Tampa Bicycle Accident Attorneys
In Tampa and across Florida more people are riding bicycles than ever before. Whether due to environmental concerns, health and fitness goals or a desire for recreational activity, the number of bicycles on our roadways has definitely increased. The downside of this increase is that there have also been more accidents involving cyclists. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that in 2018 alone, there were 519 bicycle crashes in Hillsborough County, and in 2019, there were 544 crashes and 12 crash-related fatalities.
Many bicycle accident injuries are very serious, even fatal. The accident victims suffer from injuries such as broken or fractured bones, head and neck injuries, spinal cord injuries and other internal injuries, which can cause long-lasting pain and suffering. Sadly, accident victims and their families often also face multiple difficult life changes and problems, such as the need for long-term medical treatment and problems paying all the bills.
If you or a family member has been seriously injured in a bicycle accident, you do not have to face all of these problems alone. The trusted Florida bicycle accident attorneys of Dennis Hernandez & Associates 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.
Bicycle Accident Injuries and Fatalities
Cyclists are extremely vulnerable when travelling on the roadway. The road itself has hidden dangers that can cause a cyclist to fall, and distracted motorists are a constant threat. Unfortunately, except for a helmet and protective clothing (if worn), cyclists have no real physical protection in a collision. When hit by a car or truck, they can easily be thrown from their bicycles and end up with life-threatening injuries, such as spinal damage, damage to internal organs, and traumatic brain injuries.
Bicycle accident injuries can also be fatal. Across the U.S., more than 850 people are killed each year in these accidents, while many more are injured. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports:
- 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.
- 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.
- In 2019, the number of pedalcyclists fatally injured in accidents on U.S. roadways decreased from 871 in 2018 to 846 (-2.9%).
- During the same time period, the number of pedalcyclist Injuries increased from 47,000 to 49,000 (+4.3%).
In Florida alone, between 160 and 170 people die each year because of bicycle accident-related injuries. In fact, according to NHTSA data, Florida has the highest per capita fatality rate in the U.S., with 5.96 bicycle accident fatalities per million residents. Unfortunately, Hillsborough County is one of the top five Florida counties for bicycle crash fatalities.
If you have lost a loved one due to bicycle accident-related injuries caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover damages and collect compensation from the negligent party with a wrongful death suit. 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
It is up to each state to determine what laws and restrictions apply to cyclists traveling the state’s roadways. In Florida, bicycles are treated the same as motor vehicles, meaning that bicyclists have both the same rights and responsibilities as motorists on the roadways.
Under Florida law, cyclists have to follow the same traffic laws as when driving a car. Like motorists, they must stop at stop signs and red lights, ride with the flow of traffic, yield to vehicles when entering a roadway and to pedestrians in crosswalks, and use 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.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents in Tampa?
Although government agencies and cycling advocacy groups have worked hard to educate cyclists and motorists about bicycle safety and the laws governing the roadways, a leading cause of bicycle accidents continues to be the failure of motorists to pay attention to bicyclists and/or yield the right of way when legally required to do so.
National data from NHSTA on bicycle accident fatalities show that:
- Bicyclist deaths occur most often in urban areas (75%) compared to rural areas (25%).
- 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.
- 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 clear of distracted, drowsy, aggressive or impaired drivers when on the road would be good advice for cyclists, but it’s impractical, since, cyclists don’t know what the motorists around them will be doing or feeling. The best advice, then is to understand the risks of cycling and how to avoid them as much as possible.
Using safety tips developed by Cycling Savvy, the Florida Biking Association recommends the following guidelines:
- Obey Florida traffic laws. When cycling on Florida roadways, you have to follow Florida traffic laws: 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.
- Stay with the 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 your place in traffic lanes. Bicyclists often try to stay to the far right in traffic lanes, thinking they are safer there. However, being to the far right of traffic is often dangerous because vehicles are unaware of them. You are actually safer riding toward the middle of a lane where you are more visible.
- Be very cautious when passing. Passing stopped traffic on the right is very dangerous because vehicles can pull out without seeing you and traffic can start moving. Passing parked cars is also dangerous because of the potential of a vehicle door opening directly in your path.
- Signal turns and lane changes. Using appropriate signals is important for making motorists aware of you so they can take the necessary precautions to avoid hitting you.
What to Do If You Are Injured in a Tampa Bicycle Accident
Hit and run accidents are common when a bicycle is involved. The negligent driver may collide with a bicycle and just keep right on driving. Hopefully, 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.
As soon after the accident as possible, you should report it to the police so there is an official record of the accident, even if the driver left the scene. You should also go to an emergency room to be examined, even if you are feeling fine at the time. A thorough examination is necessary to document your injuries and ensure there are no internal injuries that require emergency treatment. You may not immediately have symptoms but could be seriously injured (e.g. with a traumatic brain injury), so getting examined is crucial to make sure you get the treatment you need.
As soon as you’re able, it’s also a good idea to contact an experienced Tampa bicycle accident attorney to discuss the accident and get advice on your legal options. A qualified attorney will review what happened in the accident, as well as the injuries resulting from the accident, and help you decide if filing a bicycle accident injury claim to hold the negligent party responsible and recover damages for your injury is in your best interest.
With a bicycle accident injury claim, you may be able to obtain compensation for the following damages:
- Medical expenses already incurred as well as potential future medical expenses
- Income lost due to time off work
- Diminished earning capacity
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Diminished capacity to enjoy life
- Other damages recoverable under Florida law
Contact Trusted, Experienced Tampa Bicycle Accident Attorneys
The Dennis Hernandez bicycle accident attorneys want to hear what happened to you and make sure you are compensated justly for your injuries. We will advise you on your best course of action, assure that the evidence needed to demonstrate negligence on the driver’s part is gathered in a timely manner, and negotiate vigorously with insurance companies on your behalf. We are committed to building a strong case to demonstrate your need for compensation for physical, emotional, and financial damages caused by the bicycle accident.
Many other Tampa personal injury lawyers will do everything in their power to settle out of court with insurance companies because they don’t want to go to trial. Not Dennis Hernandez attorneys. We never settle for less than what you deserve; we never back down. We will fight for you and support you through the entire legal process.
Call us at 813.250.0000 or fill in the FREE CASE EVALUATION form on our website to get started on your case.