The city of St. Petersburg, Florida, has witnessed an alarmingly significant increase in bicycle accidents. In 2018, the Wall Street Journal already named Pinellas County the most dangerous place to ride a bike in America. In 2021, the number of cyclist fatalities in Pinellas County reached 85, nearly doubling the count of the previous year of 49 in 2020.
This rise in incidents between vehicles and cyclists has distressed residents throughout Pinellas County. These growing concerts are raising critical questions about road safety and the well-being of both riders and motorists alike.
How do increasing bicycle accidents affect the community?
As the number of bicycle accidents continues to surge, it has become imperative to recognize the importance of legal assistance for the victims of these accidents. Each collision, each injury, and each life affected deserves the pursuit of justice. This issue isn’t merely about statistics and numbers; it’s about individuals and families whose lives have been disrupted and forever changed.
The guidance of a St. Petersburg bicycle accident attorney is crucial for ensuring that these victims aren’t alone. With legal counsel, they can receive the help, compensation, and protection they deserve in the face of such challenging circumstances.
Potential Reasons Behind The Surge In Bicycle Accidents
The surge in bicycle accidents can be attributed to several key factors, each contributing to the rising numbers:
St. Petersburg’s population and tourism industry have grown, particularly in the wake of COVID-19. This boost in drivers, both residents and tourists, has led to increased traffic congestion. As a result, busier roads become more challenging for cyclists and cars alike to navigate safely.
The constant use of smartphones has become commonplace for most Americans. Phones and other distractions like interactive vehicle features have led to a surge in distracted driving incidents. Motorists often take their eyes off the road to text, use apps, or engage in other activities, putting cyclists at significant risk.
Non-Adherence to Traffic Rules
Another contributing factor is when road users fail to adhere to traffic rules. Bicycles are considered a vehicle in Florida and must obey the laws accordingly. Cyclists may sometimes disobey traffic signals or drivers may not yield the right of way to them, leading to dangerous situations.
Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries
Bicycle accident victims can sustain a range of injuries, some of the most common ones include:
Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Head injuries can range from mild concussions to severe brain trauma. Helmets can reduce the risk of head injury but aren’t foolproof. Nonetheless, without proper protection, riders are more vulnerable to traumatic brain injuries. These serious head injuries can result in cognitive impairments, memory loss, mood disorders, and even permanent disability.
Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
The impact of an accident on the spinal cord can cause partial or complete paralysis. Spinal cord injuries are serious and can result in loss of sensation and motor function below the level of injury. They affect the victim’s ability to walk, move, or carry out daily activities independently.
Fractures and orthopedic injuries
Bicycle accidents frequently lead to fractures as the cyclist is more exposed. They especially occur in the arms, legs, wrists, and collarbones. Fractures may require surgical intervention and extensive rehabilitation. Furthermore, fractures can potentially lead to long-term limitations in mobility.
Soft tissue injuries
Cyclists commonly suffer from soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, contusions, and abrasions. These injuries may vary in severity, but they can cause pain, swelling, and limited functionality. Road rash is a soft tissue injury caused by friction between the skin and the road surface.
Who Pays For Expenses After a Bicycle Accident?
In Florida, determining who pays for a cyclist’s injuries in a car accident depends on several factors.
Firstly, if the car accident was caused only by the negligence or fault of the motorist, then the driver’s insurance policy would typically be responsible for paying for the cyclist’s injuries. Florida follows a “no-fault” system for car accidents. This means that each individual’s insurance provider pays for their own injuries, regardless of who was at fault. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance even covers bicyclists. As stated in Florida Statute 627.736, insurance policies are required to provide PIP benefits to individuals involved in accidents with vehicles, which includes bicyclists and pedestrians.
If the cyclist has their own auto insurance policy with PIP coverage, they can claim compensation for their medical expenses under their own policy. Likewise, they might be able to seek compensation through the motorist’s PIP coverage depending on the circumstances.
Another factor to consider is the concept of comparative negligence. Florida follows a comparative negligence system, which means that if both the cyclist and the motorist share some level of fault in the accident, their respective degrees of fault will determine the amount of compensation awarded. For example, if the cyclist is found to be 20% at fault for not obeying traffic laws, their compensation would be reduced by that specific percentage.
Filing Insurance Claims and Dealing with Insurance Companies
After a bicycle accident, it is essential to report the incident to the appropriate insurance companies as soon as possible. Be sure to provide accurate details and request claim forms if necessary.
Thoroughly document the accident by taking photos of the scene, your injuries, and property damage. Collect contact information from any witnesses.
Medical Treatment: Seek immediate medical attention and maintain records of all medical expenses, diagnoses, and treatments related to your injuries.
Maintain records of all correspondence with insurance companies, including dates, times, and names of individuals you speak with. This documentation can be crucial in the claims process.
Consult a St. Petersburg Bicycle Accident Attorney
In any bicycle accident, whether severe or not, it is advisable to consult with a St. Petersburg bicycle accident attorney. They can help you with the process of recovering losses from start to finish. Dealing with insurance claims can be a complex and challenging process. Having a clear understanding of your coverage, rights, and responsibilities is vital to ensuring that you receive the compensation you need to recover from a bicycle accident.
How Does Having A Personal Injury Attorney Make A Difference?
After a bicycle accident, having legal representation is highly recommended for several reasons. Firstly, personal injury law is very complex and challenging to understand without a legal background. A skilled St. Petersburg bicycle accident attorney specializing in personal injury will guide you through the legal process, ensuring no costly mistakes are made along the way.
St. Petersburg bicycle accident attorneys play a crucial role in helping victims of bicycle accidents. They assist in gathering evidence, conducting investigations, and determining liability. They will also handle communication with insurance companies, negotiate settlements, or represent you in court if necessary. Additionally, they can expertly calculate the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future medical needs.
Negotiating and Settling a Bicycle Accident Claim
The process of negotiating with insurance companies after a bicycle accident typically involves several steps. First, it is essential to gather all relevant evidence, including medical records, accident reports, witness statements, and photographs. This evidence will support your claim and validate the damages you have suffered.
Once you have a comprehensive understanding of your damages, your St. Petersburg bicycle accident attorney will typically draft a demand letter outlining your case and the compensation you are seeking. The insurance company will then evaluate your demand and respond with a counteroffer. This back-and-forth negotiation process may involve multiple rounds of offers and counteroffers until both parties reach an acceptable settlement agreement.
Is There An Advantage To A Settlement Vs Going To Court?
Reaching a settlement has several advantages over going to court. Firstly, settling outside of court often saves time and money. Court trials can involve extensive litigation costs and lengthy legal processes, whereas settling can expedite the resolution of your case. Settling also reduces the stress associated with a trial, as it spares you from the emotional burden of court proceedings.
In addition, settling allows you to have more control over the outcome of your case. While a judge or jury determines the final judgment in court, negotiations allow you to actively participate and have a say in the settlement amount. Moreover, settlements provide a level of certainty, as you know the guaranteed compensation amount without the risk of an unpredictable court ruling.
What To Expect During The Settlement Process
During the negotiation process, victims can expect some common elements. Initially, the insurer might make a low initial offer in hopes of obtaining a quick settlement at a lower amount. This is where a well-prepared case with strong documentation becomes invaluable. As negotiations progress, both parties engage in back-and-forth deliberations, making counteroffers to find a middle ground.
Your St. Petersburg bicycle accident attorney is the crucial piece in successfully justifying your claim and evaluating the adequacy of the insurer’s offers. Throughout this process, expect ongoing communication between your St. Petersburg bicycle accident attorney and the insurance adjuster. In order to settle, there are constant discussions revolving around the strengths of your case, the extent of your injuries, and the just compensation you deserve. Ultimately, the goal is to reach an agreement that adequately compensates you for your injuries and losses.
Compensation for Bicycle Accident Victims
Bicycle accident victims may be eligible for various types of compensation depending on the specific circumstances of their case. These can include:
Compensation for current and future medical costs related to injuries sustained in the accident, including hospital bills, surgeries, rehabilitation therapy, medications, and assistive devices.
Reimbursement for the income lost due to missed work during the recovery period. This may also include compensation for a reduction in earning capacity if the injuries result in long-term or permanent impairment.
Pain and suffering
Non-economic damages that take into account physical and emotional pain experienced due to the accident and injuries. This type of compensation is subjective and varies based on the severity and impact of the injuries on the victim’s life.
Compensation for repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed bicycles, helmets, and other personal items.
Loss of consortium
In cases where the injuries affect relationships and interfere with the ability to maintain a normal family life, compensation may be awarded to the spouse or family members.
Contact A St. Petersburg Bicycle Accident Attorney For A Free Consultation
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident in St. Petersburg, your rights and well-being deserve immediate attention. Our experienced St. Petersburg bicycle accident attorneys are here to provide a free consultation to assess your case. Don’t navigate the complex legal process alone; we are dedicated to helping you seek justice and fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
During your free consultation, we will listen to your story, evaluate the merits of your case, and outline a tailored legal strategy. Time is of the essence, so act now to protect your rights. Your road to recovery starts with one call. Contact us today, and let us fight for the justice you deserve.