Riding your bike through the historic streets of St. Petersburg, along the beach in Miami, or visiting popular theme parks in Orlando is a great way to soak up the Florida sunshine. With nice year-round weather, cycling can help you to relax on the weekend, beat traffic on your morning commute, or reduce your carbon footprint while getting around.
Unfortunately, riding your bike isn’t as safe as a car or a truck. If another vehicle strikes you, you don’t have the protective metal shell that those vehicles do, and your injuries can be much worse.
A Florida bike accident can result in catastrophic injuries, and some people may never enjoy the same quality of life they did before their accident. Broken bones, severe skin damage, and head injuries are common. Even if the accident doesn’t seriously injure you, it may damage your bicycle to the point of being unrideable.
If you’ve been hit while riding your bike, you have the right to file a lawsuit to collect damages from the person that hit you. Contact an experienced Florida bicycle accident lawyer to learn more about filing a suit after you’ve been hit on a bike.
Bicycle Accidents Are Common in Florida
According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Florida recently had the highest rates of pedal cyclist (all types of pedal-driven bikes) deaths in the country. With more than 100 persons killed each year, and hundreds more injured, bicycle safety is important for all Floridians.
A couple of years ago, according to the Florida Department of Transportation, more than 6,500 bike crashes in the state resulted in over 6,100 injuries. Broward County has some of the highest incidents of bike accidents and injuries in Florida, but all major metro areas can be risky for getting hit while on a bike.
Prevalent Causes of Bicycle Accidents
The Sunshine State draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, many of whom rely on the GPS in their vehicles to get to different destinations. This reliance on GPS means that more prominent cities in Florida often have more drivers distracted in this manner than in other places in the country.
Drivers may be concentrating on making a turn, for example, and may not be looking for cyclists in the crosswalk or riding in a lot of traffic on side streets.
Distracted driving is one of the chief causes of bike accidents, but driving under the influence is another. Our bicycle accident attorneys, unfortunately, see many cases like this. Hundreds of people are involved in drunk driving crashes yearly, and the consequences can be tragic.
Intoxicated driving is more common later in the evening when not many people ride bikes. However, as a popular beach vacation spot, Florida also sees DUIs regularly during the daytime. Many spend a vacation partying or enjoying college spring break, so drinking and driving during the day are more common here than in other states.
Cyclists should wear a helmet at all times to prevent head injuries. Current Florida laws require a correctly fitting bike helmet for all cyclists aged 16 and under. However, for all cyclists, a helmet can save your life or make a difference between a mild headache and a traumatic brain injury.
Other safety measures cyclists can take include biking defensively, similar to defensive driving, where cyclists carefully pay attention to their surroundings and look for cars that could be driving erratically. Avoid wearing headphones so that you can hear an approaching vehicle or car honking.
And don’t ride your bike if you’ve been drinking. Not only is it illegal in Florida, but you could also get a charge similar to a DUI or DWI. Additionally, if you’ve been drinking, you may not be paying close attention to cars or your surroundings and could get hurt.
What to Do After a Bike Crash in Florida
The moments after a bike crash can be frightening and chaotic. You’re probably in pain, worried about what will happen next, and maybe even a little embarrassed. You may not be considering hiring a personal injury attorney immediately, but following certain steps can help your case once you consult a bicycle accident lawyer.
Call the Police and Emergency Services
The car’s driver may try to talk you out of calling 911 and simply offer their insurance information. However, it’s essential to have a police officer on the scene to determine the cause of the accident and facilitate the exchange of information between yourself and the driver.
The official police report is a vital part of the bicycle accident attorney’s proof for a lawsuit after being hit by a car.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
You might not feel hurt after the accident, but having emergency medical services check you out can help diagnose injuries immediately for a better chance of full recovery.
Sprains and strains, fractures, and soft tissue injuries are very common after a bicycle accident, and these injuries often don’t present immediately. For example, you may not realize that you have a strained muscle or sprained wrist until the next day when your arm swells.
Although you may go to the doctor at that point, the other party’s insurance company or lawyer may argue that the bike crash didn’t cause that injury. If you delay getting medical treatment after an accident, your case against the driver may be less solid.
The post-accident medical reports are a critical part of the lawsuit your bicycle accident lawyer will file after a Florida bike accident.
Your bicycle and helmet can be used as evidence in your case. Other evidence your bicycle accident lawyer can use to strengthen your claim includes witness statements, which the responding police officer may take. Look around for businesses with cameras those cameras may have footage of the collision.
Preserve your bike, helmet, and clothing for your bicycle accident attorney. Take photos and videos of the accident scene and your property.
Don’t Communicate with the Other Party’s Lawyer or Insurance Company
You may be contacted by the driver’s insurance company, asking for a statement about the accident. It’s best not to speak to them.
You are not obligated to talk to the other driver once you’ve exchanged contact information at the scene of the accident, nor are you bound to speak to their insurance adjuster. Refer all communications from the other party to your personal injury lawyer.
Insurance companies are notorious for being reluctant to pay claims or to pay as little as possible. The adjustor may take anything that you say and interpret it to mean that you weren’t very hurt or as grounds to deny your claim.
Your bike accident lawyer can handle the communication with the other party for you, ensuring your interests are protected.
Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Even if you think that you caused the bike accident, or if you believe the facts of the case are straightforward and you don’t need a lawyer, you should consult a personal injury lawyer.
If you’re hurt or your bike has been damaged, you may still have grounds to file a lawsuit for damages. Look for a Florida personal injury attorney with experience handling bike accident cases, as this kind of case can differ from a wreck involving two vehicles.
Your lawyer can give you a better idea of what settlement you can expect, which may be much different from the offer the other party’s insurance party sends you.
Common Injuries Sustained in a Florida Bike Accident
Heavy traffic, crowded crosswalks, and plenty of out-of-town drivers make Florida cities dangerous for cyclists. The impact of a car against a vulnerable human body can cause tremendously harmful injuries, and often, the victim may need weeks or months of follow-up medical care to recover.
Some of the most common injuries from a bicycle accident include:
- Head injuries, including a traumatic brain injury or concussion
- Fractures and broken bones
- Facial trauma, like broken teeth, eye damage, scarring, or a fractured jaw
- Spinal cord injuries, including full or partial paralysis, or loss of motor control or sensation
- Road rash, or deep scraping of the skin from the concrete
- Crushing injuries, especially if the car runs you over or hits your midsection
Unfortunately, many cyclists hit by a car experience more than one of these injuries. Recovery is long and often painful, and healing from bike crash injuries can require additional medical treatment, like surgery, physical therapy, or even skin grafts to repair road rash.
People with trauma to the face may need reconstructive surgery to restore their face, and even after that, they may have some scarring.
Pain is common in recovery, both physical and emotional. Flashbacks from the accident or even post-traumatic stress disorder are common, which can disrupt your sleep or your ability to concentrate on work.
After the accident, people who have scarring and disfigurement may have a diminished quality of life or mental anguish, adjusting to life after the change in their experience.
Permanent, life-altering injuries may affect victims of a Florida bike accident. People with a traumatic brain injury may be unable to live independently after the accident, as may someone partially paralyzed from the wreck.
Families may be thrust into a caregiver role for their loved ones. People with permanent, life-altering injuries may need long-term care, such as in an assisted living facility or a home nurse. The settlement from an NYC bike accident should cover long-term medical care costs and immediate injury treatment.
Compensation You Could Receive After a Florida Bike Accident
The party that caused your Florida bike accident injuries is the party that should be responsible for paying for treatment for them. The driver that hit you may be held accountable for damages, which can include:
Economic damages are the material losses you suffered, such as the total cost of your medical bills, the damage to your bike, or the cost of replacing it.
This total is the amount required to make you whole after the accident, covering:
- Medical bills, rehabilitation, and ongoing treatments stemming from your accident injuries
- Lost wages from work missed because of the accident
- Property damage to your bike, helmet, and other gear
Victims who require long-term care for their injuries may also seek damages to cover those costs.
These may also be referred to as pain and suffering, compensating you for your intangible losses.
These can include:
- Pain and suffering, both emotional and physical, and ongoing pain from recovery
- Emotional trauma and mental distress; many victims may suffer PTSD or other trauma
- Loss of consortium (the effect that the victim’s injuries may have on their marriage or partnership)
- Diminished quality of life, when your injuries may prevent you from cycling or enjoying your life to the fullest
No money can fully restore you to your physical or emotional condition before the accident. Still, a settlement can ease the financial burdens your injuries and treatment may place on your family.
Sometimes, the judge or your bicycle accident lawyer may assess punitive damages to punish the at-fault party. If the at-fault party was egregiously negligent or engaged in severe carelessness or misconduct, such as driving drunk, or if they were a commercial driver who should have been trained better, the court may assess additional damages.
Consult an Experienced Florida Bicycle Accident Attorney
If a car struck you while you rode your bike in Florida, you have the legal right to sue for damages. A personal injury lawyer can work with you to build a solid case for you and fight for you against the other party’s lawyer and the insurance company.
Don’t try to navigate this complicated process alone. A bicycle accident attorney can represent your interests in both mediation and a court of law.
While you focus on recovery, your attorney will work to obtain the compensation that you deserve.