According to one study, between 1997 and 2013, a staggering 3.8 million bicyclists were seriously injured in vehicle-bicycle collisions. Moreover, researchers found, the average age of victims is rising as well, suggesting that the bicycle rider pattern is changing away from small children on bicycles near schools to commuters and other adult cyclists who could pop up anywhere.
Researchers suggested that faulty infrastructure could be responsible for many of the serious injuries and deaths, which have increased steadily over the past few years. Bad driving habits, such as distracted driving, probably have a lot to do with the increase as well.
Establishing a Claim
Many bicycle-vehicle collisions occur when a motorist tries to pass a bicyclist who is not in a designated bicycle lane. Several years ago, in an effort to curb these kinds of wrecks, Florida lawmakers passed a three-foot law which requires motorists to give bicyclists a cushion when passing.
Although the three-foot law is very difficult to enforce on the street, it gives victim/plaintiffs an advantage in negligence cases, since it opens the door for the negligence per se shortcut.
Many times, these cases feature convoluted arguments as to which party had the right-of-way, and so on. But if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) violated a safety law, none of these arguments apply, because the tortfeasor is liable for damages as a matter of law, in most cases.
Note that, because of the three-foot law, the tortfeasor does not have to actually collide with the victim to be liable for damages. It may be sufficient to show that the tortfeasor passed too close to the victim, causing the victim to lose control of the fragile bicycle. Anyone who has ever ridden a bike as cars pass by at 50mph or faster knows what it is like to be in this situation.
If their claims are successful, bicycle crash victims are often entitled to significant compensation, largely due to the serious nature of their injuries.
In terms of economic damages, the average injury related hospital bill is between $30,000 and $60,000. This figure may not include injury rehabilitation, which can cost thousands of dollars more. An attorney can arrange for medical care at no upfront cost. Moreover, an attorney can also negotiate with the provider for a lower fee, which means fewer expenses to pay with the settlement proceeds.
Legally, damages are designed not just to replace monetary losses, but also put the victims in the same position they would have occupied had the accident never occurred. So, serious injury victims are also entitled to noneconomic damages to compensate them for things like:
- Loss of enjoyment in life,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of consortium (companionship), and
- Emotional distress.
Typically, damages that are related to a personal injury are not taxable, and this category includes both economic and noneconomic damages.
In some cases, especially if the tortfeasor was impaired or committed multiple violations, the victim may also be entitled to additional punitive damages. This money is available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor intentionally disregarded a known risk.
Reach Out to Tenacious Attorneys
Bicycle crash victims are usually entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed.
From our office in Brandon, Reed & Reed helps clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.