Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Attorneys
The Fort Lauderdale area is a relatively dangerous place for bicyclists. If you’re reading this, you probably know that from firsthand experience.
If you or a loved one suffers injuries as a result of a bicycle accident, contact The Levin Firm. Bicycle accidents often cause severe injuries because bicyclists are relatively unprotected compared to occupants of vehicles.
The law allows seriously injured individuals to pursue compensation ordinarily not available under the state’s no-fault insurance. Let the Levin Firm’s bicycle accident lawyers in Fort Lauderdale help you receive a just and fair settlement. Our first consultation is free.
The Dangers of Bicycle Riding in Fort Lauderdale
In one recent year alone, law enforcement registered 715 traffic accidents involving bicycles; 676 of these caused injuries, and 11 were fatal, according to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles statistics. In other words, nearly one death occurs every month in a bicycle accident in the Fort Lauderdale area alone. In fact, nationally, one-third of non-fatal bicycle injuries suffered are head injuries, which are among the most severe types of harm one can undergo.
While bicycles make up just 1 percent of all trips nationwide, bicyclists suffer injuries and death at a far greater rate than motorists do. Bicycles are both smaller and lighter than motor vehicles and offer far less protection to riders than other vehicles do. Car and truck occupants are surrounded by tons of metal and cushioning; bicyclists have only themselves. The law mandates a helmet only for those under 16, although helmets protect all riders.
Vehicle drivers do not register the presence of bicycles in the way that they do other vehicles. They may fail to note the presence of bicyclists in making right-of-way, turning, and other traffic safety decisions.
In fact, a type of accident called “dooring” exists where motorists may open their doors directly into the path of an oncoming bicycle. The motorist may even have checked traffic before opening the door—but failed to notice the bicyclist. Bicyclists who try to brake suddenly due to such incidents (and others) can end up getting thrown over the handlebars or crashing, increasing the risk of serious injury.
In addition to those known dangers, motorists may fail to practice adequate safety around schools or neighborhoods where children ride bicycles.
The issues may constitute a special danger around periods when the changes between Daylight Savings Time and Standard Time occur, because darkness comes earlier. While motorists should exercise even more vigilance watching for bicyclists at these times, they may not.
Potential Injuries From Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accidents
Because of the disparity between bicycles and other vehicles, and because of the unprotected nature of bicycle riding, bicyclists may be especially prone to catastrophic injuries. The term “catastrophic” means that the injury causes an immediate negative impact on the victim’s life. A traumatic brain injury (TBI), for example, can cause convulsions, cognitive disorders, and even a coma. A spinal cord injury (SCI) can leave victims paralyzed for life.
But bicyclists can suffer injuries across the spectrum from minor to extremely severe.
Potential injuries include.
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Amputation of limbs or loss of body parts
- Nerve damage
- Road rash
- Scars and disfigurement
Damage Compensation for Victims of Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accidents
Florida’s system of no-fault insurance does not ordinarily offer the opportunity to pursue damage compensation from an at-fault party. Each injured person must approach their own vehicle insurance company for payment for injuries.
The state mandates that all motorists carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in personal damage liability (PDL) for property damage.
But, the law also provides that seriously injured people can step outside of no-fault and pursue a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident suit in civil court for damage compensation.
To do so, the bicyclists must have suffered:
- Fractured bones
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent limitation of a body organ or member’s use
- A significant limitation of a body function or system’s use
- Substantially full disability for 90 days
Successful Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident claims require demonstrable negligence of another party to have caused or contributed to the accident. What is negligence? It is a breach of the duty of care owed to the public.
Vehicle drivers, for example, owe a duty of care to follow all traffic laws and drive safely and prudently. Thus, if an accident stems from a motorist failing to honor the bicyclist’s right-of-way, the motorist is arguably negligent.
Negligent parties become liable, or financially responsible, for the injuries and other harm directly caused by the negligence.
Of course, drivers are not the only possible negligent parties in an accident. Vehicle and bicycle manufacturers also owe a duty of care. Their manufacturing processes should produce safely designed and manufactured products. If vehicles, bicyclists, or related components exhibit defective make, and the defects cause or contribute to the accident, manufacturers may have violated their duty of care.
Similarly, if a vehicle or bike has recently been maintained or repaired by a business, and the process resulted in an issue that caused an accident, the business may arguably have exhibited negligence. An example is the improper installation of new brakes that fail to work.
Allowable Damage Compensation in Fort Lauderdale
Victims who pursue a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident claim could seek compensation for damages in these categories.
- Medical expenses, both already existing and forecast for the future, for emergency room treatment, ambulance transport, diagnostic tests, hospitalization, surgery, doctor’s visits, prescription medication, assistive devices such as canes or crutches, and so on.
- Wages lost from work for wages not received due to the victim’s inability to work as a result of the accident.
- The lifetime value of earnings if injuries render the victim unable to work in the future.
- Property damage for lost or damaged personal property, such as the bicycle.
- Pain and suffering for physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accidents
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) we receive about bicycle accidents in Fort Lauderdale.
Do I really need a Fort Lauderdale bike accident lawyer?
Victims of all accidents can benefit from having a lawyer, for several reasons—and bicyclists are no exception to this rule.
First, a lawyer can apprise you of your rights. Because Florida is a no-fault state, many seriously injured victims may not even know of the ability to pursue damage compensation in another way. No-fault insurance minimums are very low, considering that a seriously injured individual can incur medical bills that cost millions of dollars.
Second, a lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company of the at-fault party or the at-fault party themselves for the highest possible settlement.
Insurance companies may try to minimize victim claims. It is common for insurance companies to employ a sophisticated set of strategies for this exact purpose, including blaming the victim for the accident, averring that a lesser set of medical treatments are the only ones needed, and lowballing a claim. Lowballing is paying a claim quickly, but for much less than the injuries and harm are truly worth, in the hopes that the victim’s gratitude and relief will cause them not to question the amount.
Insurance companies also use deferral and even denial of claims as a strategy. You might find that your calls and emails go unanswered. That may be an intentional effort to try to get you to go away. While the bureaucracy of denials may sound daunting, an attorney can help counter their arguments.
Lawyers know about these tactics and can effectively counter them. Taking a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident suit to court is one effective strategy, because insurance companies generally try to avoid going to court. Why? Courts are often far more sympathetic to victims than insurance companies are, and thus may be more prone to granting them higher compensation amounts.
Third, lawyers can help compile evidence about the accident. Victims need to know who or what bore responsibility for the accident, because that knowledge can lead to a negligence case.
But victims may not know how the accident actually occurred. Lawyers can work with investigators to determine what happened and can also search out law enforcement crash reports and eyewitnesses to determine what happened.
Fourth, lawyers can help victims assess the impact of the injuries on their lives. Why does this matter? Because damage compensation often depends on it. For example, if you are likely to need medical treatment in the future, lawyers can solicit expert testimony on what, how much, what it will cost, and how it is likely to affect your life. All of that can affect (and heighten) the damage compensation you seek.
How much do your Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident lawyers cost?
Oftentimes, victims hesitate to approach a lawyer because they are worried about the cost. This is especially true when victims are facing mounting medical bills from an accident that may have rendered them unable to work.
Our bicycle injury lawyers at the Levin Firm work on a contingency fee basis. Lawyers take contingency fees out of any eventual settlement or damage compensation award you receive.
In other words, you do not whip out a checkbook to pay an attorney when they start working on your case.
At the Levin Firm, we offer a free initial consultation. This is meant to help answer your questions, but also to find out the nature of the case and whether or not, for example, a negligent party appears to have caused the accident.
Without a lawyer, you may not receive damage compensation or a just settlement. Deciding not to hire an attorney can cost you money.
What should I bring to an initial consultation?
Bring notes and evidence about the accident.
The notes should specify how the accident occurred (if you know), who or what caused it, the injuries or other harm you suffered, and what the effect of the accident has been (bills, lack of work, pain, etc.).
All successful cases depend on evidence. Evidence is needed both for how the accident occurred and what injuries you sustained.
Potential evidence includes:
- The crash report from law enforcement
- Your notes
- Pictures from the scene
- Pictures of your injuries
- Surveillance footage of the accident scene or related incidents
- Eyewitness testimony
- Medical reports, such as doctor’s notes and diagnoses
What if someone dies in a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident?
Most of this discussion has covered injuries. But of course, tragically, some people die in bicycle accidents.
If the deceased could have brought a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident suit had they lived, certain family members may be entitled to bring a type of suit for damages called a wrongful death suit. Wrongful death suits attempt to compensate the family members for damages and harm the accident caused.
The eligible family members are the following relations of the deceased person:
- Any blood relative or adoptive sibling either partly or wholly dependent on the deceased
The estate may also bring suits to recoup specific losses to the estate.
The potential damages of a wrongful death suit include.
- Medical expenses related to the final injury
- Funeral expenses
- Value of support and services from the deceased
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection from the deceased
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering if the deceased was a child
What should I do after a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident?
- Always secure your safety and health after an accident as quickly as you can. Move out of harm’s way.
- Call 911 as quickly as you can, or ask bystanders to call if you do not have a phone with you.
- Exchange contact information with all drivers: your name, email address, and insurance information.
- Talk to law enforcement when they arrive. Get a copy of the crash report (unless an ambulance removes you, in which case you can obtain a copy later).
- Go to an emergency department or your personal physician. Explain that you were involved in a bicycle accident and ask them to check you out for potential injuries.
- Follow all treatment recommendations.
- Keep records.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Attorney Today
The Levin Firm has years of experience in successfully litigating bicycle accidents. We will fight for justice. Contact us or dial (954) 715-3260 today at our local Fort Lauderdale office for a free consultation.
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