Bicycle accidents can cause serious injuries that permanently affect your life. Injured bike riders have the legal right to be compensated by negligent drivers who cause an accident. It is important to protect this right by consulting with a Zephyrhills bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. An injury attorney from Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers will protect your rights and handle all the claims paperwork, so you can focus on making the best recovery possible from your injuries.
There are many reasons why bicyclists can suffer injury in accidents. Here are just a few of the reasons why cyclists might suffer injuries in an accident:
Bicycles are smaller than motor vehicles. They also do not have headlights, and for both these reasons, it is harder to see a bicycle in the roadway. Drivers do have an obligation to look out for cyclists in the roadway. But because bicycles are smaller and darker, it can be more difficult to see them.
This is a particular problem during times of low visibility. Be especially cautious when you are riding your bike at night, during inclement weather, or any other time that visibility is limited. You can make yourself easier to see by wearing a reflective vest or light-colored clothing. You can also use reflective tape or a headlight on your bicycle to make it easier to see, as well.
Drivers are not always expecting bicycles to be in their way. They still must avoid hitting bike riders, but if they are not expecting any bicycles to be nearby, these drivers might not be ready to avoid them. Use caution – especially when you are riding in places where drivers are distracted.
In parking lots and garages, drivers might focus their attention on backing up, and this can make it more difficult for the driver to see and avoid your bike. If you are riding on a sidewalk next to a lane of street parking, drivers can open their doors without seeing you. This is a common source of bicycle injuries. Use your bell to alert drivers to your presence – or even shout, if necessary.
On a bike, it is difficult to navigate changes in the roadway. You can be thrown off your bike when there is a pothole, or loose gravel, or even a small bit of debris on the roadway. Manufacturers design motor vehicles to handle these changes without endangering the passengers inside. Because even small changes in the roadway can throw you from your bike, a rider is more susceptible to injuries. This is just one more reason why drivers must be especially cautious when there are bicycles nearby.
When you are riding in a passenger vehicle, multiple safety systems protect you at all times. Your seatbelt keeps you restrained under the force of a collision. Your airbags will inflate to cushion the force of the blow inside the passenger compartment. Car manufacturers design the frame of the vehicle itself to crumple in specific locations to divert the impact force away from everyone inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
Unfortunately, bicycle riders do not have any of these protections. The crash subjects them to the full force of a collision with a vehicle. They may hit the vehicle, or the roadway, or a tree or building nearby. In any event, their body must absorb the full force of the impact. This is why their injuries tend to be worse than the injuries of vehicle occupants who are involved in the same collision. Often, a bicycle rider has no protection at all, other than a helmet. This is the only thing standing between the brain and the full force of impact. It is vitally important that bicycle riders wear helmets at all times.
All drivers have a legal duty to use reasonable caution when operating their motor vehicles. If they do not, they can be found negligent, and in turn, have a legal obligation to pay for any injuries they cause. Here are some of the most common ways a driver can be found negligent:
Distracted driving has become one of the biggest threats to public safety in America. Cell phones have become the norm – almost every driver has a phone in the car with them at all times. Drivers who text while driving are responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths every year. But it is not just texting and driving that is so dangerous.
Now, many cars come with built-in entertainment systems and navigation programs. These, too, can distract drivers from the road ahead of them. In addition to electronic devices, there are many other distractions in the vehicle. Pets and children might need the driver’s assistance.
Food and drink can also distract the driver, as can conversation with passengers. Drivers have a legal obligation to ensure that they do not allow themselves to be distracted. If they are distracted and cause an accident, it is highly likely they will be found negligent and have to pay for all injuries and damages caused by their distraction.
Despite the well-documented dangers of drunk driving, some intoxicated drivers still choose to get behind the wheel. This is illegal. Evidence of intoxication is strong evidence of negligence, so in addition to the crime, courts will usually find a drunk driver to be financially responsible for a collision in a civil lawsuit, as well.
Alcohol is not the only substance that impairs the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Recreational drugs, prescription medications, and even household substances all affect a person’s judgment. Like other states, Florida’s DUI statutes prohibit driving while impaired by these substances.
Courts can use evidence that a driver is under the influence of any of these substances to prove their negligence. Even if a driver is using prescribed medication as directed, it can impair his or her ability to drive, and they can be found liable for causing a collision.
Our reaction times slow down when we are tired. Our mental processing slows down, and this makes it unsafe to drive when you are tired. Even feeling a little sleepy or drowsy can lead to an accident. It is important to pay attention to your body – especially when driving long distances. Drivers should pull over and rest until they can drive safely once again and, if they do not, they can hit a cyclist. If a court finds a driver caused an accident because they are tired it will likely find them to be negligent. This means that they must pay for the injuries and damages they cause.
You might be wondering whether it is worth it to hire an injury lawyer. Some people do settle their claims on their own, and you do have the right to do so. But there are many important things that a lawyer does to protect your legal rights. There are reasons why injury victims with attorneys consistently receive higher settlements than those who settle their own claims. Here are just a few of the reasons why it is a good idea to hire a bike injury lawyer:
Anything you say – even at the accident scene – can be used against you by the insurance company. Claims adjusters and defense lawyers know how to twist your words. They can make it sound like your story has changed and claim that they do not believe you. But when you have hired a lawyer, the insurance company is no longer allowed to speak to you directly about your case.
All communications must go directly through your attorney’s office. This rule protects you from saying something that can hurt your case. It also shows the insurance company that they cannot get away with underhanded tactics.
It is important to know what not to say, but you must also know what not to do while your case is pending. Your injury lawyer can answer any questions about your medical treatment (such as finding providers who will wait for payment or submitting medical bills to your health insurance company before your injury claim becomes settled). One of the most important things you must not do while your case is pending is sharing any information about the accident on social media.
Insurance company investigators have experience in finding all kinds of information online. Even if you have privacy settings, it is still possible for an investigator to find your posts. It does not have to be directly related to the accident, either. An investigator might say that a workout post shows you aren’t really in “that much” pain. The best practice is to post as little as possible online until your case has reached its resolution.
There are many different types of evidence attorneys will use to prove a personal injury case. The types of evidence that your lawyer will need in your case depend on the issues that the insurance company is challenging. For example: if there is a question of who was at fault, your lawyer may need physical evidence from the accident, such as the damage to the vehicles and skid mark measurements.
Your bike accident attorney might even need to hire an expert accident reconstructionist to determine what exactly happened. In other cases, the insurance company admits fault but claims that your medical bills are too high. In this situation, an attorney might hire a medical expert to testify that your bills were both reasonable and necessary. Experienced injury lawyers know what evidence is persuasive and how to find evidence that meets the issues in any particular case.
If a lawyer does not take action right away, someone can destroy some critical evidence before you can save it for use in your case. This is not always intentional. For example, people routinely erase security footage to make space for more footage. If you do not request the security footage within a day or two, it might be gone forever. Accident lawyers know what evidence might be needed. They also know what actions to take to ensure that evidence does not become lost before they can use it in your case.
To determine what a case is worth, insurance companies often use a simple mathematical formula. Their computer gives them a total settlement offer based on the cost of your medical bills. This is not, of course, a fair assessment of the pain and suffering that you experienced in your unique circumstances. Injury victims who do not have lawyers are often not aware of what their case is really worth. Instead, the victim feels tempted to accept a valuation from an insurance company that is actively working for the other side.
An injury lawyer knows what your case is fairly worth. Attorneys know how the insurance companies have valued similar cases in your area and how a jury is likely to view your case at trial. These are critical data points to consider in determining the fair value of your case.
Insurance companies use many different tactics to pay as little as possible on as few claims as possible. They might try to blame you for the accident, or say that your injuries can’t possibly be “that bad,” or say that your doctors charged too much for your treatment. They might simply make a lowball offer and say that you cannot get any more for your case at trial. They can even send a private investigator to follow you to try to “catch” you not acting injured, and these are just some of the many tactics they use. Injury attorneys know how to deal with all these tricks to ensure that your legal rights are not impaired.
The legal team of Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers is ready to help cyclists after they suffer injuries due to negligent drivers in Zephyrhills. You should never wait to reach out for a free case evaluation, so please contact our Zephyrhills office at (813) 489-6485 today to learn more.
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