Car accidents are a serious problem in Florida. Of the estimated 6,296,000 police-reported car crashes that occurred in the United States in 2015, 374,342 of these car crashes occurred in the state of Florida, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The car crashes in Florida during that period resulted in 2,939 deaths and 243,316 non-fatal injuries. Despite a large number of injuries that are sustained by car accident victims every year, statistically about 65% of the car accidents that occur in our state result in a non-fatal injury, but that figure dramatically changes when you analyze different types of car accidents.
Bicycle accidents, in particular, resulted in non-fatal injuries 93% of the time in 2016. That year there were an estimated 6,668 bicycle accidents that resulted in 6,234, which means that 9 out every 10 people involved in a bicycle accident get injured. Moreover, these injuries can be devastating from a financial perspective. According to the Center for Disease Control, fatal and non-fatal injuries from bicycle accidents cost the United States 10 billion dollars due to the lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of accident victims. So, if you are a bicyclist in Orlando, FL, there are few aspects of Florida’s bicycle accident laws that you should be aware of.
Bicycle Accidents in Florida
There were a total of 29,130 car accidents, which includes those involving a bicyclist, in Orange County alone in 2016. In other words, if you ride your bicycle around the Orlando area for long enough, you will almost inevitably be involved in a bicycle accident at some point. So, below are few facts about bicycle accidents in Orlando that you, as a bicyclist, should keep in mind if you are ever involved in a bicycle accident in Orlando.
Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accidents in Florida
Florida has a four-year statute of limitations for any action arising out of negligence under Fla.Stat.§95.11(3)(a). Since the large majority of bicycle accident claims are centered around a claim of vehicular negligence, bicycle accident victims have four years from the date of their accident to file a claim.
Damages in an Orlando Bicycle Accident Claim
Bicycle accident victims can seek two categories of damages, punitive damages, and compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate an accident victim for their injuries, and this category of damages can be separated into two subcategories, economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages compensate you for things such as:
- Medical Bills
- The cost of future doctor’s appointments, medications, and medical equipment
- Lost wages
In contrast, non-economic damages are awarded to compensate you for the damage your injuries had and will have on your life and your mind, but non-economic damages are often difficult to quantify. As such, this class of damages should only be calculated with the guidance of a bicycle accident attorney. Common types of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of career
Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant in an effort to stop the defendant from repeating their actions in the future. Typically, punitive damages are only awarded in the most egregious cases of negligence such as a drunk driving accident, vehicular homicide, etc., because the evidentiary standard for an award of punitive damages is extremely high. Florida’s punitive damages statute, Fla.Stat.§768.72(2), states that punitive damages may only be awarded when the trier of fact, a judge or jury, finds the defendant committed gross negligence or intentional misconduct based on clear and convincing evidence. Since the actions of most drivers that cause an accident involving a bicyclist to occur do not rise to the level of gross negligence or intentional misconduct, punitive damages are typically not awarded in a bicycle accident claim, but the determination as to whether or not seeking punitive damages in your case is appropriate should be made with the assistance of your bicycle accident attorney
Should I Hire a Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
The choice to hire a bicycle accident attorney is always a personal decision made by an accident victim based on a host of different factors. However, most accident victims decide to hire a bicycle accident attorney, because they realize that one small mistake during the claims process could result in the value of their claim being diminished or in a complete inability to file a claim at all. As such, you should always consider employing a bicycle accident attorney that will gather evidence on your behalf, cross-examine witnesses, negotiate with the insurance company, and use their legal experience and skills to seek the best possible resolution to your claim.
Connect with a Bicycle Accident Attorney in Orlando, FL Today
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, speaking with a bicycle accident attorney that can explain your legal rights and evaluate the strength of your claim can prove to be a valuable investment. 1800-Injured is medical and lawyer referral service that connects accident victims with bicycle accident attorneys in the Orlando area. Don’t wait till it’s too late to file your claim. Call 1-800-Injured today!