Riding a bike in Florida is dangerous and can even be deadly. Florida ranks number one on a list of states with the most bicycle deaths per capita. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association, 125 people cyclists were killed in Florida in 2017 or about one death for every 1 million people in the state. If you are one of the people harmed by a bicycle accident, speaking with an attorney can help you recover for any damages you’ve suffered.
Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. is a law firm experienced in bringing personal injury claims in automobile and bicycle accidents. An experienced attorney will meet with you and evaluate your case and assist you in recovering for your injuries from those responsible.
What can you recover after a bicycle accident?
Florida law protects all individuals from the negligent behavior of one another. This means the law imposes a duty on each citizen in the state to act reasonably and responsibly toward other citizens. Negligence can occur in a variety of situations and places such as on the job, at the hospital, or at the supermarket. However, negligence on the highway can greatly impact those involved because of the speed, size, and weight of automobiles.
Drivers of automobiles owe a duty to the drivers of other automobiles, pedestrians, and cyclists to adhere to the traffic laws of the state and act reasonably toward others on the road. If a driver fails to live up to this duty and his or her actions cause another person to suffer an injury, then the driver is responsible for that injury.
In civil court cases, the level of responsibility is assessed through monetary damages. Monetary damages are often determined by the costs of returning an injured party to a position he or she was in before an accident–such as by paying or reimbursing for medical bills. If the injured party will never be the same again, courts allow for monetary awards to compensate for this loss as well. If a loved one has passed away, his or her family members may also be able to seek compensation of loss of that person in their lives.
The Negligent Driver’s Insurance Company
Florida law requires that every driver should maintain insurance known as personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. When a driver is in an accident, the driver’s insurance company may be responsible for paying claims against the driver up to a certain amount. In many cases, although an injured party’s claim is against a driver, the insurance company steps in to defend the claim because the company is obligated to pay for the harm caused by the driver.
As you can imagine, insurance companies want to pay as little as possible for the claims filed against their customers. For this reason, insurance companies often try to settle claims out of court. While it can be easier to settle a claim out of court, many times an insurance company’s initial offer does not fully compensate an injured party for all of his or her injuries. If you are injured by another person, it is important that you take the time to flesh out all of your potential damages and make sure you receive appropriate compensation. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help you determine the extent of your damages and what is appropriate under the circumstances.
Your Insurance Company
If you own a car in Florida and have a personal automobile insurance policy for your vehicle, you are also required to maintain personal injury protection coverage. Personal injury protection coverage applies to any situation where you are involved in an accident with an automobile. As such, you may seek payment for medical claims from your own insurance company if you are involved in an automobile crash–even if you were riding a bike at the time.
If you also carry uninsured motorist insurance, this coverage may apply in situations where the driver who caused the accident does not have insurance or is under-insured.
However, if you do not own an automobile, you are not required to have an insurance policy to operate a bicycle in the state of Florida.
What does the law allow for a bicycle accident injury?
Insurance companies try to reach an out-of-court settlement because injured parties have the right to bring a legal claim for negligence to recoup for their injuries through a lawsuit. Insurance companies would rather pay a claim than incur the expense of litigation. However, if you cannot reach an agreement with an insurance company or the other party over damages, you may have to file a lawsuit to recover for your damages.
In bicycle accident cases, the typical way to ask the court to award damages for an injury is by bringing a lawsuit for negligence. Negligence is a person’s failure to act reasonably under the circumstances that causes an injury to another person.
To win a claim for negligence, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed him or her duty, the defendant breached that duty, and the breach of the duty resulted in damages to the plaintiff.
On the road, all drivers owe other drivers a duty to drive safely and follow traffic laws. Drivers owe this duty to cyclists in addition to the drivers of other cars and trucks. If another driver causes an accident resulting in injury and damage to you as a cyclist, you may seek recovery from the driver for your injuries.
When considering Florida’s negligence law it is important to know that Florida is a comparative negligence state. This means that if a plaintiff is at all responsible for his or her injuries, damages may be reduced by the percentage of fault falling on the plaintiff. For example, if an accident might have been avoided but for a plaintiff’s failure to properly signal a turn, damages may be reduced by a percentage amount appropriately corresponding to the plaintiff’s level of fault.
Examples of contributory negligence in the context of bicycle accidents include:
- Use of alcohol
- Failure to follow traffic laws
- Failure to wear a helmet
- Failure to use a headlamp or taillight after dark
Reducing the Chances of an Accident
The majority of bicycle accidents are caused by a lack of visibility. Reduce your chances of an accident by using a headlight, even in daylight, and wearing highly visible or fluorescent colored clothing during the day and reflective clothing or flashing lights at night.
Cyclists are also required to follow the same rules as drivers of automobiles, thus you should follow all traffic laws, such as signaling turns or lane changes.
Finally, most accidents occur during the dusk hours of 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on weekdays and 9:00 pm to 12:00 am on weekends. Avoid riding on highways during these hours to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident.
If You Have Been Injured in a Bicycle Accident, Contact a Pensacola Personal Injury Attorney
Riding a bike is certainly good exercise and a great way to reduce your environmental impact. However, with these benefits also come the greater risk of being involved in a traffic accident. If you have been hurt on the highway or lost a loved one to a bicycle accident, contact the experienced team of lawyers at Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. before accepting any form of settlement. Our trial tested attorneys are highly experienced in valuing your claims and getting you what you deserve.
The Bicycle Accident Attorneys at Staples, Ellis & Associates serves clients in Pensacola County, Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Okaloosa County, Walton County, and throughout Northwest Florida.