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    Compensation for Cyclists: Rights After a Bike Accident in Florida

    Bicycling is a popular activity in Florida, enjoyed by both residents and tourists alike. However, the prevalence of bicycle accidents in the state makes it essential for cyclists to understand their rights and the types of compensation they may be entitled to following an accident. Sadly, because of the weather and outdoor nature of Florida residents, Florida leads the nation in bicycle deaths per capita. On the average, there are 18 bicycle crashes each day, and over 200 people die each year on bicycles in Florida.   This article provides a comprehensive overview of Florida’s bicycle laws, what to do after an accident, and the legal process for securing compensation.

    Understanding Florida Bicycle Laws

    Florida has specific laws designed to protect cyclists and ensure their safety on the roads. Cyclists are considered vehicle operators and are subject to the same rights and duties as motorists. Key provisions include:

    • Road-Sharing Provisions: Motorists are required to share the road with cyclists. Florida law mandates that drivers must maintain a minimum of three feet of clearance when passing a bicycle.
    • Helmet Regulations: While Florida law mandates helmet use for cyclists under 16 years old, wearing a helmet is strongly recommended for all cyclists for safety.

    Cyclists must obey traffic signals and signs, ride in the same direction as traffic, and use bike lanes where available. Motorists, on the other hand, must respect cyclists’ presence and exercise caution to prevent accidents.

    Common Injuries and Statistics

    Bicycle accidents can result in a range of injuries, from minor to severe. Some of the most common injuries include:

    • Head Injuries: Concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are common, especially if the cyclist is not wearing a helmet.
    • Fractures: Broken bones in the arms, legs, and collarbone are frequent due to the impact of a fall or collision.
    • Road Rash: Severe abrasions caused by sliding on the pavement.
    • Spinal Injuries: Damage to the spinal cord can result in long-term or permanent disability.
    • Internal Injuries: Damage to internal organs can occur, requiring immediate medical attention.

    According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 8402 bicycle crashes in Florida in 2023.

    • 227 cyclists were fatally injured in these crashes, making Florida one of the states with the highest rates of bicycle fatalities.
    • 7,897 bicyclists were injured in 2023.
    • Urban areas, particularly in cities like Miami, Tampa, and Orlando, see the highest number of bicycle accidents.

    What to Do After a Bicycle Accident

    If you are involved in a bicycle accident, taking immediate and appropriate actions is crucial:

    1. Seek Medical Care: Your health is the top priority. Even if you feel fine, some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
    2. Contact the Police: A police report is essential for legal and insurance purposes. Ensure the report includes witness statements and all relevant details of the accident.
    3. Gather Evidence: Document the accident scene by taking photographs and video, collecting witness information, and noting any traffic conditions that may have contributed to the accident.

    Proper documentation is critical as it provides the foundation for any legal or insurance claims you may need to make.

    Types of Compensation Available to Cyclists

    After a bicycle accident, cyclists can claim various types of compensation, including:

    • Medical Expenses: This covers the costs for immediate medical care, ongoing treatments, and any future medical needs related to the accident.
    • Lost Wages: Compensation for income lost due to the inability to work while recovering.
    • Wrongful Death: Compensation for survivors in cases of fatal accidents, covering funeral expenses and losses such as financial support and companionship.
    • Pain and Suffering: A non-economic damage that accounts for the physical and emotional distress caused by the accident.
    • Property Damage: Covers the repair or replacement costs for the bicycle and any other personal property damaged in the accident.

    How Fault Affects Compensation

    Florida follows a pure comparative negligence rule, meaning that compensation can be adjusted based on the degree of fault attributed to each party involved in the accident.

    For example, if a cyclist is found to be 20% at fault for the accident, their compensation will be reduced by 20%. This rule ensures that fault is fairly distributed and impacts the final compensation amount. in 2023 Florida changed its comparative negligence law to prohibit injured plaintiffs from recovering anything if they are found to be over 50% at fault themselves.

    Legal Process and Seeking Representation

    The legal process for securing compensation after a bicycle accident typically involves several stages:

    1. Initial Consultation: Meeting with a personal injury attorney to discuss the details of the accident and potential claims.
    2. Investigation: Gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and building a case.
    3. Filing a Claim: Submitting a claim to the at-fault party’s insurance company or filing a lawsuit if necessary.
    4. Negotiation: Attempting to reach a settlement with the insurance company.
    5. Trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may go to trial.

    Understanding your rights as a cyclist and the pathways to securing compensation after an accident is essential for protecting your health, your rights, and your future. Bicycle accidents can have profound personal and financial impacts, making knowledgeable legal representation crucial.

    If you or someone you know has been involved in a bicycle accident in Florida, it’s vital to take action promptly to preserve your rights and maximize your potential compensation. Leighton Law specializes in personal injury claims for cyclists, bringing years of experience and a deep understanding of Florida law to each case.

    Contact Leighton Law today for a free initial consultation. Don’t wait — ensuring the best possible outcome starts with choosing the right legal partner.

    Article by:

    John Leighton

    A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite

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