Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Do I have a case if a dog causes my bike crash on a trail in Florida?

    One of the great advantages of the trail system Florida is creating is the opportunity for people to get outside for exercise. They love to take their dogs with them. Some of the most popular trails in Florida are close to major metropolitan areas such as the Pinellas Trail, West Orange Trail, Legacy Trail and others. However, they require bicyclists and people walking dogs to share the same path. Even when cyclists stay within a typical speed limit of 20 mph, someone with a dog may be caught unaware of how rapidly a bicycle may be approaching them, particularly when the cyclist is approaching from behind them.
    Dog Caused Bicycle Accident Jim Dodson Law
    Any cyclist who uses our trail system has encountered a dog being walked on a leash which allows it to be six or eight feet away from its owner. This is a dangerous mix on a multiuse trail and can cause serious injury to someone on a bicycle.

    Can A Dog's Owner Be Held Responsible For My Bicycle Accident?

    Keep in mind that dog owners may be held strictly liable for the actions of their dog. A dog owner may be held legally responsible if they allow their dog to get into the path of a cyclist which results in a crash with injuries.

    At the same time, cyclists have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to avoid unnecessarily running into a dog. This means we have to slow down approaching someone walking the dog on a trail. We need to announce ourselves, particularly when approaching from behind them. However, despite our efforts to avoid them, dogs frequently cause cyclists to crash. When the unexpected happens, it is a cyclist who ends up dealing with the consequences of a significant injury.

    The person in control of the dog may be held legally responsible and a claim may be pursued under their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. Bear in mind, in Florida some of these policies exclude any responsibility for injury caused by a dog. Others may exclude certain breeds of dogs. Despite this, we have successfully pursued many of these claims on behalf of our injured cyclist clients.

    Did A Dog Cause Your Florida Bicycle Accident?

    If you've been injured in a bicycle accident due to a dog you may be eligible for compensation. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 888.815.6398 to schedule your free consultation.

  • How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Bike Accident Lawyer?

    Jim Dodson Bicycle Accident LawyerMany attorneys are hesitant to talk about their fees. We believe in giving people as much information as possible so that they can make their OWN choices about their legal situation. The reality is, you may not need a lawyer. If we discuss your case and we don’t think you need a lawyer, we will tell you. In fact, we will go further and give you suggestions on how you might consider handling it on your own. Even if you don’t need a lawyer, we will be happy to give you our thoughts on getting your bike frame repaired or replaced all at no cost to you.

    However, if you have a more serious injury, particularly one that will require any type of surgery, it is always in your best interest to hire an attorney. You need to make sure things are done right. That includes reimbursing your health insurance company or Medicare on what they pay out on your behalf. Not getting that right can cause you huge problems later.

    Further, let’s face it, you probably have no experience putting a realistic settlement value on your injury. You’ll be dealing with an insurance company who does it every day. You need a team behind you that has the experience in dealing with insurance companies, understands the true value of your injury, and is comfortable fighting for you in front of the jury if it is required for the best interest of your case.

    How a Contingent Fee Works

    At Jim Dodson Law, our bike crash cases work on a contingent fee basis. Simply put, you don’t pay any fee unless we win. Our compensation is contingent on you getting a settlement you believe is fair. This creates an incentive for us to get the best settlement possible, and it means you don’t have to pay any money up front. I express it this way, “you only get a check, you never write a check.” Period.

    In the vast majority of our cases our fee is only 33%. Lawyers are permitted to increase their fee to 40% if a lawsuit is filed in the Circuit Court and the other side hires a lawyer who files their Answer. We don’t do this. I would never want you to believe there was an incentive for us to file a lawsuit simply to obtain a higher fee. Therefore, our fee will not exceed 33% even if a lawsuit is filed, if your case is settled at the mediation conference. In our experience, even in cases where a lawsuit is filed, about 70% are settled at mediation. We believe that if we can avoid the cost of preparing for trial and find a settlement your thrilled about, we want to pass that cost savings to you.

    What Happens if the Case Doesn't Settle at Mediation?

    If a case does not settle at mediation and requires scheduling a trial date, our fee will rise to the industry standard of 40% to cover the additional time, energy, and significant costs of hiring experts and preparing for trial. Again, these fees depend on winning your case. If there is no recovery, there is no fee. For more information on we encourage you to take a look at our No Promise Fee.

    Think about it this way: can a team that has been handling bike crash cases for decades get you 33% more money than if you try to handle all of this on your own? It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the answer is anything other than YES. Remember, we have no interest in taking a case in which we don’t believe we can help our client achieve a better settlement. If you don’t need an attorney, we will tell you straight-out you could do just as well on your own and even give you our thoughts on how you can accomplish it.

    We are Dedicated to Your Success and are Here to Answer Your Questions

    In our experience, people are very appreciative that we are upfront about the cost of our services and are thankful we can give them free resources that will help them along the way. If you have any questions at all please contact us online, or, if  just want to talk about your case, don’t hesitate to call our office at (888) 207-0905.

  • When Should I Buy a New Bicycle Helmet? Do I Need to Replace My Child's Helmet More Often?

    Many people aren’t aware you must replace your bicycle helmet after any crash where you hit your head.  The foam part of the helmet is only good for one major crash and must be replaced afterwards.

    Helmets are a simple piece of equipment but they are vital for your cycling safety. Each year about 2% of motor vehicle crash deaths are cyclists. That means two people lost their lives every day of the year in a cycling/motor vehicle accident. In the majority of bicyclist’s deaths, the most serious injuries were to the head. Statistics about head injuries resulting from cycling highlight the importance of wearing a helmet. But just because you wear a helmet doesn’t mean that you never need to replace it.

    A good rule of thumb to follow in regards to replacing your helmet is the five year rule. After five years with no major falls or crashes, replace your helmet. Of course, if you have fallen and your helmet has sustained a blow then you need to replace it. If there are any visible signs of cracks in the foam or helmet then you should replace your helmet. It’s that simple.

    Knowing when to replace your helmet is extremely important, especially in regards to children. Because children are more prone to fall off their bike than adults it is crucial that they not only they wear a helmet but that their helmet is going to be capable of minimizing the force of the impact. If the helmet has not been replaced after a crash then your child might not be as protected as you think.

    Cycling is fun and enjoyable but you still need to exercise caution in regards to safety. Make sure you and your children always wear a helmet when on a bike. If you can’t remember the last time you bought a new helmet then it is probably time to replace it. We want to make sure that you and your loved ones are safe while enjoying the fun of cycling. When you replace your helmet make sure to check out the new MIPs technology helmet which minimize the danger of a concussion.

  • Does the 3-Foot Rule Apply to Other Bicycle Riders Passing Other Cyclists?

    Bob Wheeler from the Sarasota Manatee Bike Club called me a week or so ago and had a question. He had been riding with his weekly group when they were passed by another group of riders. His concern was the passing riders did not announce their approach and passed, in his view, dangerously close to them. His question was whether the “3 foot” rule applied to riders. My answer may surprise you.

    Let’s start by looking at the statute language that applies. First, Fla Stat 316.003 defines a “driver” as any person who drives… a vehicle. A “vehicle” is defined as every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported… upon a highway. A “highway” is virtually every way open for vehicle traffic. A “bicycle” includes every vehicle propelled solely by human power. This means a bicycle is a vehicle.

    Section 316.083 requires the driver of every vehicle passing another vehicle going in the same direction to give an appropriate signal (this means to warn other drivers of the intent to move left and can be given by hand). The three foot rule requires “the driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle… must pass at a safe distance of not less than three feet between the vehicle and the bicycle…”

    Two things: first, in my view the 3 foot rule applies to “people on bicycles.” Second, the rule is the minimum for us and for vehicles passing us. The law says “a safe distance of not less than three feet.”

  • I was Hit By a Car on My Bicycle. Will I Have to Pay Out of Pocket for My Medical Bills?

    If you are hit by a car in Florida while riding your bicycle, your medical bills will be covered by No-Fault Insurance, also known as Personal Injury Protection or PIP. In Florida, PIP pays up to $10,000 in medical bills. This coverage will come from the policy you carried on your own car or from a policy carried by a family member with whom you resided on the date of the accident. If neither you nor a family member owned a car, then you would be covered under the PIP coverage on the car that hit you.

    We get calls from injured cyclists who have PIP on their own auto policy, but who are concerned because they carry a deductible of $500 or $1,000. If you carry a deductible on your PIP coverage, your insurance company will deduct the amount of the deductible against the medical bills they receive for payment under the policy. This means if there is a $500 deductible, you will have to pay the first $500 in medical bills. You are still entitled to the full $10,000 in PIP benefits, but the first $500 will be your responsibility.

    There are several ways to handle a deductible so you will not have to write a check to the doctor or hospital. Feel free to call us to talk about your concerns and how we can help.

    Here are some other questions you might have about your cycling accident:

    If I Hire You as My Lawyer for My Bicycle Accident, Will It Cost Me Money Up Front?

    Are There Any Hidden Lawyer Fees?

    How Do I Pay Your Legal Fees?

  • What Cities in Florida Do You Handle Bicycle Accident Cases?

    I handle cases all over the State of Florida. My main office is in Clearwater, but I have multiple satellite offices along the Gulf Coast and in Central Florida. I will come to you when it’s needed.

    Here are some other questions you might have about your cycling accident:

    Why is It Important to Hire an Experienced Cycling Accident Lawyer?

    Do I Have to Come to Your Office to Discuss My Cycling Accident Case

    How Do I Pay Your Legal Fees?

  • Why is it Important to Hire an Experienced Cycling Accident Lawyer?

    A former client told me he felt it was the best decision to hire a cycling lawyer because “you’re one of us, you see the world through my eyes.” Only a cyclist understands how and where cyclists ride, what damage to a carbon frame means, and what it means when you’re unable to ride like you had before  being injured in a crash. As a cycling lawyer, I’m in the best position to make an insurance adjuster or a jury understand the consequences suffered by an injured rider. I understand traffic laws that affect cycling; many of these laws are misunderstood by claims adjusters as well as the police.

    Here are some other questions you might have about your cycling accident:

    Do I Have to Come to Your Office to Discuss My Cycling Accident Case?

    Will My Bicycle Accident Case Take Up A Lot of My Time?

    How Long Does it Take to Settle a Bicycle Accident Claim?

  • Will I have to Go to Trial for My Florida Cycling Accident Case?

    Probably not; the vast majority of cases are settled without a trial. It is important, however, for the insurance company to believe your lawyer is willing to try your case, if necessary. It keeps them honest. Yet, each client makes the decision whether to accept a settlement or take their case to trial.

    Here are some other questions you might have about your cycling accident:

    How Long Does it Take to Settle a Bicycle Accident Claim?

    Will My Bicycle Accident Case Take Up A Lot of My Time?

    If I Hire You as My Lawyer for My Bicycle Accident, Will It Cost Me Money Up Front?

  • If We Meet at My House to Discuss My Cycling Accident Case, Who will Come?

    If we decide to have a meeting at your home, I would usually come alone. I may bring along a legal clerk or paralegal to help with document sharing and note-taking so I can have a one-on-one discussion with you. I will never bring a stranger into your home.

    Here are some other questions you might have about your cycling accident:

    In What Areas of Florida Do You Handle Bicycle Accident Cases?

    Why is It Important to Hire an Experienced Cycling Accident Lawyer?

    Do I Have to Come to Your Office to Discuss My Cycling Accident Case?

     

  • Do I Have to Come to Your Office to Discuss My Cycling Accident Case?

    It isn’t necessary to come to our office. Many clients do and many clients do not. When necessary, I will come to you. Some clients like to drop in with documents they receive because they live close to the office whereas other clients may live out of the area and prefer email to in-person visits. All of our documents are stored electronically so we can work with clients wherever they are.

    Here are some other questions you might have about your cycling accident:

    How Long Does it Take to Settle a Bicycle Accident Claim?

    Will My Bicycle Accident Case Take Up A Lot of My Time?

    In What Areas of Florida Do You Handle Bicycle Accident Cases?