one of the many tactics insurance companies use to try to avoid paying you what your claim is worth. Shifting the blame to you is another common tactic. Under Florida law, you can still recover damages, even if you shared some fault in the accident. We encourage you to speak to an attorney before you talk to an insurance company at all.
Our St. Petersburg bicycle accident lawyers at The Lopez Law Group will investigate everything that contributed to the accident, your medical records, and prognosis, and consult with trusted medical and occupational experts to determine how much compensation you deserve. We will then work hard to negotiate a fair settlement. However, if the insurance companies involved will not offer a reasonable settlement, we will be prepared to take your case to trial if necessary. You are the client, and we will advise you in each step of the process, but the ultimate decision about how to proceed always belongs to you.
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 don’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 in the St Petersburg Florida area
To recover damages you incurred from a bike accident, Our bicycle injury lawyers 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 bicycle accident 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 Florida bicycle accident 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. Our St Petersburg bicycle accident lawyers 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.
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What Our Clients Say
Mr. Lopez was a Godsend and really helped me with my situation. Him and the entire firm were very diligent and helped speed the early stages of the process along due to a pressing situation. Throughout my experience working with the firm, they were always responsive and available any time I had a question or wanted to check on the state of affairs. Hopefully I won’t have to recommend Lopez Law Group to my friends or family, but if those unfortunate circumstances arise then there’s only one name I would trust. Thank you again for all your help!