Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Injuries
Every year, thousands of bicycle accidents happen in Florida, with many causing severe injuries necessitating emergency medical care. Some bicycle accident injuries are debilitating. Some victims never recover.
The Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm are committed to helping those whose lives have been upended by a careless driver, poorly-designed road or defective bicycles, vehicles or safety equipment.
Bicycling has gained enormous popularity in recent years, particularly in the Sunshine State, as people have come to better understand the many health, social, environmental and financial benefits. Unfortunately, our older roads were not built to accommodate cyclists. Drivers often fail to consider their well-being, if they notice them at all.
Bicyclists are what we call “vulnerable road users.” That means they are at a disadvantage when up against a 4,000-pound mass of gas-powered metal and glass. Research shows more than half of the world’s traffic accident fatalities are vulnerable road users, including bicyclists, pedestrians and those using two-wheelers. Even if they are wearing a helmet and other protective equipment, there is nothing to stop their bodies from directly striking the vehicle, the pavement and other objects. That means the injuries suffered in most bicycle accidents in Fort Lauderdale tend to be worse than for those in motor vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 45,000 bicyclists are injured in collisions annually. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports Broward County is the site of more than 800 bicycle accidents and more than a dozen related deaths every year.
For those injured, damages often include:
- Medical expenses
- Time off work/ lost wages
- Rehabilitation costs
- Inability to return to the same job
- Loss of functional capacity/ life enjoyment
- Pain and suffering
Because of these substantial losses, it’s important to contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale attorney as soon as possible after your/ your loved one’s bicycle accident.Common Bicycle Accident Injuries in Florida
There are many factors that can influence the type and severity of a bicycle accident injury. Those include:
- Speed of vehicle.
- Age of bicyclist.
- Angle at which bicyclist was struck.
The higher the speed of the vehicle and age of the cyclist, the more severe the injuries tend to be. This is not to discourage older riders from partaking, but more to encourage city planners to consider lowering speed limits in areas where bicyclists are known to frequent.
(Note: F.S. 316.2065, Florida’s bicycle regulations, imbues cyclists with all the rights and responsibilities of a driver – including the right to ride on the road – with a few exceptions.)
That said, a study published in the journal American Family Physician outlines some injuries that are more common among cyclists, as compared to other road users, are:
- Traumatic brain injuries. Helmets are not mandatory for bicyclists over age 16 in Florida. It’s still a good idea to wear them, however, because skull fractures, concussions and intracranial bleeds are very common in serious bicycle accidents.
- Facial injuries. Our injury lawyers often see bicyclists who have suffered fractures to facial bones, severe dental injuries and damage to their eye after a collision with a car.
- Bone fractures. Broken arms, shoulders and wrists are commonly cited in bike crashes because cyclists who have any time at all to react often extend their arms to catch themselves and protect their head while in mid-air.
- Chest injuries. Lung punctures and fractures to the rib occur often.
- Injuries to the abdomen. The liver, pancreas, bowels, uterus and spleen are all at risk in a crash. This is especially true if the cyclist is run over after being hit.
- Skin injuries. Bruising is typical, as is “road rash” or skin burns.
This is not to say those in motor vehicles don’t suffer these same injuries, but bicyclists are at higher risk and tend to have injuries of a higher severity level.Proving Your Bicycle Accident Injuries
Just because you were injured doesn’t necessarily mean you will be entitled to damages. You must first and foremost assert fault against another party, be that the driver or bar that served an underage driver or the bike manufacturer that released a defective product. There may also be options to assert vicarious liability, such as against driver’s employer or vehicle owner.
But even if you can prove the other party is liable, that’s only half the battle. You must be able to show “damages.” In other words, you have to prove your losses, and you have to show those losses are directly causally linked to the crash.
Defense lawyers will try to do whatever they can to downplay or minimize your injuries. Our civil litigation attorneys will not let them play hard-and-fast with your future. With decades of courtroom experience, we are not afraid to take our cases to trial if need be.
Most claims, however, will be settled out-of-court without a trial. In order to secure an advantageous deal, we must present proof of the extent of your injuries and their causal link. Sometimes, both sides agree on everything else but the extent of damages, so the case go to trial with that being the only issue for the jury to decide.
Some elements that will help us to prove the full extent of your claim:
- Extensive medical records. This includes records obtained immediately after the accident. Obtaining prompt medical care – even if you aren’t sure you’re seriously hurt – is critical in many bicycle injury cases. Failure to do so may open the door to claims of intervening cause or for the defense to assert your injuries aren’t as severe as you allege. Copious medical records thoroughly documenting your injuries will help.
- Medical bills. Here again, keeping records of all your doctor and hospital treatments, visits, surgeries and more will provide a clear picture of your losses.
- Expert witness testimony. This may come in the form of testimony from an accident reconstructionist who can explain the force with which you were struck. It could be from the emergency room physician who treated you. It could be with the orthopedic surgeon who opined you will likely need future surgeries. These are witnesses whose testimony tends to be given greater weight, and thus can greatly help your cause. Expect the defense to have their own.
- Vocational expert testimony/ evidence. This is testimony or evidence tending to show that your future as a wage-earning individual has been compromised as a result of your injuries. They may attest to your ability – or inability to perform certain jobs – now and in the future. They may also discuss what kind of training or education you would need to fulfill a different occupation.
- Personal witnesses. These would be people like your spouse, children, co-workers or other close loved ones who could speak to your quality of life both before and after the bicycle accident.
Your attorney can give you a better sense of what legal avenues you have to seek full and fair compensation of your bicycle accident injuries.
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.