Tampa Bicycle Accident Attorney
A leisurely bike ride in Florida can quickly become disastrous if a motor-vehicle driver fails to follow the law or carelessly ignores a bicyclist on the road. In mere seconds, one driver’s negligence can cause a collision that leaves a bicyclist with severe injuries such as lacerations, broken bones, head injuries, neck and back injuries, paralysis or death. If you or someone you love was hurt in such a scenario, contact Tampa bicycle accident attorney Dereck Capaz for guidance.
At Capaz Law Firm, we are dedicated to holding at-fault parties accountable for injuries caused to cyclists. We can help you fight to get you fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s negligence. Call today for a free consultation.
Bicycle Accident Attorney Dereck Capaz Can Help
Mr. Capaz is an experienced bicycle accident lawyer in Tampa who understands the unique aspects of bicycle accident cases, including:
- Florida vehicle laws regarding bicyclists
- Proper roadway design regarding bicyclists
- Bicycle design and common manufacturing issues
- Bicycle accident reconstruction
- How to account for all recoverable damages
- The circumstances when punitive damages might be available
- How to overcome common disputes with insurance companies
- How to avoid unnecessary complications that can prolong the proceedings unnecessarily
Bike Crash Statistics
Unfortunately, bicycle accidents in Florida are quite common. According to a Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Crash Statistics Report:
- 4,632 bicyclists were injured in one year
- 120 bicyclists were fatally injured
- 21 of the 120 fatalities occurred in Tampa Bay (Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties)
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Though there are Florida laws to protect bicyclists from motor vehicles, those laws aren’t always followed. Other times a bicycle accident is caused by unsafe roads or problems with equipment. An experienced bicycle accident attorney can thoroughly analyze your case to determine who’s responsible.
Bicycle accidents are often caused by a negligent or inattentive driver who:
- Fails to yield at an intersection
- Fails to stop at a stop sign or red light
- Fails to look both ways before resuming driving after a stop sign
- Fails to yield the right-of-way
- Turns or pulls into traffic directly in front of a bicyclist
- Drives past a bicyclist without paying attention
- Drives in a lane designated for bicyclist
- Opens the door of a parked vehicle directly in a bicyclist’s path
- Talks or texts on a cell phone while driving
- Drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Other causes of bike accidents include:
- Poorly maintained roads
- Poorly lit roadways
- Poor roadway design regarding bicycle safety
- Bicycle malfunction
- Helmet failure
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
If you’ve been in a bicycle accident, it’s important to seek legal representation. The motor vehicle driver and their insurance company will likely try to blame you for the accident in an attempt to avoid or limit liability. Don’t let them intimidate you into thinking the accident is your fault.
With opposing parties scrutinizing everything you say and do, you will need to consider your actions carefully. If you make any mistakes, you may be handing ammunition to the insurer to devalue or deny your claim.
Let’s take a look at some of the steps you should always take after an accident:
- Contact Authorities: In Florida, you are required to report an accident to the police if it resulted in injuries, deaths, or property damage exceeding $500. Regardless, in most cases, you should contact authorities immediately after a bicycle accident. Not only will this ensure that injured parties receive medical attention, but police will also visit the scene to investigate the crash and compile an official incident report. You should remain at the scene and ask that the at-fault motorist(s) and any eyewitnesses stay there, too. This will make it easier for officers to identify the parties involved. Keep in mind that there are strict penalties for those who leave the scene of any accident that led to any injuries, deaths, or excessive property damage.
- Gather Evidence at the Scene: If you are able to do so, you should take steps to collect any evidence at the accident scene. Using your phone—or a camera—take pictures of the damage to your bicycle and the other vehicles involved, your injuries, road markings such as skid marks, street signs, weather conditions, and other elements that could help prove liability. If you speak to eyewitnesses, note down their contact details to share with your attorney. Once you have left the scene, you should not repair your bike as an accident reconstruction expert may want to examine your personal property for clues as to who or what caused the collision.
- Seek Medical Treatment: After an accident, your health is your top priority. Whether you suffered a catastrophic injury or just a few cuts and bruises, you should visit a doctor for a comprehensive medical assessment as soon as possible. Not only will you receive the treatment you need to start healing, but your doctor will also create medical records documenting the severity of your injuries. These records could play a crucial role in tying your condition to the wreck and proving damages.
- Submit an Accident Report: According to state laws, you are required to file a crash report with Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the collision. However, if a local police officer already documented the accident, you are exempt from this requirement.
How Much Is My Bicycle Accident Claim Worth?
Most of us underestimate the financial impact a serious injury can have on our lives. Not only may you be straddled with sky-high medical bills, but your condition might also inhibit you in a number of unexpected ways. For instance, you may not be able to work, take care of your children, or tackle household chores.
Compensatory damages in a personal injury case cover a wide range of losses, such as:
- Medical Bills: From doctor’s visits and surgeries to prescription medication and physical therapy sessions, your medical costs can add up fast in the wake of a serious crash. Minor or temporary injuries usually require less care than permanent conditions or disabilities, and, as such, will tend to cost far less to treat. Since medical expenses often make up the bulk of a bicycle accident settlement, the extent of your injuries can have a significant effect on the potential recovery in your case.
- Lost Income: Bicycle accident victims often suffer broken bones, brain trauma, and other debilitating injuries. As such, many are unable to return to work for a substantial period of time after the wreck. Those who sustained permanent injuries or disabilities may never be able to work again. Fortunately, you might be able to recover compensation for any wages lost because of the accident. The value of such damages can depend on a variety of factors such as your income prior to the collision and how long you were not able to work. If you suffered a long-term injury that will affect your ability to return to your job in the future—or ever again—you may be able to seek damages for loss of future earnings.
- Liability: If it emerges that your negligence contributed to your losses in any way, your settlement or verdict may be reduced to reflect your percentage of liability. For instance, if you were not wearing a helmet and suffered brain trauma in the accident, the opposing parties may assert that had you been wearing protective headgear your injuries would not be as serious. As such, you might be held liable for a portion of your damages.
- Replacement Services: While you were recovering from your injuries, you may have had to make use of alternative transportation, hire someone to take care of your children, or order in meals. These unexpected costs can add up quickly, setting you back thousands of dollars. As such, you have a right to seek compensation for any services you had to pay for as a direct result of your injuries. You should compile relevant receipts, invoices, and bills to share with your attorney.
- Pain and Suffering: Persistent pain can degrade your quality of life, making it difficult to enjoy activities that once brought you joy. While the psychological impact of a painful injury can be challenging to quantify, plaintiffs have a legal right to seek compensation for the intangible effects of their condition. To prove such damages, you may need to employ a wide variety of evidence to paint a clear picture of how the accident has affected your life. For instance, your attorney may ask you to start a personal injury journal to track your pain levels, symptoms, medication side-effects, and limitations. Alternatively, if your condition caused you to develop depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, psychiatric reports could help shed light on the toll your injuries have had on your emotional well-being.
- Punitive Damages: These damages are awarded with the intention of punishing the at-fault party to dissuade others from carrying out the same acts. However, punitive damages are only introduced if it can be shown that the defendant acted with gross negligence or intentional misconduct. For example, if the driver who struck you was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be able to seek punitive damages.
Contact a Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Tampa
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident, contact Capaz Law Firm. We are dedicated to defending the rights of bicyclists and will fight to hold the responsible party accountable for your injuries. Call 813-440-2700 for your free consultation.
Million Dollar Advocates Forum ®
Dereck Capaz is a proud member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. The Million Dollar Advocates Forum is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States.Learn more
Dereck Capaz was selected for inclusion and named in the 2009 – 2015 editions of Florida Super Lawyers.Learn more