If you are a bicycling enthusiast, the central Florida area provides some breathtaking scenery, and if your bicycle is used for commuting, you’re getting some exercise, protecting the environment, and saving some money.
Bicycles are practical transportation, but they lack the safety features that automobiles provide. Candidly, bicycling is dangerous. In only a moment, a normal bike ride can turn into a tragedy.
What should Orlando-area bicyclists know about bicycle accidents? You are reading a brief overview of the laws that protect bicyclists in Florida, and you’ll also learn what measures to take should a careless driver injure you while you’re bicycling in the Orlando area. You will also learn in what instance you would need an Orlando personal injury attorney when in a bicycle accident.
HOW ARE BICYCLISTS PROTECTED BY FLORIDA LAW?
Florida law gives bicyclists rights to the roadways. Bicyclists must adhere to the traffic laws like all other motorists. In some cases, negligent drivers who injure bicyclists in this state may face criminal charges like DUI (driving under the influence) or reckless driving.
But in all cases, Florida’s bicyclists fall under the protection of the state’s civil personal injury statutes. If you’re a victim in a bicycle accident, you may need a considerable amount of time to recover from serious injuries – that is, time away from work – as your medical bills are piling up.
Bicyclists who are injured by another person’s negligent driving have the right to seek and receive compensation for their accident-related expenses including medical bills, lost wages, personal pain and suffering, and all other injury-related damages.
CAN BICYCLE ACCIDENTS BE AVOIDED?
Every bicyclist should know – and adhere to – basic bicycling safety rules. Parents must make certain that youngsters know and follow these basic recommendations:
- Follow the traffic laws just like you’re operating an automobile.
- Use a bicycle helmet that is comfortable and snug.
- Adjust the seat and handlebars as needed to feel comfortable and in control.
- At least once a week, check the tire pressure and brakes on your bike.
- Wear clothing that increases your visibility.
- If you ride after dark, make sure you wear reflectors and lights.
- Never drink or take drugs before bicycling. That’s the path to an injury or fatality.
INJURED WHILE RIDING A BIKE? HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
If a negligent motorist injures you while you’re bicycling, summon medical attention at once – if you’re able. You should summon the police as well because if you’ve been injured, you will need a copy of their accident report.
You may not “feel” injured, but if you sustained a hard-to-detect or latent injury, it could emerge later as a serious medical condition. You need a medical examination after a bicycle accident for both medical and legal reasons.
At the scene of the accident, you need to share contact and insurance details with the vehicle driver. Get a name, address, telephone number, license number, license plate number, and the contact details for the vehicle driver’s auto insurance company.
Try to take photographs of any bike or motor vehicle damages as well as the overall accident scene. If witnesses saw the incident, try to obtain their names and contact details. Your attorney may need their testimony if you choose to take legal action.
WILL PIP INSURANCE APPLY?
If you carry automobile insurance in Florida, but you’re injured on a bicycle, your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage “kicks in” if you’re injured in an accident with a motor vehicle.
Your PIP coverage applies without regard to who was at fault. Should you have no PIP coverage, the vehicle driver’s coverage kicks in.
You might presume your PIP insurance covers the first $10,000 of an injury claim if you are injured because a motorist was negligent, but the law is actually a bit more complicated than that.
Injury victims in most cases are limited to $2,500 of coverage – unless they suffer what Florida law defines as an “EMC” or emergency medical condition.
Even if a physician or an advanced registered nurse practitioner diagnoses your bicycling injury as an emergency medical condition, PIP insurance covers just eighty percent of your medical costs up to $10,000. For example, if you incurred $10,000 in medical bills, PIP insurance will cover 80%, or $8,000.
IF THE PIP COVERAGE IS INSUFFICIENT
If you have suffered a brain injury, an injury to the spinal cord, or another severe injury caused by a negligent motorist in a bicycle mishap, $8,000 clearly will not cover the medical expenses.
After the PIP insurance is exhausted, the negligent driver’s coverage for bodily injury kicks in, but if your injuries are catastrophic or permanently disabling, even that coverage will not be enough.
WHAT QUESTIONS ABOUT BICYCLE ACCIDENTS MUST BE ANSWERED?
If you are injured in a bicycle accident with a negligent driver in central Florida, sign no insurance documents, offer no statement, and do not accept a settlement until you’ve spoken to an Orlando personal injury attorney who has substantial experience with bicycle accident cases.
If you choose to pursue legal action because you were injured, the following list of questions about the accident and your injuries will need to be answered:
- What is the evidence that the motor vehicle driver was negligent?
- Were you in any way responsible for your own injuries?
- Were you wearing a helmet?
- If the incident happened at night, were you using reflectors and lights on your bicycle?
- Did you suffer from a pre-existing injury or medical condition?
- Are you missing work because of your injuries? For how long?
Your injury attorney will need the answers to these questions in order to protect your rights and negotiate effectively for your compensation. If needed, your lawyer can ask medical authorities and accident reconstruction experts to offer testimony and submit evidence on your behalf.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF YOUR PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER?
In central Florida, if you have been injured by a negligent driver while bicycling, you’ll need the maximum amount of compensation that is available, and you’ll need an Orlando personal injury attorney who knows how to obtain it.
Most injury claims in this state are resolved through out-of-court negotiations, but if a reasonable settlement figure isn’t forthcoming, your injury lawyer can take the case to court and ask a jury to order payment of the compensation that you are entitled to as an injured victim of negligence.
When you know the law, and when you know what to do if a motorist injures you, you can enjoy bicycling with more satisfaction and confidence. Have a safe ride!
Read our most recent blog here: How to File a Personal Injury Claim in Orlando, FL