Bicycle Accident Attorney
in Tampa, Florida
Hit by a car while riding your bike? You may be able to file suit.
Florida consistently ranks as the most dangerous state for bicyclists. From 2010 to 2019, 1,341 bicyclists were killed in Florida traffic accidents. With 6.18 bicycle death per 100,000 people, Florida’s bicycle accident rate is 162 percent higher than the national average. The deadly ranking is juxtaposed to the state’s scenic beauty that invites itself to be explored by bike. Tampa bicycle lawyers are available to represent accident victims who have been injured in a vehicle-involved bicycle accident.
Florida’s bicycle helmet law
Bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists are the most people on Florida’s roads. Although everyone on the road is responsible for looking out for the safety of others, reducing the risk of serious injury is important for those who are most vulnerable. Florida only requires bicyclists who are under age 16 to wear a helmet. Individuals who are over 15 are not legally required to wear protective headgear. Florida’s lack of more stringent helmet laws does not mean people 16 and older should overlook wearing protective headgear when biking. In the event of a bicycle accident, Florida courts follow the comparative fault theory. Therefore, a defendant’s attorney may point to the bicyclist’s lack of a helmet to reduce his or her percentage of fault in a personal injury claim.
Causes of Tampa bicycle accidents
Vehicle-involved bicycle accidents can have many causes. Common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- distracted driving
- following too closely
- unsafe lane changes
- running a light or stop sign
- failure to yield
- intoxicated driving
Distracted driving in Tampa accidents
Anything that causes a driver to take his or her attention off the road is a distraction. States have increasingly passed laws and invested in public awareness campaigns to reduce instances of distracted driving. A driver may be more likely to not see a bicyclist in his or her blindspot. People on bikes sometimes behave erratically, weaving in and out of traffic or making maneuvers without looking Therefore, extra focus and attention are required when sharing the road with a bicyclist.
Following too closely
Motor vehicles and bicycles have very different stopping distances. Drivers should leave ample extra space in between their vehicles and bicycles on the road. Bicycles can suddenly come to a complete stop whereas when traveling at speed, cars move forward several feet before coming to a complete stop. A driver who is following a bicycle too closely can strike the bicycle from behind if the driver does not leave adequate room for safe stops. Drivers should also frequently check all mirrors to remain mindful of bikes that may be approaching from the side or making a lane change.
Speeding as a factor in bicycle accidents
Excessive speed is a common factor in many traffic accidents. Bicycles and cars have very different capacities for speed. Drivers often get frustrated when they encounter bicycles on the road. Slowing down may be frustrating for drivers. Nevertheless, it is necessary to move slowly and cautiously when sharing the road with bicycles. Speeding reduces the window of opportunity a driver has to avoid a collision if a last-minute hazard emerges. If a bicycle enters the roadway suddenly, the bicyclist may be unable to move out of the path of a vehicle. However, a driver who is traveling slowly enough may be able to change lanes, brake, or swerve to avoid a collision.
Unsafe lane changes by bicyclists and motorists
Bike riders and drivers sometimes make lane changes without looking. A driver who does not check his or her blind spots may sideswipe a bike in the next lane over or cut a bicyclist off by entering the lane in the bike’s immediate path. A bicyclist who makes a lane change without looking is at great risk if he or she cuts off an approaching vehicle in the next lane. Entering into a vehicle’s path may cause the vehicle to strike the bicyclist from behind if the vehicle is unable to avoid a collision.
Running a light or stop sign
Neither drivers nor bicyclists should run a stop sign or traffic signal. Some bicyclists are more inclined to run a stop sign or traffic signal if they believe the intersection is clear. When bicycles do not make mandated stops, drivers do not necessarily expect the bicyclist to be in the intersection. As a result, a driver may strike a bicyclist who runs a light or signal.
Vehicles commonly roll through stop signs. A rolling stop occurs when a driver believes an intersection is clear. The driver will slow down when approaching the stop sign at the intersection and proceed through the intersection without fully coming to a stop. Rolling stops are dangerous for bicyclists who proceed through the intersection under the expectation that the driver will stop. Bicycles also create hazards by doing rolling stops.
Failure to yield
Failure to yield is another dangerous practice in which drivers and bicyclists engage. The tense relationship between drivers and bicyclists causes both parties to wrongfully assume the right of way and engage in practices that make the roads less safe for bicyclists. A driver who fails to yield behaves in a manner that may be unpredictable for bicyclists. An unsuspecting bicyclist may proceed through an intersection or otherwise remain in the driver’s path, which may result in a collision. Bicyclists sometimes fail to yield and proceed into a vehicle’s path. This constitutes unpredictable behavior for drivers who must then make a sudden stop or swerve to avoid striking and possibly injuring the bicyclist.
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to perceive potential hazards and respond in a safe manner. Alcohol and drugs affect drivers’ sensory perception. Even if an intoxicated driver observes a bicyclist on the road, the driver may not appropriately process and appreciate the risk of a collision. Therefore, the driver may not behave in a manner that would otherwise avoid an accident. If an intoxicated driver appreciates the hazard, the effects of intoxication may cause the driver’s reaction time to be slower than usual. Alcohol and drugs also make it difficult for drivers to maintain their lane and make controlled turns.
Bicyclists are also more likely to be involved in a collision if he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Bike riders are also more likely to have impaired judgment and reaction time after consuming alcohol or drugs. Maintaining balance is also critical to avoiding injury while riding a bike. Intoxication may cause a bike rider to fall more easily and more awkwardly in an accident by impairing the bicyclist’s balance. Similar to driving under the influence, biking while intoxicated is recognized as a criminal offense in Florida.
Preparing to remain safe on the road
It is impossible to predict the future, but bicyclists can reduce the risk of becoming severely injured in an accident by preparing for their ride. Bicyclists should only ride bikes that are of an appropriate size to allow the bike rider to be able to comfortably control the bike. The bicycle should be in safe working order with a white front light and red rear reflector. An appropriate outfit for cycling includes a helmet, other optional protective gear, bright clothing, reflective gear, and safe, comfortable footwear. Bright clothing and reflectors can especially make bikers more visible on overcast days, during heavy rain or fog, at dusk, at night, or otherwise when visibility is less than optimal. Bicyclists and passengers should ride one person per seat. Bicyclists should carry personal items in a backpack or strap the item to the rear of the bike. Shoelaces and pants should be tucked and tied to avoid getting caught in the bike’s chain. Planning a head and choosing routes that have bike lanes and are less likely to have heavy traffic can help bicyclists reduce the risk of becoming involved in an accident.
Driving defensively on Florida’s roads
Bicyclists should remain alert and always anticipate vehicles’ movements when sharing the road. The following tips can help bike riders remain safe:
- Ride in the same direction of traffic.
- Obey all signs, traffic signals, and road markings cars are required to follow unless otherwise directed.
- Assume vehicles on the road do not see you.
- Look ahead for potential hazards.
- Avoid distractions, and remain focused on the road and traffic conditions at all times.
Avoid unpredictable behaviors on Tampa roads
Sometimes accidents may occur because the bicyclist behaved unpredictably. The roads are much safer when all parties behave predictably. For bicyclists, this means obeying traffic rules, yielding the right-of-way appropriately, leaving enough space when making turns and changing lanes, and maintaining lanes appropriately. Bike riders should always try to remain visible to vehicles. There are times when a bicycle is hidden within a vehicle’s blind spot. In some cases, bicycle riders should be willing to concede the right of way if the result would be eased tensions on the road and safe passage for the bicyclist and the driver.
What to do in the event of a bicycle accident in Tampa
If you or someone you know becomes involved in a bicycle accident, the most critical step is to immediately receive a medical exam from a licensed medical professional. Having a medical exam as early as possible allows a medical professional to rule out severe injuries and detect injuries that may not immediately cause symptoms. Bicycle accident victims who are severely injured should be taken to the nearest emergency room and receive treatment as early as possible. Delaying treatment for severe and undetectable minor injuries may allow the injury to increase in severity. After receiving a medical examination, the next critical step is to contact a Tampa bicycle accident lawyer.
Injuries in bicycle accidents have a greater potential to be very severe. Nevertheless, accidents that occur at lower speeds have a greater possibility of only causing minor injuries. Common injuries in bicycle accidents include:
- head injuries
- brain damage
- Spine injuries
- broken bones
- internal damage
- internal bleeding
- ligament sprains
- muscle and tendon strains
- minor cuts and abrasions
Filing a claim for compensation after an accident
Personal injury attorneys help accident victims navigate the potentially cumbersome process of filing claims with insurance companies, gathering evidence, and filing a civil court claim to receive compensation for the victim’s injuries. Florida requires accident victims to first file a claim under their Personal Injury Policy if the victim has one. PIPs are usually limited in the amount of compensation they give to accident victims. These policies also generally do not compensate for pain and suffering in cases in which the victim sustained severe injuries. Accident victims may also file a claim with the other party’s insurance company if the river has a policy that includes Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) coverage. BIL coverage is not mandatory in Florida. A personal injury attorney may advise an accident victim to file a civil court claim to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and in very severe cases, emotional damages.
Contacting a Tampa bike accident lawyer
Whether an accident victim has sustained a minor or severe accident, the injured party should always consult an attorney. Personal injury claims are not only for people who suffer life-altering injuries. Accident victims who sustain minor injuries may be required to take time off from work and incur medical expenses. The injured party may file a claim to receive compensation for these injuries. A Tampa bicycle accident lawyer can help accident victims make informed decisions about possible legal options. Having a lawyer acting on behalf of the victim can also give the victim and the victim’s family peace of mind in knowing someone is handling the legal matters during a stressful time.
Contact us to receive a free case evaluation. Our personal injury lawyer is available to be your advocate and fight for your rights while you recover from your injuries.