Miami Bicycle Accident Attorney
According to reports filed by Florida law enforcement agencies, more than 7,000 bicycle crashes occurred in the last compiled year (2014). These are just the accidents that involved a motor vehicle in some way. Of the cyclists in these accidents, 135 were fatally injured.
Accidents involving motor vehicles may be the most dangerous type of bicycle accidents, but they are far from the only ones. Imagine how many more people suffer some form of injury from a bicycle accident! Cycling is popular in Miami, but it is not without risks.
If a person suffers an injury from a bicycling accident because of another person’s negligence, the injured party may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation for his or her suffering. Should a person suffer a fatal injury in a bicycle accident, his or her surviving family can file a Miami wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Filing a lawsuit can only result in gaining compensation for injuries; this may help a person or family cover medical expenses and other bills, but it cannot always restore peace of mind. Even if we can get compensation for injuries or deaths for our clients, it is still preferable to avoid bicycle accidents altogether.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
- Automobile driver’s failing to notice cyclist
- Cyclist making an unsafe or illegal turn
- Cyclist’s not observing road rules and regulations
- Distracted driving
- Alcohol-impaired driving
- Alcohol-impaired cycling
- Improper Gear or Equipment (non-reflective clothing or gear)
- Car driver making unsafe or illegal turn
- Drivers failing to yield to cyclist
Many factors can play a part in causing a cycling accident. Various weather conditions (darkness, wet roads, low visibility, etc.), improperly maintained equipment (worn tires, dull reflectors or none at all, loose helmets, etc.), and more can all result in an accident. A cyclist always needs to ensure his or her bike is in good condition and that he or she is wearing all suggested safety equipment. If visibility is low due to weather or time, cyclists need to be sure that there are reflectors on them and/or their bike and that they are clean and shining bright.
Perhaps the biggest factor, however, is alcohol. Whether on the part of the cyclist or the person at fault for the accident, drinking alcohol and then attempting to operate a vehicle can have drastic repercussions. Do not drink and drive, and do not drink and bike.
Types of Damages in Bicycle Accidents
No matter how careful people are, accidents will happen. If they happen to an individual in Florida, that person should contact the offices of the STEINLAW family. We will gladly pursue the case to the fullest extent of our abilities. Our expertise is in both personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits, so no matter what type of bicycling accident has impacted a person’s life, we can help.
Lawsuits filed for bicycle accidents almost always fall under these two types of cases: personal injury or wrongful death. In a personal injury case, the injured party is attempting to sue a negligent party for compensation for his or her injuries. Most of the damages in a personal injury case are compensatory. That is, they pay to compensate the injured party for the recovery costs: medical bills, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, etc. Some personal injury cases may also include punitive damages.
Damages in wrongful death cases are a little more complicated. They are usually divided into three types: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Economic damages include loss of the victim’s income, loss of inheritance, loss of benefits, and more. Non-economic damages are more emotional in nature, including the anguish of the survivors, loss of companionship, loss of guidance, etc.
Punitive damages are those leveled against the negligent party to punish them for exceedingly ill conduct. Many personal injury cases and wrongful death cases are not eligible for punitive damages.
Florida Bicycle Helmets Laws
Many Florida residents choose bicycles as alternative transportation to and from work, while many simply enjoy cycling to exercise and enjoy leisure time. It’s vital for Florida bicycle owners to understand the helmet laws and appreciate the reasoning behind them. Bicycle helmets are not only safety equipment, but they are also a legal requirement for some riders. Regardless of the legal implications of not wearing a helmet, it is a wise idea for riders of all ages and experience levels to wear reliable, federally-approved bicycle helmets.
Florida law requires all bicyclists age 16 or younger to wear helmets on bicycles. Florida law also requires that the helmet meet acceptable Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) standards and fit the rider securely with a strap. The law allowed for helmets purchased prior to October 1, 2012 to remain in use until January 1, 2016 as long as they met federal safety standards. Since January 1, 2016, all bicycle helmets are subject to CFR standards.
The Importance of Helmets
Helmets help save lives by minimizing the damage to the head and brain in a crash. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that a bicycle helmet reduces the chance of head injuries by 50% and neck injuries by 33% in bicycle crashes. Bicyclists can experience serious crashes due to other vehicles, road hazards, pedestrians, inclement weather, and many other possible factors. Riders without helmets have a much higher risk of suffering neck and head injuries, some of which can have permanently disabling or fatal consequences.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can cause personality changes, mood disorders, irritability, sensory processing problems, speech and language interference, and a host of other medical issues. Severe brain injuries can sometimes leave victims permanently disabled or in vegetative or unresponsive states. Head injuries are also one of the most common causes of bicycle accident fatalities.
Liability and Penalties During Bicycle Accidents
Riders who fail to wear CFR-compliant helmets while riding bicycles in Florida can face fines starting at $150. Parents who fail to prevent their children from riding bicycles without proper helmets can face fines as well as negligence charges in the event of a serious accident. It’s important to note that failing to wear a helmet can negatively impact a bicyclist’s success in a personal injury claim.
Florida operates under a pure comparative negligence law, meaning plaintiffs may still secure compensation through personal injury claims even if they were partially at fault for the damages. Since Florida law requires helmets for some riders, failing to abide by this law can hurt a bicyclist’s chances of succeeding in a lawsuit without incurring some degree of fault. Additionally, since good common sense dictates every rider should wear a helmet, a rider over the age of 16 who does not exercise reasonable care and gets into an accident without a helmet could face partial fault as well.
Anyone who is involved in a bicycle accident in Florida should speak to a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The right attorney can help injured bicyclists secure compensation for their damages after serious accidents. While bicycle helmets may not be a strict legal requirement for riders of every age, it is still advisable for all riders to wear a CFR-compliant helmet for every ride.