Bicycle Accident Lawyers Fort Lauderdale
Bicycle Accident Attorneys Committed to Representing Injured Clients in Broward County, Palm Beach County, and Across Florida
Florida has great weather, wonderful beaches, and miles of nature trails. So it’s no wonder people love to hop on a bike and head outside. Unfortunately, our cities and roadways are not ideal for cycling.
Under Florida law, automobiles and bicycles have the same right to the road. But the laws of physics don’t quite treat them the same if they get into an accident with each other. For bicyclists in South Florida, that’s bad news.
Just a few years ago, Florida had the highest bicycle fatality rate of any state in the nation. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the rate of fatal bicycle accidents in Florida during the period of 2007 to 2016 was 6.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
Simply put, getting on a bicycle in the state of Florida is dangerous. Even if you don’t die in a crash, you can end up with incredibly serious injuries. Most people do not really consider the financial aspect of getting hurt, but at Lawlor, White & Murphey, we have seen this over and over.
Someone will go out for a routine bike ride and get hit and their life will be changed forever. Then come the unpaid bills, mounting credit card debt, and empty bank accounts. Don’t let this happen to you.
Common Causes of Bike Accidents in South Florida
Bike accidents can happen for a number of reasons. At Lawlor, White & Murphey, we see a pattern in bicycle accident causes, including:
- Distracted drivers
- Inattentive drivers
- Speeding vehicles
- Vehicles traveling in designated bicycle lanes
- Motorists driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Vehicles failing to yield the right-of-way (especially when turning).
Many of these causes are based on the incorrect belief of automobile drivers that bike riders do not have an equal right to the road. But with this equal right comes equal responsibility. This means bicyclists must also obey all traffic laws, signals and signs, just as a car or truck would.
Potential Injuries from a Bicycle Accident in Dade County, FL
What kinds of injuries can potentially occur when you are riding a bicycle in Florida? There are all kinds, and many of them are very serious.
Cyclists have almost no protection in comparison to automobiles. When a multi-ton vehicle collides with a person on a bike, the rider is almost guaranteed to get hurt. In contrast, the driver of the truck or car might not suffer a single injury.
Some of the most common bike injury claims we help with include:
- Head injuries. Florida law requires that people under the age of 16 wear a helmet when riding a bike. Unfortunately, that leaves a lot of people unprotected. Head injuries can include everything from bumps, scrapes, bruises, large gashes, and even skull fractures.
- Brain injuries. A fractured skull sounds bad, and it is. But the real worry with injuries to the head is that you could potentially hurt your brain. Truly severe brain injuries can cause memory loss, cognitive defects, and even paralysis.
- Injuries to the spine. What makes spinal cord injuries so frightening is that they are not just about your back. A damaged spine can prevent other areas of your body from receiving messages from your brain, leading to reduced mobility or paralysis.
- Face injuries. Your face is one of the most sensitive areas of your body. In a bicycle accident, you not only have to worry about cuts and friction burns if you fall onto your face, but also doing damage to your nose, teeth, jaw, ears, and eyes.
- Bone fractures. If you are thrown from your bike or caught between an automobile and some other object in a crash, broken bones are likely to result. Most commonly, this includes fractured clavicles, broken legs, broken bones in the hand, or fractured elbows.
- Soft tissue injuries. With little to no protection, a bike rider is highly likely to encounter damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Strains and sprains are other common terms for soft tissue injuries.
- Organ damage. Impact to the chest or abdomen can lead to an organ getting perforated or ruptured. This can lead to internal bleeding, which can be deadly if not treated right away.
- Road rash. This injury occurs when the skin is worn away by pavement, concrete, or another hard surface. These injuries aren’t usually fatal, but they are very painful and can lead to excessive bleeding. Even after they have healed, they often leave behind permanent tissue damage and scarring.
- Death. The worst thing that can happen when an automobile crashes into a cyclist is death. If your loved one was killed in a bicycle accident, you can still file a wrongful death suit on his or her behalf in order to hold the responsible parties accountable.
Suing the Person Responsible for your Bicycle Accident
Florida is a no-fault state. This means if you get hurt while riding a bicycle (and you own a car), you’ll likely first seek compensation from your car insurance policy’s personal injury protection coverage.
You cannot file a separate civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver unless you have suffered a “serious bodily injury.” This typically means an injury that results in some disability, scarring or disfigurement.
Your lawsuit must also be timely. This requires you to bring suit against the defendant within four years of the bicycle accident.
Steps You Can Take to Prevent or Reduce Bicycle Accident Injuries
Even if you can successfully sue for your bicycle accident injuries, it’s safe to say that avoiding the accident or resulting injuries in the first place is a far better outcome. This means before heading out on a bicycle, cyclists should:
- Be sober
- Place reflectors on themselves and their bicycle
- Install blinking lights
- Have enough lighting to properly see the road
- Wear a helmet
- Wear protective clothing
- Utilize mirrors
- Always assume another vehicle on the road cannot see them
- Learn how to use hand signals
Did You Get Hurt While Riding a Bicycle in Fort Lauderdale?
You had every right to the road, just like any operator of a motor vehicle. But due to someone else’s mistake, you’re now seriously hurt. With medical bills, missed work, and dealing with the agony of recovery, what happens now?
That’s where the bicycle accident lawyers at Lawlor, White & Murphey come in. They will work hard to get you the compensation you’re entitled to under Florida law.
You can call or contact us to set up a free consultation. During this meeting, we can discuss the details of what happens and what your next step should be.
Bicycle Accidents Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents that our attorneys see include distracted or inattentive drivers, speeding vehicles, vehicles traveling in designated bicycle lanes, motorists driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and vehicles failing to yield the right-of-way (especially when turning).
Unfortunately, Florida is one of the most dangerous states for bicyclists. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the rate of fatal bicycle accidents in Florida during the period of 2007 to 2016 was 6.2 deaths per 100,000 people, which was 60 percent higher than the next highest state. Injury rates for bicycle accidents were likely even higher.
Some of the typical injuries that our attorneys see in bicycle accident cases include head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, soft tissue injuries, broken bones, dislocated joints, neck and back injuries, abdominal injuries and internal bleeding, and road rash injuries.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you should try to document the accident scene as soon as possible after the accident, including taking photographs of vehicle positions, damage to vehicles, traffic controls, and the weather, lighting, and road conditions. You should also seek prompt medical treatment, which can help to document your injuries and establish that they were caused by the accident. Finally, it may be necessary to speak with an experienced bicycle accident attorney. Insurance companies may try to offer you a quick settlement; an attorney can evaluate any settlement offer and advise you as to whether it provides fair compensation for your claims.
Liability in bicycle accidents is usually determined by looking at various pieces of evidence to determine how the accident occurred (and therefore who was at fault for the accident). For example, the parties can refer to accident scene photographs, the police accident report (which may assign fault for the accident), or whether any party involved in the accident was cited for a traffic violation or criminal offense.
Yes. In Florida, a person injured in a bicycle accident has four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for compensation of damages arising from the accident.
Negligence in a bicycle accident case can be determined if the at-fault driver is found to have breached his or her duty of care to a bicyclist, the driver’s breach of his or her duty of care was the direct and proximate cause of the accident, and the bicycle suffered some compensable damages from the accident. An at-fault driver can be found have recklessly caused a bicycle accident if he or she is found to have consciously disregarded a substantial risk of injury to the injured bicycle rider.
In order to file a successful bicycle accident case, you will need documents that support your claim that you were injured in the accident and that you have incurred compensable damages as a result of your injuries. For example, medical records of your treatment can document the injuries you suffered and establish that they were caused by the accident. Bills and invoices for expenses you incurred treating your injuries can prove your damages. You can also use paystubs or income statements to establish your right to compensation for lost wages or earning potential.
Yes. If you suffer injuries in a bicycle accident that keep you out of work and you are not paid for that missed work, you can recover your lost wages or income. If your injuries prevent you from returning to your old job and you suffer a reduction in your income, you can also claim lost earning capacity damages.
The amount of damages that you may be entitled to following a bicycle accident will depend on your financial losses. At a minimum, you can expect to be compensated for medical expenses you incur in treating your injuries, along with compensation for lost wages or earning capacity. You may also be able to prove your entitlement to other intangible, subjective damages like the pain and suffering caused by your injuries or the loss of quality of life that you have endured as a result of your injuries.
Pain and suffering damages are usually calculated according to the severity and permanency of the injuries suffered by the injured party. Insurance companies will often determine pain and suffering damages by multiplying the amount of the injured party’s medical expenses. The more severe and long-lasting or permanent the injured party’s injuries are, the higher the multiple that is used.
Bicycle accident settlements can cover all the same kinds of damages that a judgment in a bicycle accident lawsuit can cover. For example, settlements can provide compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, or loss of quality of life.
Bicycle accident settlements are determined through negotiation between the parties. After the at-fault party accepts responsibility for the accident. Typically, the parties will come to some sort of agreement over the amount of monetary damages that the injured party has suffered. However, the final settlement number can be altered by factors such as accounting for the injured party’s share of fault for the accident, and accounting for the risk factor in going to trial (with the at-fault party at risk of having to pay greater compensation and the injured party at risk of receiving less or no compensation).
Once the parties reach a settlement figure in a bicycle accident case, they will need to put that agreement down in writing, signed by both parties. If the parties are in the midst of a lawsuit, the settlement may need to be approved by the court to resolve the case. Once a settlement is finalized, the at-fault party typically has no further legal liability to the injured party. However, in some cases, such as those where the injured party will require significant future medical treatment, the parties’ settlement may allow the injured party to submit those future medical expenses for compensation.
Florida is a no-fault state. This means that if you seek compensation from your auto insurance policy’s personal injury protection coverage, you cannot file a separate civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver unless you have suffered a “serious bodily injury”, which typically means an injury that results in some disability, scarring, or disfigurement.