Summer is upon us, and it’s peak swimming pool season in the sunshine state. Although swimming is a great way to cool off and get some exercise, it can also be dangerous. Statistics show three children die every day from swimming pool accidents, and many more people sustain serious injuries. In many cases, these tragic [..]
Boca Raton Florida Bicycle Accidents
The state of Florida has the perfect weather for cyclists, along with some amazing vistas for those who travel along our almost 1,200 miles of coastline. We also play host to a number of cycling organizations, such as the Florida Bicycle Association, Bike Florida, and the Florida Bicycle Racing Association.
Despite these things, Florida is far from one of the most bicycle-friendly places in the United States, and only two of our cities made a recent Top 50 list, with Gainesville ranked number 16 and Miami number 44. In fact, the highest ranking we’ve ever had isn’t exactly one to be proud of – back in 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released statistics saying that Florida had the most cyclist fatalities out of any state. Even California, with twice the population, couldn’t beat out the sunshine state.
What it boils down to is this: if you’re going to ride your bicycle in Florida, you’re putting yourself in danger.
What Causes Cyclists to Get Into an Accident?
Take a quick look around the internet and you’ll find all kinds of studies with wildly different findings on who is supposedly at-fault in driver-cyclist accidents. Just this year, The Times in London reported that motorists were responsible for crashes with bicyclists 68 percent of the time. In Australia, the numbers were even more striking, with drivers getting blamed for 4 out of 5 accidents with a cyclist.
Most of the studies in the United States aren’t quite so friendly towards bike riders, though. An NPR report from 2011 cites research from multiple cities blaming cyclists for 44 and 49 percent of crashes in Arizona and Minnesota, respectively, and a 2004 report from Washington, DC actually said that cyclists were slightly more at fault.
The truth is that both drivers and bicyclists have to shoulder part of the blame for these accidents. You can see this clearly in reports that list the most common causes for crashes involving bikes and cars:
- Drivers not stopping for a traffic light or stop sign.
- Bicyclists not stopping for a traffic light or stop sign.
- Drivers who unintentionally make a turn in front of a bicyclist who is moving.
- Bicyclists who disobey the law and bike on the incorrect side of the road – against the flow of traffic.
- Drivers who violate the cyclist’s right of way.
- Bicyclists who violate the driver’s right of way.
- Drivers not properly looking for bicyclists.
- Biking while intoxicated.
- Driving while intoxicated.
- Bicyclists who dart in front of motorists – especially when entering the street from a driveway, alley, or sidewalk.
- Drivers who dart in front of bicyclists when entering the street from a driveway, alley, or parking lot.
- Bicyclists failing to signal when turning.
- Drivers who are careless or reckless, including driving too fast.
- Bicyclists changing lanes without properly signaling or checking.
- Drivers who improperly judge the speed or path of a cyclist.
- Bicyclists failing to obey traffic signs.
But even though cyclists need to take their fair share of the responsibility for these accidents, in almost all cases they end up far worse off than the person driving the car – regardless of who was at fault. And then there are the other types of crashes that cyclists can sustain that don’t even involve cars.
- Road hazards. Sewer grates, potholes, and tracks for trolleys and trains are the most common road hazards that cause cyclists to get into accidents, but it’s also possible to crash because of other unexpected objects that shouldn’t be in a cyclist’s path such as large rocks or fallen debris. Some bicyclists have even gotten into accidents by hitting stationary objects such as tree stumps or mailboxes because they became distracted or it was too dark to see.
- Weather-related crashes. Roads that are slick due to rainstorms are particularly dangerous for Florida cyclists because it doesn’t take much to send some bikes into a skid and potentially throw you to the ground.
- Defective parts. It happens sometimes. Chains snap. Tires burst. Bolts get loose. Most of the time these things are freak accidents or due to normal wear and tear, but sometimes bike manufacturers overlook problems to cut costs or speed up production times, and this can lead to serious accidents.
Common Injuries in Florida Cycling Accidents
If you’re involved in a crash on your bike, there are a number of serious injuries you could sustain. How badly you are hurt will depend on a number of factors including things like the type and strength of the impact, how fast you (or the other driver) was going, and whether or not you were wearing a helmet or other protective clothing. The most common injuries are:
- Head and brain injuries. There’s a reason why there are so many safety campaigns out there encouraging people to wear helmets when biking. If you’re involved in a crash, there’s a strong likelihood that you will be thrown from the bike and be unable to control your fall. Injuries to the head can be as minor as a few bumps and scrapes or as serious as a skull fracture, which can increase the chances of brain damage.
- Broken bones. It stands to reason that someone being thrown from a fast moving bike is going to hit the ground hard, and often these types of falls result in broken bones. The most common bones that cyclists break in accidents are their legs, elbows, hands, clavicle, and jaw.
- Dental damage. Besides breaking their jaw, cyclists who hit or land on their face tend to find themselves with broken or missing teeth due to the impact.
- Damage to nerves. Even if slamming into the ground doesn’t break any bones, it may result in pinched or otherwise damaged nerves. This can lead to severe pain or even a complete loss of feeling in specific areas of the body. Often this is temporary, but not always.
- Paralysis from spinal cord injuries. Land hard on your head, neck, or back and you might do serious harm to your spinal cord. This can leave you with diminished strength, ongoing pain, or even cause paralysis in certain situations.
Take Charge of Your Own Safety When Riding a Bike
The best way to stay safe when riding a bike in Florida is to obey all traffic laws, pay attention to your surroundings, and wear protective gear like a helmet and reflectors if you ride at night. Bike defensively and hopefully you’ll never have to worry about all of the horrible things that can happen in a cycling accident.
Of course, sometimes the circumstances of your crash are beyond your control. It’s not your fault for hitting a pothole you couldn’t see and which should have been filled. Or that a reckless driver was texting on their phone and hit you from behind. These kinds of things are entirely out of your hands, but they’re still likely to cause you lots of pain and suffering – not to mention high medical bills.
If you believe that someone else caused the circumstances of your cycling accident, you owe it to yourself to contact an experienced bike accident attorney in Florida who can look at the evidence and let you know whether or not you have a case. If someone else is responsible for causing you harm, you deserve compensation and the satisfaction in knowing that justice has been done.
Residents of Boca Raton, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Deerfield Beach and Fort Lauderdale, schedule a free consultation with The Injury Law Firm of South Florida to discuss your options. If you decide to hire us, we’ll work on a contingency basis, meaning that you won’t pay anything until we recover damages. Call us today at 954-764-7377 in Fort Lauderdale, 561-209-2100 in Boca Raton & West Palm Beach or Toll-Free at 877-566-8759, or fill out this convenient online form.