We are fortunate enough to have many types of transportation in the present day. These multiple methods allow us to travel no matter how close or distant our destinations might be. Even though cars and other public means of transport dominate the roads, riding a bicycle is still a popular choice for many people because it serves as both a mode of transportation and provides the rider with exercise.
Although different circumstances can cause bicycle accidents, they more frequently happen because of other drivers on the road. This is usually due to dangerous maneuvers like bike lane driving, changing lanes without checking, turning without warning, and being preoccupied with other activities instead of staying aware of their surroundings.
Whether you use your bike for transportation, exercise, or compete in professional bicycle races, the risk of getting injured is something you must confront. It’s important to remember that bicyclists are protected and granted the same rights and privileges as drivers under Florida law. Both bicyclists and drivers have an obligation to respect one another and follow the law while traveling from one destination to another.
After sustaining injuries from an accident, seeking financial compensation should be one of your top priorities. It will ensure that you can afford the best possible care and treatment, which is especially important if your injuries are severe or life-changing. Traumatic injuries often require extensive and expensive medical interventions, but they can also cause long-term suffering such as chronic pain, limited mobility, and other forms of loss.
In order to seek and obtain compensation for your injuries and losses, you must first understand the cause of the incident. If you’ve been in a bicycle accident in Port Charlotte or Englewood you’ll also need a personal injury attorney, such as FGB Law Firm, that has your best interests in mind and extensive knowledge about bicycle accidents.
We understand that being in a bicycle accident can be overwhelming, so we’ve compiled this guide on everything you need to know. We hope this will help you not only get the justice you deserve, but also give you a better understanding of what to expect and how to deal with it.
What Are The Most Common Causes Of Bicycle Accidents?
The multitude of causes for bicycle accidents often leads to complex legal cases and insurance claims. If a motorist is liable for the accident, it is essential to prove their responsibility for the damages sustained. To assign liability, you must first identify the cause of the accident. Here are some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents:
Cause #1: Distracted Drivers
Road accidents, including bicycle accidents, are often caused by distracted driving. This is when drivers take their attention off the road and surrounding area, which can be incredibly dangerous or even deadly. While it’s avoidable if people are mindful, many drivers still engage in this risky behavior.
Distracted driving isn’t just about using a mobile phone while behind the wheel. It can also include activities like fiddling with GPS, being too engaged in conversations with passengers, and anything else that takes the driver’s eyes and focus off the road.
Cause #2: Drivers operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
It’s no secret that driving under the influence is hazardous, and individuals who do so put themselves and others in extreme danger. Alcohol and other psychotropic medications, whether legal or illicit, can significantly impair a driver’s judgment and coordination. This often leads to poor judgments, faulty reasoning, and loss of control, all of which make the roads more deadly for cyclists as well as drivers.
Cause #3: Drivers who weave through lanes or make dangerous lane changes
When drivers weave erratically through multiple lanes, they are more likely to hit cyclists. This is because they are unlikely to anticipate and see cyclists on the road with them, and they are less likely to execute evasive measures as a result of this. Furthermore, drivers who weave in and out of traffic are more unpredictable and frequently use bike lanes and shoulders to avoid congestion.
Unsafe lane changes can lead to major accidents. This is especially true when drivers don’t check if the bicycle lane is clear before driving into it. As a result, they may hit cyclists who are already on the road. In order to avoid this, drivers should always be aware of their surroundings and take extra caution when making any type of lane change or turn.
Cause #4: Drivers operating their vehicle at excessive speeds
Drivers who speed pose a danger to all road users, but especially those on bicycles. When driving fast, there is less time to make decisions or avoid crashes. Speed increases the severity of accidents, often making them life-threatening or even fatal.
Cause #5: Drivers disregarding traffic signals and signs
The purpose of traffic signals and markers is to help drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians navigate the roads safely. Ignoring these traffic signals may result in fatal consequences.
Stop signs and red lights are examples of signals that may be ignored, which can lead to intersection accidents as a result of their unpredictability. As a result, motorists may slam into cyclists who have the right-of-way if they make improper turns on certain roads.
Cause #6: Motorists driving dangerously close to cyclists
Drivers should always maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, especially cyclists. It is advised that drivers allow three feet or more between their car and the cyclist when passing. If a driver gets too close to a cyclist, they are more likely to cause an accident due to the limited space both parties have to maneuver into safety.
Cause #7: Failure to yield to oncoming traffic
In certain places, roundabouts, and other roadways, drivers must yield to approaching traffic, including bicycle traffic. Failing to do so is a reckless act that may result in bike accidents leading to personal injury.
Cause #8: Driving while experiencing fatigue
Driving while tired can be just as impairing and dangerous as driving under the influence. Fatigue can cause bad decision-making, slow reaction times, and even falling asleep at the wheel – all of which create hazardous conditions on the road for other drivers and cyclists
Section 1: If you are the cyclist
When riding a bicycle, it’s important to be aware that crashes can occur due to reasons such as failed brakes or hitting an unseen obstacle. However, keep in mind that you can also be injured by motorists if they act recklessly.
If the unfortunate occurs and you find yourself on the ground, make sure to check for any major injuries before getting up. You want to be certain that you check your body for personal injury. Your sight shouldn’t be foggy or in any way hindered—and if everything looks and feels okay, slowly move to a more secure location. Before going through the following procedures, it’s best if you are off the roadway and away from other potential dangers:
Step 1: Take things slow
You might feel completely fine attempting to stand up, but your body may be flooded with adrenaline. As a result, you could potentially fall after some time if you’ve sustained a serious personal injury, so the ideal thing to do is take it easy.
Make certain to spend some time assessing the damage; perhaps even allowing other people to contact an ambulance for assistance. Any indication of discomfort should be reacted to right away—keep in mind that not all wounds bleed from open cuts. Follow this list to help:
- First aid: Before getting up, check your body for any injuries. You should inspect all of your limbs and bones, especially if you see any blood. If you notice yourself bleeding from anywhere or if a specific region hurts, don’t risk moving around. Immediately call for medical assistance—you do not want to add to the problem by moving your body and potentially causing further injury.
- The possibility of a concussion: It’s difficult to determine whether you have a traumatic brain injury or not because the symptoms don’t always appear right away. If you or someone who witnessed the accident suspects you may have a concussion please seek medical assistance immediately.
Step 2: Assess any damage to your bike and gear
If you only have bruises and minor cuts, it’s time to check your bicycle for damage. Even if your bike looks scratched or dented from the fall, make sure to look for the following things before trying to ride again::
- Examine your bicycle’s rims, spokes, and tires: After a crash, carefully inspect your wheels to see if they can still hold air and check for any damage. Also, make sure that the brakes are in working order.
- Check each component: Once you’re satisfied that your wheels are in good working order, focus on the shifters and brake levers. You’ll almost certainly have to push these items back into position. Failure to do so can make it difficult for you to grasp a lever, putting you into even more dangerous situations. When you’re checking the rear derailleur, make sure to look for any dented or broken hanger pins. An incorrect movement might also snap your derailleur hangers. Your chains, on the other hand, may become jammed or even destroyed. make sure your saddle is functioning properly by thoroughly inspecting it.
Step 3: Document anything and everything
Once you’ve looked over your body and bike, turn your focus to what caused the accident and collect evidence. Make sure to document everything with plenty of photos and videos. This includes skid marks, the state of your bicycle, any injuries sustained, etc. Get the names and contact details of anyone who witnessed the accident and, if possible, get interviews from witnesses who are willing to go on camera.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk Of Having An Accident?
Although it may seem that bicycle accidents are inevitable, there are certain steps you can take to reduce your chances of being involved in one. Here are some tips:
- Always wear a helmet – Wearing the correct helmet is one of the best ways to protect your head from injuries. Different helmets offer different levels of protection, so it’s important to choose one that is top-rated for safety and fits your head properly.
- Make sure you are visible at all times – Unfortunately, the majority of bicycle accidents are caused by other motorists who fail to notice or see bicycles. To counteract this issue, make sure you are more visible on the road. Install headlights on your bike’s front and rear. Reflective clothing is also an option; however, if you can wear reflective gear, even better. This may help you stay safe on the road, especially if you must ride at night when there isn’t much light.
- Do not engage in drinking and riding a bicycle – Keep in mind that you will still experience the same impairments as drunk drivers if you drink and ride a bicycle. Your reaction time, vision, and depth perception will all be changed, making it more likely for you to have an accident.
- Be prepared at all times – When riding a bike, you must be prepared for everything. You’ll want to bring along all of the necessary bicycle tools, as well as basic first-aid supplies. It’s a good idea to bring a first aid kit to clean and apply a dressing to wounds if needed. Make sure to keep emergency contact information with you as well.
Section 2: If you’re in a motor vehicle or on a bicycle and see a cyclist who is injured
If you witness a bicycle accident, it can be overwhelming. Knowing what to do in this situation can help the victim and ease your mind. Here are some steps to follow:
Step 1: Assess the situation
Before you check on the injured person, make sure to analyze the situation. You need to ensure that you and the injured person are no longer in danger. If you’re on the road with oncoming traffic, for example, the chance of more accidents resulting in personal injury could occur.
Leave your bicycle or vehicle at a safe location, particularly near the scene, to protect the person from further problems. It is important that you do not move the injured person unless there is imminent danger, moving an injured person after they have been in an accident could cause them more severe injuries. Assess their injuries, try to keep them calm, and try to get their general information which will be used for step two.
Step 2: Call the police to get immediate medical assistance
If the person is hurt, call 911 as soon as possible. Once you’ve contacted authorities you will follow their instructions and answer their questions to ensure help can be provided in an efficient manner, afterwards turn your attention back to the injured individual.
Police and/or medical dispatch will typically ask you to perform specific actions, such as checking their airway for any obstructions, checking for a pulse, etc.
Step 3: Help gather evidence for documentation
When the police arrive and the medical staff takes over, stay in contact with them and document the situation. They’ll most likely be unable to gather pictures and videos of the accident scene, so take some shots of anything that may be important. This should include everything from the damaged bicycle to skid marks, as well as any witnesses who will talk about what happened, including yourself.
Make sure to follow up with the victim as soon as possible after the accident and give them everything you’ve collected. This will assist them in filing a personal injury claim in the future, allowing them to seek compensation for their pain and suffering.
Although the concept of analyzing a bicycle accident may appear simple, you should keep in mind that liability for such incidents is determined by two factors: the underlying reason for the collision and who is at fault. Bicycle accidents can be attributed to any one of the following circumstances:
- The road was in poor shape – For example, a cyclist is riding along a road that is being constructed and suffers an accident owing to the substandard conditions. They will have the right to file a claim against those in charge of the road rework or upkeep project in such circumstances.
- The bicycle was either poorly designed or improperly repaired – If the bicycle is not safe the cyclist may have options available to sue those who produced or serviced the bike in question for negligence.
- The accident was caused by a driver of a motor vehicle, a pedestrian, or another cyclist – Should it be proven that another person performed an action that led to the cyclist being injured a claim or case against them is highly possible.
How Is Liability Properly Determined In Bicycle Accidents?
If the cyclist is responsible for the accident, they will have a very difficult time collecting claims or damages. Even if you believe that the other party is entirely at fault, this is how the personal injury legal system works. In a worst-case scenario, you could be asked to pay for not only damage to property but also any other people who were affected by the accident.
If both the cyclist and driver are at fault, it is considered a shared responsibility. In this case, you may be compensated with fewer damages.
However, liability might rest entirely on the motorist if the evidence against him or her is compelling. As a result, it’s critical to get as much proof as possible, which often includes photos and videos of what occurred and the effects of such damage.
Other Considerations Regarding Liability: Bicycle Accidents Involving Children
Understand that if your child is hurt in a bicycle accident, there may be even more significant consequences. When drivers on the road are required to exercise a higher sense of responsibility, it’s sometimes referred to as exceptional care. This should always be exhibited when kids are riding bicycles, or perhaps in areas where children are likely to congregate especially near playgrounds and schools.
This is especially important to remember because the law takes into account that reasonable care encompasses more than caring for just children. A good example of this would be keeping them safe at all times, both when driving and cycling as well. It’s important to remember that the law views children as being less capable than adults when it comes to making decisions – so others need to be extra careful around them.
Bicycle accident lawsuits are essentially personal injury cases. You will be the plaintiff, and you must prove that the defendant is at fault. To do this, you need evidence of negligence against the person who caused your injury. There are four elements you need to provide evidence for in order to have a good chance of winning your case:
- That there is a duty of care
- That there has been a breach of duty of care
- That there has been harm
- That the harm was done due to negligence caused by the defendant
You must show that the defendant has a duty to you which includes following all applicable laws, driving safely, being aware, and being courteous to others on the road – including bicyclists. You must then allege that they have failed to meet this obligation of care, and you have been injured as a consequence. This may be personal injury or property damage.
The court will likely find the defendant guilty of negligence if you can show that they have violated a traffic law and this violation caused your injury. This is known as negligence per se, which saves you from having to provide additional evidence to satisfy the four elements of negligence.
When Is A Bicyclist Liable For An Accident In Florida?
Despite the fact that statistics reveal a high number of accidents in Florida, determining who is at fault might be difficult. The majority of bicycle accidents are caused by drivers and cars, but the state of Florida recognizes that cyclists may also contribute to collisions.
To ensure the safety of both themselves and others, cyclists must always follow traffic laws. Here are some of the most important ones:
- Riding in the same direction or flow of traffic
- Staying in the bicycle lane at all times, or the close to the edge of the road as possible
- Always allowing the person, be it a pedestrian, cyclist, or vehicle driver, the right-of-way to avoid unprecedented accidents
The Legal Rights Of Bicyclists
By law, bicyclists have the same rights as pedestrians in Florida. As a result, drivers must be cautious and vigilant while on the road to ensure that they do not accidentally hit any cyclists or pedestrians. This helps prevent accidents and potential legal action.
No-Fault Insurance Laws Of Florida
In Florida, a no-fault insurance system is utilized. This implies that anybody who has been involved in a motor accident, regardless of the vehicle, will be eligible for compensation. All medical expenses and missed income should be reimbursed through personal insurance plans.
Cyclists who have been injured in bicycle accidents will be able to file for coverage claims and receive additional support through a personal injury lawsuit. This is especially helpful if their injuries are considered “serious,” which encompasses the following physical harm:
- Permanent damage to a body organ or member, which effectively limits its functions
- Painful bone fractures
- Full disability for 90 days and beyond
The consequences of all bicycle accidents are almost always tragic. Victims must wade through numerous additional layers of complexity, which may appear nearly impossible to overcome.
If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry. It’s totally normal to feel stressed, worried, and uncertain. You might also have financial concerns about the cost of diagnostic tests, medications, medical equipment, and other associated costs.
An experienced attorney can provide you with the legal advice and guidance you need to make sure your case is strong. They will also be able to help you navigate the law and other necessary details, and will represent you in court if you decide to file a lawsuit.
FGB Law Firm represents clients who have been hurt or injured in bicycle accidents. We’re here to help you get the compensation you deserve after an accident. Allow us to fight for your rights while you concentrate on recovering, call 941-979-9010 or complete our online contact form today.