When you decided to ride your bicycle to get to work or to get in some exercise, the last thing you expected was to get injured in an accident. Now, you are most likely dealing with a number of issues you didn’t even know would come up, such as calls from the insurance companies, getting medical care, and finding a new way of transportation if your bike was your only way to get around. With over 30 years of experience as Tampa bicycle accident lawyers, we have represented many clients who have suffered from catastrophic injuries caused by negligent motor vehicle drivers, and part of that is taking care of all those issues for you, so you can focus on the only thing that is important, healing.
Bicyclists should be able to expect that drivers of motor vehicles will safely share the road. Unfortunately, when motorists fail to obey traffic laws, the major disparity in size between a bike and a car can lead to severe injuries or even wrongful death. Even when bicyclists wear helmets, the major difference in size between a bike and a car puts the person on the bike at extreme risk.
After such an injury, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to support yourself and your family while you are recovering from these injuries. In certain situations, your injuries may cause permanent physical limitations. In addition, the costs of medical treatment are exorbitant. An experienced injury Tampa bicycle accident lawyer can be instrumental in helping you recover the costs of your medical expenses, lost income, and other expenses.
Many bicycle accidents are caused by a motorist’s failure to yield, cutting off a bicyclist, drifting onto the shoulder of the road or other clear-cut cases of negligence. In certain cases, you may be the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Our dedicated personal injury law firm will fully investigate your case to locate every source of compensation for your injuries and will work tirelessly to help you get your full measure of damages.
Common Causes of Bicycle Wrecks
Bicyclists have a right to ride on most roadways, with freeways as the exception. Many towns and cities have bicycle lanes to encourage people to use this alternative and to give bicyclists a safe space while riding with automobile traffic. However, most roadways do not have bicycle lanes, which, when combined with inexperienced bicyclists or those who fail to follow basic traffic laws, accidents and fatalities are inevitable.
Drivers have a legal responsibility to observe traffic laws for the safety of others. When drivers fail to live up to this duty, they may be liable for the ensuing injuries. Consulting a local bicycle accident lawyer may be vital in holding negligent drivers responsible for their actions. The most common type of bike wrecks we see is when motor vehicle drivers cause collisions with bicycles, including the following:
- Failure to yield when turning left at an intersection
- Cutting off a bicyclist when turning right
- Driving while texting
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Drunk driving
- Road rage
- Drifting into a bicyclist, walker, or jogger on the shoulder of a road
What Damages am I Entitled to Recover for My Injuries?
Bicyclists injured in Tampa traffic accidents can experience high medical expenses, even if they have auto and health insurance coverage. In Florida, those injured by the negligence of another are entitled to the following damages:
- Past and future medical expense
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Permanent disability or physical impairment
- Loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages
In addition, Florida law allows your spouse to recover for his or her losses, referred to as a claim for loss of consortium. If the negligent acts of another caused the wrongful death of a loved one, certain family members and survivors have the right to recover even greater damages.
What Steps Could Tampa Bicycle Riders Take to Promote Cycling Safety?
To help promote bicycle safety, your representatives remind riders that it is important to be aware of statutory provisions set out in Section 316.2065, Florida Statutes:
- When operated on a roadway, a bike is considered a “vehicle” and the cyclist is the “operator” of that vehicle. The bicyclist must follow the same traffic rules as the operator of a vehicle as well as those rules applicable to a cyclist. However, when on a sidewalk, a bicyclist is considered a “pedestrian” and must follow the same rules as that of a pedestrian as well as those rules applicable to a bicyclist.
- Bicyclists under 16 years of age must wear a helmet. Fastened. Yes, it is a battle, but make your teens and ‘tweens wear them. In fact, should a child be injured in a bicycling accident, statutes provide that the failure of a parent in allowing a child to ride without a helmet may be considered evidence of the comparative negligence of that parent.
- When a roadway has a marked bike lane, bicyclists must use it. If there is no marked bike lane, then the bicyclist must ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb. Or, if on a one-way street with two or more traffic lanes, ride as close to the left-hand edge as possible.
- If riding between sunset and sunrise: bicyclists must use a front light showing a white light which can be seen from at least 500 feet; and on the rear, a reflector showing a red light that is visible from at least 600 feet.
- On a roadway, a bicyclist must ride with traffic. Statistics show that riding the wrong way into oncoming traffic accounts for 15% of bike-vehicle collisions. It has to do with a vehicle driver not expecting traffic.
- However, when on a sidewalk, since a bicyclist is considered a “pedestrian,” the bicyclist can ride in either direction.
- When riding on a sidewalk, bicyclists must obey pedestrian intersection crossing signals. So yes, you need to wait for the crossing light to change to green.
- Bicyclists cannot use earbuds, headphones or other listening devices, other than a hearing aid. Although not specified in the statutes, it could be argued that this includes a prohibition against the use of cell phones.
- Bicyclists cannot ride while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, just as the operator of a vehicle cannot do so. However, because a driver’s license is not required to ride a bike, the requirement to submit to a breath test does not apply to a bicyclist. Even still, open containers of alcoholic beverages are prohibited while riding.
- Violations of this statute are considered noncriminal traffic infractions, subject to a fine of up to $500.
Who Pays for My Medical Bills and Lost Wages after a Bicycle Crash caused by a Negligent Driver?
Because Florida is a “No-Fault” state, a bicycle rider looks to their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance first to pay for medical bills and lost wages. If a bicycle rider owns an insured vehicle, regardless of their fault or whether they were riding a bike or driving, that person’s PIP insurance would be the primary source for paying for medical care and lost wages. Additionally, a bicycle rider may also have Medical Payments coverage available to them on their auto policy.
Over and above the PIP insurance and Medical Payments insurance, a bicycle accident victim may also make a claim against the at-fault party’s bodily liability auto insurance coverage for negligence. If the at-fault party does not carry bodily liability auto insurance, which is not required in Florida, but the rider has uninsured motorist coverage (UM), they may be able to utilize these UM benefits to pay for their losses.
Do I Have a Case Against a Negligent Driver if I Get a Head Injury in a Bike Accident While Not Wearing a Bike Helmet?
Florida Statute Section 316.2065(1)(d) requires that anyone under 16 wear a helmet while riding their bike. However, if someone 15 or under is not wearing a helmet and gets hit by a car and sufferers a head injury, the law does not prevent them from seeking compensation for their injuries. Florida law is a comparative negligence state. This means that at trial, the attorney representing the negligent driver may be allowed to enter into evidence the fact of the non-use of a helmet, and the jury can apportion a percentage of blame to the injured bicyclist. Any award of money damages would then be reduced by that percentage.
Pursuing Damages for Bicycle Accident Injuries
Bicyclists could suffer a wide range of devastating injuries in accidents including broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and amputation. These injuries could leave bicyclists hospitalized, requiring lengthy rehabilitation programs, and accruing extensive medical bills.
For those who are permanently impaired, medical expenses, home health care, and personal care costs may be ongoing and extensive. Additionally, individuals who are no longer able to work, whether temporarily or permanently, may be able to seek lost wages as part of their bike accident claim.
Other types of damages that may be available in bike injury claims could include emotional distress, physical pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Permanent disabilities may merit additional damages due to the recognition that accident victims will never recover from their injuries completely.
Call your Tampa Bicycle Accident Attorney for Guidance and Advice
Our law firm has successfully represented bicyclists who have suffered from traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and other devastating and permanent injuries. Our 5-star reviews from previous clients attest to our record of success in working to protect our community. We will listen to your questions, make recommendations, and provide you with a free, confidential evaluation of your bike collision case, all at no cost to you, nor obligation to use our services
Protecting our community is important to us. Our community will be a safer place by holding wrongdoers accountable for the harm they cause. Getting the advice that you need could be instrumental in your quest of pursuing compensation for your injuries successfully. When a driver’s negligence causes you injury, reach out to a Tampa bicycle accident lawyer for advice on how to bring a claim.
Click here for a free consultation so that you can focus on healing while we take care of everything else.