As a suburb of the bustling Tampa metropolitan area, Zephyrhills is ideal for bike rides. Its beautiful trees and year-round warm temperatures have residents and visitors alike riding their bikes.
However, bicycle accidents can still happen here, just as they do in larger cities. Whether you are bicycling for exercise, pleasure, or getting to a destination, all it takes is one careless driver to change your life forever.
Accident victims can hire a Zephyrhills bicycle accident lawyer from Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers to help them obtain the compensation they deserve.
How Do Bicycle Accidents Occur?
Many scenarios can lead to a bicycle accident.
Unfortunately, even the safest and most conscientious Zephyrhills riders are at risk of becoming injured victims under these circumstances:
- A vehicle makes a right turn or enters a roadway, cutting off the bicyclist
- A driver fails to yield at stop signs or stop at a red light
- While trying to go around a parked car in the bike lane, a vehicle rear-ends a bicyclist
- The driver does something unexpected or dangerous, such as a sudden lane change
- A vehicle’s driver or passenger opens the door in the cyclist’s path
Not all bicycle accidents are the fault of another driver. Sometimes other parties can be at fault, such as the municipality responsible for maintaining roadways, another cyclist, a dog owner, or the bicycle’s manufacturer.
Such is the case in the following accident scenarios:
- Poorly maintained roads causing a bicyclist to fall
- A bicyclist hits an object, such as debris on the roadway, or a tree
- A collision occurs between two bicyclists or a bicyclist and a pedestrian
- An animal attacks or jumps up on the bicyclist, causing them to fall
- A damaged, defective, or inadequately repaired bicycle
Bicycle accidents are often complex. It can be challenging to determine precisely how an accident occurred and who is liable. Insurance companies are quick to blame bicyclists, which means they won’t receive the compensation they are entitled to. However, when you hire an experienced Zephyrhills bicycle accident attorney, they can thoroughly investigate your accident and stand up to the insurance company on your behalf.
Why Drivers Hit Bicyclists
Almost no one sets out in their vehicle to get into an accident, the least of these being an accident with a cyclist. Yet, these accidents happen anyway. When a vehicle hits a bicycle, it is often due to the driver’s negligent behaviors.
#1. Distracted Driving
Bikes are less likely to be seen than other vehicles on the road due to their smaller size. If their cell phone, sound system, food, or passengers distract drivers, they are even less likely to see the bicyclists they should be sharing the road with.
#2. Following Too Closely
Drivers should keep at least three feet between their vehicle and a bicyclist. Anything less than three feet puts the bike rider in extreme danger. Drivers are more likely to hit them, and both the driver and cyclists have fewer options to avoid other accidents.
Speeding gives a driver less time to react if a dangerous situation arises. It also increases the severity of the damages and injuries that result from an accident. This is especially true with bicyclists since they have very little protection against the bigger vehicles on the road. At high speeds, bicycle accident victims are likely to suffer fatal or catastrophic injuries. Even at lower speeds, serious injuries such as broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and head injuries can occur.
#4. Weaving Through Traffic
Weaving through traffic causes drivers to be less likely to notice the cyclists who might be on the road. Drivers are also less likely to make quick and evasive moves to avoid a crash. In addition, weaving drivers frequently drift outside of marked traffic lanes and into bike lanes or shoulders.
#5. Making Risky Lane Changes
Drivers don’t have to weave in traffic to be dangerous. Making one unsafe lane change is still extremely dangerous. Drivers cause bicycle crashes by merging into bicycle lanes without looking first to ensure that no one is already in the lane.
#6. Failure to Look Before Turning
Intersection design is often in a way that gives drivers the green light to turn while they still have to keep an eye out for cyclists and pedestrians. Failing to look before making a turn, even at a green light, can have disastrous results. Sadly, these types of accidents are easily preventable.
#7. Failure to Yield
Failure to yield is careless or reckless driving that significantly increases risks on the road for bicycle riders. Drivers are obligated to yield to oncoming traffic, which includes bicycle traffic in many situations. For example, the law requires them to yield in intersections with turn lanes and roundabouts. Whether drivers deliberately fail to yield or do it by mistake, the outcome can be the same.
#8. Impaired Driving
Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol present a danger to themselves and everyone else using the road. Alcohol and drugs can significantly decrease a drivers’ ability to make wise driving decisions and avoid collisions. Often, bicycle accidents arise from someone driving while impaired.
#9. Fatigued or Drowsy Driving
Studies reveal that the risks of driving while fatigued can be as dangerous as the risks of driving while impaired. Drivers commuting early or late in the day or those trying to get back home after a long day at work are often drowsy. Their drowsiness can substantially increase the risk of serious accidents.
Bicycle Accident Negligence
Negligence is a factor in many cycling accidents. In general, if someone is negligent, they didn’t do what a reasonable person would do in the same situation.
Traffic laws can help support a negligence claim in bicycle crashes. For example, a reasonable person wouldn’t disobey the law by texting and driving or refusing to yield to a cyclist.
In a successful negligence claim, a Zephyrhills bicycle accident lawyer will work to prove each of these elements of negligence:
- Another party owed the cyclists a duty of care
- That party breached their duty of care
- As a result, the bicyclist suffered injuries
- The bicyclist’s damages are a direct result of their injuries
When you initially meet with a skilled Zephyrhills bicycle accident attorney, they will review the circumstances of your claim to determine if they can establish these points.
When Should You Contact a Zephyrhills Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
It’s best to contact a knowledgeable Zephyrhills bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident occurs. You should always seek medical care first and ensure you are medically stable before reaching out for legal help.
The Florida Statute of Limitations
Florida law, known as the statute of limitations, provides bicycle accident victims four years from the date of their injury to file a legal case. If they fail to take action in this timeframe, they can’t use the legal system to pursue compensation. Some situations can increase or decrease the statute of limitations in your case. Reaching out to a Zephyrhills bicycle accident lawyer sooner rather than later can ensure that they file your case before the deadline.
Evidence is essential in proving your injury claim. The sooner evidence in your case, such as your bike, bike helmet, and the condition of the accident scene, can be collected or photographed and preserved, the better. When you hire a Zephyrhills bicycle accident attorney, they will get to work collecting the valuable evidence in your claim. If you wait too long to talk to an attorney, the evidence can be lost or changed.
Protection From Insurance Companies
Dealing with the driver or other party’s insurance company on your own isn’t generally in your best interest. Insurance adjusters often try to get you to settle quickly for much less than you deserve for your injuries. They are skilled in using what you say against you to harm your claim, and they often discourage claimants from getting legal help. With a Zephyrhills bicycle accident lawyer on your side, you won’t need to speak directly to the insurance adjuster. Your attorney will deal with them for you, protecting you from any of their tactics to belittle your claim.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
Even the most careful bicyclist with the safest bike and state-of-the-art safety gear is no match for a much larger motor vehicle. Bicyclists lack the safety features afforded to vehicle drivers and passengers and are at a greater risk of severe injury in a crash.
Injuries sustained in a bicycle accident can range from bruises and road rash to internal bleeding and traumatic brain injuries. Sadly, such injuries can keep victims from living their normal lives, performing their jobs, and enjoying activities they once loved.
Common bicycle accident injuries include:
- Head injuries such as skull fractures, concussions, brain contusions, intracranial hemorrhages, or other types of traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Facial and eye injuries including bruises, facial and dental fractures, foreign bodies in the eye, loss of teeth
- Musculoskeletal injuries like whiplash, dislocations, strains, sprains, and fractures
- Nervous system injuries, including severed nerves and even spinal cord injuries (SCI) which can be disabling or fatal
- Chest injuries, such as broken ribs and a parenchymal lung injury
- Abdominal injuries, including a ruptured spleen, liver lacerations, kidney contusions, pancreatic trauma, small or large bowel contusions, vascular perforation, ruptures, traumatic hernias, and internal bleeding
- Skin and soft tissue injuries like abrasions, frequently called “road rash,” cuts, and bruises
While bicyclists can take steps to decrease the chances of an accident and protect themselves if an accident occurs, they are still quite vulnerable. If another party causes the crash, they will be legally responsible for their medical bills and their pain and suffering.
Where Do Bicycle Accidents Occur?
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), bicyclist fatalities happened more frequently in urban areas (78 percent) than rural areas (22 percent) in 2019.
More specifically, these accidents commonly occur at:
- Federal, state, and county roads
- Four-way stops
- Parking lots
- Shared lanes
- Straight stretches of road
Compensable Damages in Bike Crashes
Damages are expressed in monetary form but represent both your economic and non-economic losses and inconveniences due to the bike crash.
Your economic damages might include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current and future lost wages and income
- Property damage
- Travel expenses to and from medical appointments
You can also claim:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Victims can receive damages through a negotiated pre-trial settlement or by order of the judge or jury in court. The court can also award another type of damages, known as punitive damages. These are reserved for cases in which the at-fault party intentionally acted incredibly reckless or careless regarding the safety of others.
For instance, if a drunk driver caused hit you, causing your bike accident, they may be required to pay punitive damages. These damages compensate you for your losses but rather to punish and deter the other party’s behavior. You can ask your Zephyrhills bicycle accident attorney if punitive damages might apply in your case.
Were You Injured in a Bicycle Accident? A Seasoned Zephyrhills Bicycle Accident Lawyer Can Help
Riding your bike, especially in a dangerous location, can increase your risk of an accident and injuries. However, you still have the right to expect vehicle drivers to recognize your right to share the road and drive cautiously. Unfortunately, sometimes these expectations aren’t reality. Suppose a driver or another party caused your cycling accident. In that case, the seasoned Zephyrhills bicycle accident lawyers at Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers are here for you.
We perform comprehensive investigations to determine how the crash occurred and who is liable for your injuries. Then we hold the appropriate parties accountable for their actions, ensuring that your claim includes all of your damages. While the majority of bicyclist claims settle out of court, our attorneys have the experience and confidence to go to court if it becomes necessary to get you the compensation you deserve.