Frequently Asked Questions:
Florida Bicycle Accidents
I was seriously injured when a car failed to stop at a stop sign and ran into me on my bicycle. The car left the scene. I need surgery on my knee and and may need surgery on my ankle, too. Who will pay for my medical expenses and for my pain and suffering?
A: When a car causes an accident and leaves the scene, it is generally referred to as a “phantom vehicle.” In your situation, where you’ve been injured in a collision with a motor vehicle, and do not know the identity of the driver of the car or their insurance company, you must look to your own insurance company for help.
The No-Fault coverage on your auto policy, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), will pay up to its limit (typically $10,000) for your medical bills and lost wages, as required by law. For your Bodily Injury claim (pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life) you would look to the uninsured motorist coverage on your policy. If you have this valuable coverage, it will pay up to the coverage limit depending on how seriously you are injured. —a very good reason to carry uninsured motorist coverage— and one I often stress to my clients. Check your policy today and make sure you have it. For all you need to know about protecting yourself from uninsured drivers and irresponsible drivers in Florida, request a copy of my FREE consumer guide, Buying Car Insurance.
I was injured while riding my bike by a car exiting a parking lot. The collision damaged my bicycle frame which costs more than $1000. What should I do in order to be reimbursed for this loss?
A: I recommend if your bicycle is hit by a car, you should always take it to an approved bicycle mechanic to verify its condition. Many modern bicycles are made of materials which are not easily repaired and might even become dangerous if they’ve been damaged. Once you have established that your bicycle needs to be repaired or replaced, you should make a claim against the property damage coverage of the driver responsible for the accident.
People who are injured in a Florida bicycle accident may end up dealing with three separate adjusters:
*The PIP/No-Fault adjuster of their own auto insurance company for their medical bills,
*The property damage adjuster for the At-Fault party responsible for the accident, and
*The Bodily Injury adjuster for the At-Fault party’s insurance company for their bodily injury and pain and suffering.
A: When you get behind the wheel of an automobile you are piloting a potentially deadly weapon. Therefore, you must yield the right of way to pedestrians and bicyclists in almost any situation. If you were involved in a pedestrian accident, you likely would be eligible for reparations for expenses related to the accident.
There are specifications to the right of way law, which your pedestrian accident lawyer can explain to you. Generally, if you were crossing the road at either a marked or unmarked crosswalk you had the right of way. A marked crosswalk is denoted by either signs or painted lines on the pavement.
An unmarked crosswalk is harder to define, which is why your lawyer becomes so useful. It can be considered the space between the road and the sidewalk and also the space at the meeting of intersecting roads. Not all intersections have walk signals and this is where the unmarked crosswalk comes into play.
In terms of stopping for a marked crosswalk, drivers must yield the right of way in almost every situation. They must yield the right of way to:
- pedestrians already in the crosswalk who are on the same side of the roadway as their vehicle;
- pedestrians in the crosswalk on the opposite side of the roadway who are close enough to their side to face possible danger; and
- pedestrians who are about to step into the crosswalk.
In summary, if you adhered to pedestrian and cyclist rules but still were injured by a driver who failed to yield the right of way, you have a right to compensation for bodily and property damages. Recovering from your injuries after a Clearwater pedestrian accident should be your main priority, not dealing with insurance adjusters and complicated legal paperwork.
If I was in a bicycle accident in Florida but the car never actually hit me (I was injured taking evasive action), do I still have a case?
A: You may be able to recover damages after a Florida bicycle accident even if the motorist didn’t hit you. There does not have to be physical contact between the bicyclist and the motor vehicle for the driver to be held liable.
There are several situations in which a bicyclist may need to take evasive action to avoid a collision with a car, truck or other motor vehicle, and as a result, the bicyclist could still fall or crash and suffer injuries. In such instances, the driver could be held accountable if their negligence caused the bicyclist to take evasive action and crash.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries after taking evasive action to avoid a bicycle crash with a motorist in the Clearwater area, you might be able to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for:
- medical bills;
- lost wages;
- lost earning capacity;
- pain and suffering;
- disfigurement; and/or
- emotional distress.
Bicyclists might be forced to take evasive action when a driver does any of the following:
- runs red lights;
- drives recklessly;
- drives while drunk; and/or
- drives while distracted.
Because there can be many details involved in a Florida bicycle accident, it would be beneficial for you to seek the experience of a Clearwater bicycle injury attorney as soon after the accident as possible to preserve your legal rights.
I was riding my bicycle on the Pinellas Trail and was hit by a car which failed to stop at an intersection with the Trail. What insurance is available?
A: If you own your own car, the No-Fault benefits of your policy will pay the first $10,000 of your medical bills. If you do not own a car, the No-Fault benefits of the car which hit you would pay those benefits. Compensation for your injury would be made by the Bodily Injury (BI) coverage of the at-fault venicle. If that vehicle had no BI coverage, or the coverage was not sufficient to pay your damages, any Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM) on your auto policy would be available, as well. This is a good reason to make sure you have as much UM coverage as you can afford.
A: As the name implies, Florida no fault law pays for pedestrian accident claims regardless of who was at fault.
In a pedestrian accident claim, Florida no fault law means that your own insurance will pay for certain percentages of:
- medical bills;
- disability benefits;
- household services;
- transportation; and
- death benefits (if applicable).
Florida is one of 12 states that implement a no fault system. It was designed to help bring down insurance premiums by preventing frivolous lawsuits. Understanding Florida no fault law and how it applies to bicycle accidents will be helpful for anyone pursuing a Florida personal injury claim.
In Florida, all motor vehicle drivers are required to carry no fault insurance coverage. In the event of a pedestrian accident involving injuries, the insurance companies pay for their respective client’s damages.
If you were injured in a pedestrian accident, you need to report your accident to the insurance company that will be covering you. If you (or a relative who lives with you) are the driver of a motor vehicle registered in Florida, you have no fault coverage and your policy will cover you, even if you were not in your vehicle at the time of the accident.
If you are not the driver of a motor vehicle registered in Florida, then you will be covered by the insurance of the driver who injured you. However, you may need to fill out certain applications and agree to a recorded statement. It is best to seek the advice of a Clearwater pedestrian lawyer at this time to make sure you are not being taken advantage of by the insurance company.
In Florida, is a motorist always liable for injuries to a pedestrian/bicyclist or can I be held liable?
A: In Florida, a motorist may not be held liable for injuries to a pedestrian or bicyclist if that pedestrian or bicyclist broke the rules of the road, thus resulting in a motor vehicle accident.
For example, if a bicyclist is operating a bike under the influence of alcohol and causes an accident that results in injuries to him or herself, the motorist would not be held liable for their injuries.
Pedestrians can also be held liable for causing a pedestrian accident. For example, if a pedestrian runs into the middle of the road and is not using a crosswalk, the liability in an accident would most likely lie with the pedestrian, not the motorist. However, a motorist should make every effort to stop to avoid striking a pedestrian.
If you have been injured in a Clearwater pedestrian accident due to the negligence of a motorist, you should speak with a Florida accident lawyer. Your lawyer can help prove liability in a pedestrian accident case, which is critical when trying to build a successful injury claim. Compensation to which you may be entitled in a pedestrian accident case includes past and future medical treatments, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
A: The victim’s personal representative can file a Florida wrongful death claim after a fatal pedestrian or bicycle accident. In most cases, the personal representative falls into one of these categories:
- the decedent’s spouse;
- the decedent’s children;
- the decedent’s parents;
- the executor of a decedent’s estate; and/or
- other relatives or individuals named in the decedent’s will.
If none of these people are able to act as a personal representative, a judge may appoint a personal representative to advocate for the decedent’s rights in a wrongful death trial.
Statute of Limitations
Anyone who is dealing with the loss of a loved one is very likely overwhelmed by powerful emotions as well as funeral planning and other responsibilities. Unfortunately, the decision about whether to file a Florida wrongful death claim cannot be delayed indefinitely.
Florida law requires that in the event of a fatal bicycle or pedestrian accident, the decedent’s personal representative has 2 years from the date of the victim’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible. This is known as the statute of limitations.
If the statute of limitations expires, the personal representative will not be able to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one; so it is important to retain a Clearwater wrongful death lawyer well before the statute of limitations expires.
Damages in a Florida Wrongful Death Claim
In a Florida wrongful death claim, the victim’s family is eligible to receive several types of compensation, including:
- burial and funeral expenses;
- hospitalization and other medical costs prior to death;
- lost wages or salary which the victim would have earned had the accident not occurred;
- mental anguish; and
- pain and suffering.
If you wish to file a Florida wrongful death claim as a result of a fatal pedestrian or bike accident, you should contact a Clearwater wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Before accepting a settlement offer, contact the Law Offices of James. W. Dodson to schedule a no cost consultation at 1-888-340-0840.
Lately, there have been a number of hit and run accidents in the news involving bicyclists and pedestrians who were seriously hurt or, tragically killed. In cases where the driver flees and is not identified, is there insurance to pay the losses to the injured or to the loved ones of the deceased? What compensation would be possible beyond the PIP?
A: This is a great question because these tragic accidents should be used by all of us to look at our own insurance coverage and make sure we have what we need.
If the pedestrian or cyclist owns a car insured with PIP/No Fault, or if they lived with certain family members who own an insured vehicle, the no-fault benefits would apply to them. That means $10,000 in medical expenses/lost wage benefits/attendant care, as well as other benefits would cover them. PIP also pays a $5000 death benefit to help families with funeral expenses.
This is where the need for Uninsured Motorist becomes clear. This valuable insurance pays for any loss or injury suffered by the injured, or the survivors of the deceased, for the loss of their loved one. In many ways it is the most important coverage we can carry. It protects us from the hit and run driver, as well as from drivers who carry no insurance or too little of it. Keep in mind, the vast majority of drivers in Florida do not have insurance or they have too little of it. Make sure you look at your policy and buy the most UM you can afford. I recommend $1 million.
A: Bicycle riders have to yield to pedestrians in the state of Florida. This is because pedestrians are much more vulnerable to injury than drivers and bicyclists in the event of a collision.
Vehicle drivers must yield and give right of way to pedestrians, and so must bicyclists. This is true whether the bicycle is riding on a sidewalk or road.
In Florida, pedestrians always have the right of way. Therefore, a bicyclist must give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian. If a bicyclist hits a pedestrian, he may be held responsible for any injuries sustained.
An accident involving a pedestrian or bicyclist can have devastating consequences. Most such accidents are the result of bicyclists being inattentive or negligent. However, pedestrians must also act responsibly and can be held liable or partially liable for an accident with a bicyclist if their own actions contributed to or caused the collision to take place.
A: If you have recently been injured in a bicycle accident and the insurance company has offered you a quick settlement, then NO, you should not accept their settlement offer right away. This is because oftentimes, an insurance company will offer you less money than you deserve. And if you have recently been in a damaging accident, you may not be in any state to make a financial decision.
After sustaining injury in a bicycle accident, you may be eligible to seek damages for:
- your medical expenses;
- any physical pain that you have suffered;
- any emotional pain that you have suffered;
- any permanent disability; and
- any past, present or future wages that you may have lost.
If the insurance company underestimates the value of your claim, your Clearwater bicycle accident attorney can negotiate with the insurer. If these negotiations fail, you may choose to pursue damages in a formal court of law. If a lawsuit is necessary, your attorney can represent your legal interests, so you can focus on recovery.
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