Riding Your Bike to Work? You Still Need to be Careful...

bikes parked downtown

Whether it’s for environmental reasons, for exercise, or just for fun, the number of Americans riding bikes to work instead of driving cars is on the rise. But, along with this rise comes an increase in cycling-related accidents, with a large spike in the summer months.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Florida leads the United States in bicycle accident fatalities. For experts, this comes as no surprise since Florida and California have consistently led the nation in cyclist deaths for the past ten years.  In 2017 alone, Florida accounted for 125 of the 783 cyclists killed in the U.S.

Causes of Bicycle-Related Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 2018 was the deadliest year for cyclists and pedestrians in 28 years. On average, each day 17 pedestrians and two cyclists are killed every single day. Some of the biggest causes of accidents include lack of lighting, lack of road awareness, failure to judge the speed or distance of the cyclist, distracted driving, and a failure to yield the right of way.

This is not to say that motorists are entirely responsible for bicycle-related accidents.  Conversely, a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Administration found that 38% of fatal cyclist accidents were caused by cyclists failing to yield the right of way, while 10% were caused in part by a lack of visibility on the party of the cyclist, like wearing dark clothing at night. The same study also found that 8% of accidents were due to a cyclist’s failure to adhere to traffic laws.

The Florida Driver License Handbook gives some useful tips and rules to follow to prevent accidents between motorists and cyclists. For example:

  • Motorists are required by Florida law to give cyclists a minimum of three feet of space while passing.
  • When crossing a bike lane to turn, motorists should yield to bicyclists within the bike lane and turn behind the cyclist.
  • Bicyclists must not wear headphones or earbuds while cycling on the roadway.
  • If a cyclist is not traveling at the speed of other traffic, they must ride in the bike lane. Alternatively, if no bike lane is available, the cyclist is permitted to ride in the right-most lane of the road.
  • Between sunset and sunrise, bicyclists must have a white light visible from 500 feet attached to the front of the bicycle, as well as, a red reflector or red light attached to the rear of the bike which is visible from 600 feet away.

What to do if you or Someone you Know is injured in a Bicycle Accident

Call 911 to report the accident. If you are injured, the 911 operator will dispatch police and emergency medical personnel to assist you. If you choose not to go to the emergency room immediately after the accident, it is imperative to promptly seek medical attention for any injuries you may have suffered as a result of the accident. Whether it is a motor vehicle accident, slip, and fall, or an accident on a bicycle, it is important to document not only the initial accident, as well as your injuries, but also how the accident has impacted your daily life and relationships.

Following the accident, an insurance adjuster may contact you about the accident. The adjuster works on behalf of the insurance company to get more information, obtain a written or recorded statement, or even settle the claim. Adjusters are employed by insurance companies to save the company money by settling claims for the lowest possible amount. This means that the adjuster may try to settle your claim for less than it is worth. Make sure to discuss your case with an attorney prior to giving any statement, signing any release, or agreeing to settle the claim.

Contact an Attorney at Schackow & Mercadante for a Free Consultation

In any accident, timing is important. In Florida, bicycle accident victims usually have two years from the date of the accident to recover from their injuries and property damage. If the accident resulted in a death, a wrongful action suit must be brought within two years from the date of death.

At Schackow & Mercadante, P.A. our attorneys have a combined 143 years of experience representing those who have been injured due to the negligence of others. Call our office at 352-261-6767 to speak with our office about your personal injury claim and to schedule a free consultation.