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Common Types of Motorcycle and Bicycle Accident Injuries

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Motorcycle and bicycle accidents can involve abrupt collisions and potentially severe injuries to the rider. Even though motorcycles are faster and more powerful, a bicycle accident can be equally as devastating. A cyclist may crash or be struck by a motor vehicle while riding under 5 mph and can still sustain catastrophic, life-threatening injury. Wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces the rider’s probability of suffering a traumatic brain injury by at least 40% if he/she is involved in a crash. Additionally, nearly 75% of all head injuries caused by bicycle accidents can be prevented by the use of helmets.

Common Motorcycle and Bicycle Accident Injuries

For those riders and cyclists fortunate enough to survive a collision with an automobile, injuries may still be very painful or even permanent. Traffic accident survivors may still require treatment or hospitalization for flesh injuries, fractures, head injuries, or spinal cord injuries. Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries typically require in-patient rehabilitation and can leave riders and cyclists with permanent disabilities.

  • Bone Fractures: Colliding with a car or truck at any speed, or simply losing control and being ejected can fracture bones – particularly in vulnerable joints like the wrists and elbows. Unprotected knee caps can be broken or shattered, and riders who crash often suffer from bruised or fractured ribs. Compound-fractures which break the skin can damage muscles and ligaments and may impair a rider’s range of movement once they heal.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Road rash is a colloquial term used to describe a severe tissue or muscle injury caused by abrasion with the road. If a rider is ejected and slides across a pavement, the coarse surface is likely to tear away any exposed flesh. Most traditional clothing is quickly torn or pulled away by the road. Riders can don jackets equipped with protective polymer or Kevlar armor designed to withstand road friction and protect a rider’s flesh in case of a crash.
  • Spinal Cord Injury: In severe cases, the spinal cord may be pinched, crushed, or severed. The injury may result in total paralysis below the injury site. Paralysis of the lower body and lower extremities is called paraplegia, while paralysis in all limbs, with an injury site above the chest or shoulders is called quadriplegia. The effects of a complete spinal cord injury are permanent.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
    • Concussions: The majority of traumatic brain injuries are concussions. Helmets protect against damage to the skull, but a concussion may still be caused by an accident. A concussion occurs when the brain collides with the inner surface of the skull. Most concussions produce temporary effects which eventually subside with proper rest. Effects often include persistent headaches, problems with concentration, memory impairment, and balance/coordination issues.
    • Contusions: Contusions are bruises on the brain that form like bruises in the skin or muscles. Depending upon the region of the brain affected, bruising can produce effects similar to a concussion.
    • Hematomas: These are blood clots that occur between the skull and brain or inside the brain itself. Clots in the brain may block the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain, resulting in a stroke.

    References:

    Livestrong

    Web MD

    Northeastern University

    Mayo Clinic Website

    Department of Veterans Affairs – TBI Symptoms & Screening

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Bicycle Accidents and Helmet Statistics

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In South Florida, bicycle accidents occur at a relatively high rate. Central and southern Florida’s major metropolitan areas are among the nation’s most dangerous areas when it comes to fatal bicycle accidents. A few different causes are common among many accidents between bicyclists and motor vehicles.

Bicycle helmet awareness has been a growing topic of discussion in recent decades. Most safety experts strongly support the use of helmets by cyclists at all times. The majority of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) stemming from bicycle accidents occur when helmets are not worn.

Sadly, many of these accidents involving head injuries result in permanent brain damage or even death. Bicycle helmets have been statistically proven to decrease the frequency and severity of traumatic brain injuries and death among bicyclists.

Bicycle Helmets and Accidents – Facts and Statistics

The following statistics pertain to bicycle helmets, head injuries, and helmet effectiveness:

  • In 2010, 616 cyclists were killed in traffic accidents. 429 were not wearing helmets at the time of the fatal accidents.
    726 bicyclists died on US roads in 2011.
  • The average age of a bicyclist killed on US roads is 43.
  • Nearly one fourth (23%) of the cyclists killed were drunk.
  • One drink increases a bicyclist’s probability of serious injury or death by a factor of six.
  • Four or five drinks increase the probability by a factor of 20.
  • Fatal crashes typically were urban and not at intersections.
  • Helmet use among those bicyclists with serious injuries was low (13%), but it was even lower among bicyclists killed (3%).
  • Only one fatal crash with a motor vehicle occurred when a bicyclist was in a marked bike lane.
  • At least 75% of all bicyclists who die in accidents each year die from traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • Each year, an estimated 67,000 cyclists visit an emergency room because of an accident-related head injury.
    A cyclist not wearing a helmet is 14 times more likely to die in a bicycle accident.
  • One cyclist is killed in a traffic accident every six hours in the United States.
  • According to the National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior, only 50 percent of cyclists wear their helmets occasionally, while only 35 percent wear their helmets at all times.
  • Nearly 60 percent of all childhood bicycle-related deaths occur on minor roads. The typical bicycle/motor vehicle crash occurs within 1 mile of the bicyclist’s home.
  • Among children ages 14 and under, more than 80% of bicycle-related fatalities are associated with the bicyclist’s behavior, including riding into a street without stopping, turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming from behind, running a stop sign, and riding against the flow of traffic.
  • Bicycle helmets have proven to reduce the risk of head injury and the risk of brain injury.
  • Bicycle helmets have also proven to offer substantial protection to the forehead and mid-face areas.

References:

Helmets.org

US CDC

NHTSA

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Florida Bicycle Accident Statistics

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In Florida, bicycles provide an economical and enjoyable way to get around throughout the year. However, riding a bike near Florida’s major cities can be particularly hazardous, especially for beginner-level cyclists or those who ride regularly in or near traffic. Florida has ranked consistently over the past several years as one of the top three states in the US with the most fatal bicycle accidents.

More alarming, though, was the national ranking of most of Florida’s major cities in comparison to other metropolitan areas across the U.S. According to a 2012 study completed by Transportation for America, the following ranked as the top 5 most dangerous metropolitan areas for bicyclists in the US:

1. Orlando/Kissimmee, FL

2. Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater, FL

3. Jacksonville, FL

4. Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Pompano, FL

5. Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario, CA

In Florida’s larger cities cyclists face the threat of serious and deadly traffic accidents every day. For this reason, cyclists are strongly urged to wear a helmet at all times and to ride with extreme precaution whenever riding on or near roads open to regular motor vehicle traffic.

Bicycle Accident Statistics

The majority of serious and fatal bicycle accidents occur when a driver fails to yield to a cyclist at an intersection. Other bicycle accidents can occur on crowded side-streets, parking lot entrances/exits, or when a cyclist emerges from in between parked or stopped vehicles. According to the NHTSA, the following statistics pertain to bicycle accidents in Florida as well as accidents across the US:

  • Between 2007 and 2011, there were 532 fatal bicycle accidents crashes on Florida roads
  • During that same timeframe, 21,935 cyclists were injured in accidents with motor vehicles
  • Bicyclist deaths represent roughly 2% of the nation’s total annual traffic fatalities
  • Each year, an estimated 67,000 cyclists visit an emergency room because of an accident-related head injury
  • A cyclist not wearing a helmet is 14 times more likely to die in a bicycle accident
  • One cyclist is killed in a traffic accident every six hours in the United States
  • According to the National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior, only 50% of cyclists wear their helmets occasionally, while only 35% wear their helmets at all times
  • At least 33% of fatal bicycle accidents involve a car overtaking/passing a cyclist headed in the same direction
  • At least 75% of all bicyclists who die in accidents each year die from traumatic brain injuries (TBI)

References:

Care 2 Make a Difference

Florida Health

US CDC

NHTSA

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Bicycle Safety Tips

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For the past several years, Tampa has ranked consistently among the top 3 most dangerous cities for cyclists within the state of Florida, typically trailing behind Orlando and/or Miami.

Since 2007, nearly 4,200 bicycle accidents involving injuries have been reported annually. At least 100 of those accidents involve a bicyclist death. At the current average rate, at least 12 people are injured and 2 people die in bicycle accidents every week in Florida.

Traffic experts and bicycle safety advocates strongly urge all bicyclists to wear a properly fitted helmet every time you ride a bike. The following tips can help reduce the likelihood of riders being involved in catastrophic or fatal bicycle accident:

  • Watch for Opening Car Doors: Always scan the street several cars ahead. Ride at least 3 feet away from parked cars, taking the lane if necessary. Be prepared to stop suddenly whenever riding alongside parked cars on a street. Keep your weight over your rear wheel and apply strong force to the front brake lever, with moderate force to the back.
  • Make Yourself Visible: Wear bright, vibrant clothes when riding. Consider wearing a reflective safety belt or vest for maximum visibility. If riding during twilight hours or after dark, install flashing bicycle lights in addition to the bike’s reflectors. Being seen by drivers is a cyclist’s first and best defense against being hit by an automobile.
  • Never Pass Cars on the Right: Don’t overtake slow-moving vehicles on the right-hand side. Doing so makes a bicycle rider invisible to left-turning motorists at intersections. Passing on the right also means that the vehicle you’re passing might not see you and may make a right turn into you.
  • Avoid Parking Lot Exits: If possible, avoid riding on a road with numerous parking-lot exits. The dangers posed to cyclists are too many so it’s best to opt for a less-direct route. If you don’t change routes, follow the law and ride fully in the road. Stay off the sidewalk at all times – motorists aren’t looking for bicyclists there.
  • Look Behind You Often: Practice looking over your shoulder until you are comfortable doing so without swerving or losing your balance. If you regularly ride in traffic, consider installing a side view mirror to help see cars behind you.
  • Avoid Vehicles Turning Left in Front of You: If you see a car turning into your path as you begin to cross into an intersection, turn right into the lane with the vehicle. Resist the urge to creep into the intersection at red lights to get a head start.
  • Never Stop or Wait in a Driver’s Blind Spot: Simply stop behind a car, instead of to the right side of it. This makes a bicyclist much more visible to traffic on all sides.

References:

Bicycle Safe

Bicycling

DMV Florida

NHTSA

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Do I Really Need an Attorney for my Bicycle Accident Claim?

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In the state of Florida, bicyclists near major metropolitan areas like Miami, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville face the highest risks of fatal bicycle accidents in the US. Florida’s major cities record the highest rates of bicycle accident fatalities every year. Since bicycles offer no protection to riders and most traffic accidents involving bicycles cause the cyclist to be ejected or run over by an automobile, a much greater percentage of these accidents also result in permanent injuries or even death.

Any time a bicyclist is hurt in a collision with a motor vehicle, he/she is strongly encourages to speak with an experienced bicycle accident attorney. Often times, cyclists are struck because the motorist is distracted, inattentive, or somehow negligent. A driver involved in a bicycle accident is likely to have an insurance company’s adjusters working to protect their interests. Adjusters and corporate attorneys sometimes move quickly to refute or marginalize a hurt cyclist’s injury claim. Retaining the services of a competent bicycle accident attorney can help to protect your rights to legitimate compensation and may keep the opposing party from resorting to stall tactics or other methods of intimidation in response to your legitimate personal injury claim.

Personal Injury Attorneys and Bicycle Accident Claims

After any bicycle accident, a cyclist may endure a difficult recovery including weeks or months of acute hospital care and physical rehabilitation. Even in less severe bicycle accidents, an injured bicyclist might still face follow on treatments, doctor’s visits, outpatient physical therapy, and missed time from work. Quantifying these costs and recovering the damages from the at-fault driver often necessitates the legal expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney.

The decision to hire a lawyer early in the process may send the message that your claim is serious. Any injured bicyclist who delays in hiring a lawyer could be perceived as an opportunity for a quick settlement by the insurance company. The insurance company might act quickly to offer a low-ball settlement that seems fair to the injured person at the time, but is extremely low in comparison to the long-term losses caused by the injury. In other cases, an insurance company could try to shift the blame to the cyclist or even deny the claim entirely.

Insurance adjusters and the insurer’s corporate attorneys realize that an injured cyclist acting alone may not understand his/her legal leverage or the true monetary value (due to unforeseen costs) of his/her injury. An experienced personal injury attorney can be the rider’s key to successfully recovering damages for the all medicals costs, lost wages, any loss of potential earning power (if applicable), and mental anguish.

Bicycle Accidents and Injury Statistics

In Florida and the surrounding vicinity, the average number of serious bicycle accidents equates to at least one accident per week each year. According to the Center for Head Injury and the NHTSA, the following statistics also apply to bicycle accidents:

  • 85% of head injuries in bicycle accidents can be prevented by wearing a helmet
  • 677 bicyclists died on US roads in 2011
  • 48,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic accidents in the US in 2011 (down from 52,000 in 2010)
  • Bicyclist deaths represent about 2% of the nation’s total annual traffic fatalities
  • At least 33% of bicycle accidents in Florida involve a car overtaking (passing) a cyclist headed in the same direction
  • About 75% of all bicyclists who die in accidents each year die from traumatic brain injuries (TBI)

Selecting the Right Personal Injury Attorney

It’s in your best interest to consider at least a few different attorneys. It is important to speak and meet with them before choosing one to handle your case. Be sure the attorney you decide to hire possesses significant case experience with bicycle accident claims. Your attorney should have a record of positive client outcomes consisting of fair settlements as well as a few trial victories. Also look for a bicycle accident lawyer is recognized among their peers by independent entities such as Avvo and Super Lawyers.

References:

Florida Bicycle Law

NHTSA

The Center for Head Injury Statistics

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Tampa Driver Found Guilty 3 Years after Striking and Killing USF Bicyclist

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A Tampa area driver that killed a bicyclist in an accident nearly three years ago has been found guilty. The vehicle the man was driving had been exceeding 90mph when he struck and killed a cyclist close to the University of South Florida’s Riverfront Park.

On Monday, February 3rd, a jury convicted Lenoy Angel Rivera, age 21, of vehicular homicide. Rivera is scheduled to be sentenced on March 7th for the felony conviction. The man was also found guilty of driving with a suspended license, a misdemeanor offense.

Authorities said that Rivera appeared to be participating in a speed contest with another vehicle on February 13th, 2011 when the accident took place. Both cars traveled east on Fletcher Avenue, each of them speeding, tailgating and changing lanes abruptly.

Rivera lost control of his vehicle and struck bicyclist Robert Niedbalec, age 52, a Temple Terrace veterinarian and black-belt martial arts instructor, who was riding in the bicycle lane. Niedbalec died from his injuries at the scene of the accident.

The driver of the second vehicle, Armando Perez Jr., age 37, was also charged with vehicular homicide as well as leaving the scene of an accident with a death. Perez pleaded not guilty to the offense and his case has not gone to trial at this point. No further details on the accident or either case were provided at this time and no mention was made of any pending civil lawsuits.

2014 Off to a Scary Start for Bicycle Accidents

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2013 closed out on a consistent pace for bicycle accidents after a rider was injured in Pinellas County on December 31st. Though police believed he had been drinking, the bicyclist was seriously injured after being hit by a vehicle on Park Blvd. Now, just a few weeks into 2014, South Florida has had already had its fair share of bicycle accidents.

Critical Mass Leader Hit While Riding

On Thursday January 2nd, Ray Strack was struck from behind by a vehicle while riding down Oakland Park Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale. Ray Strack is the leader of Critical Mass, a widely known South Florida organization dedicated to bicyclist rights and bicycle enthusiasts. The movement of cyclists gathers for a group bike ride once each month to protest car culture and in celebration of bikes. Some expressed concerned over cyclists’ safety in Florida, wondering what could become of less experienced riders when such a prominent cyclist can get hit. The accident did not coincide with a group event – Strack was riding alone when the crash occurred.

The details of the accident weren’t clear. Strack said he remembers riding west across a bridge, but then nothing else. He was hit from behind by a driver in his early 20’s. He suffered a fracture of the T9 vertebrae in his back and several deep cuts in his head, which required staples and stitches. Strack blacked out and is suffering from short-term memory loss from the time of the accident, but is conscious and otherwise recovering in good spirits.

Young Cyclist Killed in Odessa

In an earlier posting, we shared a local news story about 16-year-old Anthony Greene. Greene was riding on a dark road in Odessa on January 6th when he was struck by another teenager driving a pickup truck. The pickup truck, a 2002 Dodge Ram, was driven by 18-year-old Christopher Griffith. According to deputies, Griffith saw the bicyclist at the last second and tried to swerve away – but still ended up hitting him.

Greene was ejected from his bicycle and died at the scene. He was not wearing a helmet and his bicycle was not fitted with any lights. Florida law requires a bike to use reflectors and at least one powered light for nighttime riding.

Anthony Greene’s accident was the first recorded bicycle fatality to take place in Hillsborough County in 2014. Bike advocacy group the “Green Mobility Network” recently called South Florida “one of the most dangerous places in the country for bicyclists and pedestrians.” Miami, Tampa, and Orlando consistently rank among the US’ top 15 metropolitan areas with the highest bicyclist and pedestrian fatality rates each year.

Cyclist Injured in Pinellas Park Accident

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On New Year’s Eve, a local man riding a bicycle was seriously injured after being struck by an automobile on Park Boulevard. The accident occurred in the evening hours just after dusk, according to Pinellas Park Police.

The accident report revealed the cyclist had entered an eastbound traffic lane against the flow of traffic. The sun had already set and the man was riding the bike in traffic without lights or any other safety equipment. Florida state law requires that cyclists use, at minimum, a red light on the rear of a bicycle if riding after dark.

The cyclist was struck by an oncoming vehicle near the 6000 block of Park Boulevard just before 7pm. Police noted they believed the cyclist was under the influence of alcohol. The cyclist suffered serious, life-threatening injuries and was taken to an area hospital. The names of the bicyclist and the driver were not released by police.

Bicycle Accident Statistics

In Pinellas Park and the greater Tampa Bay region, the average number of serious bicycle accidents equates to at least one accident per week each year. Other stats include:

  • 48,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic accidents in 2011 (down from 52,000 in 2010)
  • 677 bicyclists died on US roads in 2011
  • 85% of head injuries in bicycle accidents can be prevented by wearing a helmet
  • About 75% of all bicyclists who die in accidents each year die from traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • At least 33% of bicycle accidents in Florida involve a car passing a cyclist headed in the same direction
  • Bicyclist deaths represent about 2% of the nation’s total annual traffic fatalities

Holiday Rush Increases Danger on the Road

By | Bicycle Accident, Car Accident, Distracted Driving, Motorcycle Accident | No Comments

that people should be wary of more than just being able to weave their way through the crowds to find a gift.

Researchers at the UA Center for Advanced Public Safety, who analyzed 10 years of Alabama crash data, found that the days just before Christmas can be a more dangerous time to drive than the days surrounding Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

UA researchers found heavy traffic surrounding all three major holidays can increase the chances for automobile accidents. However, in 2012, the six-day period that includes Christmas had 18% more auto accidents than the Thanksgiving period and 27 % more than the days around New Year’s Day.

The main cause for the increase in accidents was heavy traffic. In fact, the actual holidays are generally a safer time to travel than the period leading up to them since there is less traffic, according to the crash data.

Dr. David Brown, a professor of computer science at UA and a research associate with CAPS, explains that the best preventative measure is to avoid late night hours and days in which many people are on the roads.

It is also important to adhere to the following safety tips to avoid a collision:

  • Do not drink and drive or ride as a passenger with someone who has been drinking.
  • Always use your safety restraints, and make sure that everyone in the car uses theirs.
  • Drive with the flow of traffic, and do not exceed the speed limit. A 10-mph reduction in speed doubles your chances of surviving a crash.
  • Don’t use cell phone or other devices that can distract you from driving.
  • Avoid the pre-Christmas rush, especially after dark.
  • Avoid being out in inclement weather. Weather has a great impact on crashes in general, although they tend to be of lower severity.

References:

U A News

FDOT to Designate Bike Lane on Clearwater Causeway

By | Bicycle Accident, Personal Injury | No Comments

Officials from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced they would designate marked bicycle lanes on the Clearwater Memorial Causeway just days after a man turned himself into police in connection with a deadly hit and run accident involving two cyclists on Labor Day.

One of the cyclists died on the scene and the second died in the hospital several weeks later after a small pickup truck, allegedly driven by a local Clearwater man, struck a man and his girlfriend as they rode across the Causeway on their tandem bicycle. Christopher Patrick Weed, 29, was arrested after telling police he believed he may have been involved in the accident about a day after it took place, but claimed that he blacked out and didn’t remember hitting anyone. Both riders had been wearing helmets.

During the week after Labor Day, FDOT officials stated they would have bicycle symbols painted along the Causeway’s paved shoulders, legally designating them as bicycle lanes. The paved shoulders are 5 feet across at their widest points.

Local bicyclists stated that any markings or signs on the roadway should direct more attention to the presence of bicyclists and should add some more security. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Rick Adams, a sales manager at Chainwheel Drive, a local bicycle shop, commented:

“That’s better than nothing and it’s better than what’s out there now. Every little thing helps. There’s no doubt.”

Many residents believe the addition of rumble strips could be another option to alert drivers in the event that they swerve out of their lane. Another Clearwater cyclist, Chad Horne, explained that he contacted highway officials and requested that signs be installed on the causeway. Horne said similar signs had been installed near Sand Key Bridge fairly recently and he noticed general improvement in the area in driver courtesy toward cyclists.

However, Mike Riordon, owner of another Clearwater bicycle supply and repair shop, differed in opinion and explained that signs or markings won’t always make a difference.

“The people that are speeding, not paying attention, drunk,” he said, “signs don’t do anything.”

Horne noted how he had been riding on Labor Day around the same time as the accident occurred and remembered waving to riders he saw on a tandem bicycle. He later saw Clearwater Police squad cars on the causeway as he headed back in from his route.

Bicycle Accident Statistics

  • 85% of traumatic brain injuries resulting from bicycle accidents can be prevented by wearing a helmet
  • About 33% of all bicycle accidents in Florida involve a car passing a cyclist headed in the same direction
  • 48,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic in 2011
  • Average age of a bicyclist injured on US roads: 32
  • 677 bicyclists died on US roads in 2011
  • Bicyclist deaths represent about 2% of all annual traffic fatalities
  • Average age of a bicyclist killed on US roads: 43

References:

Tampa Bay Times

NHTSA

The Center for Head Injury Statistics

Florida Bicycle (.org)

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