Let’s face it; Florida’s infrastructure has not kept up with the growth of bicyclists. Florida roads are uniquely dangerous to bicycle riders whether a seasoned cyclist or an occasional beach cruiser. Florida roads carry a high volume of traffic and they were designed to move vehicles quickly. In addition, there are millions of visitors who are driving on unfamiliar roads. As a result, Florida leads the nation in fatal bicycle accidents with three times the national average.
Facts and Figures on Florida Fatalities
We, unfortunately, live in the deadliest state for bicyclists. Florida has the highest number of cyclist deaths per capita. Around 80% of cycling accidents occur during the day because that is when most bicycles are on the road. The majority of accidents happen at intersections or other road junctions where 2 or more directions of traffic meet. Compared with traditional traffic accidents, bicycle accidents have a much higher risk of death for the people involved because the rider has no protection. In a motor vehicle the body is surrounded by a protective metal frame and airbags to soften the blow. On a bicycle, there is nothing but a helmet which can only protect against certain injures.
75% of all bicycle deaths are caused by head injuries, making it the leading fatal injury for cyclists.
Common Causes of Fatal Bicycle Accidents
- Distracted or impaired drivers
- Inattentive drivers who ‘never saw’ the cyclist
- Violating the right of way at an intersection or driveway
- Exiting a parking lot or driveway
What if the Police Report Found the Bicycle Rider at Fault?
Cyclists are often presumed to be at fault in accidents with motor vehicles. Police do this all too often. If the police report finds the bicyclist at fault in the crash it does not mean you or other survivors will be unable to recover compensation for the loss of your loved one.
An experienced bicycle crash lawyer will understand how much weight the police report may carry in evaluating what actually happened to cause the accident. Many cases are successfully settled even when the police officer concluded the fault was on the cyclist.
Which Family Members Can Recover?
It is important to note that Florida has laws governing who can recover for the loss of a family member and when they can do so. Surviving spouses, children under 25 and other family members can generally recover for their losses.
Is There a Time Limit to File Claims?
In the vast majority of wrongful death cases, you must file a claim within 2 years of the date of your loved one’s passing.
Who Brings These Claims?
Florida law requires that one person is selected to bring claims on behalf of all of the eligible family members. This person is called the Personal Representative of the decedent’s estate. Your lawyer will walk you through how the process works and what each family member may recover.
Typically, spouses, children under 25 years old and parents may recover, but that is not always the case. Who may recover varies from case to case so it is critical to work with a lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced in wrongful death cases.
Unsure About Insurance?
Understanding what insurance may apply after a fatal bicycle accident can seem confusing. Every situation is different. Our experienced bicycle accident lawyers will guide you so that every possible source of insurance is investigated. Insurance policies which may apply include the No Fault/Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance which may come from the vehicle that caused the accident or from a vehicle owned by the bicyclist or family member. This insurance covers medical expenses and a small death benefit.
Certainly, all sources of the bodily injury liability insurance covering the vehicle involved must be carefully investigated. It is also possible the deceased rider was insured with uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on a vehicle he or she owned (or one owned by a family member). In addition, all sources of excess or umbrella insurance policies covering the owner or operator of the vehicle as well as the deceased must be looked into.
What About Suing the Driver or Owner Personally?
Keep in mind, both the driver and owner of a vehicle causing a fatal injury are personally responsible for all loss suffered by the cyclist’s loved ones. Simply put, it means they are obligated to pay for the consequences of taking someone’s life. Unfortunately, most people don’t have financial ability to pay for the harms they cause. That’s why people have car insurance.
When a car insurance policy is purchased, the insurance company pays what the owner or driver would be obligated to pay personally. The insurance company may be required to pay up to the limits of insurance which was purchased. Any loss beyond the limits of the insurance policy remains the responsibility of the owner/driver.
Your lawyer must conduct an investigation into their personal assets and ability to pay. While most folks do not have the ability to personally pay for these losses, some do. This process is something an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer should discuss with you.
We understand it is overwhelming to lose a loved one. Know that when you work with us, you have an experienced support group that is ready to take the burden off your shoulders and allow you to focus on your needs and of your family.