One of the perks of living in southwest Florida is the warm temperatures we're afforded all year. This makes it a great climate for being outside, except when it's raining or storming. When the weather is cooperative it's the perfect environment for riding a bicycle. Whether for commuting or simply recreation or exercise, biking is a great way to stay in shape and lessen your carbon footprint on the planet, and it saves on gas money too.
Unfortunately, however, riding a bicycle involves more risk than driving a car as you're more vulnerable to serious personal injury if you're involved in an accident. As a bicyclist, if you're struck by a motor vehicle who was driving negligently, the consequences can be dire. That's why at Kelleher Law, we fight for bicyclists who've been injured by a negligent driver to make sure they receive the justice and compensation they deserve to get their life back.
If you were struck by a vehicle while riding a bike and suffered a serious injury, you're not alone. Please contact our office today by filling out the form on this page or by calling us at 833-546-3675 to schedule your free consultation. We fight for those who live in and near Fort Meyers, Naples, and Cape Coral, Florida.
Does Florida Have A Lot of Bicycle Accidents?
In 2019, the latest year for which full statistics are available, there were 6,663 bicycle accidents in Florida. Thousands of these resulted in injury. 150 of them resulted in death. These numbers are fairly consistent with years prior and part of an increasing trend of serious and fatal bicycle accidents.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycles are considered vehicles just like cars and trucks which means they're legally obligated to share the road with other motor vehicles. In many cities, riding a bike on the sidewalk is not allowed making bicyclists required to ride in designated bike lanes or in the road lane itself. Having to share the road with vehicles that are 2,000 lbs and larger can be a dangerous endeavor.
Because of the vulnerability bicyclists have compared to other vehicles it's important to always wear protective gear, obey the laws of the road, and be aware of the vehicles around you. Unfortunately, you can take all protective measures and still be struck by a negligent driver. Some of the most common ways accidents occur with vehicles and bicycles include:
- Accidents at stop signs: According to nolo.com, 9.3 percent of all bicycle accidents happen at stop signs when the bicyclist has the right-of-way and a vehicle has a stop sign. An accident can occur when the driver neglects to fully stop or fails to see the bicyclist in the intersection.
- Vehicles turning left: This accident occurs when the vehicle and the bicyclist are opposite of each other and the vehicle turns left and the motorist doesn't see the bicyclist or misjudges their speed.
- Vehicles turning right: This type of accident can happen when a car passes a bicyclist and then cuts them off to make a right turn or if both are at an intersection and the car quickly turns right in front of the bicyclist without warning.
- Vehicle door opening: This happens when a parked car on the side of the road opens their door directly as the bicyclist passes.
- Rear-end: Just like a vehicle rear-ending another vehicle, a vehicle can rear end a bicyclist that is sharing the road causing tremendous injury to the bicyclist.
What Happens if a Cyclist Causes an Accident?
If a cyclist causes an accident, he or she can be held liable for any injuries and property damage that are a result. However, it is very unlikely that a cyclist’s auto insurance will cover damages resulting from a bicycle accident, making it important that other avenues of compensation be sought.
How Can You Reduce Your Odds Of Being In A Bicycle Accident?
Riding safely means:
- Always wearing a helmet
- Wearing reflective items
- Riding in the same direction as traffic
- Obeying all traffic signs and signals
- Using hand signals to inform motorists of your intent
- Using audible signals when riding on mixed-use trails or sidewalks
- Looking both ways before merging with traffic
- Even the most responsible cyclist cannot always avoid an accident, but taking time to keep your cycle in working order and making sure brakes, reflectors, and lights work before setting out can be helpful in preventing an accident as well.
Common Injuries from Bicycle Accidents
In the state of Florida, anyone aged 16 or younger is required to wear a bicycle helmet by law. While it's not required for those over the age of 16 to wear a helmet, it's highly recommended to avoid serious injury to your head in the event of an accident. Sharing the road with large vehicles that are driving fast can lead to devastating injury that can have lifelong physical and financial consequences.
Some of the most common injuries that can occur in a bicycle accident with a vehicle include:
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken bones
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Back and neck injury
- Wrongful death
To Avoid a Florida Bicycle Accident, Can a Bicyclist Ride on the Sidewalk?
It is legal to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk in the state of Florida. You should always ride in the same direction as traffic, even when riding on the sidewalk. It may be safer to ride in a bicycle lane when one is available. It is also a good idea to avoid crowded sidewalks or those with unpredictable traffic, such as may occur around stores and restaurants.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
It's important to know what to do in the immediate aftermath of an accident. If you were a bicyclist and were struck by a vehicle whose driver acted negligently it's imperative that you take certain steps to show fault and help in your case if you pursue a personal injury claim against the driver.
The most important thing to do after an accident is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. However, if you're physically able to, there are a few things you should do that will greatly help your case. These steps include:
- Wait for the police: After any accident with a vehicle, it's important to wait for the police so that you can make a statement from your perspective. This is true even if you don't feel injured at the moment, as some injuries may take days to manifest and having a record of your statement is important for your case.
- Get the driver's information: Just as with a vehicle-to-vehicle accident, you should collect the driver's name, phone number, insurance information, and license number and license plate number.
- Document the events: If you have a phone or paper and pen, take down notes of what happened. Try to write down everything you remember including where you were, what the vehicle was doing, and even the road and weather conditions. Take mental notes if no writing materials are available.
- Protect evidence: Do not attempt to fix your bike, wash your clothes, or get rid of any safety equipment you were wearing at the time of the accident. This can all be useful evidence for insurance purposes or in the event that you file a personal injury claim.
- Call an experienced attorney: An experienced bicycle accident attorney can help you hold the responsible party liable while pursuing the maximum compensation you deserve your for injuries.
How Long Does it Usually Take to Settle a Florida Cycling Accident Claim?
The average personal injury claim takes around one year to settle. If your claim goes to trial, it will take longer. If your case is fairly straightforward and settlement negotiations are smooth, it may take less time. Much of this is dependent on the complexity of your claim. Once your claim is settled, if you have been successful, it will take around six weeks for you to get your check.
- "Kelleher Law is the best in the business. The staff and attorneys are dedicated to your case and truly care about each individual client. If you want Mr. Jim Kelleher you get to speak to Mr. Kelleher yourself instead of being transferred to another attorney or just leaving a voicemail. I would recommend this firm to all my family members and friends if they are faced with a personal injury matter. 10/10." - M.G.
- "Excellent firm with excellent attorneys and staff. Mr. Kuhn and Mr. Kelleher were very informative and kept me privy to all aspects of my case. They also pushed forward to settle in a timely fashion. I would definitely recommend this firm for personal injury claims." - M.D.
- "5-star service! Jim and his team were extremely knowledgeable and professional in handling my case. It was clear that his 30+ years of experience make him the go-to personal injury attorney. I would highly recommend Kelleher Law to anyone involved in a personal injury matter, you will not be disappointed!" - E.L.
Contact Our Experienced Fort Myers Attorneys Today
As a bicyclist, you have just as many rights as any other vehicle on the road. If you've been seriously injured because of negligent driving from another person, we can fight for justice on your behalf so that you can get the compensation you need for any medical bills, lost wages from time missed at work, and pain and suffering.