Bicycle Accidents can result in some of the most catastrophic and life threatening and life ending injuries. Bicyclists are just as exposed as motorcyclists to injury, however, they tend not to wear helmets as much as motorcyclists. This may be attributable to the fact that motorcyclists generally travel at much greater speeds, and the general community is much more aware of the potential injuries to motorcyclists as well as the types of safety precautions that motorcyclists need to use. There is much less awareness regarding injuries from bicycle accidents and the necessary safety precautions that bicyclists should take.
Bicycle Accidents – The Cause of Catastrophic Injury & Death
Over the last few years, in Florida — especially in the Tampa Bay area — there has been more media coverage about people who have died or have been severely injured in bicycle accidents. Recently, I represented a friend who was hit by a negligent automobile driver while riding a bicycle. Even though he was wearing a helmet, his injuries were catastrophic.
Accusation of Negligence
As with motorcycle cases, when bicyclists do not wear helmets, the defense attorneys generally claim that the injured bicyclists are somehow comparatively negligent for their injuries. While not wearing a helmet does not prohibit an injured person from bringing legal action, the verdict likely will be substantially less than the jury would have awarded the injured party if the jury feels that wearing a helmet would have lessened the extent of the injuries.
For example, if a bicyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, and it is determined that probably 50% – 70% of the injuries could have been avoided by wearing one—the jury will reduce the verdict by that percentage. At Christopher Ligori & Associates we strongly advise that all bicyclists wear helmets.
Because bicycle accidents can result in catastrophic and life threatening injuries, bicyclists need to be especially aware of their surroundings. People driving cars tend to not pay as much attention to people riding bicycles as they would to those on motorcycles or in other vehicles. Additionally, bicyclists often turn corners very sharply and travel in the same direction as vehicles.
As a result, motorists are unable to see bicyclists when they pull out onto the roadway as easily as they would another vehicle or even a motorcycle, and consequently, the reaction time of the automobile driver frequently is lessened. Regardless, the person driving the car is no less responsible for causing injury to the bicyclist, but there is more opportunity for injury when a bicyclist is involved.
Florida Law treats bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians very similarly, and all have legitimate claims if they are injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle. However, it is especially important that bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians take all necessary safety precautions when on the roadways as any fault attributable to them in an accident – as in any injury case — can be used against them by the defense.