Bicycle and Pedestrian Injuries
Few losses are as devastating and senseless as when a child is killed or seriously injured simply crossing the street.
Childhood is all about exploring the world around you. But where bicycling and walking are concerned, the world can be a dangerous place.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,000 U.S. children under age 14 are injured and dozens killed every year on bicycles. Additionally, 10,000 child pedestrians are injured every year and hundreds are killed, accounting for 21 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in this country.
At The Law Offices of Richard Ansara, our injury lawyers in Fort Lauderdale know that many of these tragic deaths and injuries are preventable. They often occur due to the negligence of motor vehicle drivers. Surviving parents or those seeking redress on behalf of their injured children can secure compensation for medical expenses and other costs while holding the responsible party accountable by filing a civil lawsuit.
Our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys know well the extensive injuries these types of impacts can cause, and the agonizing parents endure when their child has been harmed by a motorist who failed to use reasonable care.
Common types of injuries sustained by child bicyclists and pedestrians include:
- Multiple broken bones and fractures
- Serious wounds and head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries (including paralysis)
- Damage to internal organs
We understand that bicycle accident and pedestrian accident cases tend to be more complex than those involving traditional motor vehicle collisions. This is especially true with child witnesses, who courts unfortunately have historically been deemed unreliable. Our legal team works to overcome these unique challenges by:
- Collecting witness statements
- Poring over accident and police reports
- Working with accident reconstructionist experts
- Inspecting and meticulously documenting any damage to the bicycle or vehicle
- Contacting numerous experts to review existing medical records and accident scene information to ascertain causation of injuries and who may be at fault
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adolescents and young adults have the highest rates of bicycle deaths, while children and adolescents (between the ages of 5 and 14) have the highest rates of non-fatal, bicycle-related injuries.
The CDC further reports 1 in 5 children between the ages of 5 and 15 killed in motor vehicle accidents were pedestrians.
Motor vehicle crashes in general are the No. 1 cause of child deaths for kids under 4 and the No. 2 cause of death for 3-year-olds and every age from 5 to 14, the NHTSA reports.
Although there has been a steady increase in the age of bicyclists killed in recent years, that is owed more to the fact that more people are cycling as they get older, not because cycling is getting safer for kids. In 2013, for example, children under 15 accounted for 7 percent of all bicyclists killed and 11 percent of those injured. Meanwhile, 5 percent of all pedestrians killed – or 236 out of 4,735 – were under the age of 14. This group also accounted for 15 percent of those pedestrians injured.
Florida is one of the worst states in terms of bicycle and pedestrian safety overall. Our bicycle fatality rate per million is 6.80 – higher than anywhere else in the country. Our pedestrian fatality rate is 2.56, with more than 500 people killed annually.Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits
Child bicyclists and pedestrians injured in motor vehicle crashes may be entitled to partial coverage for their injuries under their parents’ Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Although Florida is a no-fault state, PIP coverage can be extended under the at-fault driver’s policy to bicyclists or pedestrians who aren’t covered by their own plan. However, these will only cover so much.
The Florida legislature’s change to the PIP law, F.S. 627.736, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2013, limits policyholders to collection of just $2,500 of the $10,000 of PIP coverage they are required to carry. Only those with “serious” injuries are going to receive more than $10,000.
Injured persons collecting PIP benefits can compensation for:
- Medical Bills
- Disability Benefits
- Death Benefits
If damages exceed $10,000, then injured parties may pursue further damages from the at-fault driver and/or the insurance companies.Other Claims for Damages
Children injured in bicycle or pedestrian accidents may suffer lifelong injuries or disabilities. We can help victims to take action, usually by asserting either:
- Negligence of other driver – Showing the driver had a duty to operate the vehicle in a reasonable manner, he or she breached this duty and caused the crash, resulting in injury or death.
- Product liability – Showing the bicycle, its components or the vehicle or some other product was unreasonably dangerous and caused or contributed to the child’s injuries or cause of death.
Recognize that not every child bicycle accident or pedestrian injury is grounds for legal action, but it’s worth it to explore all options if your child has suffered.