If you are reading this, then you or a loved one have likely been involved in a bicycle accident. Suffering an injury in any type of accident is a confusing and overwhelming experience. Add to that the fact that most people do not know what to do after a bicycle accident, and you have a recipe for disaster. Depending on your circumstances, you could be entitled to compensation that will help reimburse you for medical expenses and income you are losing from being unable to work. Let GOLDLAW help you. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.
Breaking Down Florida’s Bike Laws
Cycling is a great way to get around Florida—it’s good for your health, good for the environment, and can even be faster than driving during rush hour. But while cycling comes with a lot of benefits, it also comes with some risks. That’s why it’s important to understand Florida’s bike laws before hitting the road. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know.
- Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists on Florida roads. As a cyclist, you must obey all traffic signals and signs, ride with traffic, and yield to pedestrians. You are also required to use hand signals to indicate when you are turning, changing lanes, or stopping.
- Bicycle riders or passengers under the age of 16 must wear a helmet.
- Florida law requires that all bicycles be equipped with a brake that allows the rider to stop within 25 feet when traveling 10 miles per hour on dry pavement.
- All cyclists riding between sunset and sunrise must have a white light on the front of their bike that is visible from at least 500 feet away.
- If a child does not wear a bicycle helmet, the fact that they weren’t wearing one and/or that their parent didn’t prevent them from riding without one, cannot be considered as evidence of contributory negligence.
Of course, even following all these laws cannot completely eliminate the risk of being involved in an accident—especially given the fact that drivers often fail to yield to cyclists or otherwise share the road safely. If you are injured in a cycling accident due to another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in West Palm Beach
Bicycle accidents occur in a variety of different ways in and around West Palm Beach. Data available from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicates that there were more than 6,400 total bicycle crashes during the most recent reporting year across the state. Out of these incidents, there were 197 fatalities and 740 incapacitating injuries. Additionally, the data shows that more than 5,000 other bicyclists sustained injuries as a result of these incidents.
Bicycle accidents often occur due to the careless or negligent actions of other drivers on the roadway. Some of the most common causes of these incidents include vehicle drivers:
- Failing to yield the right of way to a bicyclist
- Following a bicyclist too closely
- Operating while impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Operating while distracted
- Speeding or operating too fast for conditions
- Improper use of turn signals
- Failing to stop at a stop light or stop sign
This is certainly not a complete list of the ways that driver negligence can cause bicycle accidents in and around the West Palm Beach area. However, there are other causes of bicycle accidents that do not necessarily have to do with driver negligence. This can include bicycle accidents caused by defective bicycles or bike parts as well as incidents caused by poor roadway conditions. In these particular situations, the manufacturer or distributor of the bicycle could be held responsible, or a government entity could be held liable if they failed to regularly inspect or maintain roadways or bike paths.
How to Prove Liability After a West Palm Beach Bicycle Accident
Determining liability after a bicycle accident can be challenging but certainly not impossible. First, it is important to understand that there are four elements of negligence that must be in place in order for a claim against another party to be successful:
- Duty of Care – The first step is showing there was a duty of care owed to the plaintiff (the injury victim) by the defendant (the person who allegedly caused the injuries). The study of care could be established in a few different ways depending on the nature of the incident. Often this involves examining the duty of care that one driver owed to the bicyclist. This duty extends to following traffic laws and operating safely around the bicyclist.
- Breach of Duty – If there was indeed a duty of care between the plaintiff and the defendant, it must be shown that the defendant somehow breached their duty of care. This breach of duty could include operating a vehicle while impaired or distracted, speeding, failing to yield the right of way, not stopping at a stop sign, and any number of other violations. If poor roadway maintenance caused the incident, it must be shown that a government entity or third party knew or should have known about the hazardous condition and failed to take steps to remedy the issue.
- Causation – After showing that there was a breach of duty by the defendant, it must be shown that this breach of duty directly caused the bicyclist’s injuries.
- Damages – Finally, there must have been some sort of monetary loss the plaintiff sustained in order for the claim to be viable. This can include medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering damages.
Determining negligence involves conducting an extensive investigation. Your bicycle accident lawyer in West Palm Beach will handle this investigation on your behalf. This will include gathering any evidence needed to prove fault for the incident as well as proof of the plaintiff’s losses.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Claim for a Bicycle Accident?
There are a few different types of compensation that you may be able to claim for a bicycle accident, including:
- Medical Expenses: This can include the cost of any treatment you needed as a result of the accident, such as hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and medication. It can also include any future medical expenses that may be related to the accident.
- Lost Earnings: If you have had to miss work or have had your earning capacity reduced as a result of the accident, you may be able to claim these lost earnings. This can include not only wages but bonuses, benefits, and commissions as well.
- Pain and Suffering: This is intended to compensate you for the physical and emotional pain and suffering that has been caused by the accident.
- Other Damages: There may be other damages that are specific to your case that you can claim. For example, if you have incurred damage to your bicycle or other personal belongings in the accident, you could be compensated for this.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive?
There is no set amount of compensation paid for a successful bicycle accident claim. However, there are various factors that can influence compensation amounts. Some of these factors include the initial severity of the injury as well as how long it takes an individual to recover. The complexity of the medical care needed will certainly play a role in how much compensation is awarded.
Other factors that can affect compensation amounts include whether or not there was any lost income, the level of pain and suffering the victim endures, as well as whether or not there was any shared fault for the incident.
If you have any questions about how much compensation you may receive for your claim, please speak to your attorney. Even though your lawyer may not be able to give you an exact figure, they may be able to make an educated estimate based on their experience with similar claims.
How Long do You Have to File a Bicycle Accident Claim?
Previously, personal injury victims in the state of Florida had four years from the day the injury occurred to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party. However, as part of a recent tort reform law passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor, the personal injury statute of limitations has changed from four years to two years. This means that the vast majority of bicycle accident claims must be filed against the alleged negligent party within two years from the date of the incident.
However, this new statute of limitations only applies to incidents that occurred after the effective date of March 24, 2023. If a bicycle accident happened before that date, their claim would still fall under the old statute of limitations.
Paying for a Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Our team handles bicycle accident claims in West Palm Beach on a contingency fee basis. This means that GOLDLAW covers all costs related to the case, and we will not collect any legal fees until after successfully recovering compensation for your losses. If we do not win the case, you do not pay anything. The final legal fees will be a percentage of the settlement or jury verdict, and this percentage will be agreed upon before work begins on your case.
Why You Should Hire GOLDLAW
GOLDLAW has a long track record of fighting for the rights of cyclists who have been injured in accidents. No matter how your bicycle accident occurred, we can help.
- We have a team of experienced attorneys who are ready to fight for you.
- We are empathetic to the trauma you have suffered, which drives our commitment to help you recover physically, emotionally, and financially.
- We strive for excellence in everything we do, and we help you, whatever it takes.
- We hold individuals and entities accountable so you can get the justice you deserve.
If you were involved in a bicycle accident, we will review your case and advise you of your legal options. There is no risk or obligation. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.