Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

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The popularity of cycling is on the rise with people increasingly focused on fitness, recreation, and conservation.  While bike riding might promote personal health, the activity often becomes decidedly unsafe when motorists fail to exercise caution and attentiveness.  Cyclists lack the physical barriers to injury and safety equipment that often protect occupants of cars during collisions.  Although motorist negligence causes many injuries and fatalities, a faulty bicycle also might contribute to a serious bicycle-related injury.

In this blog, our bicycle accident lawyers have provided an analysis of a decision from Florida’s 3rd DCA demonstrating the challenges involved in legal claims involving a defective bike.  The plaintiff in Trek Bicycle Corp. v. Miguelez filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of a bike he was riding when he was involved in a crash.  Special rules apply when consumers are injured by defective products that often permit holding entities involved in designing, manufacturing and selling products strictly liable. Continue reading →

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Choosing to get on a bike and going for a ride, whether for recreational purposes or with the intent of getting somewhere specific, is supposed to be a healthy choice for the individual and the environment, but as bicycle accidents continue to increase on South Florida roads, it may be a hazardous decision. A recent article in the Sun Sentinel reported that bike accidents in Broward and Palm Beach Counties have increased in the time period between 2010 and 2012, with a 42% increase in Broward and a 21% jump in crashes in Palm Beach.

Any accident on a bike can lead to serious injuries, but when a bicyclist collides with a motor vehicle, the consequences can be tragic. The skilled and dedicated Miami personal injury attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano have more than 100 years of experience in getting our clients the compensation that they deserve for the harm they have suffered and we are prepared to fight for you. Our firm has favorably resolved many cases where our client was injured or killed because of the negligence of a motorist.
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Michele Traverso, the hit-and-run killer of cyclist Aaron Cohen last year on the Rickenbacker Causeway has received a sentence of less than a year in jail. The light sentence was imposed even though Traverso was driving on a suspended license; had left the scene of the crash and more importantly, abandoned Cohen at the scene of the accident; and only surrendered himself 18 hours later, after covering his car with a tarp to hide it from the police. However, despite records showing that he had been partying in Coconut Grove until the early morning hours of the day of the accident, his toxicology report came back negative, so manslaughter charges were never filed. Because of the long delay between the time of the crash and the time blood samples were taken, any evidence of alcohol in Traverso’s system would have disappeared.

According to miaminewtimes.com, prosecutors had asked Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge William Thomas for a six year sentence. However, the Judge may have decided on the lighter sentence of an additional 364 days in jail because of testimony that Traverso suffers from an autoimmune disorder that would be very difficult to treat in prison…Mr. Traverso will still have to serve another two years on house arrest after getting out of jail, but the Cohen family, as well as cycling advocates from around Miami, are infuriated. Patti Cohen, widow of the slain cyclist, told NBC6: “We’re serving a life sentence with what happened.”

Bear Cut Bridge Closed

To make matters worse for cyclists, the day after Traverso’s sentencing Miami- Dade County officials announced that cyclists may soon no longer be able to use Bear Cut Bridge to travel to and from Key Biscayne to Virginia Key. According to miamiherald.com, county officials worry that the bridge might be overwhelmed by traffic due to the Sony Open tennis tournament. To avoid this, officials are doing away with a walled-off pathway used by pedestrians, cyclists and joggers since the county previously shut down part of the bridge due to structural problems. Now pedestrians, joggers and cyclists will have to use the bridge’s northernmost lane, which is closed to motor vehicles. However, should the new bridge configuration be too troublesome for pedestrians and cyclists, the county may consider closing access to the bridge to those travelers, effectively limiting access to Crandon Park only to those traveling in motor vehicles.

Miami Mayor, Carlos Jimenez, told the Miami Herald last Wednesday that they “have to find a solution that works for the majority of people.”

County officials had closed the two westbound lanes earlier this month after they found structural damage that indicated the bridge could not support heavy vehicles. Later one of the lanes was opened to cars and motorcycles only, with trucks having to use an eastbound lane converted into a westbound lane. The tennis tournament organizers hired an engineer that recommended reinforcing the bridges’ exposed beams with bolted steel plates, which would allow for the opening of the bridge’s four lanes. However, Mayor Jimenez has said the plan would be good enough for maybe two or three years, but that after that they would have to do it over again and that the city’s engineers were not in support of the proposal.

Bear Cut Bridge is the bridge were another infamous hit-and-run accident occurred back in January of 2010. In that accident, Carlos Bertonatti ran over and killed cyclist Christopher LeCanne. Police then had to chase Bertonatti through the island with LeCanne’s bike still wedged under his car. Bertonatti has not been tried yet for his crime. He remains under house arrest. His trial is set to begin February 19 of this year.
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A new, more comprehensive, “Black Box” system for motor vehicles will be available later this year.

In-Vehicle Event Management System (IVEMS)

This technology is not new. Event data recorders that keep records of things like the speed a vehicle was traveling at a certain time; failures of a number of mechanical or electronic systems, etc. have been around for a while.

Not Popular Among Common Car Owners

However, while the system’s tracking capabilities have been popular among fleet operators (cab companies, trucking companies, etc.) because it allows them, among other things, to control their driver’s movements, these systems are not popular among regular car owners because of privacy concerns…And such concerns may only be heightened by the ability of this new In-Vehicle Event Management System (IVEMS) to store not only electronic data related to system’s failures, but digital video surveillance data as well.
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Most people do not understand the concept of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This is perhaps the most important insurance coverage you could purchase to protect yourself and your family.

In Florida, all that is required of a driver to register a car is insurance coverage of $10,000.00 in property damage coverage and no-fault coverage. The $10,000.00 in property damage coverage, pays up to $10,000.00 to anyone else for the their property (including a car, tree, fence, etc.) that is damaged by an accident that you or the driver of your car causes. The no-fault benefit or PIP (Personal Injury Protection Benefit), as it is also known, pays 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your loss wages or a family members loss wages, up to an aggregate of $10,000.00 minus any applicable deductible.

Florida does not require mandatory bodily injury coverage. In other words, if someone else causes an accident, and you are injured, they are not required to have coverage to pay you for your injuries. This is very important. The only way to protect yourself and members of your family, is for you to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).

What is UM/UIM Coverage?

What this means is that you are buying coverage through your own automobile insurance carrier to take the place of or be in addition to the coverage provided by the person who was at fault for the accident. Under Florida law, your own automobile insurance company must offer you UM/UIM coverage up to the limits of the BI (Bodily Injury) coverage that you elect. In other words, if you purchase bodily injury coverage for your car of 25/50 ($25,000 per person/$50,000.00 per occurrence) you are automatically allowed to purchase up to $25,000/$50,0000 in UM/UIM benefits. In addition, if you have more than one car, you can purchase “stackable coverage” which means, that you would have $25,000 in coverage for each car in your household that is covered under the policy. This could dramatically increase the insurance for you and your loved ones at a very reasonable rate. It is an inexpensive way to protect your family.
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Car accidents occur daily. They are unexpected. People are often left injured and in shock. It is important to know what to do after a car accident to protect your rights and preserve the evidence. After being involved in a car accident you or someone close to you should do the following:

1. Turn off your car and unlock your doors.

2. Check on the condition of everyone in the car. If anyone is injured, tell them not to move and if possible, ensure that they are immobilized.

3. If anyone is bleeding, make sure that either a tourniquet is applied or bleed is compressed to stop.

4. Either you or have someone for you should call 911 and be specific in requesting rescue as well as the police.

5. Stay calm and oriented. Respond clearly to the questions that you are being asked by emergency rescuers.

Don’t Move Around

Often times after an accident, a person isn’t immediately incapacitated or in pain. This could be due to adrenaline and other factors. If that is the case, please be careful moving about but, if you can do the following:

a. Exchange information with the other driver or give information to the police officer who is responding.

b. Get the name, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses.

c. If possible photograph or videotape the scene either using a camera or a cell phone camera.

d. If you are at all not feeling well, request transport to a hospital or emergency room.

e. When you see a physician or emergency room doctor, nurse or paramedic, tell them what hurts from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes, even if you don’t think it’s anything serious. Let the medical personnel decide what if any injuries you have.

f. Follow doctor’s orders. Remember they are the professionals.
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Apparently, as they walked home from school, four teenagers were hit by a driver who seems to have passed out at the wheel and lost control of his SUV.

One of the teens lost his life, two remain in critical condition and one is stable at Jackson Memorial Hospital. It is unknown at this time whether the driver, who was also airlifted to the same hospital, will face charges.

Criminal Charges And Liability Unknown

The unfortunate circumstances of this accident may shield the driver from criminal charges and civil liability. If the events were caused by a medical condition over which the driver had no control and had no knowledge or warning of, the likelihood of him facing either is slim. However, while the State Attorneys Office will decide whether he should face criminal charges, they will not make a determination on whether the driver has incurred civil liability. These victims or their loved ones can only make an educated decision as to whether they can pursue a civil action against the driver and his insurance company after they consult a personal injury attorney. They should not accept a determination made by the driver’s insurance carrier in this regard, as insurance companies are not there to help innocent victims, but rather, to limit their exposure. Consulting with a personal injury attorney will not cost them money but only a little of their time, since personal injury attorneys in Florida will not charge them unless they win the case.
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Unfortunately, as a recent CBS News article shows, we have had another incident where a local pedestrian has been hit by a motor vehicle, this time while boarding a public bus.

Elderly Pedestrian was Struck When Trying to Board the Bus

Apparently this time the offender could not drive away in his vehicle. That, however, did not stop him from simply walking away while the driver of the bus was calling 911 and commuters got off the bus to help the victim. The pedestrian, a 91 year old man was at the bus stop trying to board the bus when the offender’s SUV swerved out of control, jumped the curve and run him over. He remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial’s Ryder Trauma Center.
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So called “blind spots” can be very dangerous when changing lanes in a car. They are usually deadly when changing lanes in a motorcycle. Riders on cruisers, who usually wear open helmets (or none at all) can’t hear a vehicle in the lane next to them because of the surrounding noise. Similarly, those who ride sport bikes while wearing closed helmets can’t hear most noises (specially if they’re listening to music from an Ipod or similar device) and on top, their lateral visibility is blocked by the helmet. These are factors that may contribute to crashes that happen when riders change lanes without noticing a vehicle in their blind spots. Therefore, we all (drivers and specially riders) need to turn our heads and make sure there are no vehicles in those spots before attempting to change lanes.

New Technology to the Rescue

Finally, new safety technology that is being made available for cars, may soon be made available for bikes. A recent B.B.C. article, talks about new safety technology that would not only alert riders of vehicles in their blind spots, but can also warn them when they are traveling to fast before they reach an upcoming curve.
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Not all people drive their cars in a safely manner. By the same token, not all young bikers ride recklessly. A young man from Miami was riding in a six lane road when a driver in the lane next to him suddenly decided to change lanes, cutting the rider off. The man in the motorcycle tried to avoid crashing into the other vehicle but in doing so lost control of his bike and fell. The fall gave him severe “road rash”, scarring, bruising and fractures. He subsequently retained the Law Offices of Greenberg Stone and Urbano to represent him.

Drivers Must be Mindful of Motorcycles When Changing Lanes

According to the Florida Drivers Handbook every driver must indicate their intentions to others with their turn signals. Being constantly aware of other vehicles in your vicinity is an important skill for drivers to safely operate their vehicles in our busy streets. That is why our cars come with rear and side view mirrors. Similarly, it is important to check for blind spots next to our own car before changing lanes. A driver who is about to change lanes must turn his head to see if there is a vehicle in his or her “blind spot”. For obvious reasons, all drivers under these circumstances must exercise special care to look for motorcycles, because they are smaller and more difficult to see. Our frequent failure to see motorcycles around or approaching our path is often the cause for crashes.
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