If you are a Florida cyclist, then you know that cycling can be a great way to get around the state. You also know how common bicycle accidents can be. It is important to be aware of the common causes of bicycle accidents in Florida as these accidents can often lead to serious injuries. Knowing what to look out for can help you stay safe on the road.
This article will discuss some of the most common liability issues associated with bicycle accidents and what you can do to protect yourself if you are injured in one. It is recommended that you hire Jared Spingarn, P.A., a bike accident attorney who can help ensure that you get the compensation you deserve after the accident.
Florida Bicycle Accident Statistics
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) keeps a record of Florida bicycle accident statistics. The latest data released by the department was from 2020. Based on this data, 5,952 bicycle accidents occurred in the state. Of the total number of bicycle accidents, 4,815 resulted in minor wounds while 759 bike accidents resulted in seriously injured cyclists.
Also in 2020, the data showed that 169 bicycle accidents were fatal accidents. Fatal Florida bicycle accidents occur at a high rate in the state, with 0.75 bicyclists killed per 100,000 residents.
Florida bicycle accidents occurred most often in Miami-Dade County which had a total of 757 bike accidents in 2020. In the same year, Broward County recorded 602 bicycle crashes. Broward County is home to the famous coastal city of Fort Lauderdale. Many locals and tourists travel to Broward County yearly to see the sights and experience the culture of the place.
Palm Beach County is also among the top counties where a Florida bicycle accident occurred in 2020. Home to the popular West Palm Beach, the county recorded 373 cycling accidents.
What are the main causes of bicycle injuries?
Bicycling accidents can result in several common bicycle injuries. When Florida cyclists collide with a much larger vehicle, the bike riders will often receive the brunt of the impact.
There are many factors that can cause a bike accident to occur, resulting in personal injury to the cyclists involved, and in some cases, to the car driver as well. The following are the common causes of bicycle accidents in Florida.
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of bicycle accidents in Florida. This happens when Florida cyclists are hit by a driver who exhibits negligent behavior while driving.
Many factors can cause a driver to resort to careless driving. Distracted drivers may be texting while driving, looking somewhere else, changing the radio station on their car, and so on. These things can cause the driver to lose focus on the road leading to a bike accident.
Failure to Yield Right of Way
Bike accidents often occur due to a failure to yield right of way, whether on the part of the bicycle riders or the motorists. Motorists must be aware of bicyclists sharing the road with them. Without this awareness, a bicycle accident will likely occur.
Failure to yield right of way happens when other vehicles turn carelessly without checking for oncoming Florida bicyclists. It can also happen when the driver ignores a stop sign and continues through an intersection even if a bicycle rider already has the right of way.
Maneuvering the Vehicle Off-Lane or Off-Road
Another cause of common bicycle injuries is maneuvering off-lane or off-road. In this type of bicycle accident, drivers suddenly swerve to change lanes which causes them to hit Florida bicyclists.
Another instance is when drivers maneuver their vehicle onto the bike lane to get ahead of traffic. In the case of the bicycle rider, a bike accident can also occur if the bicyclist suddenly swerves into a different lane or rides in the opposite direction on the main road.
Many bike crashes happen due to rear-ending. This type of bicycle accident can occur when the cyclist, motorcycle rider, or car driver fails to estimate the distance between the vehicle in front of them, causing a collision. Rear-ending also happens when vehicles are speeding. These vehicles fail to stop in time to avoid colliding with the vehicle in front of them.
Bike accidents also happen on narrow roads. Passengers who suddenly open the car door of a parked car may hit oncoming cyclists, causing personal injury. Dooring often occurs on a side street or open parking lot where passengers alight their vehicles without checking.
Ignoring Traffic Signs
Motorists failing to follow traffic signs can cause bike crashes to occur. Failure to abide by stop signs, running a red light, crossing on pedestrian lanes, and driving in the wrong direction all increase the risk of a bike accident.
Poor Weather Conditions
Even if cyclists are riding on the designated bicycle lanes, poor weather conditions can affect the visibility of the motorists causing them to accidentally collide with the cyclists. Bike crashes can occur during poor conditions such as rain or fog. Cyclists who ride at night without reflective gear or tail lights are more prone to sustain injuries from a bike accident.
What are the common injuries after a bicycle accident?
A bike accident is likely to cause several injuries ranging from minor to severe. The worst injury will result in bicycle fatalities. In a Florida bicycle accident, the most common injuries are as follows.
- Road rash or superficial wounds caused by skidding on the road
- Scratches and bruises
- Muscle and neck pain
- Broken bones and torn ligaments usually to the extremities as well as the ribs, pelvic bone, and collarbone
- Brain injuries including concussions and traumatic injuries
- Dental injuries
- Internal bleeding caused by strong impact upon collision
- Impairment of function in the limbs
- Paralysis caused by brain or back injuries
What are the common liability issues after a bicycle accident?
In a car accident involving a bicycle, you have the option to file a personal injury claim or a lawsuit, especially if you sustained injuries due to the crash. The law firm of Jared Spingarn, P.A. can give you a free case review to discuss the liability issues that arise from your case. They have experienced bicycle accident attorneys who can advise you on the legal action to take.
Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage Liability
Florida is a no-fault state. This means that the drivers involved in the accident are required to file a claim with their insurance company, regardless of who caused the accident.
Motor vehicle drivers in Florida are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) insurance. This means that in case of an accident, their medical expenses and lost wages will be covered.
If you are both a car owner and a cyclist, your PIP coverage will travel with you when you are riding a bike. If you damage the property of others, your PDL coverage should help pay for the damages. The amount of coverage will depend on the insurance policy that you have but companies are required to cover up to 80% of the bills. Generally, this type of coverage will cover $10,000 each for PIP and PDL.
Bodily Injury Liability
If you don’t have any PIP coverage, you can file a claim with the insurance company of the motor vehicle driver that hit you if they have bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage. If they don’t have the said coverage, you can file a bodily injury lawsuit. Your bicycle accident attorney from Jared Spingarn P.A. Accident Attorneys should be able to advise you on the legal options available for your case.
When filing a lawsuit for bodily injury, your bicycle accident attorney will have to establish that the other driver’s negligence caused the injuries, by proving the following:
- The other party had an obligation to protect others from harm;
- The other party did not uphold this obligation;
- You were injured because of the other party’s negligence to uphold this obligation.
Also, to qualify for a bodily injury lawsuit, your injuries must classify as severe injuries:
- Permanent injury
- Loss of function or significant impairment
- Wrongful death (as discussed in the next sections)
To prove that you sustained severe injuries, you must present a copy of your medical reports, treatments, prescriptions, a statement from a medical professional, witness statements, and a record of how the injury has affected your daily life.
In Florida, there is a Statute of Limitations for filing a lawsuit. This means that there is a maximum amount of time that you must follow if you want to file your case. For accidents involving negligence, such as bicycle accidents, you have four years after the accident to file a lawsuit. If you go beyond this period, the court handling your case will probably dismiss it.
Comparative Negligence Rule
If you proceed with a lawsuit, you must be aware of the Comparative Negligence Rule in Florida. This means that the court will award you damages based on your percentage of fault in the case. For instance, a motorist hit you while you were turning right, but it was found that you swerved towards his lane while doing so. You may be found to be 50% at fault, meaning the damages to be awarded to you will be reduced by 50% as well.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If the bicycle accident was fatal, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the immediate family members of the deceased. The evidence needed for this case is similar to a bodily injury liability lawsuit, but a personal representative will file the case on behalf of the deceased. The damages to be awarded will be received by the immediate family members of the deceased. In this case, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of death.
Filing a Lawsuit against Government Entities
Filing a lawsuit against government entities has a different statute of limitations, but the legal procedure is generally the same. If your bike accident involved a collision with a state-owned motor vehicle, you must notify the other party within three years of the accident. If a Federal vehicle such as a United States Postal truck hit you, you have two years to file the proper forms under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
There are several common causes of bicycle accidents in Florida. In some instances, the injury is not immediately apparent right after the bike crash. Cyclists may seem fine right after the crash but will suddenly feel the impact of the accident a few days after. This is why it is advised to immediately get a free consultation from Jared Spingarn, P.A. so you can get the proper advice on the steps you can take after an accident.