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. 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. We can assess your case, protect your legal rights and work for your financial recovery.
Compensation for Fort Lauderdale Bike Accidents
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. 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)
How a Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Lawyer Will Evaluate Your Claim
As you explore the possibility of litigating your claims, however, it is important to understand the “philosophy” of each law firm and its approach to the lawsuit. It is worth noting that many personal injury firms in Florida and elsewhere are focused on volume business. In other words, they are not necessarily interested in securing the best possible result for each client. Instead, they’d rather resolve your case quickly and secure a “decent” result than dedicate the time and attention necessary to secure the “best possible” result.
At Maus Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorneys do things differently. We are committed to helping every client 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 bicycle accident lawsuit? We encourage you to contact our firm to speak directly with an experienced Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorney about the underlying injury claims.
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 bicyclist. Referred to by bicyclists as getting “doored,” this is a common and dangerous occurrence.
- Distracted, Reckless or Negligent Driving: The 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: Even unimpaired drivers often fail to notice bicyclists on the road. The risks are even greater for drivers intoxicated by alcohol or drugs.
- Bicyclist Negligence: There are also many examples of biker negligence. For instance, the cyclist may make an unsafe turn or ride into a car’s path, or the biker may be riding at night without visibility gear, such as headlights or reflectors. However, it is important to remember that a bicyclist may be able to recover compensation even if they are partially at fault in the accident.
- Roadway Defects and Other Hazards: Many cyclists injure themselves due to hazardous roadway conditions, whether the injury is directly associated with the condition of the street itself or linked to some other hazard adjacent to the street. For example, a bicyclist may be harmed by a tree that fell next to the roadway. If the bicyclist can prove that the fallen tree was caused by the failure of the property owner to properly inspect and maintain that tree, then they can successfully sue and recover damages from that property owner – with the help of our skilled Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorneys.
- Inattentive Drivers: Sadly, bicyclists are frequently injured in accidents where automobile drivers are simply not expecting to encounter bicyclists. These drivers may not necessarily realize that there is a bicyclist on the roadway near them. This inattentiveness puts a great deal of pressure on bicyclists to operate extra cautiously to avoid a collision. If a collision does occur, however, then — assuming that the bicyclist was operating in a legal lane and was reasonably visible to others on the roadway — there may be an actionable legal claim for damages.
Legal Fault for Florida Bike Accidents
Florida has several laws of which all bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers need to be aware. For instance, Fla. Stat. 316.083 states:
The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.
Additionally, Fla. Stat. 316.2065 notes that “every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.” This simply means that a bicyclist can ride on the same road with automobiles and enjoy the same privileges.
Along those same lines, the statute further states that “a person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.” Accordingly, a cyclist can ride his/her bike on a sidewalk, and any motor vehicle leaving a parking lot or driveway at the time the biker arrives in the area must allow him/her to cross in front.
There are also safety-specific rules pertaining to cyclists. Section 316.2065 says that “any person operating a bike on a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as close to the left-hand curb or edge of the roadway as practical.” It is important to note that cyclists must use bike lanes, where available.
Additionally, that same section states that:
Every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp and reflector on the rear each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear.
If a motor vehicle operator violates the statute, that individual may be subject to tickets, fines or worse, depending on the specific situation. But first, you, as the cyclist, must prove that the driver was at fault. With the help of a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorney, you may be able to establish such fault.
Calculating Compensation for Injured Florida Bicyclists
When insurance companies offer settlements, they do so based on an understanding of what can be proven in court. If the driver is deemed to be at fault by a judge or jury after a trial, he or she is obligated to pay for the bicyclist’s “damages” (which is the legally required financial compensation for the bicyclist’s injuries or death). This means that having a lawyer from the outset will greatly increase your chances of obtaining appropriate compensation.
If the cyclist is found to be partially at fault, he or she may still be able to recover damages. 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.
How does this work?
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 is not precluded from pursuing a personal injury lawsuit and recovering damages, even if they are 99 percent at-fault. The limiting factor is ultimately whether they contributed so much to their own injuries that a lawsuit is not worth their time, or is not otherwise sensible.
What Can a 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 lawyer will investigate any potential source of recovery for your injuries, including insurance coverage.
- Negotiate with Insurance Companies: A bicycle accident 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 a Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Lawyer at the Maus Law Firm
If you are a bicyclist who has been injured in the Fort Lauderdale area or elsewhere in Florida, speak with a bicycle accident lawyer at the Maus Law Firm. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today.