Sarasota Bicycle Accident Attorneys
Cycling has become a dominant past-time across the U.S., and especially in Florida. Some cyclists ride to save on transportation costs, some to cut down on motor vehicle emissions, some for health and fitness and others just for pure enjoyment. Whatever the reason, the number of bicycles on our roadways has definitely increased. According to the results of a 2019 AAA survey on bike safety, approximately 25% of Florida residents ride a bicycle at least once per week.
The unfortunate consequence of this increase in bikes on the road is a corresponding increase in accidents involving cyclists. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports there were 6,664 bicycle crashes in the Sunshine State in 2019, up from 6,590 in 2018, and in 2019, in Sarasota County alone, there were 181 crashes.
Injuries from these crashes can be very serious. Crash victims suffer from injuries such as head and neck injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries and other internal injuries, which can cause long-term pain and suffering. Regrettably, bicycle crash victims and their families often must handle many challenging life changes and problems, such as the need for extensive medical treatment and financial difficulties.
If you or a family member has been the victim of a bicycle crash injury, you do not have to handle all of these issues alone. The Dennis Hernandez Sarasota bicycle accident attorneys have helped hundreds of accident victims throughout Florida and want to help you hold the negligent party accountable and obtain the financial compensation you deserve.
Injuries and Fatalities from Bicycle Crashes
Bicyclists are very vulnerable when riding on Sarasota’s roadways. The roads have bumps, cracks or debris that can cause a cyclist to fall, and impaired and distracted motorists are a constant threat. Except for helmets and protective clothing (if worn), bicyclists have no protection in case of a collision. When they collide with a car or truck, they can easily be thrown from their bicycles and injure their head, neck, spine, bones and/or internal organs.
These injuries can be life-threatening and fatal. Throughout the U.S., more than 850 people are killed each year in bicycle crashes, and many more are seriously injured. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports:
- In 2019, the number of pedalcyclists fatally injured in accidents on U.S. roadways was 846, down from 871 in 2018, but the number of pedalcyclist Injuries increased from 47,000 to 49,000 (+4.3%).
- The proportion of people killed “inside the vehicle” (occupants of passenger cars, light trucks, large trucks, buses, and other vehicles) has declined from a high of 80 percent in 1996 to 66 percent in 2019, while the proportion of people killed “outside the vehicle” (motorcyclists, pedestrians, pedalcyclists, and other nonoccupants) has increased from a low of 20 percent in 1996 to a high of 34 percent in 2019.
According to data collected by NHTSA, Florida has the highest per capita fatality rate in the U.S., with 5.96 bicycle accident fatalities per million residents. Each year in our state, between 160 and 170 people die because of bicycle accident-related injuries.
If you have lost a loved one because of bicycle crash-related injuries caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover damages and collect compensation with a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced Florida bicycle accident attorney at Dennis Hernandez & Associates can help you determine your best course of action, given the circumstances of your case.
Florida Bicycle Laws
In Florida, bicycles are treated the same as motor vehicles on the roadways. According to the Florida State Uniform Traffic Control law, cyclists have to follow the same traffic laws as motorists do. Like motorists, they must stop at stop signs and red lights, ride with the flow of traffic on the right side of the road and in a bike lane, if possible, yield to vehicles when entering a roadway and to pedestrians in crosswalks and on the sidewalk, and use front and back lights from dusk to dawn.
People driving motor vehicles are also required to share the road safely with cyclists. Too often, however, motorists ignore or forget the obligation to treat bicycles on the road as vehicles, and they recklessly pull out in front of bicyclists, change lanes in front of them, and back up into them.
The roadways themselves also hamper safe road sharing. Although Florida law requires passing a bicycle with at least three feet between the vehicle and the bicycle, most roads are not wide enough to allow this distance. Unfortunately, rather than staying safely behind bicyclists or changing lanes in order to pass them, vehicle drivers try to squeeze by within the same lane. This squeezing by not only breaks the law, it endangers cyclists.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents in Sarasota?
Federal and state agencies and cycling organizations have advocated for bicycle safety awareness and laws to make the roadways safer for bicyclists. However, the main cause of bicycle crashes is still the failure of motorists to share the roads safely with bicyclists.
National data from NHSTA on bicycle accident fatalities show that:
- Regardless of the season, bicyclist deaths occur most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- Eight times as many males as females are involved in fatal bicycle accidents.
- Bicyclist deaths occur most often in urban areas (75%) compared to rural areas (25%).
- Light trucks are the most frequently involved vehicle in motor vehicle crashes in which a bicyclist is killed.
- Alcohol is a factor in 37% of all fatal bicyclist crashes.
Analyses of accident data suggest that the most common causes of bicycle accidents are:
- Impaired driving
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Aggressive driving or speeding
- Lack of visibility
Avoiding Bicycle Crashes
Staying far away from impaired, distracted, drowsy or aggressive motorists on the road is good advice for bicyclists, but it’s not practical, since, as a cyclist on the road, you don’t know what the motorists around you are doing or feeling. Therefore, the best advice is to be as cautious as possible when biking on the roads.
The Florida Biking Association suggests the following guidelines from Cycling Savvy for safe cycling:
- Ride on the road, not on the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk increases your chances of crashing when turning or crossing the street, and the sidewalk itself has many hazards, such as cracks, debris, branches and poles.
- Obey the laws. When you are riding on the road, you must follow the Florida traffic laws and always ride in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic, yield to traffic before entering a roadway, yield to overtaking traffic when changing lanes, yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and obey all traffic signs and lights.
- Ride with the flow of traffic at intersections. If you are turning right, stay in the right lane. If you are turning left, use the left turn lane. If you are not turning, stay out of the turn lanes.
- Take up space in the traffic lane. You are safer riding toward the middle of a lane than riding far to the right in a lane that is not wide enough to share with at least 3 feet between you and vehicles. By riding toward the middle of the lane, you are more visible and motorists will more clearly get the message that the lane is not wide enough for them to squeeze past you.
- Signal turns and lane changes. Signaling your intentions helps motorists be more aware of you and take necessary precautions to avoid hitting you.
- Be careful when passing. Passing stopped traffic is tempting, but dangerous. It is usually safest to wait in the line of traffic rather than passing on the right. Passing large trucks on the right can be deadly, and passing parked cars is extremely hazardous because of the potential for someone suddenly opening a car door.
What to Do If You Are Injured in a Sarasota Bicycle Accident
Bicycle crashes involving cars and trucks can be very dangerous, resulting in life-threatening or fatal injuries for the crash victims. Getting emergency medical treatment is, therefore, necessary. Even if you are feeling fine after the crash, a thorough examination is important to document your injuries and ensure there are no internal or head injuries that require emergency treatment.
As soon as possible after the accident, you should also report the crash to the police so there is an official record of the accident. Hit and run accidents are common when a bicyclist is involved, but reporting the accident to the police is still important, even if the negligent driver left the scene. Hopefully, however, you weren’t the victim of a hit-and-run accident and you or someone else at the scene of the accident got contact information for the other person or persons involved in the collision.
When you are able to do so, it is important to talk with an experienced Sarasota bicycle accident lawyer about the accident and your injuries. A qualified attorney will review what happened in the accident, as well as the resulting injuries, and advise you on filing a bicycle accident injury claim to hold the negligent party responsible and recover damages for your injuries.
By filing a bicycle accident injury claim, you could be able to receive compensation for the following damages:
- Medical expenses – those already incurred as well as those possible in the future
- Income lost due to time missed at work
- Decreased earning capacity
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Diminished ability to enjoy life
- Other damages recoverable under Florida law
Contact a Trusted, Experienced Sarasota Bicycle Accident Attorney
The trusted Dennis Hernandez Sarasota bicycle accident attorneys want to find out what happened to you and help you get compensated fairly for all of your injuries. We will help you decide on the best course of action, given the circumstances of your case; assure that all the evidence necessary to prove negligence on the motorist’s part is collected and presented in a timely manner; and negotiate strenuously with insurance companies and defense attorneys on your behalf.
We will build a strong case demonstrating your need for compensation for physical, emotional, and financial damages caused by the bicycle accident and won’t back down until you get the full compensation you deserve. Many other personal injury lawyers will do everything they can to settle out of court with insurance companies to avoid going to trial. Not Dennis Hernandez attorneys. We never back down. We will fight for you in court and support you through the entire legal process.
Call us at 941.210.0000 or fill in the FREE CASE EVALUATION form on our website to get started on your case.