According to the latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Florida is the deadliest state in the country for bicycle accidents. In all, 846 bicyclists were killed in the United States, with Florida taking the lead with 161 deaths.
Most jurisdictions, whether state, county, or city, have some form of “bike law(s)” that apply to both motorists and cyclists. Understanding those laws is a great first step for many and should be reviewed on a regular basis by seasoned cyclists regardless of the purpose of the endeavor: recreation, commuting, etc.
Bicycle vs. Car Accident
In these situations, it is far more likely that the cyclist will be significantly injured. In fact, Florida has the highest rate of bicycle accident deaths in the US (0.75 per 100,000 residents versus the national average of 0.26). A higher number of bicycles on the road surely plays a part in this statistic.
Steps to Avoiding An Accident With A Vehicle
This is along the lines of what is in the personal control of the cyclist, and much of this is also addressed by bike laws:
- A tuned, functional, and road-fit bicycle (brakes, reflectors)
- Adequate safety lights (forward and backward facing)
- A safe helmet intended for bicycle use
- Bright or reflective attire
- Eyewear for the weather or daylight conditions.
Proper planning is also in the control of the cyclist, though not mandated by bike laws:
- Choosing a well-lit route
- Choosing roadways with fewer obstacles such as crossroads, driveways, and construction zones
- Avoiding dawn and dusk riding when a blinding sun may be on the horizon… The list could go on depending on the specifics of the cycling location chosen.
These factors, combined with the notion of respecting the rules of the road and anticipating vehicles and other pedestrians (“riding defensively”), are a fantastic frame for controlling what can be controlled to the best of the ability of the cyclist.
In the unfortunate event that a motorist versus cyclist accident does occur, this should be treated much like any other motor vehicle accident involving cars-attention to the health, safety, and wellness of those involved with immediate deployment of emergency medical personnel and law enforcement. Documentation of the scene (photos), notation of or digital voice memos regarding the incident (document the weather and road conditions, time of day, identification of all parties and vehicles involved (first and last name, phone number, dates of birth, vehicle make/model/color, license plate or tag numbers), identification of any witnesses to the event (first and last name, contact information), documentation of any bodily injuries, including damage to property
Bicycle Accident Checklist
1. Call the police and report the accident (even if you don’t think you are hurt).
2. Pay attention to and remember what the other party says about how the accident occurred.
3. Preserve the condition of your bike, helmet, clothing, lighting, and other property.
4. Report the crash to your own car insurance company as soon as possible. Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to accident claims (let your lawyer deal with the at-fault party and their insurance company).
5. Personal Injury Protection. Under Florida law, your car insurance is “primary” for your medical bills. Allow the ER or hospital to bill you through your car insurance.
6. Keep documentation of the accident. Police report, photos of the bike (etc.), the scene, surroundings, other party’s vehicle
7. Keep track of injuries.
8. Don’t discuss the accident on social media.
9. Consult a personal injury lawyer that specializes in bicycle accidents in Florida.
10. Always remember: you are invisible on a bicycle.
Seek Medical Care (even if you think the injury is minor)
Seeking medical care for a thorough assessment by a qualified medical professional (emergency department, urgent care, primary care provider, medical specialist) should not be overlooked or delayed.
The most common injuries, such as skin abrasions (i.e., road rash), may be a harbinger of an underlying injury such as fractures, dislocations, cardiopulmonary or vascular injury, or disrupted tendons/ligaments, while a broken helmet could be an indication that an evaluation for intracranial, neck, or cervical spine injury may be warranted.
Test Your Bike Law Knowledge
Test your knowledge
For more information review the links below and research the organizations specific to your locale:
CDC Bicycle Safety
2021 Florida Statutes – 316.2065: Bicycle regulations
Florida Bicycle Association
West Florida Wheelmen
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.
If you’ve been the victim of a bicycle accident involving a vehicle, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.
2019 data release – published October 2021