Clearwater Florida Bicycle Accident FAQs
These FAQs will help you better understand Florida's cycling laws, safety tips every cyclist should know, common injuries cyclists sustain, the different types of bicycle accidents and general questions on how the personal injury claims process works. Our FAQs are updated frequently by our team of local experts on behalf of Clearwater bicycle accident attorney, Jim Dodson.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle collision as a result of someone’s carelessness on the road, we are here for you. We have a special commitment and passion for holding drivers responsible for bicycle accidents. Jim Dodson, a cyclist himself has over 25 years experience successfully representing cycling cases and wrongful death claims. You need to feel certain that you can turn your bicycle injury case over to a lawyer who cares about you. If you have immediate questions and want to speak to a bicycle accident lawyer, call our office at 888-815-6398 to schedule a time to discuss your accident case. There is never a fee for a consultation.
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If My Bike was Totaled in a Crash with a Car Do I Get a Full Cost Replacement?
A totaled bike is no different than a totaled car in Florida. The insurance company for the driver who caused the crash is obligated to pay you its fair market value, not its full replacement cost. Fair market value is what it was worth just before the crash taking depreciation into consideration. There is no set formula to calculate fair market value. Insurance adjusters typically want to apply a 5 or 10% depreciation for each year since it was purchased. Many times your dealer can help.
There is also a “blue book” for bicycles which I have had insurance companies rely upon. In practice, I always suggest to my client to begin with the replacement value. We have had many situations where this has been paid. If that doesn’t work, we fall back to purchase price and see if we can reach an agreement. We are always working to get the very highest number. The circumstances of every case varies as does what they will pay.
We don’t charge any attorney fee for helping get your bike replaced if it is part of your injury case. The most expensive bike we have had so far is $15,000, along with some $12,000 ones.
Can a Cyclist Wear Headphones While Riding a Bike in Florida
For many the answer to this question may come as a bit of a surprise. Did you know it is against the law to wear headphones or earbuds while riding a bicycle in Florida? Turns out, Florida is one of only two states (with the other being Maryland) that does not permit the use of headphones while riding a bicycle. Fla. Stat. §316.304 states:
No person shall operate a vehicle while wearing a headset, headphone, or other listening device, other than a hearing aid or instrument for the improvement of defective human hearing.
Remember that a bicycle is considered a vehicle. This prohibition still applies when riding on a sidewalk. Even though cyclists on the sidewalk have the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians, the bicycle is still governed as a “vehicle” and therefore this law applies.
Headphones interfere with hearing ambient traffic as well as audible warnings from other cyclists and pedestrians. The statute could also be used as evidence of comparative fault if a crash occurred and you were wearing headphones at the time. It would be argued that you should have heard the approaching vehicle.
Can E-Bikes or Electric Bicycles Be Ridden On Florida Sidewalks?
On July 1st 2020 it became legal to ride an e-bike on Florida sidewalks. That’s because the legislature took a big step to define e-bikes and to give them the right to ride anywhere a bicycle can be ridden. It has always been legal to ride a bicycle on Florida sidewalks, unless prohibited by local ordinance. Now e-bikes fit into the same framework.
The law also recognizes 3 classes of e-bikes, including pedal assist up to 20 MPH (class 1), throttle only up to 20 MPH (class 2) or pedal assist up to 28 MPH (class 3). It also removed the restriction an e-bike rider had to be 16 or older. So, essentially anyone could operate an e-bike on our sidewalks within their category limits.
The new law is facing tremendous pushback because of the authorization of the enhanced speeds and permitting them to be used on sidewalks and other paths. There are many in the bike community who are opposed to allowing them on the sidewalk, particularly at those potential speeds. The new law has a home rule provision which permits local communities to restrict e-bikes on sidewalks within their communities.
How Does the Slow Speed Impediment Statute Apply to Cyclists?
A cyclist riding on the roadway is subject to nearly all of the traffic laws applicable to cars or motorcycles. A few people asked about the exception to which I referred, Fla. Stat. 316.183 (5), which states:
No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
The reason it does not apply is because a bicycle is not included in this statute’s definition of a “motor vehicle.” However, even though the speed impediment law does not apply, this does not allow cyclists to ride in any manner they so choose.
Remember, cyclists are required to ride in a bike lane, if available. We are permitted to ride two abreast within the bike lane and in those circumstances when we are permitted to “take the lane.” Otherwise, riding two abreast is not permitted and we can be cited for impeding traffic.
What is the Most Common Bike Crash Injury We See at Jim Dodson Law?
The simple answer is concussions. Although we see them as standalone injuries, much more frequently they are in addition to significant physical injuries. They are unique in that 50% of people will have a resolution of their symptoms within 30 days and the vast majority within the first year. However, that leaves a significant number of people whose symptoms will not resolve and, frankly, may become progressively more pronounced as time goes on. In many cases, there is no specific treatment; rather, our goal is to ensure it is properly diagnosed and fully discussed in the medical records so that its existence is fully accounted for in the settlement. Doing so requires complete frankness and cooperation from our client working with neurologists and, when appropriate, neuropsychologists and other specialists who are attuned to the unique nature of concussions and their potential effects on their victims.
Each concussion is unique, as are the facts of every case. Accordingly, there is no set value for a concussion in a settlement. They most frequently are a significant component driving the case value along with other injuries. In our practice we have experience handling these injuries in 7 figure settlements.
Do Your Bike Tires Give You Protection from Lightning While Cycling?
Being struck by lightning is almost universally a fatal event. It can happen without warning, but frequently we know well in advance the thunderstorm is approaching. If you are caught in a storm on your bicycle, do your rubber wheels on your bike give you some protection? The short answer is they do not according to everything that I’ve been able to find.
I was talking to a cycling client recently about this very topic. This was a very experienced cyclist who is accustomed to riding in Florida. He believed the wheels on his bicycle provided enough insulation to protect him from lightning. Sadly, that is a huge myth, but a widely accepted one. The rubber wheels on our bikes have nowhere near the amount of insulation necessary to protect us on a bike from a lightning strike. They really offer no more protection than the rubber soles of our shoes. However, his belief is common.
The Dangers of Cycling During a Thunderstorm
Having lived in Florida all my life, I have a huge respect for lightning. When I was a golfer I was unnerved by the willingness of people to remain on the golf course in close proximity to lightning striking all around. It’s no different when we encounter a thunderstorm while on an extended bike ride.
Rather than press on as lightning approaches, we should be looking for cover. That doesn’t mean everyone huddling together in one spot. People need to spread out. You don’t want everyone to be affected by a single strike. Don’t get flat on the ground, but crouch close to the ground. Stay away from metal poles and trees which can attract lightning themselves. As cyclists, we have the same risk of being struck by lightning as we do when we were walking, playing golf, or strolling on the beach.
Recently, someone on a motorcycle on I-95 was struck by lightning. As a result, the rider died either from the lightning bolt or the crash which followed. There have been at least six such incidents involving lightning striking a motorcyclists just in Florida over the past few years. There’s no reason the same thing can’t happen to a cyclist.
We Have Successfully Handled Bicycle Accident Cases in Florida
Jim Dodson Law has successfully handled bicycle accident cases for Florida cyclists whose injuries were caused by a negligent driver. If you have been injured in a serious cycling crash, you deserve compensation to pay for your injuries, property damage, and other losses.
Attorney, Jim Dodson is a cyclist, so he understands the issues Florida cyclists face when they ride. You can be sure he will put his years of experience to work for you and get the settlement you deserve. If you’re ready to set up your free case consultation today, fill out our contact form or call us now at 727-446-0840.
How Can You Reduce Your Odds Of Being In A Bicycle Accident?
This is simple and yet so few people do it. Take these three steps:
Steps To Protecting Yourself When Riding A Bicycle
Wear Bright Florescent Jersey Or Jacket During The Day.
I prefer neon yellow, but there are other colors. A major study involving thousands of cyclists over a year revealed those who wore bright florescent yellow jackets (it was Denmark, it is colder there) during the day reduced the odds of being hit by a motor vehicle by 55% (a 47% reduction in all multi-party crashes -pedestrians, other cyclists, etc.
Always Ride With A Bright Head Light And Tail Light.
I cannot emphasize the word bright enough! Make sure you even use the head light and tail light during the day. Flashing patterns work best. A study revealed a reduction in the odds of being hit by nearly 50%.
Wear Your Rear Facing Bright Flashing Taillight Strapped to Your Ankles.
Wear bright florescent neon (yellow) on your feet and at your knees. Studies suggest the movement of the florescent colors on your feet/ankles/knees helps distinguish you a a person on a bike and significantly increases the odds of being seen and avoided.
If you or someone you know has been struck by a vehicle while cycling in Florida download our popular consumer guide the Florida Bicycle Accident Guide by the Florida injury lawyer who is a cyclist and who has a passion for helping fellow Florida bicycle riders.
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.
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?
Many 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.
Have You Been Injured In A Bicycle Accident?
If you've been hurt in a Florida bicycle accident you should speak with an experienced bicycle injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.