Bicycle & Pedestrian Accident Lawyers in Tampa & Sarasota, FL
Accidents involving cyclists, walkers, and runners can lead to devastating results. Despite the multiple campaigns to generate public awareness around the issue, bicycle and pedestrian accidents continue to affect the lives of Americans every year. In times where people are glued to their phones — especially while driving — it is not a surprise to see that these cases continue to rise.
As of 2019, Florida was the leading state in bicycle fatalities. A total of 142 cyclists lost their lives. When it comes to pedestrian accidents, Florida is the most dangerous state for walking. According to the Dangerous by Design Smart Growth America report, more pedestrians are dying in Florida than anywhere else in the nation, with Tampa ranking 9th among all metro areas on the Pedestrian Danger Index. With these statistics, it is extremely important to not only stay vigilant behind the wheel but to know what to do if you are a cyclist or pedestrian involved in an accident.Common Causes of Bike or Pedestrian Accidents
Distracted, impaired, or reckless driving is the source for many pedestrian and bicyclist crashes. Among the biggest causes of bicycle and pedestrian accidents are:
- Electronics use, including calls, texting, or adjusting the GPS or stereo
- Conversing with passengers
- Daydreaming or looking out the window
- Drunk driving
- Ignoring stop signs.
Of these, phone use leads the pack. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, around 303 million people in the United States have a cell phone and throughout the day, more than 800,000 vehicles are being driven by somebody using a phone.
If you are a Florida resident, do not forget that Florida law requires hands-free cell phone use in all school and work zones in an effort to safeguard pedestrians against the dangers of distracted driving.
Left-hand turns at crosswalks and unmarked pedestrian crossing areas are other leading causes of these types of accidents – many of which occur in school and work zones. Any individual on foot, using a wheelchair or on roller skates is considered a pedestrian under Florida law, and in most cases has the right-of-way.
Crucial Actions to Take if You Get Hit While Biking or Walking
After a bicycle or pedestrian accident, the immediate priority is to receive medical attention. However, whether you’ve been hit by a car while biking or involved in another type of pedestrian accident, there are important steps you should be aware of to assist with any legal actions you take after the accident.
Most importantly, make sure you are not severely injured and that you are in a safe location. Once you do that, keep in mind that any words you say after the accident can be used against you by the insurance company. Avoid making a statement to anyone other than the police on the scene — and even then, just provide to the law enforcement official your side of the story and any details about the incident.
Other important steps to take after a bicycle or pedestrian accident include:
- Gather witnesses: If any witnesses were present, and you are able to do so, gather their contact information. Witness testimonials are extremely helpful in these types of cases, as the driver in question may present a different story than the victim.
- Note what happened: Take mental notes of any pertinent details from the event, including how it happened, where it occurred, or any other road-related conditions that may be relevant, and write them down in your phone or a notepad while they’re fresh in your mind.
- Collect the driver’s information: If possible, gather the driver’s license plate number, insurance information, and any other relevant details about their vehicle.
- Take photos of the scene: If you can move and have access to a camera, take pictures of the scene including the placement of your bike after the accident.
- Contact an accident lawyer: Consult with a bicycle or pedestrian accident attorney before contacting the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
- Get medical attention: After any accident or crash, early and consistent medical treatment is vital to ensuring the best recovery possible.
Dealing with at-fault drivers and their insurance companies after a bike or pedestrian accident can be overwhelming, especially if you are seeking a settlement or have to go to trial. Working with a personal injury lawyer who is well-versed in the traffic laws related to cyclists and pedestrians can help ensure you get the most from your claim.
Before hiring a bicycle or pedestrian accident lawyer, you should ask the following questions to make sure they are qualified to handle your case:
- How long have you practiced personal injury law?
- How many bicycle/pedestrian accident cases have you handled?
- How many accident or injury cases have you taken to trial?
- Are you well-versed in the traffic laws pertaining to cyclists or pedestrians?
- Do you have experience representing victims of bicycle or pedestrian accidents with injuries or sustained medical problems?
- Do you have the financial resources to go up against large insurance companies?
- Are you the attorney who will be working on my case through trial if necessary?
Getting Compensation After a Biking or Walking Accident
There are many ways to achieve compensation after a bicycle or pedestrian accident. If the person at fault was behind the wheel of a car, under Florida law, you can pursue compensation through their no-fault insurance, which should be at least $10,000 in coverage. That said, an injury attorney can help you negotiate a larger settlement that may include, but isn’t limited to, the following items:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills, including equipment or rehabilitation services
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment in life
Often, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will resort to the lowest payout for the fewest areas of compensation. That’s the value of having an attorney who knows everything to which you’re entitled to fight on your side. Review the settlements and verdicts Matthews Injury Law has won for our clients.
What Injuries Can I Suffer in a Florida Bicycle Accident?
In a typical bicycle accident, bicyclists may fall sideways and strike their head, arm, leg, or shoulder on the pavement. They may also skid along the road, depending on the impact of the crash, or get thrown off their bikes violently. At Matthews Injury Law, our Florida bicycle accident lawyers regularly handle cases involving these injuries:
- Broken arms, legs, hands, feet, collarbones, or ribs
- Severe abrasions, scrapes, lacerations, and bruises
- Dislocated joints
- Severe strains and sprains
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Head and brain injuries
- Nerve damage
- Internal organ damage
Regardless of how minor your injuries may seem after a bike accident, head to the nearest hospital as soon as you can. The shock you’re feeling from the crash can make it difficult to tell the extent of your condition.
Who Can Be Held Liable for The Bicycle Crash?
The party who must be held liable for a bike crash is the party whose negligence caused the crash. In most cases, driver negligence that leads to bike crashes includes distracted driving, drugged or drunk driving, tailgating, following, or passing too closely, and cutting bicyclists.
If another party caused the crash, their insurance provider must cover your injuries and other accident-related losses you incurred. While money cannot possibly erase your injuries and trauma, it can make a huge difference in the kind of medical treatment you receive and help ease the financial strain of the accident.
Can I Still Recover Compensation If I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet During The Bike Accident?
Just like drivers, all bicyclists in Florida are also expected to obey the traffic rules. For instance, bicyclists below 16 must wear helmets, and all bicyclists must turn on their rear and front lights when riding after dark.
Bicyclists must likewise observe the road rules, including making a signal when turning, stopping at stop signs and red lights, and riding in designated bike lanes (whenever applicable), among many others. This means that if you violated a traffic law when the crash occurred, you can still recover compensation, but it may be reduced by your percentage of fault for the crash.
However, the law states that courts can’t use the failure of a person to wear a helmet as evidence of negligence in personal injury claims. On the other hand, it is crucial to note that the other party’s insurance provider will look for ways to avoid paying out the real value of your claim, including finding reasons to place the blame on you.
For example, the insurance provider may argue that you are partially at fault for the crash because your lights were not turned on and the crash happened after dark. However, if the other driver sped through a red light and crashed into you, not having your lights turned on had nothing to do with the other driver breaking the law, and you should recover the full value of your claim. This is why you should discuss your case with a Florida bicycle accident lawyer before speaking to the other party’s insurer.
Contact Matthews Injury Law for Legal Help
The personal injury attorneys at Matthews Injury Law fight for the rights of bicycle and pedestrian crash victims throughout the State of Florida. We have partnered with the families of these victims to provide guidance and obtain the justice and verdicts they rightfully deserve. And we are passionate not only in our fight for our clients, but also in our fight to create safer crosswalks, sidewalks, and roadways in our communities. Our team is prepared to unrelentingly represent you and your family. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to a bicycle or pedestrian accident, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Matthews Injury Law. Choose a time that fits your schedule and set up a free consultation.
*To ensure the accuracy of the information on this page, all of the content was either written or reviewed by attorney Marc Matthews, Managing Partner at Matthews Injury Law.