The State of Florida is a bicycle rider’s paradise. With virtually year around sunshine and warm weather as well as miles and miles of incredibly beautiful coastline, it should come as no surprise that bicycles are a common sight in Florida. Unfortunately, despite efforts by advocacy groups and governmental agencies to making biking safer, riders remain at serious risk of being involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. Moreover, bicyclists who are involved in a collision often suffer catastrophic, even fatal, injuries. If you have been injured in a bicycle crash and another party caused, or contributed to, the collision you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
How Serious Is the Problem in Florida?
In an average year, over 700 bicyclists are killed and another 50,000 injured throughout the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA. In 2012, 122 cyclists were killed in the State of Florida alone, representing 17 percent of all fatalities in the U.S. and making Florida the second most dangerous state for cycling, behind only the State of California with 124 deaths that year. By comparison, the state with the third highest number of fatalities was Texas with 56, half the number of deaths Florida had that year.
Who Is Most at Risk?
Over the last several decades, the average age of bicycle accident victims has steadily increased. According to the NHTSA the average age of a cycling fatality victim was 43 years old in 2012; however, the highest injury rate was found in the 10-15 year old age group. Approximately 10 percent of fatalities and 20 percent of injuries caused by a bicycle-motor vehicle collision are suffered by children under the age of 15 years old. Almost two out of every three bicycle-motor vehicle crashes occurs in an urban, non-intersection location.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents?
Despite efforts to reduce the risks involved in cycling, bicyclists remain at an increased risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident and suffering serious injuries as a result. Although we use the word “accident”, the reality is that many bicycle “accidents” are not truly accidents but are the result of negligence on the part of another motorist. Some common contributing factors in collisions involving bicycles include:
- Alcohol – a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over 0.08 was found in either the driver of the bicycle or the motor vehicle in 32 percent of all crashes in 2012, with lower BAC levels found in another five percent of all collisions.
- Visibility – motorists involved in a bicycle crash frequently claim they did not see the cyclist until it was too late. Approximately 30-40 percent of bicycle accidents occur during the nighttime hours, supporting the belief that visibility is a factor in many accidents. Sometimes, the bicyclist is at fault for failing to equip the bicycle with reflective tape and/or lighting; however, all too often the motorist simply failed to acknowledge the presence of cyclists even when efforts to make the rider visible were taken.
- Right of Way – in the State of Florida, bicyclists are both obligated to obey and protected by the same laws of the road as drivers of motorized vehicles. Motorists, however, frequently fail to share the roadway with cyclists, even when the cyclist has the right of way.For the victim of a bicycle crash, the physical and emotional injuries can be serious. They may also be costly to treat. If another party caused, or contributed to, the crash a victim may be entitled to compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include things such as medical bills and lost wages while non-economic damages are what most people refer to as “pain and suffering”. Although the law does allow the victim of a bicycle accident to pursue compensation from the negligent, or at-fault, party, the law also limits the time within which the victim must initiate legal action. To find out if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, contact the Law Office of The Law Office of Eric H. Luckman, P.A. today by calling (561) 737-3133 (561) 737-3133) or by completing our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.
- Is the Victim of a Cycling Accident Entitled to Compensation for Injuries?