Cyclists can suffer extreme injuries if they are hit by an oncoming car. These injuries can include trauma to the head that results in a concussion or a traumatic brain injury. It is strongly suggested that anyone wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. There are times, however, when a cyclist is not wearing a helmet at the time when they are injured. This article will discuss how Florida’s helmet laws impact bicycle accident cases.
Florida Does Not Require Cyclists to Wear a Helmet Unless They Are Under 16
Florida is different from some other states in that it does not require adults to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle unless they are under sixteen years of age. Furthermore, the failure of a rider to wear a helmet may not be considered proof of contributory negligence in a personal injury trial (more on this below). This is far more favorable for Plaintiffs than the laws of some states, which require the wearing of a helmet and/or allow the failure to wear a helmet to be considered proof of comparative fault.
How Comparative Fault Applies to Bicycle Accident Cases
Florida has adopted the modified comparative negligence standard. Under this doctrine, a victim may recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the accident. A victim’s damages will be reduced by the extent to which they were at fault. If a victim is found to have been fifty-one percent or more responsible for the incident, then they will be prohibited from receiving compensation. When determining whether a bicycle accident victim was responsible for their own injuries, again, the failure to wear a helmet may not be considered.
The foregoing is best explained by way of example. Suppose Joe Rider is cycling on a city street. He is riding too close to the car in the adjacent lane. The driver of the car is texting while driving, veers over, and hits the rider. Joe was not wearing a helmet. He suffers a traumatic brain injury and his damages are determined to be $1m. The jury finds that Joe is 30% responsible for the accident as he was riding too close to the adjacent lane; the jury is not allowed to consider whether Joe’s injuries would have been prevented if he had worn a helmet. Joe will receive $700,000 ($1m – 30%).
The Jury Should Not Be Permitted to Hear Whether or Not the Rider Was Wearing a Helmet
If a bicycle accident case goes to trial, then the jury should be precluded from hearing evidence as to whether or not the victim was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. This is due to the fact that it is deemed irrelevant by statute. Testimony regarding the failure to wear a helmet could potentially prejudice the jury against the victim. If the defense attempts to raise the issue at trial, your attorney may object.
There are Numerous Injuries Which Can Stem From a Bicycle Accident
There are a number of injuries that can stem from a bicycle accident case. Given that a cyclist is no match for an oncoming car, these injuries can be severe. Examples of common injuries include the following.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
If a cyclist’s head hits the pavement at high speeds, there is a significant chance that they will suffer a traumatic brain injury. Such injuries can result in permanent disability. Symptoms may include blurred vision, slurred speech, problems with balance and equilibrium, memory loss, and more.
Damage to the Neck or Spine
Crashing from a bicycle onto the pavement can result in severe damage to the neck as well as the spine. Such injuries can result in reduced mobility. This reduction can be permanent if one’s joints require a permanent fusion. Extreme cases may result in some degree of paralysis. Any serious injury to the neck or spine is likely to require extensive rehabilitation and may require multiple surgeries.
Broken Bones and Scarring
Being hit by an oncoming car may cause broken bones. Furthermore, when a rider is slammed into the asphalt at high speed, they may well suffer extreme cuts that require extensive stitching. This can result in permanent scarring.
Extreme impacts with the road can lead to nerve damage throughout the body or just in a particular area. The impact of such damage will depend on the nature of the injury. Nerve damage can result in the loss of certain movement, twitching, and more. Such damage may be temporary or otherwise correctable. It may also be permanent.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Some cases may only result in soft tissue injuries. These are situations that involve little more than deep bruising and abrasions. This level of injury is more likely in cases where the victim was hit by a vehicle that was traveling at a low rate of speed, and the rider is not sent flying through the air.
The Need to Retain an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, it is important that you retain an attorney who is versed in handling such matters. It will be important that your counsel be familiar with Florida’s helmet laws, how they apply to comparative fault, and the fact that helmet evidence is not considered relevant at trial. The proper handling of these issues can make the difference as to whether or not you are compensated for your injuries.
Call Today to Speak With a Florida Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you have been hit by a car while cycling, then the first step you should take is to seek immediate medical care. The second step you should take is to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Our firm is versed in the handling of such matters and we will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or by telephone at 800-780-8607 to speak with a Florida bicycle accident attorney.