Tampa Bicycle Accident Attorneys
Florida has laws which impose legal obligations on vehicle drivers and their interaction with bicyclists. As Tampa bicycle accident lawyers, we hold vehicle drivers responsible for injuries caused to bicyclists. ” – Erik G. Abrahamson, Senior Partner
Bicycle riders have some of the same rights as motor vehicle drivers on Florida’s roads. Unfortunately, drivers do not always respect these rights; careless driving and reckless decisions often result in serious injuries for cyclists. Even with proper safety equipment, bicycle riders are extremely exposed, and even “minor” accidents can result in serious, life-altering injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries in a bicycle crash, we want to help you get fair compensation for your damages. Here are several reasons why we believe we’re the right law firm for you:
- We have specific experience representing injured cyclists. By way of example, we previously achieved a $600,000 settlement for a cyclist who sustained a closed head injury when struck by a vehicle.
- We are among the longest standing personal injury Firm’s in Tampa. When you choose Abrahamson & Uiterwyk to represent your interests you’re bringing on an advocate with deep ties to the Tampa community, cultivated over our 30 years in practice.
- We are equipped to take your case to trial if necessary. While it is desirable in some cases to come to a settlement agreement, our top priority is making sure that you get justice for your injuries. Toward that end, our experienced bicycle accident attorneys are prepared to take your case to trial.
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The decision to hire a bicycle accident injury lawyer is not one to be taken lightly, and we understand if you aren’t quite ready to speak with an attorney about your case. The page contains information that you may find useful in the aftermath of a bicycle accident. We encourage you to spend some time here to get up to speed on your rights and options moving forward.
Types of Tampa Bicycle Accident Cases We Most Often Handle
Accidents involving bicycles are common in Florida. Because of our favorable weather, many people enjoy recreational activities including bicycling. Unfortunately, bicycling has inherent dangers, especially when biking on roads. Because bicyclists have very little safety protections, when a bicyclist is impacted by a car, the injuries can be quite significant. When bicycling always follow the rules of the road, always wear a helmet, always wear bright clothing, use reflectors and use lights at night. Be sure to drive defensively when on a bicycle.
Steps to Take After Being Injured in a Bicycle Accident
Most of the accidents you have while riding your bicycle won’t involve anyone but you. However, in cases where bicyclists ride on roadways, accidents involving bicycles and motor vehicles are always a possibility. In the first few moments after a bicycle accident, you are likely to feel confused and overwhelmed.
Nonetheless, in order to protect your rights, you need to proceed carefully during this time. For the best outcome, follow the tips below.
Get yourself to a safe place.
Immediately after an accident, you may still be in danger. Look around you for a safe place that is out of the way of traffic and move yourself there carefully to prevent additional injuries.
Keep Your Cool.
Once you are safe, you should take a minute to calm down before you take any further action. The decisions you make during this time could have a significant impact on the outcome of any future court cases. Don’t make any accusations, but don’t accept fault for the incident either. Most importantly, do not leave the scene of the accident.
Assess your injuries.
Adrenaline and shock may mask the pain from your injuries, so use caution as you move around after your accident. Examine yourself for signs of serious problems, such as significant lacerations. If there is any chance that you are seriously injured, you need medical attention immediately. Call an ambulance before taking any other action.
Call the police.
Your next phone call should be to the police. Wait at the scene until they arrive and insist that everyone else involved in the accident do the same. If the driver of a vehicle involved attempts to leave, try to write down the individual’s license plate number.
Make an accident report.
When responding to an accident, police officers may try to take a statement from the motorist only. If this occurs, ask the police officer to take a statement from you as well. If the police officer refuses to take your statement, you can ask to have the report amended later.
Collect contact information.
Before leaving the scene of the accident, collect phone numbers, addresses and insurance information from the drivers involved in the crash. You should also collect contact information from any witnesses on the scene at the time the accident occurred.
Even if the bike accident was minor, take pictures of the scene before you leave. Remember to photograph your bicycle, any other vehicles involved and the scene itself. If your bicycle or any of the vehicles were damaged, take close-ups of this damage as well. Pictures taken at the scene can be beneficiall to your bike wreck attorney as well as the police.
Preserve all of the evidence that you can from the scene of the accident, including your bicycle. Don’t try to have the bicycle fixed until any claims or cases have been resolved. Keep the clothing you were wearing during the crash unwashed, and don’t repair any damage to it. Do not release any of this evidence to anyone other than your attorney.
See a doctor.
Even if you didn’t believe your injuries were severe enough to warrant an ambulance on the day of the crash, you should still make an appointment for a check-up as soon as possible. Seemingly minor injuries can become more severe as time progresses, and seeing a doctor immediately will allow you to document these injuries for any legal proceedings that follow.
As you visit doctors, speak to insurance companies or engage in any other activity related to the accident, keep written records of everything that occurs. Should you need to go to court because of the accident, having these records will provide you with the evidence you need to support your claim.
Do Not Talk to the Insurance Company
The driver’s insurance company may try to contact you to get your version of events. Do not speak to them if you plan to hire an attorney. The insurance company may try to use your statements against you. Let an attorney communicate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Talk to a Tampa bicycle accident lawyer.
On occasion, bicycle accidents occur because the bicyclist made a mistake or wasn’t paying attention. However, in many cases, bike accidents occur because of negligent or reckless motorists. Motorists may be driving with distractions, may be tired, on their phone or they may simply overlook the bicyclist. Motorists may also cause crashes when they fail to yield the right of way to a bicyclist. Regardless of the circumstances, when a motorist is at fault for a bicycle accident, he or she is responsible for all injuries and property damage that occur as a result. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident and you think a motorist was at fault, contact our Tampa bicycle accident attorneys to find out whether you have a case.
The Most Common Causes of Serious Bicycle Accidents
Most serious bicycle accident cases involve collisions with motor vehicles. Quite often, these accidents are the result of negligence or carelessness on the part of the vehicle driver. Unfortunately, many drivers do not understand riders’ rights and don’t know how to properly share the road with bicyclists.
Failure to accurately judge speed and distance in relation to bicycles is another common culprit in vehicle-related bicycle accidents. Other common causes of car and truck-related bicycle accidents include situations where drivers:
Dooring is a collision where a bicyclist runs into a vehicle door, or a vehicle door is opened into a cyclist. Drivers have a responsibility to check the surrounding area for hazardous situations, such as an oncoming cyclist or pedestrian, before opening the vehicle door. Drivers should also not leave their vehicle doors open for longer than is necessary.
If a driver acts negligently and carelessly when opening the door, a cyclist may be able to file a negligence claim. Conduct by the cyclist, for instance not paying attention, may be taken into account when determining the degree of responsibility of each party.
Crossing in Front of the Bike
“Right cross” or “left cross” accidents occur when a driver crosses into a bicyclists path at an intersection or when coming out of a driveway or parking lot. In these cases, the bike is already in the intersection when the car is pulling across. Drivers are typically not paying attention to their surroundings or unable to see the cyclist when they pull out into the intersection or street.
Drivers Turning into Bicycles on Their Right Side
If a bike is to the right of a car when the car is performing a right turn, the cyclist can be hooked by the vehicle. Distracted drivers and drivers who do not check their blind spots can easily cause such an accident.
Florida has miles of bike lanes to promote safe bike riding throughout the state. Florida law says that bicyclists must ride in available bike lanes unless they are turning or avoiding an unsafe condition. Cyclists are supposed to be safe in a bike lane, but drivers sometimes fail to watch for cyclists in their blind spots and drift or turn into a bike lane causing injury.
This occurs when a driver fails to give a bicyclist enough room when passing. Drivers have a responsibility to give cyclists plenty of room when they overtake them on the street.
Drivers who rear-end bicyclists are typically distracted while driving or following the cyclist too closely. This commonly happens at stop signs or when a cyclist slows down to make a turn.
The Most Common Injuries Sustained in Bicycle Accidents
The Tampa metro area was named the most dangerous place in the country to ride a bike. Bicyclists don’t have the same protection and safety features that a driver or passenger in a vehicle might have. Instead, bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to serious injuries that can diminish their quality of life.
Some common injuries sustained in bicycle accidents include:
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries can be devastating and life-altering. They result from a violent jolt or blow to the head. Traumatic brain injuries can range from a concussion to a brain bleed to a skull fracture. Less serious traumatic brain injury, such as a mild concussion, may temporarily affect brain cells. More serious injuries can result in torn tissues, bruising, bleeding, and other physical damage to the brain. These injuries can lead to long-term complications and even death.
When confronted with a negligent driver, bicyclists are particularly prone to traumatic brain injuries. Bicycles don’t offer the same protection that a vehicle can when involved in a collision. Bicycles are also not as stable as vehicles, and cyclists can fall to the pavement at a high velocity, resulting in violent blows to the head. A traumatic brain injury can result even if a cyclist doesn’t hit their head on something. The force of impact from a car can cause the cyclist’s brain to jolt and strike the inside of the skull resulting in injury.
Head injuries are another of the most common types of bike accident injuries. A cyclist can sustain a head injury when he or she is thrown over the handlebars. The cyclist then has limited control over how he or she will land. Head injuries may consist of a bump, gash, skull fracture or scrape.
With no protection around their body, a bicyclist frequently sustains a bone fracture as a result of an accident. The most commonly fractured bones in a bicycle accident include the clavicle, wrists, hands, and arms. These fractures occur when a bicyclist reaches toward the ground in an effort to break their fall. Other common fractures include the legs, pelvis, and hip. Some fractures require surgery and can take a significant amount of time to heal properly.
Dental and Jaw Injuries
A bicyclist has virtually nothing protecting their face when they fall to the ground. The impact of a bicyclist’s face on the ground can lead to serious jaw fractures, broken teeth, and other facial injuries. Jaw and dental injuries can lead to long-term pain and sometimes disfigurement.
A cyclist who lands on his or her face is susceptible to sustaining a facial injury. These types of injuries may include damage to the eye, a broken nose, broken teeth, broken jaw, and severe scarring.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Serious spinal cord injuries can also result from a bicycle accident, especially if a bicyclist is struck by a car from the rear. The impact of the car on the cyclist or the impact of the cyclist on the pavement can lead to vertebral fractures and spinal cord damage. Spinal cord injuries can have permanent, life-altering effects on a victim.
Florida Bicycle Helmet Laws and How They Could Impact Your Claim
Helmets can go a long way toward protecting a bicyclist in the event of an accident. Studies have shown that helmet use can result in a 69% reduction in head injuries.
Florida Bicycle Helmet Law
Florida law requires that bicycle helmets be used by children. A bicycle rider or passenger who is under 16 years old must wear a properly fitted helmet that is fastened securely by a strap and meets federal safety standards.
The term “passenger” includes any child who is riding in a trailer or semitrailer that is attached to a bicycle. Florida has no requirement that individuals age 16 and older wear helmets. So, while wearing a bicycle helmet is a wise and important thing to do, failing to do so is not against the law in Florida.
Will I Still be Entitled to Compensation If I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?
Because we all know the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet to reduce injury, it may seem that failing to wear one would be considered negligence. However, under Florida law, the failure of a person to wear a bicycle helmet, or the failure of a parent or guardian to prevent a child from riding a bike without a helmet, cannot be considered evidence of negligence or contributory negligence.
This means that if you are involved in an accident and you were not wearing your helmet, that fact will not affect any compensation for your injuries to which you may be entitled.
Regardless of what the law says, it is still important for children and adults to wear helmets when riding bicycles. Bicycle accidents can result in serious, life-altering traumatic brain injury. This risk is greatly increased if a bicycle helmet is not worn. While bicycle helmets may be uncomfortable and unattractive to some, it’s important to keep yourself and your family safe.
Bicycle Accident Statistics in Tampa / Hillsborough County
Florida is a dangerous place for bicyclists. The Tampa Bay area has the highest bicyclist death rate of any metro area in the country, with Pinellas County being the most dangerous county.
Many bicycle accidents result in traumatic brain injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in the country as a whole, approximately 26,000 people annually are treated in an emergency room for head injuries sustained in a bicycle accident.
The statistics below highlight just how common bicycle crashes and the resulting injuries and fatalities are in Tampa:
Breaking these numbers down further we see that:
- An average of 1.4 bicycle crashes in Tampa are reported every day
- An average of 1.3 bicycle crash injuries are sustained in Tampa every day
- 2% of of all bicycle crashes in Tampa result in fatalities
Discuss Your Case with a Tampa Bicycle Accident Lawyer
When our bicycle accident lawyers assist our clients after bicycle accidents, one of the first steps we take is conducting a thorough investigation to identify the responsible parties. From police reports to eyewitness testimony, there may be numerous ways that we can prove that you may be entitled to compensation. In any case, if you have been injured in a bicycle accident, it is important to contact us as soon as possible so that we can put our bike injury law team to work for you as quickly as possible.
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, we our ready to stand by your side. The bicycle attorneys at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk have been helping Tampa Bay bicycle accident victims for over 30 years. Contact us online or call us at 800-753-5203 to set up your free consultation today.