With year-round sunshine and plenty of amenities and attractions within a short distance, bicyclists often use the roadways in and around Tampa. Unfortunately, Tampa is one of the most dangerous cities in the nation for bicyclists. Cyclists often travel in dangerous proximity to motor vehicle traffic, often without the benefit of a protected bike lane or signage warning motorists of the presence of bicyclists who could be sharing their streets.
If a bicycle accident injured you, an experienced Tampa bicycle accident lawyer from Perenich Law Injury Attorneys can help you understand the legal process of seeking compensation for your injury. Our seasoned personal injury attorneys are ready to provide the services you need to assist you with your claim.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Tampa
Tampa has the entertainment venues and nightlife to keep even the most adventure-seeking members of society occupied. The warm weather and beach life that make Florida a major tourist destination are readily available in Tampa.
Additionally, the state has professional sports teams and a thriving business scene. These amenities require people to travel on the roads to participate, resulting in congestion, distractions, impaired drivers, and bicycle accidents.
According to the organization People Powered Movement, Hillsborough County saw more than 1,500 bicycle accidents in a two-year timeframe, with most of these accidents occurring in Tampa.
Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents, the organization notes, include:
Driving distractions are among the most common causes of injury and fatal crashes involving all vehicle types. Driving distractions involve anything that causes the driver to look away from the roadway, take their hands from the wheel, or take their mind off the task of safe driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that in the time it takes for a driver to read or reply to a text message—which involves all three types of driving distractions—they will have traveled the length of a football field without watching the road. That is ample time for a bicycle to slip into the travel lane near their car.
Tampa offers many opportunities to drink with live sports events, nightclubs featuring music and dancing every night of the week, and concerts by the biggest names in the business. Drinking impairs a driver’s ability to track a moving object or person, such as a bicyclist on the roadway, maintain a single lane of travel, control speed, and exercise good judgment. Alcohol is a factor in about a quarter of all bicycle accidents in the U.S.
Many people fail to realize that Florida law conveys all rights and responsibilities other roadway users have to bicyclists. Therefore, bicyclists have the right to use a travel lane and take the right-of-way when it belongs to them. Inexperienced drivers who are unaware of how traffic laws apply to bicyclists can cause accidents.
Speeding not only impairs the driver of a motor vehicle’s ability to stop suddenly to avoid a collision but also reduces the amount of time the driver has to react to a bicyclist in their path. Due to the increased force created by higher speed, bicycle accidents involving increased motor vehicle speed are often more severe than low-speed accidents.
Failure to yield the right-of-way
Bicyclists must follow the same traffic rules as other vehicles’ drivers. Therefore, they must yield to other drivers when required, such as at red lights or stop signs. Bicyclists can also expect other vehicles to yield to them when the light turns green or their turn to enter an intersection controlled by a stop sign. However, other vehicles may fail to yield to bicyclists when necessary, causing a collision.
It is more challenging to go with the traffic flow for bicyclists, as they must expend energy to make their vehicle move. Because they tend to be slower, impatient drivers often tailgate the bicycle, placing the cyclist at risk of severe injury or death if they need to stop or slow down suddenly.
While most drivers remember when they operated their vehicle while feeling extremely tired, fatigue is a regular occurrence for some drivers, such as long-haul truck drivers and night shift workers. The body’s sleep/wake cycle, called the Circadian rhythm, causes many people to become drowsy during the mid-afternoon and late-night hours. Fatigue can have many impacts on driving ability, which are often similar to the effects of alcohol impairment. These effects include slowed responses in emergency driving situations and the inability to control one’s speed.
Common Injuries Incurred in Tampa Bicycle Crashes
One of the most common injuries to be incurred in a Tampa bicycle accident is, unfortunately, also the most serious. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, head injuries occur to up to 47 percent of bicyclists injured in traffic accidents and account for about 60 percent of all injuries resulting in the death of the bicyclist. One of the most serious head injuries is a traumatic brain injury, which involves damage to the brain that occurs due to a violent blow or jolt to the head or body.
Other common types of injuries to be sustained in Tampa bicycle accidents include:
- Friction burns, also known as road rash. These injuries occur from contact between the skin and a rough surface such as the roadway.
- Broken arms and wrists. These result from the body’s instinctive urge to “catch” itself with outstretched arms when falling.
- Broken legs, hips, pelvis, ankles, or feet. Impact on a vehicle or the road can cause these injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries. Hard impacts can cause these injuries, which can also paralyze the body below the injury.
- Damage to the spinal vertebrae and discs.
- Internal injuries, which can result in uncontrolled bleeding. This bleeding is known as a hemorrhage and can cause organ damage or even death.
Seeking Compensation After a Tampa Bicycle Accident
If a Tampa bicycle accident injured you, you could seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury through the personal injury claims process. This process involves first seeking compensation through a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. If the provider refuses to pay or fails to offer a fair settlement to resolve the claim, your attorney can file the claim on your behalf as a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. While most personal injury claims settle in advance of trial, it is important to hire a committed Tampa bicycle accident attorney that is as comfortable seeking compensation for you through litigation as they are with negotiating settlements.
To have a successful outcome to your Tampa bicycle accident claim, you must be able to prove that someone else (usually a driver) was responsible for causing the accident.
You can establish liability by showing the elements of negligence listed below:
The at-fault driver owed you a duty to take reasonable actions to protect you from harm, such as operating their vehicle safely and legally.
A breach in the duty occurred when the driver took unsafe or illegal actions.
This breach resulted in a Tampa bicycle wreck that injured you.
Due to your injuries, you incurred expenses or negative impacts on your quality of life.
The Type of Compensation You Can Receive
Tampa bicycle accident claimants can seek to recover both economic and non-economic damages.
This means that you can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injuries, such as:
These expenses could include the cost of emergency services, transport to the hospital in an ambulance or medical aircraft, diagnostic testing, surgical services, prescription medication, hospitalization, assistive devices such as a wheelchair or crutches, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and even long-term care or home care.
Income loss resulting from being too injured to work and loss of future earning capacity
Loss of future earning capacity would occur if the injury causes permanent disabilities and you can no longer earn an income.
Such as damage to your bicycle or helmet.
Physical pain and suffering
The Services a Tampa Bicycle Collision Lawyer Can Provide
The legal system is complex. Often, individuals who plan to seek compensation without an attorney become overwhelmed by the expectations and deadlines of the legal process, difficulty obtaining evidence, a lack of understanding about how to value their claim, and much more.
Here is a list of some of the services that a seasoned bicycle accident lawyer in Tampa can provide when necessary:
- Determining all sources of liability and insurance resources that could compensate you. Insurance pays for most claims. Unfortunately, many bicycle accidents involve hit-and-run drivers. Obtaining compensation can be challenging without a named at-fault party and an associated insurance policy. For this reason, your attorney will carefully examine your claim for other potential sources of liability.
- Establishing a value to your claim. Your attorney will base this estimate on the severity of your injury, the expenses you have already incurred, and the future costs associated with your accident.
- Managing all communication with the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster to protect the value of your case from common insurance tactics that adjusters use to reduce payouts as well as to negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
- Gathering the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your claim.
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit so you can use the court system to seek fair compensation for your injuries if the insurance provider refuses to pay.
- Litigating your case.
- Guiding you throughout the process to help you understand and make informed legal decisions.
- Assisting you in collecting your settlement or award.
Yes, You Can Afford an Attorney
Many people hesitate about hiring an attorney because they think they can’t afford one. Unlike other types of attorneys—such as those practicing criminal defense or family law—personal injury attorneys do not require a retainer or bill hourly for their services. Instead, they operate through a contingent fee billing method. This type of billing means that you do not have to pay for your attorney’s services until you receive a positive resolution to your claim.
When you first hire a Tampa bicycle crash attorney to assist you with your claim, the firm will likely ask you to sign a contingent fee agreement. This agreement describes the services your lawyer will provide and sets payment terms.
Contingent fees are generally a percentage of your settlement or award. Your attorney will receive your compensation and deduct their fee and other expenses they contractually agreed to pay. Then, they will forward the remainder of the settlement or award to you.
The benefit of the contingent fee billing method is that it ensures that you can access legal counsel as you file your claim, regardless of your financial status.
Hurt in a Crash? Call a Tampa Bicycle Accident Attorney
If a motor vehicle crashed into you while you rode your bike, let an experienced Tampa bicycle accident lawyer from Perenich Law Injury Attorneys help you explore your options for seeking compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury. We can also tell you more about the services that the Perenich legal team can provide to assist you with your claim. For a free case evaluation, contact us today.