Consult with a Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Lawyer if You’re Injured in an Accident
Bicycling is a popular activity in Fort Lauderdale. However, cyclists must share the road with various types of motor vehicles, and they face a high risk of serious injuries and death if they are involved in a collision. According to statistics, bicycle accidents are most common on local roads 44% of the time. Bicycle crashes result in an injury or fatality 88% of the time. 1 in 6 bicyclists hit by motorists was killed or severely injured. Unfortunately, while it is true that injured bikers may be able to obtain compensation for their damages, insurance companies may resist payment. A Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident lawyer at the Maus Law Firm will work to obtain the compensation you need. If an automobile driver was at fault in your collision, our attorneys stand ready to prove your case either to an insurance company or in a court of law. Our lawyers can assess your case, protect your legal rights and work for your financial recovery.
How a Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Lawyer Will Evaluate Your Claim
At Maus Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorneys do things differently. We are committed to helping every bicyclist litigate their claims fully and we invest the necessary resources to do so. This is particularly relevant in bicycle accident disputes, where the plaintiff may have sustained catastrophic injuries that could have lifelong impacts without sufficient compensation.
For example, if you have been rendered permanently incapable of working due to the severity of the injuries sustained in a bicycle accident, those substantial, lifelong “lost wages” and “loss of future earning capacity” damages must be accounted for in your damage recovery. If you obtain less compensation than you need to cover all your costs, you could find yourself in dire financial straits later.
Curious about what compensation may be available in your lawsuit? We encourage you to contact our firm to speak directly with an experienced Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident lawyer about the underlying injury claims.
Why Choosing the Right Attorney to Represent You Matters
Under the law, injured bicyclists are able to obtain compensation for damages if they are injured in a car or other motor vehicle accident on the road. But insurance companies often resist payment, especially in cases where they allege bicyclist negligence.
It is important to understand that under Florida law, bicyclists are eligible to compensation for injuries and damages sustained in an accident even if they were partly to blame. That is why it is so important to work with a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident lawyer if you are injured in a South Florida bike accident.
At the Maus Law Firm, our attorneys understand that a bicyclist doesn’t have to have been perfect to collect money after an accident. We will assess the unique facts of your case, explain how the law can be applied to protect your legal rights, and work for your financial recovery.
Common Causes of Florida Bicycle Accidents
Every bike accident is unique, partly because there are countless potential causes for such accidents. However, there are certain causes that tend to be more common in auto-bicycle collisions, including the following:
- Unsafe Driver Turns: The driver may make a right turn directly in front of the cyclist or make a left turn and fail to observe an oncoming cyclist.
- Vehicle Rear-ends: Cyclists often need to move to the left to pass around a parked vehicle or object in the bike lane. This can leave them vulnerable to a driver rear-ending them.
- Car Doors: Drivers or passengers in a vehicle may open their doors into the path of a passing bike rider. Referred to by bicyclists as getting “doored,” this is a common and dangerous occurrence.
- Inattentive, Distracted, Reckless or Negligent Driving: Sometimes drivers just are not paying attention and so fail to notice cyclists on the roadway. Other times, a driver may have been distracted by a cell phone, GPS or other device. Alternatively, an accident can be caused by a driver’s speeding or reckless driving, such as running a stop sign or red light.
- Intoxicated Driver: When drivers are under influence of drugs or alcohol, it is even harder for them to notice and properly share the road with bicyclists, often with tragic consequences.
- Roadway Defects and Other Hazards: Many cyclist injuries occur when hazardous roadway conditions — such as a fallen tree that a property owner failed to clear — block or hinder the cyclist’s path.
Calculating Compensation for Injured Florida Bike Riders
Florida is a comparative liability state, which means that fault for an accident can be divided between different parties on a percentage basis. The partially at-fault biker could have their damages reduced based on their percentage of liability. So, for example, if a cyclist were found to be 30 percent at fault for an accident and had $100,000 in damages, their award would be reduced by 30 percent to $70,000. This means that having a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorney from the beginning will greatly increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation.
Simply put, every party involved in a bicycle accident — including the bicyclist themselves — is assigned a percentage of “fault” that they contributed.
For example, suppose that you are injured in a collision with two drivers, and your damages total $100,000. The court evaluates the evidence and determines that Driver A is 40 percent at-fault, Driver B is 40 percent at-fault, and you — the bicyclist — are 20 percent at-fault. Given these fault percentages, you would be entitled to an $80,000 recovery, with $40,000 coming from each defendant.
It’s worth noting that under the Florida doctrine of pure comparative liability, an injured plaintiff can still file a personal injury lawsuit and recover damages, even if they are 99 percent at-fault. Before you spend the money to litigate your claim, though, it is better to speak with an attorney first.
Damages Available After a Bike Accident
Bicyclists can be seriously injured in auto-bicycle collisions. Unlike the occupant of a vehicle in car accidents, the biker has no frame, seatbelt or airbag to help protect from significant injuries. Even if the cyclist is wearing a helmet, that may be their only source of serious protection. It is therefore not surprising that bikers in accidents with motor vehicles often suffer traumatic injuries and even death. Concussions, road rash and bone fractures are just the beginning of the list of potential injuries for cyclists.
Fortunately, bicyclists may be able to recover compensation for their accident injuries when a vehicle driver was at fault. With the help of a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorney, compensation may be available for the following:
- Medical expenses (past, continuing and future)
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death damages (for the loved ones and family of the deceased victim)
Are Bicycle Accidents Covered by Insurance?
Yes, bicycle accidents are covered by auto insurance in Florida. If you were injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle, the accident was the driver’s fault and the driver has auto insurance, then your case will most likely involve filing a claim under the driver’s auto insurance policy.
In Florida, all drivers are required to carry insurance. Florida law imposes enhanced insurance requirements for taxis and rideshare drivers. Unfortunately, despite these laws, Florida also has the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the nation. The Insurance Information Institute (III) estimates that more than one in four Florida drivers are uninsured. So, while your bicycle accident should be covered by the driver’s policy, it might not be, and if this is the case, you will need to pursue an alternate source of financial compensation.
What are My Options if the Driver’s Insurance Coverage is Inadequate or They Were Uninsured?
Even if the driver who hit you has auto insurance, there is still a good chance that his or her coverage will be inadequate to cover all of the financial and non-financial costs of your injuries. If this is the case, you can seek coverage under the “underinsured” portion of your UIM policy, and you can pursue any available third-party claims in order to further enhance your financial recovery.
If you were injured in a bicycle accident involving an uninsured driver, your options will depend on a number of different factors. The first of these factors is whether you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. If you do, you can use your UIM coverage for your bicycle accident, and you can seek coverage up to your policy limit. However, even though you are filing a claim with your own insurer, this is still a fault-based claim. So, in order to secure coverage, you must still be able to prove that the uninsured driver is legally responsible for your injuries.
In addition to filing a UIM claim (if you have the coverage) other potential options include:
- Filing a claim for a road, vehicle, bicycle or helmet defect (i.e. if the driver’s brakes failed or your helmet did not adequately protect your head during the collision);
- Filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s employer if he or she was working at the time of the accident; and,
- Filing a claim against another third party that contributed to causing the collision (i.e. another driver who rear-ended the driver who hit you or who forced the driver who hit you to swerve into the bike lane or shoulder).
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Bicycle Accident in Florida?
Depending on the circumstances involved, various parties can be liable for cyclists’ injuries. In order to determine who is liable in your case, your Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorney will need to conduct an investigation and examine all potential sources of financial compensation. These sources may include:
- The Driver’s Insurance Policy – If you were hit or forced off of the road by a negligent driver, the driver’s auto insurance policy should provide coverage for your injuries. By law, all Florida drivers are required to carry insurance, and auto insurance provides the same coverage to cyclists that it provides to other drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
- A Negligent Cyclist or Pedestrian – If you were involved in an accident involving another cyclist, or if a negligent pedestrian forced you into traffic or left you helpless to avoid a crash, then this individual may be liable for your losses. In many cases, insurance coverage will be available, and recovering your losses will be a matter of negotiating a settlement or taking the insurance company to trial.
- A State or Local Government Agency – Accidents involving defective road design, defective bike path design, and negligent road or bike path maintenance can give rise to claims against state or local government authorities. These cases are subject to special procedural requirements, and these requirements make it especially important for you to engage a lawyer as soon as possible.
- A Government Contractor – If the relevant state or local government agency hired a private contractor to build or maintain the road or bike path where you were injured, then this contractor could be liable for your injuries. Claims against contractors can involve various issues, and an experienced lawyer will be able to determine if you have a claim you can file.
- Your Bicycle’s Manufacturer (or a Component or Helmet Manufacturer) – Bicycle and helmet defects can cause and contribute to serious accident-related injuries as well. If you crashed because of an issue with your bike or suffered a concussion or other traumatic brain injury (TBI) because your helmet was defective, then the manufacturer may be liable.
This list is not comprehensive, and it is important not to rule out any possible sources of financial compensation if you have been seriously injured. With decades of experience, Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident lawyer Joseph Maus can examine all of the factors involved in your crash and make sure the appropriate parties are held liable for your accident-related losses.
What are Some Examples of Contributory Negligence in Bicycle Accident Cases?
If riding without a helmet does not constitute contributory negligence, then what does? Depending on the circumstances involved, examples of contributory negligence could include:
- Weaving through traffic
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Texting or talking on the phone while riding
However, no matter what you were doing when you got hit, it is still extremely important for you to speak with a Fort Lauderdale bike accident lawyer. You should never assume that you were partially to blame, and you cannot afford to let the insurance companies take advantage of you. A Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorney who has experience handling bicycle accident claims will be able to thoroughly analyze the facts of your case and provide you with a comprehensive assessment of your legal rights.
For Parents: Bicycle Accidents Involving Children
If your child was hit by a car or involved in another serious accident while riding his or her bicycle, your family may be entitled to financial compensation for your child’s medical expenses and other losses. Drivers in Florida owe a clear duty to watch out for children, and they must be especially careful in neighborhoods, school zones and other areas where children are likely to be present. Running stop signs, turning without looking and driving while distracted are all common factors in these accidents, and they are just a few examples of the numerous forms of negligence for which financial compensation is available under Florida law.
Auto Insurance Companies Will Blame a Bike Rider for the Accident
We have represented many clients over the years that have been involved in serious accidents caused by a car while riding their bicycles. Usually, when we contact the insurance company for the car, we are told by the insurance company that the bike rider was at fault for riding the wrong way on a sidewalk, or for riding their bike in the road. However, Florida’s bicycle laws are usually misunderstood by insurance companies when evaluating car versus bicycle accidents. In order to avoid being blamed for a bicycle accident, bicyclists need to follow the Florida laws to not lose a portion of your potential compensation:
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic controls and signals
- Riders under the age of 16 must wear a bicycle helmet
- When a bicycle lane is provided, bike riders must ride in the lane;
- When no lane is provided, a bike rider must ride as close to the curb as safely possible
- Between sunset and sunrise, all bicycles shall be equipped with a lamp on the front
- Providing a white light visible from a distance of 500 feet, AND a red lamp on the back visible from a distance of 600 feet
- Bike riders can ride on a sidewalk as long as they obey all the “rights and duties” applicable to a pedestrian on the sidewalk
It’s important to remember that Florida cities often have other bicycle ordinances. Your Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorney will investigate what regulations apply to your case in order to make sure you don’t miss out on potential compensation.
Does Florida have a Bicycle Helmet Law?
Florida has a bicycle helmet law, but it only applies to riders who are under 16 years old. Riders who are 16 years of age or older are not legally required to wear a helmet (although this does not mean that riding without a helmet is necessarily a good idea).
Importantly, Florida’s bicycle helmet law also includes the following provision:
“The failure of a person to wear a bicycle helmet or the failure of a parent or guardian to prevent a child from riding a bicycle without a bicycle helmet may not be considered evidence of negligence or contributory negligence.”
This means that your decision not to wear a helmet cannot be used against you in your claim for financial compensation. Insurance companies will frequently try to blame bicycle riders for their own injuries, and Florida’s contributory negligence law allows for the reduction of riders’ compensation awards in some cases. However, under Florida law, the fact that you chose not to wear a helmet cannot form the basis for denying or reducing your claim for damages.
What Will My Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Lawyer Do for Me?
If you are injured in an auto-bicycle accident, an attorney can do the following for you:
- Accident Investigation: After interviewing you, your lawyer can investigate the accident completely. This could include investigating the scene of the accident, interviewing witnesses and obtaining police reports.
- Assess Fault: Based on the investigation of the facts, your attorney can determine if a vehicle driver is potentially at fault for your accident.
- Evaluate Sources of Compensation: Your bike accident lawyer will investigate any potential source of recovery for your injuries, including insurance coverage.
- Negotiate with Insurance Companies: An attorney can also take over all communications with insurance companies. He or she can negotiate with the insurance company regarding any potential settlement. It is common for these settlement negotiations to continue even after a lawsuit is filed. A settlement could be reached before, during or after trial.
- Litigation and Trial: If necessary, your personal injury lawyer can file a lawsuit, handle the litigation and even proceed to trial.
Speak to the Maus Law Firm Today
If you are a bicyclist who has been injured in South Florida, speak with a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident lawyer at the Maus Law Firm. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today.