“Boy, I’m sure glad I have an Orlando bicycle accident attorney on retainer” is not something you think to yourself when you leave your house for a ride. As a matter of fact, no one wants to think they could end up in a serious accident while navigating Orange County Roads.
The fact of the matter is Florida has become infamous for bicycle accidents and injuries. If you are a serious cyclist or at the very least use your bicycle for commuting, then knowing an Orlando bicycle accident attorney is necessary in the case you wind up on the wrong end of another vehicle.
Guy DiMartino has 18 years of experience standing up for Orlando bicycle riders who have been injured while sharing the road with other vehicles. Let his expertise be a soothing guide for what will be a tough road ahead.
Florida Bicycle Accident Stats
As previously mentioned, Florida’s reputation for bicycle accidents is nothing to brag home about. In 2015 Florida lead the U.S. in bicycle deaths with 150, up from 139 in 2014 and well outpacing second-place California.
In that same year the state of Florida recorded over 4,000 bicycle accidents. As a matter of fact, Orange County ranked No. 5 in the state of Florida for bicycle accidents.
These statistics aren’t meant to be a scare tactic, but more so a reminder to all Orlando bicycle riders they are the most vulnerable vehicles on the road. As the folks in Tallahassee continue to try and fix this problem, Guy DiMartino encourages all riders to practice defensive riding so they can proactively avoid any accidents on the road.
Orlando Bicycle Accident FAQs
What is the Florida Bicycle Helmet Law?
Before anything else is said, Guy DiMartino recommends anyone riding a bicycle in Orlando to wear a helmet regardless of your age/experience. Florida law says anyone under the age of 16 must wear a helmet that is “properly fitted and securely fastened” by a strap around the head. Anyone under the age of 16 riding in a trailer or buggy being pulled beside or behind the bicycle needs to wear a helmet as well.
The Code of Federal Regulations states all bicycle helmets worn by riders meet the updated standards passed on January 1, 2016. This means if you bought a helmet before that date, it’s time to buy a new one! Anyone in Orlando under the age of 16 who are caught riding a bicycle without a helmet by law enforcement may be subject to a citation.
Florida law also allows law enforcement to distribute citations to parents who prevent their child from wearing a helmet.
Sure, a $15 ticket isn’t a big deal for some Orlando residents. But an Orlando bicycle rider can be best served by wearing a proper helmet so they can save $15, a trip to court and even injury if caught up in an accident.
Do Orlando bicycle riders have the right of way?
Above anything else, Orlando bicycle riders should remember:
When you ride a bicycle in Orange County, you are legally considered the driver of a vehicle — no different than someone driving a car. This means all Florida traffic laws — from stopping at red lights, giving pedestrians right of way and riding with the flow of traffic — apply to Orlando bicycle riders.
Bicycles and cars are all considered “human-propelled” vehicles in the state of Florida. This means they’re governed by the same rules and regulations. So sorry Orlando bicycle riders, we don’t get special treatment from the state.
Do I have to have file a Florida auto insurance claim if I’m in a bicycle accident in Orlando?
Florida’s personal injury protection law (PIP) states anyone who’s been in an accident involving “human propelled” vehicles file an auto insurance claim.
The PIP exists to protect at-fault drivers from bicycle riders filing suit against them in Florida court. An Orlando bicycle rider will have to go through a number of steps and meet certain criteria to claim damages not associated with the insurance policy.
Of course, if an Orlando bicycle rider doesn’t have auto insurance there are other options for you.
Can I file homeowners insurance if I’m in a bicycle accident in Florida?
The simple answer to this question is yes, Orlando residents can use a homeowners policy in place of an auto policy when they find themselves in a bicycle accident. However, keep this in mind when using a homeowners policy during an accident:
- A Florida homeowners policy will cover damages to another party if the bicycle rider is considered “at-fault”
- A Florida homeowners policy normally covers liability only. It won’t cover any damages to the policyholder.
- Professional riders who are in a race cannot use a Florida homeowners policy to cover liability.
Can I ride my bicycle on the sidewalk or crosswalk in Orlando?
The short answer here is yes, but Orlando bicycle riders need to be cognizant of their status when switching from public roads to sidewalks.
The law sees bicycles differently depending on where they ride. On public roads, bicycles are considered vehicles as we’ve previously discussed. On sidewalks, the rules change for bicycle riders and they are considered pedestrians by Florida state law.
Orlando bicycle riders need to be extra careful when riding on sidewalks because they not only need to yield the right of way to all pedestrians but need to audibly signal to others when they’re around. All rules regarding helmets, lights and even DUI’s are still applicable on Orlando sidewalks.
Common Bicycle Accident Scenarios in Orlando
Car pulls out in front of bicycle
Very often we see cars backing out of a driveway or pulling out of an intersection and won’t see a bicycle crossing in front of their path. This is a common scenario where the bicycle rider normally doesn’t suffer any serious injuries because the car isn’t going fast at the time of the accident.
Car door opens on bicycle path
In film and television, this scenario is often used for comedic effect. But for Orlando bicycle riders nothing is funny about riding full speed into a 100-pound car door obstructing their path. Florida law prohibits anyone exiting a vehicle to leave their door open longer than it takes to exit the vehicle. A similar law states people exiting a vehicle must do so only in safe conditions, i.e. looking both ways before exiting.
Car “rear ends” a cyclist changing lanes
Bicycle riders need to signal when changing lanes lest they be the victim in this scenario. A bicycle rider can be run over by a car not watching their surroundings, which could lead to some very serious injuries.
Car makes a right turn into a cyclist
Not only to Orlando bicycle riders need to remember to use their own signals, they need to pay attention to the cars signaling around them. Doing so will avoid a car making a turn into an unsuspecting bicycle rider.
Bicycle rider pulls out in a street
Look both ways before you ride out into the street! Many times cars won’t see you and won’t stop in time to avoid what could be a fatal accident.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries in Orlando
Anyone in Orlando who’s learned how to ride a bicycle has probably fallen off a time or two. Those bumps and scrapes you got as a kid were minor and don’t compare to the traumatic road rash experienced by bicycle riders traveling at high speeds.
Before going any further here, if Orlando bicycle riders just wear a helmet you don’t have to worry about these as much. If you don’t wear a helmet, just keep in mind while you’re riding almost two-thirds of bicycle deaths occur because of head injuries.
Another common and more serious injury to Orlando bicycle riders is broken bones. How debilitating these injuries depend on the riders age and how fast they were going when the accident occurred.
Damage to a riders teeth or jaw can normally coincide with injuries to the head. Pro cyclists wear mouthguards to avoid these types of injuries, but there’s a good chance the laymen cyclist doesn’t use mouth protection. If an Orlando bicycle rider wants to be extra careful, this is probably a good practice to keep.
How to file a bicycle accident claim in Orlando
Report the accident to the police
Florida’s PIP law requires anyone in an accident involving two vehicles to file a claim with their insurance company. So long as you’re following the law, this is something an Orlando bicycle rider will do anyway.
Double check the incident
Be prudent in making sure your claim is complete. Make sure you’ve gathered all photos of your accident and received phone numbers from any witnesses. The more information you have, the better case you’ll have for a claim.
Go see a doctor
Adding on the subject of being prudent, going to see a doctor even if you feel fine can help build credibility to your claim. Not to mention a doctor may be able to diagnose any head injuries you may not realize you have (example: concussion).
File the claim
This process is already in place if you followed step one. Don’t get penalized by the state of Florida — you have enough to worry about as a bicycle accident victim.
Do NOT give a statement to the other insurance company
The only people you should talk to following a bicycle accident is the police, your Orlando bicycle accident attorney, and your insurance company. The other party’s insurance company may be looking to poke holes in your claim to reduce your compensation.
How the accident claim process works in Orlando
Orlando bicycle accident victims can be awarded two types of damages: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to tangible things like lost wages or future medical expenses — things that have a calculable dollar amount. Loss of the ability to keep up your house and loss of earning capacity in the job market also fall into this category.
Non-economic damages are things like pain and suffering and emotional distress. These damages are very difficult to prove in court and often take the most time to sort out in litigation. An Orlando bicycle accident victim would be prudent to save any medical bills, expense reports, and doctors paperwork to make this process easier.
Contact an Orlando bicycle accident attorney today
Orlando is a great city to ride a bicycle in. The downtown area is equipped with bicycle lanes for riders to have safe and easy access to the roads they need to travel. So long as bicycle riders apply the best defensive riding practices, many Orlando cyclists will never have to call a bicycle accident attorney.
But as we all know, even the safest cyclists can fall victim to unruly cars and buses on the road. If this applies to you or anyone you know and care about — call Guy DiMartino at 352-267-9168 for a free consultation today.