The Cloud Law Firm represents cyclists who have been injured in a Highlands County bicycle accident.
Prior to your bicycle accident, you may have believed that you would never need to hire an attorney. However, your accident may be the most violent and stressful thing that has ever happened to you. Now your life is in disarray. You may be unsure how you are going to pay the medical bills or make up the missed work. The insurance company will likely try to rush you to settle your claim for a small fraction of your actual loss. The decisions you make shortly after the bicycle accident, such as contacting the right Highlands County bicycle accident lawyer, will play a large role in determining the strength and value of your injury claim. You will only get one bite at this apple. You need a compassionate and experienced attorney who will out-think and out-work the at-fault party and their insurance company.
Call the Cloud Law Firm now for a free, no hassle consultation at: (863) 402-2207. We will be happy to meet with you in person at our Highlands County office located at 205 S Commerce Ave, Sebring, FL 33870. We want you to know your rights and we will provide the advice and help you are searching for. If you retain us, we will get to work on your case right away. You have nothing to lose by calling because there are no attorneys’ fees unless we win your personal injury case.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycles are a common means of transportation, recreation and exercise in and around Highlands County, Florida. Bicycle accidents usually involve contact with a motor vehicle that negligently failed to yield the right-of-way or unexpectedly turned into the path of a cyclist. Quite commonly, bicycle accidents occur when a car is exiting a parking lot onto a roadway and, looking only for oncoming cars and not bicycles, hurriedly pulls out and hits a bicyclist. Sometimes a negligent driver of a car, truck or bus causes a bicycle accident by forcing the cyclist off the road or into a collision. Other bicycle accidents occur while a car is passing or overtaking a cyclist. Still yet, many bicycle accidents are caused by defective roadway design or maintenance, like unfilled potholes or debris left behind by road workers.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
As you can imagine, bicycle accidents happen far too often and frequently result in serious injuries. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, 467,000 bicycle-related injuries and 1,000 bicycle related deaths occur in the United States each year. Further, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Florida has the highest number of bicycle accidents annually on a per capita basis.
Unfortunately, bicycles provide very little protection from roadway hazards, particularly negligent drivers. As a result, when a bicycle accident happens, severe injuries commonly occur. Common Highlands County bicycle injuries include: cuts and bruises; sprains; broken bones; neck, back and spinal cord injuries; shoulder, arm, wrist and hand injuries; hip, knee, ankle and foot injuries; joint dislocations; concussions; traumatic brain injuries; and even death. Many of these types of injuries require costly surgical and/or long term treatment.
Florida Statutes Concerning Bicycles
The Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law, codified in Chapter 316 Florida Statutes, contains many of the statutory laws which govern the rules of the road in the State of Florida. Within this Chapter, the most pertinent to bicycles is Section 316.2065.
Section 316.2065 contains numerous rules governing bicycles, such as the use of bicycles at night. Most significant to this discussion, however, is a portion of the statute which provides that, with limited exceptions, bicycles being operated on the roadway have “all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle” under Chapter 316. § 316.2065(1), Fla. Stat. Conversely, bicycles being operated on the sidewalk or crosswalk have “all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.” § 316.2065(9). Thus, under Florida law, cyclists generally have the rights and obligations of a motor vehicle when the bicycle is operated on the roadway, and the rights and obligations of a pedestrian when the bicycle is operated on a sidewalk or crosswalk.
There are some laws unique to bicycles. For instance, motorists owe cyclists additional room when passing a bicycle. § 316.083(1) Further, dependent upon the location, local county and municipal codes may also be applicable to the rights and obligations of a bicyclist.
Proving Negligence in a Highlands County Bicycle Accident Case
Most bicycle accident claims are based on the legal cause of action called “negligence.” Simply put, every person and business owes a duty to use reasonable care. If a person or business fails to use reasonable care, then they have acted negligently. If that negligence injures someone, the injured person has a civil cause of action against the negligent party for money damages. Without getting too technical, in bicycle accident cases, negligence is typically proven based upon the circumstances of the accident and/or violation of applicable Florida statutes (e.g. speeding or failing to obey a traffic control device), which may be used as evidence of negligence.
Since bicycle accident cases sometimes involve children, it is noteworthy that motorists owe children a heightened duty of care when they knew or should have known that small children are at play in the area. This heightened duty is particularly applicable to accidents that occur near schools, parks, and residential areas.
Florida follows the rule of “pure comparative negligence.” This means that the jury may determine that more than one person negligently contributed to an accident, and allocate a percentage of fault for the accident to each of the negligent persons. The negligent persons may include the injured person, to the extent he or she contributed to the accident. If the jury allocates fault to the injured person, following the trial, the court will reduce the injured party’s award of money damages by the percentage of fault allocated to the plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Bicycle Accident Victims May Be Entitled to PIP/No-Fault Insurance Benefits
Under Florida law, every motor vehicle owner is required to maintain $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance coverage that pays 80% of his or her own medical bills and 60% of his or her lost wages, up to the $10,000 PIP benefit limit, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. § 627.733, Fla. Stat. Irrespective of who was at fault for the accident, pedestrians and bicyclists qualify for PIP: (1) from your own auto insurer if the accident occurred in Florida and the accident involved physical contact with a motor vehicle; (2) from a resident relative’s auto insurer if you do not own a vehicle, the accident occurred in Florida and the accident involved physical contact with a motor vehicle; or (3) from the at fault driver’s auto insurer if no other PIP benefits are available to you. § 627.736(4)(e), Fla. Stat.
You should also know that in order to qualify for PIP benefits, you must seek treatment within fourteen (14) days following the accident. Treatment during that period qualifies a person for $2,500 PIP benefits. To qualify for the full $10,000 PIP benefits, a doctor must certify that you have suffered an “emergency medical condition.”
Please Read the Frequently Asked Questions Below
For additional information, please read the frequently asked questions presented below: