Bicycles have long been a popular option for both transportation and recreation. But even though they are common on the roads in Florence and across Alabama, some drivers do not exercise adequate caution around cyclists.
If a motorist is distracted, intoxicated, drowsy, or otherwise negligent, they could cause the cyclist severe harm if they hit them. Bicycles offer basically no protection in the event of a collision with a motor vehicle. This means cyclists can suffer devastating injuries while the motorist may be unharmed.
The Florence bicycle accident lawyers at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. are ready to provide aggressive legal representation if you’ve been injured in an accident. Whether the accident happened in Florence or somewhere else in Alabama, we have the resources, drive, and experience to pursue the compensation you deserve.
We’ve recovered more than $113 million on behalf of our clients, and we have earned a top AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell. To learn more about how we can help you, call our office or visit our contact page to get your free initial consultation.
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Causes of Florence Bike Accidents
There are many different ways a bike accident can occur, many of which involve some type of negligence on the part of drivers. Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Drivers failing to watch for cyclists. In many cases, drivers don’t properly check their blind spots and mirrors when they’re merging or changing lanes, which causes cars to collide with nearby cyclists in their path.
- Drivers speeding or going too fast for road conditions. Speeding makes it harder for drivers to see nearby cyclists and to react in time to avoid a crash.
- Drivers speeding through school zones or other areas where children may be riding their bikes.
- Drivers failing to yield the right-of-way to cyclists when the cyclist is in the right.
- Drivers following too closely behind cyclists, causing them to rear-end the cyclist.
- Drivers failing to give cyclists adequate space when passing as required by state law.
- Drivers and passengers opening their doors into the path of cyclists without checking to see if anyone is approaching.
- Drivers failing to properly use turn signals, especially when turning in front of a cyclist.
- Drivers being fatigued.
- Drivers being impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- Drivers being distracted by talking on the phone, reading or sending a text message, adjusting the music, eating or drinking, etc.
Types of Injuries from Bicycle Accidents in Florence, Alabama
Injuries from bicycle accidents are often more severe than what a motorist might sustain in a car accident. This is because bicyclists don’t have a surrounding structure to protect them, as car occupants do. Furthermore, a bicycle accident might send a cyclist flying off their bike, causing a traumatic brain injury and other serious complications.
Another common reason bicycle accident injuries are more severe than other kinds of accidents is the size difference between a car and a bike. Even small sedans can weigh 3,000 pounds or more, making them easily more than 10 or 20 times heavier than a rider on a bike. There’s an ever-greater size gap between bikes and SUVs and pickups, which can weigh around 6,000 pounds or more. All of this additional size and weight means that cars, SUVs, and pickups can hit a cyclist with great force. This means a greater likelihood of severe injuries.
Some of the common injuries in bicycle accident cases include:
- Lacerations and severe bruises
- Road rash, particularly if the cyclist is ejected on impact
- Broken bones, often more than one
- Torn or ruptured muscles, ligaments, and tendons
- Internal bleeding
- Damage to internal organs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Partial or full paralysis
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Bicycle Laws in Alabama
Just as drivers are expected to know and obey local, state, and federal traffic laws, cyclists in Alabama are expected to follow the rules of the road. Here are a few of Alabama’s law for bicyclists, along with how drivers are expected to behave with regard to cyclists on the road:
- Alabama’s “3-Foot-Rule” requires that drivers give bicyclists at least three feet of space when the driver is passing, and more space if possible. If there isn’t enough room to give the cyclist 3 feet of space when passing, drivers should slow down and wait to pass the cyclist until it is safe to do so.
- Adult bicyclists are not required to wear a helmet. However, anyone riding a bike under the age of 16 is required to wear a helmet.
- Bicycles are generally considered “vehicles” under Alabama law, and as such, cyclists are not allowed on most sidewalks. Furthermore, whenever a designated bike path is available, cyclists are required to use that path and not use the main roadway.
- Cyclists should ride as far to the right as possible when using the roadway.
- Alabama’s DUI laws also apply to bicyclists. Cyclists can face substantial criminal penalties for riding their bikes while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs.
- Bicyclists are required to come to a complete stop at all stop signs and when indicated by traffic lights.
- Writing, reading, or sending a text message while driving is prohibited. Drivers can be held liable for injuries caused by distracted drivers.
- Drivers and passengers may only open their doors into traffic if it is safe and reasonable to do so. Opening the door must not impede the flow of traffic, and it should only be open long enough to load and unload passengers.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident in Florence
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident, your first priority needs to be getting immediate medical treatment. Once you’ve seen a doctor, here are some next steps:
- Follow your doctor’s treatment plan precisely. Deviating from your doctor’s orders could delay or derail your recovery. Additionally, failing to follow your prescribed treatment plan could be used by opposing lawyers and insurance companies as a reason to deny or reduce your compensation.
- Save all your medical records, wage statements, and any evidence from the accident scene. Any medical documents, pay stubs, crash scene photos, and police reports, etc., should be organized and preserved. Your attorney will need these documents to build your case and provide an accurate account of all your losses due to the accident.
- Stay off of social media. Don’t make any public statements about the accident or post any photos, especially on social media. These statements can be taken out of context and used against you by insurance adjusters, opposing lawyers, and other parties. Let your attorney handle all the negotiating and public communication on your behalf.
- Write down the details of the crash. Getting the basic facts of the accident down on paper can help you remember the details later on.
- Track your pain. To get full compensation for your pain and suffering, you need a full account of how your pain impacts your daily life. Keep a regular written record noting how you feel and how your injuries hamper daily activities.
- Talk to a lawyer as soon as you can. Alabama’s statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits gives you two years from the date of your injury to file a case. A lawsuit may be necessary to get the compensation you deserve, so you’ll want to get started on building your case as fast as you can.
Types of Compensation for Bike Accidents
There are three broad categories of compensation that can be recovered in bicycle accident cases. They are:
- Economic damages – This is compensation for quantifiable financial losses you suffered as a result of the accident. It may include compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, reduced ability to work, and your damaged property.
- Non-economic damages – This is compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered in the accident that does not have a specific dollar value attached. It may include compensation for your physical pain, your mental trauma, and your diminished quality of life.
- Punitive damages – This is additional compensation handed down as punishment by the courts due to the reckless or negligent actions by the defendant, as well as to deter others from engaging in similar behavior. Courts are not required to award punitive damages. A lawyer can tell you if your case may qualify for punitive damages.
Alabama uses a contributory negligence standard for personal injury lawsuits. This essentially means that if you are found to have played any role in the bicycle accident, you cannot recover any compensation. This strict standard is just one reason why it’s essential to get help from a knowledgeable Alabama bicycle accident lawyer.
Contact a Bike Accident Lawyer in Florence
Do you have questions about your bicycle accident? Our team at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. would be happy to answer them and give you more information about your legal options. Get your free initial consultation today by calling our office or visiting our contact page.