Bicycles are an increasingly popular form of exercise and transportation in South Florida, where the weather makes it possible to use two wheels to get around most of the year. But with bicycles comes the risk of bicycle accidents, which often can result in serious and even life-altering injuries. At Searcy Denney, our West Palm Beach bicycle accident lawyer team helps people injured in bicycle accidents get back on their feet with the proper compensation available to them under the law.
We combine decades of legal experience and a track record of successful results for our clients in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements. A West Palm Beach bicycle accident lawyer at our firm will evaluate your case, explain your rights and explore your options for seeking money damages.
Contributing Factors to Bicycle Accidents in West Palm Beach
According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles data, some 160 people are killed in bicycle accidents every year across the state. That is not to mention the hundreds of bike accidents that result in a wide range of injuries, from broken bones to spine damage and head trauma.
Bicyclists are particularly at risk because they often have little or no time to dodge oncoming traffic and have minimal if any, physical protection when collisions happen. In addition, many roads and streets in West Palm Beach and throughout the state were not designed with bicyclists in mind. Combine that with heavy vehicle traffic and negligent drivers, and you have a recipe for potential disaster.
And then there is bicyclist error. Whether it is blowing through stop signs and traffic lights, failing to signal turns, or refusing to merge with other traffic properly, some bikers put themselves and others on the road at risk. Although helmets and reflective clothing can save lives, many cyclists hit the road with no safety equipment whatsoever.
Bicycle accidents often happen in heavy traffic areas after dusk, when bikers can be harder for drivers to spot. Nearly one-quarter of crashes across the country involve cyclists with at least some alcohol in their systems, while about 20% include cyclists whose blood alcohol content is at or above the legal limit for driving, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Because there are so many different factors potentially at play in a bicycle accident, it is crucial for anyone injured in a crash to consult an experienced lawyer. A West Palm Beach bicycle accident attorney at Searcy Denney will thoroughly investigate the accident to determine how it happened and who is legally responsible.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
When bicycle accidents happen, the consequences can be tragic. Even for cyclists who survive a crash, the injuries they sustain can severely limit their ability to enjoy daily activities and earn a living.
A West Palm Beach bicycle accident lawyer at our firm will tell you that some of the most common injuries that we see in bicycle accident cases include:
- Gashes, cuts, bruises
- Road rash
- Broken bones
- Herniated disc and back injuries
- Neck and spine injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
These kinds of injuries often require hospital stays and significant medical treatment that can bring mounting doctor’s bills. That is not to mention the pain and emotional distress that regularly comes with being injured in a bicycle accident.
Anyone involved in a bicycle accident must seek medical assistance as soon as possible. In some situations, the full extent of any injuries may not be obvious to the person injured until well after the crash happens.
Our West Palm Beach Bicycle Accident Attorney Explains the Current Bicycle Laws
One way that cyclists can protect themselves is by knowing the rules of the road.
Bike riders are generally required to comply with the various laws that apply to all traffic. That means obeying lights and signals, as well as refraining from aggressive behavior like dashing in and out of lanes unexpectedly.
Although cyclists are permitted to ride on sidewalks in West Palm Beach and elsewhere across Florida, they are subject to the same requirements as pedestrians. For example, they must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing.
For bikes on the street or road, cyclists are generally required to travel in the same direction as other traffic and to use bike lanes when available. They are expected to stay close to the right side of the road when bike lanes are not present. A cyclist making a left turn is entitled to occupy the entire lane from which he or she is turning. The person must also signal all turns within 100 feet.
State law requires that bicycles be equipped with a flat seat and working brakes for safety purposes. When the sun sets, cyclists also must have a lamp on the front of the bike that emits a white light visible from 500 feet, as well as a red reflector and a lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from 600 feet. Cyclists may not wear headsets, earphones or earbuds while riding.
Florida’s bike helmet law requires anyone under the age of 16 to strap on a safety hat before hopping on a bike. However, any West Palm Beach bicycle accident lawyer will tell you that there are several good reasons for everyone to wear a helmet.
What if I Was Not Wearing a Helmet at the Time of My Accident?
Bicycle helmets save lives. Nearly two-thirds of all bicycle accident fatalities in the U.S. – and one-third of total injuries – involve injuries to the head and/or face, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The renowned medical institution estimates that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by about 85%.
Not wearing a helmet can also limit the compensation that you can recover if you are injured in a bicycle accident.
Most bicycle accident cases are based on claims of negligence. Cyclists, drivers, and others on the road are expected to act reasonably, comply with traffic laws, and refrain from dangerous activities like drinking or texting, and driving. Those who do not live up to this responsibility are considered negligent and legally liable for any accidents that happen as a result.
Florida is a “comparative negligence” state. That means a person who is partly to blame for an accident – or injuries caused by an accident – can still recover some money damages based on proportionate fault.
Not Wearing a Helmet Can Reduce Your Compensation After a Bike Accident
Take, for example, a bicyclist who fails to signal a right turn and is struck by a car that runs a red light. If a court finds that the cyclist was 35% responsible for the collision, they can still obtain 65% of the total money damages in the case.
A cyclist who hits the road without a helmet may be found negligent and partially responsible for any injuries that they incur in the event of an accident.
To have their compensation reduced based on comparative negligence, a court would have to find that the cyclist knew or should have known that leaving the helmet at home increased the risk of injury. The court would also have to conclude that a helmet would have prevented or reduced the injuries that the person actually suffered in the crash.
Comparative negligence questions often raise complicated legal issues, but they also require detailed factual and medical evidence about how the crash happened, the injuries that were sustained, and whether wearing a helmet would have made things different. A West Palm Beach bicycle accident attorney at Searcy Denney can help you gather the necessary evidence and develop the best possible case for compensation.
About Hit and Run Bicycle Accidents in West Palm Beach
Being run off the road or struck by a negligent driver is bad enough. But, unfortunately, some motorists add insult to injury by speeding off after a collision.
Hit and run accidents put injured bicycle riders at further risk by potentially delaying crucial medical attention in situations in which every second often counts. They also make it harder to track down drivers and hold them accountable for their actions.
A West Palm Beach bicycle accident attorney at Searcy Denney will work with local authorities to identify and locate a hit and run driver and ensure that the person is made fully accountable for his or her actions.
Talk With a West Palm Beach Bicycle Accident Lawyer During a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident in Florida, you have the right to seek compensation from those responsible for the crash. An experienced West Palm Beach bicycle accident attorney at Searcy Denney can help you maximize your money damages.
Our accident attorneys help injured people and their families put the pieces back together following an accident with some financial security. We are pleased to offer contingency fee arrangements in which we do not get paid unless you win your case.
Our offices are conveniently located in West Palm Beach, Tampa and Tallahassee. Call us at 800-780-8607 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a West Palm Beach bicycle accident attorney today.