The risk of bike accidents in Florida has hiked due to the increasing number and type of road users. Bicycle accidents can be minor, like when you fall off the bike and get a few bruises or can be life-changing like when a car hits you and you get a traumatic brain injury. And while being in a bike accident can be confusing and painful, if you're hurt while riding, you may have grounds for making a bike accident compensation claim. At Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney, we have a dedicated team of experienced personal injury lawyers who can help you understand your legal options and fight to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
An Overview of Florida Bicycle Accidents
Bicycling has exploded as more people turn to cycle for exercise, recreation, and as a cheap means to commute. Also, cycling is excellent for the environment as it's pollution-free.
A 2018 national census report showed that bicycle commuting has increased by 50 percent since 2007, and at least 863,979 people bicycle to work.
And Florida enjoys a vantage point in bicycling. The warm weather, clear skies, and the 8,436 miles of beautiful coastline are ideal for year-long bicycle riding.
While bicycling is popular, Florida has become one of the most dangerous states in the country for bicyclists. The state has a fatality rate of 6.2 deaths per 100,000. In 2018, Florida had 6,568 bike accidents, which resulted in 148 deaths and 6,175 injuries. And Jacksonville city in Florida won the dubious honor of being the deadliest big city for cyclists.
So when riding in Florida, you have a higher risk of being involved in a bicycle accident and get injured. That’s why you need to be aware of your rights when an accident occurs and fight to be compensated for your pain, medical costs, and lost wages.
Where Do Most Bicycle Accidents Occur?
Most bike accidents occur in cities with large populations and in college towns. College towns rank higher in accidents because students use bicycles as their primary mode of transport. Besides being healthy and cost-effective, bikes allow students to move from one class to another conveniently and quickly.
Another place where many vehicle-bicycle crashes occur is at roadway intersections. However, crashes at road intersections are mostly non-fatal. In comparison, non-intersection locations are responsible for about 71 percent of fatal bike accidents.
In addition, a bicyclist has a higher chance of getting hit by a vehicle when riding on roads with narrow lanes, high-speed limits, and roadways that don't have shoulders or bike lanes.
Regardless of where your accident happens and gets you hurt, you need to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer on how the at-fault party can pay you for your injury.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Florida
Bicycle accidents occur when a motor vehicle hits a cyclist, or the cyclist falls from the bike. An accident could also happen when a cyclist hits a pedestrian, an animal, or when riding in a dilapidated road. However, the common causes of bicycle accidents in Florida are as follows.
Dooring — A driver opening the door and exiting from a vehicle parked next to a traffic lane without looking to see if a cyclist is coming can cause a severe bicycle accident. The opened door blocks the oncoming bicyclist path, forcing him or her to collide with the door, flip over it, or hit the car driver. Or to avoid hitting the door, the cyclist can swerve and crash into oncoming traffic on the opposing lane.
So when cycling, be focused and vigilant to the road and vehicles around you, especially when passing a parked vehicle. If possible, give a wide berth to a parked vehicle. Give yourself a space of at least 5 feet between the bicycle and the car. You will avoid crashing the car door if it's opened as you close in.
But if you're involved in a dooring crash, the car driver is likely negligent for failing to look out carefully, just the same as if he or she would have hit you at an intersection. So, it's advantageous to know the basic rules of liability that protect your interests, and how you can get compensated for the accident.
Speeding vehicles — Excess speed compromises a driver's reaction and control of the car. The driver might not respond in time to avoid hitting a bike rider. Similarly, the cyclist may not have enough time to get out of the way when a speeding car approaches.
The impact of a speeding vehicle can result in serious injury or fatality to a cyclist.
Side swapping the bicyclist — Side-swipe accidents occur when a motorist overtakes a bicyclist without giving enough room. The Florida statute 316.083 on overtaking and passing a vehicle requires a driver to provide a cyclist a safe distance of at least three feet when passing. But for whatever reason, some drivers don't give cyclists the respect they deserve, resulting in side swapping accidents and injury to cyclists.
Side swapping will also likely occur when riding on a road with narrow lanes where the bicycle and a motor vehicle can't share the way when moving side by side. So when you're in a narrow lane, ride far enough to the left. It communicates to the motorist behind you that the road is not wide enough to share; also, it gives you space to move right out of harm's way if the motorist gets too close to you.
Rear-end bicycle accidents — A Rear-end collision could occur when a vehicle hits the back of a bicycle traveling in the same direction. A driver who is distracted, driving under the influence, speeding, or sleeping at the wheel will most likely cause a rear-end accident, especially if the traffic suddenly stops.
Rear-end accidents are most common, accounting for 40 percent of bicycle collisions. Besides, they contribute about 45 percent of fatalities.
So when riding, be wary of the vehicles behind you as those on the opposing lane. Stay alert to your surroundings.
Distracted driving — Some drivers text, talk on their cell phone, or fiddle with instrument controls while at the wheel. This loss of attention can make a driver drift into the bike path or fail to notice a bicyclist ahead and cause an accident.
Vehicles crossing into a bicyclist path — A bicycle accident could occur when a motorist pulls out from a driveway or side street and gets directly into a bicyclist's path. Often this happens because the driver didn't see the cyclist or didn't pay sufficient attention.
Aging drivers — Florida has a large and growing number of seniors. Out of a total population of 20 million people, 23 percent are over 60. Hence, most drivers on Florida roads are old, and older drivers tend to have slower reflexes, reduced vision, and inadequate safe assessment of the road. In short, their ability for safe driving is impaired.
Therefore, you’re more exposed to mishaps if you share the road with an aging driver. But still, age won’t absolve a driver from taking responsibility if they hit you.
Accidents involving alcohol — ntoxication reduces a driver's vision and reaction time, making it more likely that he or she fails to see a bicycle or avoid hitting it. Similarly, a drunk cyclist has poor balance and is more likely to veer off the bike lane and hit an oncoming vehicle.
Crashes in which either the rider or motorist were under the influence of alcohol accounted for 37 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents countrywide in 2017, and 26 percent of cyclists who died had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.01 percent and higher.
So if you are injured, a loved one is injured, or killed in a bicycle accident where the at-fault driver was driving under the influence, you should seek the services of an experienced personal injury attorney to help you in your case.
Collision at controlled road intersections — Accidents are common at road intersections with stop signs when a motorist fails to give right of way to the cyclist. As a cyclist, you can avoid this accident if you look in all directions to confirm that the vehicles are giving you the right of way before you proceed. Additionally, as you stop at the intersection, position yourself where motorists will see you.
Collisions at intersections without road signs — When approaching a road intersection that doesn't have road signs or control lights, the vehicle reaching the junction first has the right of way. Sometimes motorists want to take precedence over the cyclist, and they end up causing a crash. So, slow down and prepare to stop when approaching such an intersection. Cross when it's safe.
Failure of a motorist to yield — The motorists' failure to yield to the right of way to a cyclist causes about 36% of bicycle accidents in the Sunshine State. While by law, bicycles have the same status as vehicles, some motorists fail to give cyclists their due respect and consequently cause accidents.
Blindspot accidents — New drivers and those with vision problems are more likely to cause bicycle accidents. That's because either they can't see the blind spots or they fail to check the blind spots before moving the vehicles.
Bicycle accidents at night — Most bicycle accidents in Florida occur when it's dark. National Statistics show that many bicycle accident fatalities occur between 6 pm and 9 pm. And when the accidents occur at night, motorists claim that they didn't see the bicyclist. Therefore, try to be as visible as possible when cycling at night. Wear reflective material that shines in artificial light.
According to research, wearing a reflective vest plus ankle and knee reflectors makes you visible to 94 percent of motor vehicle drivers. Also, invest in front and rear running flashing lights. By doing so, you will be more conspicuous to other road users.
Cyclist's inattention — The cyclist is likely to suffer severe injuries when a car-bicycle accident happens because nothing else protects the cyclist except the head helmet. So cyclists need to have their full attention and exercise full caution when riding, especially on busy roads. Wearing headphones or using cell phones while cycling can distract attention. You can easily veer into oncoming traffic or move out of the bicycle lane and cause an accident.
Cyclist's failure to stop at stoplights — You could cause an accident if you decide to go through a red light because an oncoming vehicle will likely hit you. Failure of bicyclists to stop for red lights and stop signs is a significant cause of bicycle accidents, and it's against the Florida traffic laws.
Right turn accidents — An accident can occur when the cyclist is positioned on the right side of the road and a motorist wanting to turn right turns on the rider. Right turn accidents often occur because the driver fails to notice the cyclist on the right. And, it's one reason why cyclists should ride deep left on the road, even though motorists consider this a nuisance.
Weather — Bad weather, like rain, ice, or fog, reduces visibility, and makes a cyclist more vulnerable to accidents. The cyclist can hit objects on the road or get hit by a car when visibility is poor. A good cyclist needs to be more alert when riding in bad weather conditions.
Riding on sidewalks can cause accidents — Florida law permits riding on the sidewalk. But, sidewalks tend to be narrower and more confined than roadways. So riding on the sidewalk is inconvenient, slow, and causes conflicts with pedestrians. Riding on the sidewalk can increase the risk of a car knocking you because it worsens turning and crossing conflicts with vehicles at driveways and intersections.
Fewer road lanes can cause bicycle accidents — Two-lane streets appear to be more dangerous for cyclists. Studies have shown that two-lane roads account for 46 percent of bicycle accidents compared to 37 percent for four-lane streets and 13 percent for roads with more than six lanes.
When riding in such confined spaces, you have a higher risk of getting an accident, so you need to be more cautious and proactive to anticipate unsafe situations.
Dangerous road conditions — Roads in poor conditions account for 13 percent of bicycle accidents that cause injuries. For instance, you can lose control of the bike and may fall off when you suddenly encounter a change in the road surface.
Potholes, sewer grates, trolley or railroad tracks present a severe hazard to bicyclists. They can cause the cyclist to lose control and veer into oncoming traffic or fall off the bike and get injured. So you need to take extra care when riding in bad roads.
Accidents could occur when riding a defective bicycle — The Code of Federal Regulations in Title 16, Part 1512 requires bicycles to meet given safety standards at manufacture. Among others, the rules regulate essential areas like the steering and braking systems, tires, pedals, and the frame.
The US produces four bikes every second, translating to 364,000 daily or 4,368,000 per year. With those colossal numbers, it's possible that a defective bicycle inadvertently passes the quality control and ends up in your possession. Riding such a bike will expose you to hidden danger, which you can't discover until it's too late. Fortunately, companies recall defective bicycles when discovered. But if you are injured because the bicycle had defects from the factory, you need to consult a lawyer to find out your legal standing.
Riding a poorly maintained bicycle — Riding a bike in bad maintenance conditions can result in an accident. For instance, you can't stop a bike with faulty brakes at once when you need to. The stopping distance increases, meaning you can hit an object as you try to stop.
Riding a bicycle with incorrect tire pressure — The tire pressure on your bike should depend on the type of tires, the road you are riding, and your weight. Riding a bicycle that has incorrect tire pressure affects its riding quality and handling. Overinflated tires have less traction, and your ride will have a lot of vibrations that are worse on a rumble strip road. Consequently, the bike is difficult to control, especially when cornering. So you can fall off and hurt yourself.
Typically, wide tires need less air pressure than narrow tires.
You should be aware that the tires deflate over time, so you need to check them regularly to ensure you have the correct tire pressure.
Bicycle accidents involving Children in Florida — Bicycles are the most common mode of transport for kids. Unfortunately, children lack the motor skills and judgment that adults have. As a result, many accidents that occur result from an error on the part of the child cyclist.
Also, kids are low to the ground and ride slowly; hence, they may not be visible to motorists, and an accident could occur for which you need to seek legal advice.
Negligent pedestrians cause bicycle accidents — Pedestrians have their fair share of responsibility in causing bicycle accidents. Common examples of negligence occur when:
- A pedestrian steps into a bike lane from an intersection without looking to ensure it's safe to cross
- A pedestrian ignores traffic signals
- Failure to use marked crosswalks where pedestrians have the right of way
- Walking while drunk
- Attempting to cross a road despite oncoming traffic
- Not confining oneself to designated walking areas such as sidewalks, and
- Walking on the right side of the road, or walking on the same side as the traffic
Road rage and aggressive driving cause bicycle accidents — Aggressive driving and road rage has escalated over the years. According to the NHTSA, aggressive driving causes 66 percent of traffic fatalities, and over the last seven years, road rage has contributed to 218 murders and 12,610 injuries.
Road rage or aggressive driving occurs when a motorist exhibits deliberate, reckless behaviors that endanger other road users.
Many motorists become aggressive when stuck in traffic for long. They may start to switch lanes abruptly, over speed, fail to signal, or squeeze into space available for other motorists and cyclists. They might also do aggressive acts to other motorists and cyclists such as horn honking, rude hand gestures, verbal abuse, or tailgating. An aggressive driver could even block the bike lane.
When incidents of road rage involve a motor vehicle and a bicycle, the bicyclist suffers more injury. Thus, a bicyclist must always exercise an abundance of caution to avoid getting embroiled in acts of road rage. Any time you see a motorist making aggressive acts, ignore them. Do not be tempted to respond in kind because the situation can escalate, and you will be the worse for it.
However, if, despite your civility, you the aggressive driver causes you injuries, then you need to seek the services of a personal injury attorney to help you seek compensation for your suffering, medical bills, and lost wages.
Congested traffic and roads — Bicycle accidents are more likely to take place on busy roads jammed with traffic. And Florida has some of the busiest routes in the country, increasing the risk of accidents for cyclists.
So when cycling plan to use a route with fewer vehicles moving at slower speeds. You're better off if you can find a dedicated path for bicycles only.
However, finding a less busy road could be a tall order if you work in a big city and you may have to ride on a busy road. While on the road, don't distract yourself by listening to music or texting. Your eyes, ears, and mind should solely focus on the road and traffic around you to minimize the risk of an accident.
But if you still find yourself in a crash, you may need to consult a personal injury attorney for advice.
Find a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you or someone you know is involved in a bicycle accident caused by the negligence of another party, it's crucial to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney promptly. Your injuries could be severe, and treatment expenses can skyrocket quite fast. The Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney can protect your legal rights and get you the injury settlement you deserve. Contact us on 904-800-7557 to review your case.