Florida Bicycle Accident Lawyers
With the increasing awareness on global warming, riding a bicycle has been the preferred means of transportation for many Americans. However, along with this trend is the rise of bicycle accident fatalities. Florida bicycle accident rate is considered the highest in the country, making this sunshiny place the most unsafe state to ride a bike. If you are a bicyclist living or touring Florida, here are the things that you should know about the state’s cycling environment.
Florida Bicycle Law
In Florida, bicyclists should obey traffic laws similar to the ones observed by drivers of other vehicle types. These laws include following traffic lights, no u-turn signs, and one-way rules. Bicyclists are allowed and encouraged to use flashing lights at night so other drivers can see them. With the emergence of LED lights, it is now easy for bicyclists to buy and maintain lights for their bicycle. There are specific bike lanes on major roads. However, bicyclists are still not safe from vehicles that occasionally invade their lane. Laws on bicycle lanes are not clear and properly implemented. This is why bicyclists and drivers of other vehicles should be extra careful and respectful on the road.
Florida Accident Statistics
According to reports, in comparison with car riders, more bicyclists die on the road. This is despite the fact that bicyclists compose only one percent of all the road travelers in the United States. Florida’s bicycle death rate is 0.57 per 100,000 people. This is almost double of the nationwide rate 0.23 per 100,000
In 2011, almost 150 bicyclist fatalities have been reported in Florida. The majority of these fatalities were caused by bike-car collisions. There are many reasons for bike-car collisions. Most of the time, the car’s driver has not been able to see the bicyclist especially at night or in intersections. Other causes might be a lack of proper bicycle lights, texting while driving, the influence of alcohol, and swerving.
Solutions to High Florida Bicycle Accident Rate
Almost 25 million citizens and tourist bike around Florida each year. This is why the government has increased its effort to promote bicycle riding safety. March has been declared by the governor as “Bike Month” and many counties have improved its laws on bicycle use and safety.
Florida has developed a solution for the increase in bicycle accident fatalities in the state: the 2013 Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Safety Plan. This 45-page plan has been issued by the Department of Transportation and the University of South Florida. In summary, the plan states that the solution would be based on three E’s: engineering, education, and enforcement.
Director Pei-Sung Lin of the USF center stated that in an engineering perspective, some roads in Florida should face changes. He said that the initial creation of these roads has not considered the safety of bicyclists. Lin proposed to widen bike lanes and be strict on not allowing other vehicles to invade the lane. The Department of Transportation has heeded Lin’s advice and made bike lanes wider on main roads.
Today, bike lanes around Florida are extended from three feet to four while care lanes are reduced from twelve feet to eleven. Of course, the long-range engineering solution is still to adapt the creation of roads for the safety of both bicycle and car riders. However, there are many limits on what can be done to change the state’s infrastructures.
According to Lin, grassroots education is the most important key to bicyclist safety. He said that road safety is everyone’s responsibility so bicyclists and the car riders should both be educated.
Pamphlets have been given away to increase awareness of bicyclist safety. These pamphlets contain reminders on following traffic rules, staying in the right lane, and not texting while driving. According to officials, most car drivers have not been used to many bicyclists on the road. Some of them even curse or honk at the cyclists. This is why an awareness campaign is very timely.
As stated earlier, laws on bicycle use have not been implemented properly. This is why many counties have strengthened their laws and enforcement. For example, there are penalties for cars that stay on designated bike lanes. The drivers usually get a ticket and in some counties are required to pay fees. Though the state has already reduced the number of bicyclist fatalities by ten percent, there is still so much to improve. Officials are hoping to decrease the accident rate yearly.
Filing a Case
Bicycle accidents can result in severe physical injuries such as broken bones, paralysis, and spine problems. In worst cases, it can lead to death. If you or your family member has been a victim of a Florida bicycle accident, you can take legal actions by consulting a lawyer.
Just remember that you can only represent the victim if he has already died or if he is physically unable to file the case personally. You must present identification documents to prove that you are related to the victim.
Florida bicycle accident lawyers can help you know the specific steps you need to take. They might ask you to provide the following details:
- Date, time, and place of the accident
- Type of vehicle involved
- Cause of the accident
- Incurred damages
To win the case, you and your lawyer should be able to prove that the accident has been caused by the driver of the other vehicle and not the other way around.
The court may refer to CCTV footages or witnesses on the road. The jury would look for any violation of the law. If you win the case, you might be able to receive compensation for the damages. The driver who caused the accident would have to pay for the damages on your bike and your hospital bills. If the victim has already died, you can receive the settlement as the family representative.
If you have any other questions on Florida bicycle accident, you should consult a lawyer immediately. There are many lawyers available in Florida who can be easily reached through call or email.
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