According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were a total of 5.25 million motor vehicle crashes in 2020. This is slightly down from the estimated 6.75 million crashes in 2019. Despite having a decreased number of car crashes, fatalities actually increased in 2020. There were a recorded 35,766 fatal crashes in 2020 as compared to 33,487 deaths in 2019.
Of the total number of motor vehicle crashes, it’s estimated that 35% resulted in an injury or a fatality to a vehicle occupant. Another 20% resulted in fatalities of bicyclists, pedestrians, and bystanders.
What is the most dangerous state for bicyclists?
Florida is the most dangerous state for bicyclists, due to its unique topography and bustling metro areas. In 2020, 169 bicyclists were killed on Florida roadways. This number is a jump from the 156 bicyclists killed in 2019. As of July 2023, there have been a total of 109 bicycle fatalities. The current data remains on track with state trends regarding bicycle fatalities.
Tampa area bicycle crash statistics
Metropolitan areas of Florida, including Tampa, see higher rates of bicycle accidents and fatalities. In fact, the Tampa Bay area has been named the deadliest top metro area in Florida.
Hillsborough County has the highest traffic fatality rate of large counties in the U.S. In 2021, roughly 275 people died following a motor vehicle accident. Crash statistics for Hillsborough County include:
- 28,021 traffic accidents
- 18,697 injuries from traffic accidents
- 275 fatal accidents
- 467 bicycle accidents
- 584 motorcycle crashes
- 655 pedestrian accidents
- 412 DUI accidents
- 7,321 hit-and-run crashes
Pinellas County has also seen a steady rise in accidents involving motor vehicles and bicyclists. Fatalities rose from 14 bicycle accident deaths in 2020 to 21 in 2021. The combined death rates of bicyclists and pedestrians nearly doubled, as there were 85 combined fatalities in 2021, compared to 49 combined fatalities in 2020.
Florida law and the right of way
Motor vehicle injuries and fatalities can be minimized with stricter roadway rules and community awareness. Florida law details that drivers must yield the right of way to all traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists at stop signs. At four-way stops, the vehicle that reaches the stop first should move forward first. If both vehicles arrive at the same time, the vehicle on the left should yield to the driver on the right. Florida state law recognizes bicycles as vehicles.
What causes car vs. bicycle accidents?
The leading cause of vehicle crashes across the nation is driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Distracted driving and speeding are also common causes of car accidents.
When it comes to bicyclists and motor vehicle crashes, drivers of motor vehicles are not often aware of cyclist rights, and may not know how to interact with a cyclist when they see them on the road.
The leading cause of bicycle accidents is collisions with other motorists. Additionally, most bicycle accidents happen on long stretches of road as opposed to intersections. Speeding and reduced visibility of bicyclists typically contribute to bicycle accidents in these circumstances.
Cyclists can help minimize the danger on roadways by riding with the traffic flow, wearing bright and reflective clothing, and using clear, easy-to-understand hand signals.
What happens if you’ve been involved in an accident with a cyclist in Tampa?
Florida law recognizes bicycles as vehicles and as such, cyclists are entitled to the same rights as motor vehicle drivers. If you’ve been involved in an accident with a bicyclist, you should follow the same steps and procedures as if they were another vehicle.
The injuries associated with a bicycle collision are typically more severe. Because of this, it’s imperative to seek medical attention for an injured cyclist immediately following the accident.
Cyclists have rights if they’ve been involved in an accident with a motor vehicle. A cyclist can pursue a personal injury claim against a driver to recover additional compensation not covered by auto insurance.
Common bicycle accident injuries after being hit by a car
Bicycle accident injuries can be more severe and life-threatening than motor vehicle accidents. Wearing proper safety equipment like a helmet reduces the risk of a head injury by 48%, serious head injury by 60%, traumatic brain injury by 53%, face injury by 23%, and the total number of killed or seriously injured cyclists by 34%. Typically, common bicycle accident injuries include but are not limited to the following:
- Head and neck injuries
- Broken ribs
- Internal bleeding
- Back injuries
- Other severe trauma
I was hit by a car while on a bicycle, do I have a legal claim?
Florida law recognizes bicycles as vehicles and therefore bicyclists have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers.
Florida is a no-fault state meaning all vehicle operators are required to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL). In the event of an accident, your PIP and PDL insurance will cover you for medical treatment, lost wages, and other losses. Florida law allows you to pursue additional compensation in the form of a personal injury lawsuit.
Liability in car vs. bicycle accidents
Under Florida law, there is a comparative negligence rule that allows both parties — the cyclist and the driver — to file a lawsuit against the other party. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, you have the right to recover compensation for property losses, medical bills, and lost wages.
What damages can be recovered in a bicycle accident?
Victims injured in a bicycle accident can seek economic and non-economic compensatory damages. These damages seek to restore losses including the following:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Criminal vs. civil cases
Anyone has the right to bring forward a civil case, however, a criminal case requires a prosecutor to bring forward charges. Citizens may be able to initiate a criminal case by bringing their concerns to a law enforcement agency or other government entity.
Under some circumstances, both a criminal and civil case might be filed following your accident. If your accident involved a driver who was under the influence, was a hit-and-run accident, or involved any other criminal act, a criminal case may be brought forward.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a bicycle accident?
Bicycle accidents fall under the umbrella of personal injury. In Florida, plaintiffs have four years to bring forward a personal injury lawsuit. This time begins on the date of the injury.
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident, it’s important to act quickly to collect pertinent evidence to support your claim. Seek out the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure you get the representation you deserve.
How can an attorney help me after a car vs. bicycle accident?
Working with a bicycle accident attorney who’s well-versed in Florida traffic law will allow you to receive comprehensive legal representation if you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident. At Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, our legal team will work tirelessly to build a strong case that allows you to recover the compensation you deserve following your injury.
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Halpern, A. (2023). What You Need to Know.
Mulligan, M. (2022). Pinellas Most Dangerous for Walking, Bicycling in 2021. Deaths Nearly Double.
Rook, A. (2023). These are the Safest and Most Dangerous US States for Cyclists.