Jacksonville Bicycle & Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
For fifty years the rate of traffic accidents declined every year. Then they started to rise for the first time in 2015, and they have been increasing every since. The most likely explanation for this rise is an increase in distracted driving caused by the explosion in cell phones, social media use and in-vehicle entertainment technologies. And no one is more impacted by distracted driving than bicyclists and pedestrians, who are less likely to be noticed by a distracted driver before it’s too late.
Bicycle and pedestrian accidents cause the most serious and catastrophic injuries, and injury victims require a large amount of compensation to deal with a lifetime of medical expenses, disability, pain and other challenges. The Jacksonville bicycle & pedestrian accident lawyers at Douglas & Carter provide high-quality, zealous representation to obtain a level of compensation that will help accidents victims get the best care and make the most improvements possible in their quality of life.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Accident Statistics in Columbia and Duval Counties
Bicyclists and pedestrians are the least protected among victims in car accidents, as shown by the extremely high rate of injury and death occurring in these accidents. There were 9,102 pedestrian accidents in Florida in 2016, causing injury or death in 93% of the collisions. Additionally, there were 6,668 bicycle crashes, leading to 6,234 injuries and 140 deaths, an injury rate of 96%.
In Columbia County, Florida that year, 29 pedestrian accidents caused 26 injuries and one death, a rate of 93%. The injury and death rate for bicycle accidents was 100%, with 15 crashes resulting in 14 injuries and one death.
Meanwhile, Duval County bicycle accidents in 2016 resulted in injury or death 97% of the time, and pedestrian accidents ended in tragedy 95% of the time. There were 291 bicycle accidents causing 276 injuries and six deaths, and 455 pedestrian accidents leading to 392 injuries and 41 needless deaths.
Florida is the Most Dangerous State for Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Unfortunately, we live in the worst state when it comes to walking and riding a bike, in terms of how dangerous it is anyways. According to the Orlando Weekly and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Florida has the highest fatality rate of cyclists. In fact, the cyclist death rate in Florida is 56 percent higher than the next most dangerous state in the country. When it comes to walking, Florida does just as poorly. According to a study Dangerous By Design, pedestrians are far more likely to be hit by a car in Florida than in any other state. Florida has the seven most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the country. Sadly, Jacksonville ranks number four. Why is our city the fourth most dangerous in the entire nation for pedestrians and cyclists? Some elements include the following:
- Lack of infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, such as sidewalks, flashing crosswalks, bike lanes, bike paths, and streets with shoulders;
- High speed limits;
- Very lax laws for vehicular manslaughter;
- Wide surface streets with too many lanes;
- Unchecked urban sprawl;
- A driving culture that encourages drivers to believe that sharing the road is not necessary;
- Lack of laws that protect vulnerable road users; and
- Road congestion caused by all of the above, which increases road rage.
Bicycle Accident Facts
Although they do not have to be licensed, bicycle riders are nevertheless required to follow the rules of the road, including traffic laws specific to bicycles as well as all applicable motor vehicle laws. Drivers, for their part, are required to drive with reasonable care around bicycles. In addition, Florida law requires cars to give at least three feet of space when passing a bicycle.
Florida bicycle riders are in danger of serious injury or wrongful death from accidents caused by negligent, aggressive or distracted drivers, and from other sources as well. Some of the most common hazards facing bicyclists in Lake City and Jacksonville include:
- Getting “doored.” The occupant of a parked car should open a door on the traffic side only when it is safe to do so and after checking for oncoming bicycles or motorcycles.
- Failure to yield to a cyclist with the right-of-way
- Defective design or manufacture of a bicycle
- Negligent repair or maintenance from a bike shop
- Negligently repaired or badly maintained roads
- Inadequate signage or traffic signals
Call our office if you or a loved one has been injured in a Lake City or Jacksonville bicycle accident. Even if you rented the bike and signed a liability waiver, the rental company may still be liable for providing faulty equipment.
Florida Pedestrian Accident Facts
Pedestrians are required by Florida law to use sidewalks, unless they are blocked because of construction or some other reason. If there is no sidewalk provided, pedestrians are supposed to use the left shoulder and walk in the direction facing oncoming traffic.
Pedestrians in a crosswalk have the right-of-way. Drivers are expected to yield to a pedestrian who is stepping into the crosswalk or who is in the crosswalk on the same half of the roadway as the vehicle. Also, if the pedestrian is crossing the street and is so close to the motorists’ half of the roadway that it would be dangerous for the car to move, the driver should stay stopped until the pedestrian has crossed.
Pedestrians for their part should yield the right-of-way whenever they are crossing in the middle of the street and there is no crosswalk, or at an intersection where the crosswalk is not marked.
Common causes of pedestrian accidents in Jacksonville and Lake City include:
- Drivers running a stop sign or red light
- Drivers turning right at a red light while pedestrians are in the crosswalk
- Drivers stopping in the middle of the crosswalk, which forces the pedestrian to walk outside of the crosswalk
- Drivers swerving around a vehicle which has stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross, in clear violation of Florida pedestrian traffic regulations
Low Income Individuals are Hit Hardest
For low income people, riding a bike or walking is their main source of transportation. This alone puts them at greater risk of being injured on the road, as they do not have a car surrounding themselves as protection when they get hit. Low income neighborhoods are also more likely to forego high-quality pedestrian and cycling infrastructure to keep vulnerable road users safe.
Misplaced Liability—How Cyclists and Pedestrians Get Blamed for the Collision
Bicyclists and pedestrians (vulnerable road users) are typically not at fault when they get hit by automobiles, yet they are often blamed for causing these collisions. Why is this?
- Vulnerable road users are taken to the hospital when police arrive to conduct the official accident report and talk to witnesses and the other party, and therefore rarely have a voice when it comes to presenting their side of the story to law enforcement;
- Laws and lack of proper infrastructure make it difficult for vulnerable road users to use the roads efficiently, so minor infractions like jaywalking by cutting the corner of a crosswalk or slowly rolling through a stop sign are common practice. Drivers see this and it creates a culture of intolerance, which is picked up by and adopted by law enforcement, judges, juries, and others—many of whom often do not see the story from the victim’s point of view.
At Douglas & Carter, our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience helping individuals and families who have suffered the most serious injuries because of a driver’s negligence. We have the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to prepare and present a strong case for maximum compensation, whether negotiating a settlement with the insurance company or litigating in front of a jury in court. You can count on our lawyers to deliver effective and aggressive representation every time.
Knowledgeable & Experienced Jacksonville Bicycle & Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
For help after a serious bicycle or pedestrian accident in Lake City or Jacksonville, call on the personal injury lawyers at Douglas & Carter for a free consultation. We can come to you if you can’t travel to our offices, and there is no fee until we recover for you.