Fatal Bicycle Accidents
Florida leads the nation in fatal bicycle accidents. The Sunshine State is by far one of the most dangerous places for a ride, and that’s especially true here in South Florida.
The bicycle accident attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm know these cases can be devastating for families of loved ones lost in this most tragic and unnecessary way. Usually, it comes down to a negligent driver. Speed is often a primary factor. Distraction, intoxication and aggressive driving are too.
A common refrain our Fort Lauderdale fatal bicycle accident lawyers hear from at-fault drivers describing a bicyclist is, “It was like he came out of nowhere.” The truth of the matter is, the driver likely wasn’t watching for bicycles, as is their responsibility per F.S. 316.1925. The law requires drivers to drive in a careful and prudent manner to avoid endangering other people.
Prioritizing safer streets for cyclists is an imperative for lawmakers and community leaders. Tighter penalties for bicycle accident deaths can help deter some incidents. But ultimately, it comes down to driver responsibility. Too often, drivers fail in this regard.
We realize no amount of money is going to bring back the person you lost to this tragedy. But you deserve to be financially stable as you turn the page on this painful chapter. The tortfeasors (wrongdoers) deserve to be held to account. Our fatal bicycle accident attorneys can guide Fort Lauderdale families through every step of this process to ensure accountability and maximum compensation.Deadly Roads for Florida Cyclists
Florida roads present an extreme hazard for cyclists, even as the activity continues to swell in popularity.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports more than 800 people die each year nationally in bicycle accidents – a figure that has been growing in recent years.
In Florida, of the nearly 3,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents every year, 150 of the victims are bicyclists. That’s more than 5 percent. (Bicyclists also account for a disproportionate number of reported serious injuries.)
While officials in Fort Lauderdale, a city that enjoys 13 million visitors annually, have made a recent push to create a more bike-friendly destination, the reality is the city is still primarily car-based. Roads were constructed primarily with motor vehicle users in mind – wide, high speed limits and few bicycle infrastructure features. The city has incorporated an increasing number of “sharrows,” which serve to raise awareness of motorists’ responsibility to safely share the road with cyclists.
Still, fatal bicycle accidents continue to occur. Some of the areas where our Fort Lauderdale fatal bicycle accident attorneys tend to see high accident rates include:
- Bicycle accidents on A1A Ocean Drive in Fort Lauderdale. This is the closest street to ride a bicycle on the road, but still near a beach. Bicyclists can use the sidewalk or they can ride directly on the street. In general, casual or less experienced cyclists tend to ride on the sidewalk, while more experienced cyclists ride on the street. Both are fully within their rights, as long as they obey the rules of the road. Although there is a bike lane along this road, there are also a lot of tourists and many people aren’t paying close attention to the task of driving.
- Bicycle accidents on Broward Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. This is the central road that runs from downtown west into Plantation. Its central location makes it popular for cyclists, but traffic congestion can make it unsafe.
- Bicycle accidents on Young Circle in Hollywood. Bicycle rentals are popular in this community, and cyclists like this scenic street, which surrounds Young Circle Park. It’s also been the site of several serious bike accidents.
When the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently considered the most common causes of serious and fatal bicycle accidents, it concluded:
- Collisions with motor vehicles led to serious and fatal injuries to bicyclists in 18 percent of all crashes;
- Two-thirds of all serious bicycle accidents occurred in the late morning and early afternoon. Visibility is reported a problem during these hours;
- Two-thirds of all bicycle crashes were categorized as “urban,” taking place in metro areas like Fort Lauderdale;
- When drivers were judged to be at-fault, they were most commonly-cited for failure to yield and hit-and-run. Many times, the driver indicated they could not see the cyclist.
Bicycle accidents resulting in fatalities are handled a bit differently than bike accidents that result in injury.
First, these claims tend to be higher-stakes than injury claims because losses are usually greater. Secondly, claims for damages stemming from wrongful death must be filed within two years, per F.S. 95.11, compared to the four years one might have in personal injury litigation.
Further, parties lawfully allowed to pursue damages are limited to certain survivors, with spouses and dependent children given priority.
Survivors may recover damages under F.S. 768.21 for:
- Medical bills;
- Funeral expenses;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of earnings from deceased from date of injury to date of death;
- Loss of support and services;
- Loss of consortium.
Courts in these matters will weigh survivors’ relationship to decedent, amount of decedent’s probable net income available for distribution and replacement value of decedent’s services. In weighing future losses, the court will consider the joint life expectancies of survivor and decedent, as well as the period of minority for minor children.
Because cyclists are more at risk of hit-and-run accidents, our bicycle accident attorneys will want to explore the uninsured motorist coverage that may have applied to the bicyclist, as this may yield some compensation, even if the at-fault driver is never identified.
The fatal bicycle accident lawyers at our Fort Lauderdale firm should note too that even if the bike crash was partially the fault of the cyclist, Florida law does not make this a barrier to pursuing damages. It could, however, proportionately reduce the final damage award.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.