Car Accident Kills Bicycle Rider
A fatal crash in Martin County serves as a grim reminder that bicyclists in Florida risk serious injury twelve months a year.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, this wreck occurred near the intersection of Southeast 44th and Cove Road. Both the bicyclist and an Expedition driver were westbound on Cove. The driver, who momentarily fled the scene, told troopers that he did not see the bicyclist. First responders rushed the bicycle rider to a nearby hospital, where he was later declared dead.
No charges are pending against the driver at this time.
Bicycle Crash Injuries
Bicycle riders have almost no protection from speeding cars. So, in a collision, these rides often sustain serious injuries, such as:
- Head Injuries: Thin bicycle helmets often protect riders from falls, but they offer little protection against a speeding car. Head injuries are often the most expensive injuries to treat, largely because these wounds are always permanent and often degenerative.
- Exsanguination: Blood loss is usually the official cause of death in these incidents. The same forces that cause head injuries cause internal organs to grind and bump against each other. Since they have no protective skin layer, these organs often bleed profusely in situations like this.
- Broken Bones: Generally, bones are crushed instead of merely broken. So, doctors must use metal plates, pins, and other parts to set these bones during surgery. And, these victims require extensive and expensive physical therapy after the bones heal.
Given the serious nature of these injuries, why have lawmakers not acted to make Florida streets safer for bicyclists? Bikelash may be the answer. Drivers often oppose safety alterations such as designated bike lanes separated from traffic lanes by concrete or other pillars. Drivers also generally oppose other safety measures, such as lower speed limits.
Psychologists say the underlying issue is tribal. No one wants to give up their piece of the road to make things easier for bicycle riders.
Establishing Liability in Bicycle Crash Claims
In Florida, victims have basically two legal options in most car wreck claims. State law interprets both these theories in broad, victim-friendly terms.
Ordinary negligence is usually a lack of reasonable care. In most cases, this duty means that drivers must obey the rules of the road and operate defensively. If the driver’s conduct falls below that standard of care, either because of a big one-time let down or a series of smaller decisions, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) might be liable for damages.
Bicycle riders are often in a very dangerous position. It is illegal for them to ride on the sidewalk. It is unsafe for them to ride near the curb, because most drivers do not see them. And, when cars whizz by, it is difficult to control a bicycle. Finally, it is unwise for them to ride in the middle of a lane. As mentioned above, most vehicle operators do not like bicyclists. They like them even less if they believe bicyclists are slowing them down.
Commercial drivers, such as taxi driver and Uber drivers, have a higher duty of care. Yet many of these operators, especially Uber drivers, do not respect this fact.
Alternatively, many car crashes involve the negligence per se doctrine. Tortfeasors may be liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate a safety law, and
- That violation substantially causes injury.
In Florida, if the tortfeasor broke a non-penal safety law, such as running a red light, negligence per se is only a presumption of negligence.
Damages in a bicycle crash claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. In hit-and-run claims, a Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney might be able to obtain additional punitive damages. Many jurors intensely dislike hit-and-run drivers.
Connect with a Dedicated Lawyer
Bicycle crash victims have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.