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Helping Injured victims of bicycle accdients

According to studies, nearly 104 million Americans ride bikes. Bicycling is a pastime that Americans love for recreation as well as being a great form of transportation.  Bicycling allows people to exercise while being outdoors and enjoying the sunny Florida weather.  Biking provides riders a variety of riding options, whether they decide to ride a beach cruiser by the ocean, a mountain bike off road, or a road bike on the streets.  But, what happens when something as innocent as biking turns into something deadly? Florida news has seen a wave of bicycling deaths recently and, according to AAA, Florida “leads the nation in bicycle fatalities.” The most recent studies show that Florida is responsible for roughly 16% of the nation’s deaths caused by bicycle accidents.

According to the CDC Bicycle injuries account for bicyclists account for 2% of people who die crashes that involve motor vehicles.  Approximately 1,000 bicyclists die every year from accidents and over 130,000 bicyclists are injured in crashes on our roads in the U.S. every year.  About 25% of fatal bicycle crashes occurred as a result of a motorist overtaking a bicyclist on roadways between intersections according to the Nation Transportation Safety Bureau.

In February 2020 alone, we saw two major deaths of bicycle accident victims in Florida. A young woman was killed while trying to cross U.S. Highway 441 at night, and a man was killed a few days later riding his bicycle at night. As the numbers of bicycle fatalities rack up, we have to ask ourselves, “What more can be done to better protect all those on the road?” If you ride a bicycle regularly in Florida, you should be aware of the rights you have on the road in case you ever find yourself in the event of an accident.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON BICYCLE ACCIDENT INJURIES?

  • Head injuries – These can occur even when a bicyclist wears a helmet. These injuries can include severe traumatic brain injuries to concussions.  Facial injuries can include orbital fractures, broken teeth, jaw fractures, eye or vision damage.
  • Knee injuries – Bicyclist on road bikes often where clip on shoes that can increase the chances of straining or tearing an ACL, MCL or meniscus when involved in an accident.
  • Back and neck injuries – Spinal injuries can occur the force of the whiplash associated with being in a bicycle accident.
  • Broken bones – These injuries range from collarbones to hands and fingers, to arms and legs and ankles and toes.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN CAUSES OF BICYCLE ACCIDENTS?

Failure to Follow Traffic Laws

Bicyclists should ride on the road as if they were driving a car. This means bicyclists should come to complete stops, respect the right-of-way, and avoid impatient maneuvers like riding between two lanes.

Both bicyclists and car drivers should keep at least 3 feet of distance between each other at all times.

Poor Visibility

Bicyclists should wear reflective gear and have reflective gear on their bicycles.

If possible, avoid riding your bike at night and/or in poor weather.

ARE HELMETS REALLY NECESSARY?

Yes, studies show helmets decrease the risk of major head trauma or brain injury in a bicycle accident by almost 50%. There are plenty of reasons to wear a helmet, like:

  • They provide protection to your face
  • Every year, about 26,000 people experience brain injuries from bike accidents
  • Bicycle injuries double the amount of football head injuries every year
  • Your chances of being compensated for your injuries will be greater

At this point, wearing a helmet needs to become a natural habit. Pediatrician Dr. Jerri Rose explains, “It’s similar to wearing a seat belt. Wearing one doesn’t ensure that you’re not going to get in a car accident, but it lowers the risk of injury and of dying in a car accident.”

Unfortunately, people choose not to wear them because they don’t like the way they look or feel. However, your health should always take the lead over your personal preferences.

With such an alarming amount of people seeking medical assistance for bicycle accidents, it is scary that on average only a fourth of those victims had helmets on. The practice of riding a bicycle seems so innocent, but the statistics of accidents and trauma are not.

WHAT IF I AM INJURED WHILE RIDING IN A PELOTON?  DO I HAVE A CASE AGAINST ANOTHER BICYCLIST IN THE PELOTON?

Riding in a peloton can be great for camaraderie while getting exercise outdoors.  However, there are risks associated with riding in a peloton.  In pelotons, the bicyclists ride extremely close together.  As a result of their close proximity, when one rider in the peloton falls it can create a chain reaction causing several riders to crash.  Due to these risks, there are safety rules and etiquette that should be followed by the riders in the peloton.  Some of this etiquette includes riders of the peloton being vocal out hazards, never overlapping wheels, and using hand signals to turn or change lanes.  When this etiquette is either unknown by novel riders or not followed the consequences can be disastrous.

We have handled cases against other cyclists who through their negligence have caused an accident resulting in an injury to another bicyclist.  It takes an experienced bicycle accident attorney to handle a peloton accident claim.  Witnesses to the accident, including other members of the peloton, have to be interviewed to determine the cause and at-fault party of the accident.

WHAT IF I’M IN A BICYCLE ACCIDENT WITH ANOTHER BICYCLE?

The bicyclist who was not at fault would have a claim against the at-fault bicyclist.  In this scenario, the personal liability coverage of the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance for the at-fault bicyclist would usually cover the damages or injuries.

DO I HAVE A CASE AGAINST A PERSON IF THEY DID NOT TOUCH ME, BUT CAUSED MY BICYCLE TO CRASH?

Yes.  Unfortunately, this is a common situation in bicycle accidents.  However, just because there was no direct contact between parties of the accident does not mean that the at-fault party cannot be held liable.  This is usually the case when a car cuts off a bicycle and the cyclist must brake abruptly or swerve off of the roadway in an attempt to avoid a direct collision.  An experienced trial attorney will take all the steps necessary to determine what the motorist was doing at the time of the accident.  A skilled attorney will determine if the driver was distracted by their cell phone or by some other means.

DOES MY AUTO INSURANCE COVER ME IF I AM INVOLVED IN A BICYCLE ACCIDENT?

Your auto insurance does not provide coverage if you are on a bicycle when you are involved in a crash with a vehicle.  However, you would be able to make a claim against the at-fault vehicle and their auto insurance for the accident.

WHAT LAWS DO BICYCLES HAVE TO FOLLOW?

For the most part, bicycles are considered to be vehicles when they are on the road and have to follow the rules of the road with some exceptions.  For instance, many people do know that you can be arrested for DUI while riding a bicycle

For more information on bicycle laws, visit the Florida Bicycle Association.  Bicycle laws do have nuances that an experienced bicycle accident attorney will know how to navigate.

DOES A CAR HAVE TO STAY 3 FEET AWAY FROM A BICYCLE ON THE ROAD?

Florida Statute 316.083 states that when a driver of a vehicle passes a bicycle that is not in a separated bicycle lane, they must pass the bicycle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet.  As stated above, 25% of fatal bicycle accidents occur when a motorist overtakes a bicycle on the road.  This law was meant to protect bicyclists on the road but is regularly either unknown or not followed by drivers that are in a hurry.

CAN I SUE A PEDESTRIAN IF THEY CAUSE A BICYCLE ACCIDENT?

Yes, you do have a claim against a pedestrian who causes a bicycle accident resulting in damage or injury. Pedestrian and bicycle accidents are common when a pedestrian goes into a bike lane or simply gets too close to a bicyclist.  When a pedestrian is at fault for causing a bicycle accident the pedestrian’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will usually cover the bicyclist’s injuries and damage.

WHAT ARE FLORIDA’S LAWS CONCERNING BICYCLISTS?

  • Bicyclists should be on the right side of the road at all times
  • Guard your bike with reflective lights
  • When available, use the bike lane
  • Anyone 16 or under must wear a helmet
  • Keep 3 feet of space between every person on the road
  • Bicyclists may ride on empty sidewalks but must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians

WHAT ARE SOME HELPFUL TIPS FOR SHARING THE ROAD?

  • Follow all the same traffic rules as if you were driving a car. It is dangerous to navigate your bike in an unpredictable way because others will not be able to guess your next move.
  • Signal every turn. Make sure your gestures are clear and noticeable.
  • Do not go in between the middle of lanes. This increases the danger for everyone on the road.
  • Stay alert and avoid distractions like cell phones and music. Loud headphones can keep you from hearing important noises around you.
  • Expect the unexpected and never assume you are seen. Wear reflective gear, put reflective gear on your bike, and practice extreme caution at night and especially with rain.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M THE VICTIM OF A BICYCLE ACCIDENT?

If you are a victim of a bicycle accident, you should contact a trusted lawyer today to start filing the claim you need.

Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may be eligible for compensation for your time and pain. Everything costs money: medical bills, appointments, time off work, and damage repairs for your bike. If you were hit by someone else, it is important that you contact a lawyer immediately so that a trained professional can help you document evidence and details while they are still fresh on your mind.

Your job, at this point, is to simply recover as quickly as possible.

Contact us at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh so that we can start the process to your legal recovery today. We can be reached by calling (561) 295-5825 or by contacting us online.

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