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What to do After a Florida Bicyclist or Pedestrian Accident

What to do After a Florida Bicyclist or Pedestrian Accident

What to do After a Florida Bicyclist or Pedestrian Accident 1080 1080 Panter, Panter & Sampedro

Florida is the deadliest place for bicyclists and pedestrians, according to federal statistics. In 2008, out of all bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities in the United States, 11.1% of those pedestrian fatalities and 17.4% of those bicyclist fatalities occurred in Florida, a state which makes up only 6% of the nation’s total population. The trend continues to this day, as there were 153 bicycle fatalities and 697 pedestrian deaths in 2021 alone, making Florida the most dangerous state to be a bicyclist or pedestrian in the nation. 

How To Stay Safe As A Non-Motorist

When collisions occur between a vehicle and a bicyclist or pedestrian, it is safe to assume that the non-motorist will incur the most injuries; injuries that could result in death. Although motorists are encouraged to share the road and remain vigilant for non-motorists, this is not always the case. As a bicyclist or pedestrian, there are precautions you may take to prevent an accident with a driver. 

Bicycle Safety

By law, bicycles are considered vehicles and must therefore be ridden on roadways with other vehicles.  Cyclists must also follow all rules of the road just as a driver would in a car, but must take a few extra precautions to ensure they remain safe on their commute. 

Wear A Helmet

Bicyclists should always wear a helmet. This is the first line of defense in case of a collision with a motor vehicle. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “bike helmets are designed to help protect the rider’s brain and head from one serious impact”, which includes not only collisions with other vehicles, but also falls onto the pavement. 

The fit of a bicycle helmet is of utmost importance. As helmet sizes between manufacturers vary, a cyclist should consult the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute’s website at helmets.org to ensure they are purchasing the helmet that best fits the size and shape of their head. Further, the straps of a helmet should be adjusted so that the helmet is securely fastened. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends using a mirror to adjust the straps or requesting the help of another individual. 

Ride A Bicycle That Fits You

Ensuring a cyclist can remain in control of the bicycle and avoid injury is largely dependent on whether or not the bicycle is the right fit for the rider. According to bicycle manufacturer REI, one simple way to ensure a bicycle is a right fit for an individual is to check the “standover height”. A bicyclist should step over the center of their bicycle and stand with both of their feet firmly on the floor. In the case of a potential fall or collision, a rider should be able to place their feet back on the ground. A cyclist should also be able to comfortably reach their handlebars and maintain an efficient riding position. Bicyclists should always ride bicycles that comfortably fit their frame and are easy to maneuver. 

Be Prepared Before Heading Out

In addition to wearing a properly fitted helmet and riding a bicycle that is the correct size and shape, the NHTSA recommends the following safety precautions:

  • Ensure the bicycle is in proper working condition. Most importantly, bicyclists should check that the brakes are working properly.
  • Wear clothing and equipment that make a bicyclist more visible, such as bright clothing during the day, reflective elements at night, and a white front light and red rear light, as well as reflectors on the bicycle. 
  • Each individual should be on their own bicycle seat. 
  • Hands should remain on the handlebars at all times unless signaling a turn. 
  • Bicyclists should wear a backpack to carry any additional items or they should be secured safely to the back on the bicycle. 
  • To prevent loose clothing from getting caught in the bicycle chain, riders should tuck pant legs into their socks or shoes, and make sure shoelaces are tied and tucked in as well.
  • A cyclist should plan a safe route before heading out on their commute. Safer routes may include those with lesser traffic, slower speed limits, bike lanes, or a bike path. 
  • Riders should commit to remaining alert and following all traffic rules. 

Pedestrian Safety

In 2019 alone, there were 6,205 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents according to reports by the NHTSA. Although motorists should always be aware of pedestrians while driving, this is not always the case. Therefore, pedestrians should keep in mind the following safety tips.

The NHTSA lists the following recommendations for pedestrians: 

  • Follow all traffic rules, signs, and signals.
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever possible.
  • When sidewalks are not available, face traffic while walking and move as far away from oncoming traffic as possible. 
  • Cross streets and intersections only at designated crosswalks. 
  • If there is no crosswalk available, pedestrians should cross a street where there is the best view of traffic and in an area that is well lit. 
  • Before crossing a road, pedestrians should look left, right, and in every direction, a car may be approaching from. 
  • Pedestrians should refrain from using drugs or alcohol before or while walking. 
  • Walkers should remain vigilant of cars exiting driveways and parking spaces. 

Legal Responsibilities Of Motorists and Non-Motorists

In Florida, both motorists and non-motorists have a legal duty to avoid collisions. According to Florida’s bicycle safety statutes and regulations, bicyclists are required by law to follow certain safety precautions. These include: 

  • A child four years of age or younger, or weighing 40 pounds or less, must be secured in a bicycle seat or carrier. 
  • A bicyclist under the age of 16 must wear a properly secured bicycle helmet that meets all federal safety standards.
  • Any person riding their bicycle on the road at less than the traffic speed must ride in the designated bike lane. If the road does not have a bike lane, the cyclist must ride as close to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway as possible. Certain exceptions apply

For a complete list of the 2021 Florida statutes regarding bicycle safety regulations, visit www.leg.state.fl.us.

Pedestrians also have a legal duty to walk in a careful and safe manner within designated crossings and sidewalks to avoid accidents with motor vehicles. While operators of cars and other vehicles have a duty to be alert and cautious in an effort to look out for bicyclists and pedestrians. According to Florida law, all parties have a responsibility to be careful, pay attention, and look where they’re going.

What To Do After A Florida Bicyclist or Pedestrian Accident

If a non-motorist has been injured in an accident with a car, they should immediately call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention. In the case that the injured person is unable to make the phone call, they should call out for the assistance of a bystander who may call emergency services on their behalf. The non-motorist should then take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicle, and any sustained injuries. Both the non-motorists and the driver should exchange contact and insurance information. 

Once the police have arrived on the scene, they will begin to complete a police report. The injured individual should only answer questions as requested without supplemental details. They should then retain a copy of the completed police report. All communication with the motorist should be kept at a minimum and at no time should the injured person take responsibility for the accident either to the other driver or to the police. If possible, the bicyclist or pedestrian should take notes about the accident and any communication between themselves and the driver. These notes should be safely kept in a secure location.  

When seeking medical attention and other actions related to the accident, the injured party should collect medication documentation and expenses related to the accident. Any communication between the injured person and medical professionals should be consistent with what the individual reported to police officers at the scene of the accident. 

When a non-motorist is injured in an accident with a motor vehicle, they may be compensated for the following: 

  •  Medical Expenses
  • Current & Future Lost Wages
  • Pain & Suffering
  • Mental Anguish
  • Funeral Expenses

At Panter, Panter & Sampedro, we provide experienced legal assistance for people injured in pedestrian and bicyclist accidents throughout South Florida. For over thirty years, our experienced trial attorneys have worked one-on-one with clients to successfully get the justice, recovery, and compensation they deserve. If you’ve been involved in an accident, it’s imperative that you call for a free consultation right away at (305) 662-6178.

 

 

Sources: 

https://www.wftv.com/news/local/florida-remains-most-dangerous-place-america-bicyclists-pedestrians-new-data-shows/URLWVNTIDFB7ZJVW2KC5GS43BA/

https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-02-28-florida-pedestrians-cyclists-deaths_N.htm

https://www.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/crash-dashboard/

https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/bicycle-safety

https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/pdfs/helmets/headsup_helmetfactsheet_bike_508.pdf

https://helmets.org/

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/bike-fit.html

https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/pedestrian-safety

https://panterlaw.com/2020/05/27/florida-bicycle-safety-statutes-and-regulations/

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.2065.html

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