Fort Lauderdale provides unprecedented opportunities for outdoor recreation – its sunny climate and breathtaking scenery make it the perfect place to ride a bike. Whether you’re commuting by bike or you simply like the opportunity for physical activity, bicycling is a common way for Fort Lauderdale residents to get around. Unfortunately, Fort Lauderdale is also a dangerous city for cyclists – In fact, the entire state of Florida is one of the most dangerous states in the country for those traveling by bike, according to the Florida Pedestrian Index. Proving negligence in a bicycle accident can sometimes be difficult – it’s best to have an experienced Florida bike accident attorney on your side to help secure the compensation you deserve.
Bicyclist Fatalities in Fort Lauderdale
Only 25% of Fort Lauderdale residents are satisfied with area biking safety – and for good reason. Our beautiful town of Fort Lauderdale is one of the worst cities in the nation for bicycle safety, ranking fifth in cyclist fatalities. Between 2009 and 2014, there were 14 total bicycle crash fatalities, with 568 additional injuries. Because of the violent nature of these accidents, crashes involving bikes tend to have a 3% fatality rate, compared with the 0.04% fatality rate for accidents involving just vehicles.
Sadly, 1 in 41 of Fort Lauderdale’s bike crashes result in death. Broward County is a leader in pedestrian fatalities in the state, second only to Miami Dade County. There are two main reasons bicyclists in our area are at higher risk than other areas:
- Arterial roadways. City planners make roadways through town flat, fast, and wide to create minimal disruption to traffic during peak hours. Unfortunately, these are also our city’s main streets, and they are surrounded by apartment complexes and shopping centers. Planners often let bicyclists’ needs take a backseat when designing these roads. According to federal data, more than half of our nation’s bicycle and pedestrian fatalities take place on arterial roadways.
- High-speed roads. Main veins also have higher posted speed limits to encourage traffic flow. Roads with posted speeds of more than 40 miles per hour account for 62% of all pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities.
Common Causes of Bike Accident and Injury
Bicyclists can incur injury in virtually limitless scenarios. Some accident scenarios and injuries, though, are more common than others. Here are some examples:
Distracted Driving or Riding
Distracted driving is a threat to everyone on the road, but it’s especially dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians. While even inattentive drivers may reflexively be aware of other vehicles, they’re not as accustomed to checking for bicycles. A simple error in judgment or failure to check a blind spot can lead to a lifetime of consequences.
Drivers aren’t the only ones who can operate distracted. These days, even bicyclists are guilty of checking their smartphones or mobile devices while riding. For your safety, always keep your eyes on the road.
Vehicle speed plays a dominant role in bicycle crashes, but so can bicycle speed. Always judge your speed based on weather conditions, road conditions, and the surrounding terrain. If you’re traveling too fast, you might not see a hazard in the road until it’s too late.
No Designated Bike Lanes
Many pedestrians don’t like to share the sidewalk with bicyclists, and the law requires motor vehicle operators to “share the road” with others. This means that drivers should leave at least three feet between their vehicle and bicyclists. Bike lanes help rectify the dangers of sharing the road with other drivers, but not all area roadways have them. Never assume a driver will give you enough space, and ride as close to the side of the road as possible.
Accidents at Intersections
Almost 20% of all Fort Lauderdale bike and pedestrian crashes occur at intersections. There’s a lot of activity at intersections – cars may turn right or left or merge lanes. These are all risk factors for a bike accident. While bicyclists must obey traffic lights and follow the rules of the road, drivers often forget to check for them, which can lead to disaster. One of the most common scenarios is a car turning right into a bicyclist who’s crossing at a green light. Use crosswalks whenever possible and signal appropriately when making a turn.
Accidents in Parking Lots, Parking Structures, and Driveways
Bicyclists are also vulnerable to injury when they’re traveling through parking lots or parking structures. One possible scenario occurs when drivers forget to check their blind spot when backing up, hitting the bicyclist. While backup cameras help prevent this situation, they don’t always work well in places like parking garages, which are dark even in the daytime. To prevent injury, wear reflective clothing and bike with a defensive approach.
Bike injuries can vary widely based on the nature of the accident, ranging from broken bones to catastrophic injuries with lifelong consequences. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Bruising. Even in minor bicycle accidents, expect severe bruising in the soft tissues of the skin. In more serious bicycle crashes, you might even experience organ bruising or internal bleeding. These may be life threatening.
- Fractures. It’s not uncommon to experience broken bones after a bike accident, especially at higher speeds. The force of flying off a bike or hitting a car can create broken bones of the extremities or ribs. In some cases, broken ribs can even puncture lung tissue or other organs, which creates life-threatening conditions.
- Catastrophic injuries. When an injury or series of injuries seriously disrupts your quality of life or ability to complete everyday tasks, it’s referred to as a “catastrophic injury.” These are unfortunately common side effects of a bicycle accident.
- Injuries to the brain or spinal cord. Traumatic brain injury and concussion may occur after a bike accident, even if you’re wearing a helmet. Violent accidents may even disturb the spinal cord, which can lead to serious conditions, such as total or partial paralysis.
Damages in Bike Accidents
Bike accidents can lead to mounting medical bills and other financial woes. Diagnostic testing, surgery, and other forms of treatment can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Serious injuries also require long periods of missed work, which might make you worry about your financial future. A personal injury lawsuit helps compensate for these bills and can provide the financial security you need to heal. There are a few different types of compensation, or “damages” in personal injury law:
- Economic damages provide relief for the tangible costs of accidents. For example, they will reimburse for medical expenses and lost wages, and may pay for the costs of rehabilitation services. In the event of disabling injury, they may even provide funds for handicap accommodation.
- General damages seek to compensate the victim for the immaterial losses of the accident. This includes loss in life quality, pain, suffering, and the mental anguish associated with the experience.
- In some cases, such as when a driver is grossly negligent (i.e., operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol), you may be able to collect punitive damages. These provide punishment to the defendant and discourage the same behavior in the future.
Contact our Florida Bike Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have incurred an injury in a bike accident due to someone else’s negligence on the roadway, and you feel like you’re running out of money and options – there’s still hope. The experienced Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers at Kelley/Uustal are committed to helping injury victims find peace and security. Contact our Fort Lauderdale office to schedule your free initial consultation or to learn more about our contingency-fee legal services.