Boca Raton Bicycle Accident Attorney
At Barthelette Law, we are a bicycle accident attorney proudly representing bicycle accident victims in Boca Raton and all of South Florida. We have experieance helping injured bicyclists. In fact, to see a discussion of one of our recent cases, where my client, a cyclist and triathlete, was hit by a hit and run driver click here. In this case, we successfully recovered all available bodily injury insurance limits.
Americans are increasingly riding bicycles for exercise, work, and pleasure. Because of our beautiful climate, South Florida provides bicyclists the opportunity to ride year-round. And Boca Raton, in particular, gives bicyclists many scenic options to choose from, including A1A. But given the busyness of our roads and carelessness of drivers, bicycling can be dangerous.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2018 857 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes. Further, in 2017 Florida had the most fatal bicycle accidents in the country.
So while riding your bicycle can be great fun and exercise, it can be dangerous as well.
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, watch the following video for the steps you should take immediately.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and issues concerning bicycle laws, bicycle accidents, and your rights if you are involved in a bicycle accident.
Table of Contents
- What are the most common causes of bicycle accidents?
- Can a bicyclist share the road with drivers?
- Does a bicyclist have to wear a helmet?
- What bicycle laws are there for children?
- What rules do drivers have to follow regarding bicyclists?
- What damages can I recover for my bicycle accident?
- When do most bicycle accidents occur?
- What are some safety steps you can take before you get on your bicycle?
- What are some safety steps you can take while riding your bicycle?
- Do bicyclists have the same rights and duties are drivers?
- What if I wasn’t wearing my helmet during my bicycle accident?
- Does a bicyclist have to use a bicycle lane?
- Can bicyclists ride side-by-side?
- What does sharing the road mean?
- Does my bicycle need to be equipped with headlights and tail lights?
- If my bicycle accident happened on the sidewalk, do I still have a case?
- What should I do if I was involved in a bicycle accident?
- Should I call the police if I was involved in a bicycle accident?
- Is it safe to ride your bicycle outside with the coronavirus?
- What are some examples of common bicycle accident injuries?
- What is the settlement value of my bicycle accident case?
- What if the driver that hit me on my bicycle left the scene of the accident?
- Is my bicycle accident case going to trial?
- What if I want to settle my bicycle accident case?
- Can I handle my bicycle accident case on my own?
- The driver’s insurance company called me – should I speak with them?
- How much does it cost to hire a Boca Raton bicycle accident lawyer?
- I’ve never had a personal injury claim before – what should I expect?
What are the most common causes of bicycle accidents?
While there are many causes of bicycle accidents, common causes include:
- Drivers who fail to look out for bicyclists when entering the road;
- Distracted drivers;
- Dangerous road conditions;
- Hit and run accidents; and,
- Drunk driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), in 2017 over ninety percent of bicycle accidents involved single car crashes. Further, thirty-seven percent of bicycle accidents involved alcohol. These and other statistics from the NHTSA can be found here.
Can a bicyclist share the road with drivers?
Many drivers do not believe bicyclists are allowed on the road. Instead, they believe bicyclists should be on the sidewalk. This is false. Bicyclists have equal rights on the roads. In fact, bicycles are considered to be “vehicles” under Florida law. Because of this, bicyclists must obey traffic laws just like drivers.
Does a bicyclist have to wear a helmet?
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(3)(d), bicyclists 16 years of age and under must wear a helmet that meets the safety standards found in 16 C.F.R. part 1203.
Bicyclists 17 years of age and older do not have to wear a helmet.
What bicycle laws are there for children?
As discussed in the previous question, children 16 years of age and under must wear a proper fitting helmet.
Here are some other bicycle laws that concern children and their safety.
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(3)(a), an adult rider may carry a child in a backpack or sling secure to his or her person.
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(3)(b), a bicycle rider must carry any passenger that is under 4 years old, or weighs 40 pounds or less, in a seat or carrier that is designed for carrying a child and protects the child from the bicycle’s moving parts.
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(3)(c), a bicycle rider cannot leave a child in the children’s seat if the bicycle rider is not in control of the bicycle.
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(4), no person riding a bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle can attach himself or herself to any vehicle on a roadway.
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(8), no parent may allow his or her child or knowingly permit his or her child to violate any of provisions of Florida Statute § 316.2065.
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(13), every bicycle must have brakes that allow its rider to stop the bicycle within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour under normal conditions.
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(15)(a), a person may not knowingly rent or lease a bicycle to be ridden by a child under 16 unless the child has a helmet or that person provides a helmet for the child to wear.
What rules do drivers have to follow regarding bicyclists?
Drivers owe bicyclists the same duty of care they owe to other drivers and pedestrians.
Additionally, when a driver passes a bicyclist, he or she is required to provide at least three feet space between the car and bicyclist. In fact, if a driver fails to pass without providing at least 3 feet of space, he or she could receive a citation.
As we know based on our own observations and experience, drivers often fail to provide 3 feet of space to bicyclists. Drivers should always be careful and cautious and provide at least 3 feet of space as they pass bicyclists.
What damages can I recover from my bicycle accident?
Under Florida law, you can recover damages for your past medical bills and expenses, future medical bills and expenses, past pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, lost wages, and any future lost wages or loss of earning capacity. Your bicycle accident attorney will help you recover all of these potential damages.
Let’s break this down.
First, you can recover those medical bills and expenses you incurred as a result of your bicycle accident. So, for example, if your medical bills totaled $25,000, your damages will include the $25,000 in medical expenses.
Second, you can recover damages for any future medical expenses you will incur. To recover these damages, your doctor must be able to testify that he or she is reasonably certain you will incur the future medical expenses, and must testify as to the dollar amount of that future medical care and treatment. So, for example, if your surgeon testifies that he or she is reasonably certain you will need $50,000 worth of future medical care, then you can argue your damages include $50,000 in future medical expenses.
Third, you can recover for any bodily injury and any resulting pain and suffering – both past and future. This includes disability or physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience, and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life experienced in the past. Importantly, there is no precise standard for determining these damages. Florida’s civil jury instructions state the amount “should be fair and just in light of the evidence.”
Fourth, you can recover your lost wages. For example, if you lost time from work from your bicycle accident, you can ask for those lost wages. As another example, if you lost your job because of your bicycle accident, you can recover those wages you lost while looking for another job. Additionally, if your bicycle accident affected your job such that you can no longer hold it and had to take a different, lesser paying job, you can recover the difference in the wages you would have earned but for the bicycle accident.
When do most bicycle accident deaths occur?
According to the NHTSA, most bicycle accidents deaths occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. in urban areas.
Additionally, men are much more likely to be involved in fatal bicycle accidents.
What are some safety steps you can take before you get on your bicycle?
We have written about this topic before on our blog.
First, wear a proper fitting helmet. Helmets greatly reduce the risk of injury.
Second, check and maintain your bicycle. You should tune up you bicycle at least once a year if you ride infrequently. If you ride often, you should get tune ups more often.
Third, wear bright and reflective clothes. You want drivers to see you.
Fourth, always be alert. Don’t wear any electronic equipment that could potentially distract you, such as headphones.
Fifth, if you can try and ride with a friend (or two!). The more riders, the more likely drivers will see you.
Sixth, take the safest route. Ride bicycle friendly roads with the least amount of traffic.
Seventh, never drink alcohol before you ride. In addition to compromising your ability to ride safety, it is a crime in Florida. You can be charged with driving under the influence on your bicycle.
What are some safety steps you can take while riding your bicycle?
First, drive defensively. Never assume a driver sees a potential problem. Be the first to take action and avoid it. Look out for dangers, debris, or anything that might cause you to lose control of your bicycle.
Second, be alert and don’t do anything that might distract you. For example, don’t wear headphones, text, or do anything that will take your eyes off of the road.
Third, obey all traffic laws. Obey stopping signals, stops signs, yield signs, and all other rules of the road. Bicyclists are legally required to obey all traffic laws.
Fourth, drive in a way that drivers know where you are going. Don’t make any unpredictable movements. Instead, alert drivers when you intend to turn.
Do bicyclists have the same rights and duties are drivers?
Yes. Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(1), bicyclists have the same rights – and duties – as drivers. Drivers should not – and must not – act as if their driving rights are superior.
This means, of course, that bicyclists must obey all traffic rules and regulations: stop signs, traffic signals, and all other traffic rules and devices.
What if I wasn’t wearing my helmet during my bicycle accident?
If you were not wearing your helmet during your bicycle accident, you may be wondering if the negligent driver will argue you were negligent because you did not wear your helmet.
This is similar to not wearing your seatbelt in car accident cases. When you don’t wear your seatbelt, the negligent driver can argue you were comparatively negligent for not wearing your seatbelt.
But this is not the case for helmets. If you were not wearing a helmet, the negligent driver cannot argue you were negligent.
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(18), failing to wear a bicycle helmet or the failure of a parent to prevent a child from riding a bicycle without a helmet cannot be considered evidence of negligence or contributory negligence.
So, the negligent driver cannot argue that you were negligent, or that your injuries are worse, because you did not wear a helmet.
Does a bicyclist have to use a bicycle lane?
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(5)(a), if a bicyclist is operating his or her bicycle at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic, he or she must use the bicycle lane. But if there is no bicycle lane, then the bicyclist should ride as close as practicable to right-hand curb or edge of the road.
But there are three exceptions.
A bicyclist may go onto the road to pass another bicycle or vehicle going in the same direction, a bicyclist may go into the road when preparing for a left turn, and a bicyclist my go onto the road when necessary to avoid any condition or potential conflict, including, but not limited to, a parked car, pedestrian, or a surface hazard.
Can bicyclists ride side-by-side?
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(6), bicyclists may not ride more than two abreast excepts on paths or parts of roads that are set aside for bicyclists. Bicyclists riding two abreast cannot impede traffic when travelling less than the normal speed of traffic.
What does sharing the road mean?
As eloquently stated by the Florida Bicycle Association, our “roads are a cooperative system.”
The Florida Bicycle Association notes that Share the Road signs suggest the likelihood of bicyclists on the road and where the road is not wide enough for cars and bicycles to operate safely in one lane. Additionally, “[t]he bicycle driver, or group of cyclists, has the right of ‘first come, first served’ and the full use of lane. Motorists wishing to pass, must yield and wait until it is safe to do so.”
Bottom line: drivers must recognize they are legally required to share the road with bicyclists.
Does my bicycle need to be equipped with headlights and tail lights?
If you plan to ride your bicycle when it’s dark outside, your bicycle does need to be equipped with front and rear lights.
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(7), bicyclists riding between sunset and sunrise must have bicycles equipped with a front lamp exhibiting a white light visible from at least 500 feet, and a lamp and reflector on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from at least 600 feet.
Also, a rider may have additional lights or reflectors.
If my bicycle accident happened on the sidewalk, do I still have a case?
Yes, if your bicycle accident happened on the sidewalk, you still have a valid bicycle accident case.
Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(9), bicyclists using the sidewalk or crosswalk have all the rights and duties as a pedestrian. This means if a car hits you while you are riding your bicycle on a sidewalk or crosswalk, you still have a bicycle accident case. You were within your rights as a bicyclist to be on the sidewalk or crosswalk.
You have to remember though, that pedestrians have the right of way on the sidewalk and crosswalk. Under Florida Statute § 316.2065(10), bicyclists using the sidewalk or crosswalk must give pedestrians the right of way and must give an audible signal before overtaking and passing the pedestrian.
So remember, if you are riding your bicycle on the sidewalk, make sure to give pedestrians the right of way and give a verbal signal before passing the pedestrian.
What should I do if I was involved in a bicycle accident?
If you are involved in a bicycle accident, first seek medical attention. In most bicycle accidents, the bicyclist – and not the driver – is injured. While you may not believe you sustained any injuries, it is best to seek medical care to confirm you are healthy. For example, certain injuries do not often manifest themselves right away. Two examples include soft tissue injuries and concussions.
Then, call the police. The police will come to the scene and investigate the bicycle accident. The police will interview witnesses, look for evidence of damage to the vehicles, and see if there is physical evidence on the scene (for example, skid marks). The police may then issue a citation if they believe someone violated traffic laws.
Next, make sure to document all details concerning your bicycle accident. If you can, write down the names and contact information of all parties and witnesses to your bicycle accident. Additionally, take photographs of the damage, especially to your bicycle and the vehicles. Often times, parties will repair the damage to their vehicles shortly after an accident. This means that if you don’t take photographs showing the damage right after an accident, you may not be able to get these photographs later.
Additionally, do not throw away your bicycle or any of its parts or accessories. Your bicycle, and all of its parts and accessories, are evidence in the case and may help establish that the other party was responsible for the bicycle accident.
Finally, seek help from an experienced personal injury bicycle accident attorney.
Should I call the police if I was involved in a bicycle accident?
Yes, you should call the police if you were involved in a bicycle accident.
When the police arrive at the scene, they will create an accident report which confirms the date, time, and other details of the bicycle accident.
The officer’s report will confirm the bicycle accident occurred, and whether the parties sustained any injuries.
What’s especially important is that the officer’s accident report acknowledges there was an accident.
After an accident, a negligent driver may try to convince you not to call the police and that he or she will pay for your medical bills. One of the problems with this is if the police don’t come, the negligent driver may later claim that you were not injured or that the bicycle accident was minor. Or even worse, the negligent driver may say you are exaggerating the bicycle accident.
So if you are involved in a bicycle accident, call the police immediately.
Is it safe to ride your bicycle outside with the coronavirus?
In an excellent article in Bicycling by Jordan Smith, Ms. Smith explains the various safety issues bicyclists face during the coronavirus. Here entire article can be found here.
Bottom line, cycling alone or in very small groups, when you are all healthy, is perfectly safe. Ride with trusted friends, ride in open and uncrowded areas, and ride during non-peak busy hours.
What are some examples of common bicycle accident injuries?
Because cars and other vehicles are substantially larger and heavier than bicycles, bicyclists can sustain very serious injuries. Some common bicycle accident injuries include:
- Bruising and contusions;
- Broken bones;
- Facial injuries;
- Brain damage (and traumatic brain injuries);
- Organ damage;
- Low back injury;
- Disc herniation;
- Dislocations; and,
Of course, each bicycle accident case is different and may involve different injuries.
What is the settlement value of my bicycle accident case?
For a full, in-depth discussion on this issue, check out my blog post here.
At the outset, I have to note that the settlement value of your bicycle accident case cannot be determined right away. This is because it takes time to determine the extent of your injuries and damages. In most bicycle accident cases, it takes many months (and even longer) before you fully recover. Additionally, even after you begin to recover, you still may need additional medical care and treatment, including future surgeries.
To determine the settlement value of your bicycle accident case, you first have to consider the liability of the parties. Was the driver who hit you clearly at fault? Were you partially or fully to blame for your bicycle accident? For example, did you ride through a stop sign? Liability issues affect the settlement value of your bicycle accident case. If the driver who hit you was clearly at fault, generally the settlement value of your bicycle accident increases.
Next, you have to consider the extent of your injuries. Were your injuries minor – just scrapes and bruising? Or were they serious, requiring surgery and hospitalization? If your injuries were serious, this typically means your medical bills will be higher, which in turn means the settlement value of your bicycle accident case will be higher.
Then, you have to consider whether you will need future medical care. In some cases, your medical care and treatment does not end within a few months of the bicycle accident. Instead, you may need future therapies, and even surgeries. In order to prove that you will need future medical care and treatment, you will need your doctor or other medical provider to establish what treatment you will need, as well as the cost of that treatment.
Further, you must consider whether your work was affected by your bicycle accident. Did you miss time from work? Did you lose your job because of your bicycle accident?
Did you now have a different job because your injuries prevent you from doing your old job? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you can ask for these lost wages as part of your damages.
Additionally, did your bicycle accident affect you emotionally? If so, you are entitled to recover damages for your past and future pain and suffering. There is no exact formula to use for this factor; it depends on the facts and circumstances of your bicycle accident case. Generally, the more serious your injuries the larger your damages for pain and suffering will be.
Finally, you have to consider what insurance is available to cover your losses. Unfortunately, in Florida studies have shown that approximately 25% of drivers on the road do not carry insurance. This is a scary statistic. If the driver that hits you does not have car insurance, your chances of making any type of financial recovery are quite small.
If you want to discuss this issue in depth with me, call Barthelette Law, your bicycle accident attorney.
What if the driver that hit me on my bicycle left the scene of the accident?
Unfortunately, hit and run accidents happen far too often in Florida. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 1 out of every 4 car accidents involves a hit and run driver.
How do you identify hit and run drivers? For a full discussion, check out my blog post on this topic. In short, we conduct a thorough investigation of the accident and interview potential witnesses. While we cannot guarantee we will find the hit and run driver, we do no give up until we have exhausted every possible source of information.
Recently, I represented a triathlete who was involved in an accident with a car that left the scene. My client remembered very little other than the vehicle was a white sedan. Thankfully, the bicycle hit and run accident occurred right next to a motel. We suspected the driver might have been a paying guest at the motel, but we were not certain. Not surprisingly, the motel ignored us. So, we filed a lawsuit against the motel (using a rule of Florida procedure called a pure bill of discovery) to discover the identity of the hit and run driver. After the motel received our lawsuit, they provided us the name of the driver. We were then able to locate and contact the hit and run driver. After all was said and done, we achieved a favorable result for our client – we obtained available insurance policy limits.
So just because the driver that hit you on your bicycle left the scene, don’t give up hope. With work and persistence, we may be able to find the hit and run driver. We will be your aggressive bicycle accident attorney.
Is my bicycle accident case going to trial?
Your bicycle accident case may go to trial.
Generally, the vast majority of civil cases settle before trial. However, you have to prepare your case as if its going to trial. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, your bicycle accident case may go trial. If it does, you want to be fully prepared and ready to present your best possible case. Second, when you prepare your case for trial, you are collecting all evidence that will help your case. By doing this, you are showing the other side all the favorable evidence for your case, which will help increase the chances your case settles favorably.
So, regardless of whether your case goes to trial, you and your bicycle accident attorney have to have the mindset and approach that your case is going to trial.
What if I want to settle my bicycle accident case?
You, as the client, have control over settlement – not your lawyer. If you want to settle your bicycle accident case, you are well within your rights to do so.
The role of a bicycle accident attorney is help you make an informed decision. When an opposing party makes a settlement offer, your personal injury lawyer will help you evaluate the settlement offer and decide whether it is reasonable and includes all of your potential damages.
But ultimately, you as the client have control over whether to settle your bicycle accident case.
Can I handle my bicycle accident case on my own?
Yes, you can handle your bicycle accident case on your own, but I would advise against it.
There are many reasons why you should have a bicycle accident lawyer handle your bicycle accident case.
First, you will get more money. In an interesting study by Martindale Nolo Research, it was found that personal injury lawyers get clients three times more money than when clients represent themselves. This is a significant difference.
Second, your bicycle accident lawyer knows the law, the rules of evidence, and other rules which impact your bicycle accident case. Knowing the law and rules of evidence – and using them to your advantage – will increase the value of your case.
Third, you only get one chance to resolve your bicycle accident claim. Once it is settled, you cannot reopen your bicycle accident claim.
Fourth, you should not handle such an important issue by yourself. Your personal injury lawyer will be a source of guidance, comfort, and will help relieve the uncertainty around the personal injury process.
The driver’s insurance company called me – should I speak with them?
No, you should not speak with the driver’s insurance company.
Many accident victims believe they are required to speak with the other party’s insurance company. This is not true. While you do have an obligation to speak and cooperate with your own insurance company, you are under no obligation to speak with the opposing party’s insurance company.
While an insurance company representative’s questions may seem harmless, what the insurance company is trying to do is get as much information about your bicycle accident and injuries so it can begin building its defenses against your bicycle accident case. Indeed, insurance companies will vigorously protect their interests.
If an insurance company representative happens to catch you on the phone, politely tell them you are not speaking with them. And if you happen to have a bicycle accident attorney representing you, tell the insurance company representative to call your bicycle accident attorney.
How much does it cost to hire a Boca Raton bicycle accident lawyer?
It costs nothing to hire a Boca Raton bicycle accident attorney. That is because as a personal injury lawyer, we work on a contingency basis. This means we take a percentage of your settlement – usually 33% or 40%.
I’ve never had a personal injury claim before – what should I expect?
At Barthelette Law, one of our roles is to be a teacher. That is, we will educate you about the personal injury process.
At each phase, we will let you know exactly what to expect and what will happen next. We will also answer your questions and concerns.
Call Today To Get Help From A Boca Raton Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one are involved in a bicycle accident, call Barthelette Law today to schedule a free consultation. We are your Boca Raton bicycle accident attorney.