According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 857 cyclists killed in bike accidents across the United States in 2018. That’s a 30 year high.
There are so many great reasons people ride a bike. Riding a bike cuts down fuel consumption. It promotes your physical health. Physical activity like bike riding can also promote better mental health.
Yet cyclists are the most vulnerable drivers on the road. Lack of adequate bike lanes, careless drivers, and weather hazards leave you exposed to many risks.
Were you involved in a bike accident in south Florida? Read on to learn more about how to get compensation.
Bike accidents in South Florida are on the rise.
In many South Florida locations, the relationship between cyclists and motorists has never been worse. As more people buy bicycles, the likelihood of both categories not understanding or misinterpreting traffic laws grows.
To receive compensation for a bike accident in Florida, you have to first understand how Florida law operates.
Florida classifies all bike accidents under its “no-fault” insurance laws. That means if you’re involved in an accident you must first file a no-fault claim with your car insurance company or the insurance company of the motorist.
No-fault car insurance laws state that insurance companies must pay out a certain amount for injuries and damage no matter who caused the accident.
This no-fault insurance law guarantees coverage of a portion of your medical bills and lost wages through the Personal Injury Protection insurance Floridians carry.
Every PIP policy pays out a portion of damages up to $10,000, though the percentages vary depending on the policy.
You might not own a car. You use your bicycle as your primary transportation. In that case, you can file an insurance claim with the motorist’s car insurance company.
Either way, if injured, your best bet is to file immediately. There is a specific timeline for no-fault claims. The sooner you file a claim, the better chance you have to receive compensation.
There are two different types of car insurance laws states operate with. There are tort states and no-fault states. In tort states, the injured party must pursue damages by proving who caused the accident, or fault.
States who operate under no-fault insurance laws guarantee a pay-out from a driver’s insurance company no matter who caused the accident.
Why do certain states operate like this? Florida and the other no-fault states across America switched to no-fault car insurance laws to cut down on litigation and save the courts from too many cases.
While no-fault and personal injury protection guarantees you will receive some bicycle accident compensation, there is a cap of $10,000.
Though $10,000 sounds like a high number, there are situations where you may face serious injury. Cycling is a fun, healthy activity but carries a lot of risks.
Some of the heaviest cars on the road weigh up to 5,500 pounds. If you’re struck by that much weight at any speed, you can expect serious injury.
When you experience a serious injury, $10,000 compensation for bike accidents might not be enough. There are medical expenses, lost wages, loss of life quality, emotional distress, and disability to cover.
If you’re seriously injured in an accident, Florida law does not place a cap on your settlement.
You should know that if you sue for damages exceeding the amount of the personal injury protection payout, Florida follows a Pure Comparative Negligence rule.
This means that if you’re involved in a bike accident and you sue for compensation, the court determines whose negligence caused the accident. If you’re determined to be 60% negligent, you see a 60% reduction of your settlement amount.
How to Receive the Highest Bike Accident Settlement
Since Florida doesn’t place a limit on how much compensation you can receive for serious injury caused by a bike accident, there are steps you need to take to get the highest settlement amount.
Hire an Attorney
The law surrounding bicycle accidents can be complicated. The last thing you need while you’re recovering from a serious injury is a legal headache. An expert bicycle accident attorney puts your mind at ease and handles your case while you recover.
Thanks to their professional understanding of the law, they work to get you the highest settlement possible based on the circumstances of your case.
These attorneys operate on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay for their services until you receive a settlement.
Should you need to recover compensation for serious injury in a bike accident, don’t delay. Florida’s statute of limitations gives you four years from the date of the accident to serve a suit to a defendant.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Adrenaline can mask symptoms of serious injury. An accident is a traumatic event that causes your body’s fight or flight system to amp up. If you are in an accident and don’t “feel” injured, you need to seek medical treatment anyway.
For one, once the adrenaline wears off, you might notice you are injured. Two, your future case will need medical documentation to determine how much compensation you’ll receive.
File a Police Claim
Florida law requires you to call the police after the occurrence of a traffic accident even if it is a minor fender bender. Though it’s a requirement, there are good reasons to file a police claim after your bicycle accident.
The eyes of a law enforcement agent and the concurrent police report will help you prove your case in court. Since these court cases determine the fault of the two involved parties, a police report will be helpful if you’re not at fault.
Be Wary of Insurance Companies
An insurance company will contact you and offer a settlement. Don’t take it. Insurance companies make money by paying as little as possible on filed claims.
If you believe you deserve compensation exceeding the amount provided by personal injury insurance, make sure you let your lawyer handle any settlements offered by the defendant’s insurance company.
Bike Accidents Require Legal Help
Though Florida is a “no-fault” state and you’re guaranteed a payout from personal injury protection insurance, bike accidents often involve serious injury. If that’s the case, you need to sue for damages.
Remember, there is no cap on the amount of compensation you can receive for serious bike accidents. If you experience a serious injury, you need to hire an attorney.
Are you a South Florida resident injured in a bicycle accident? Contact us today. We’re here to help you get the settlement you deserve.