Tampa Bicycle Accident Attorney
Have you been terribly injured after a bike accident in Tampa? The fear you must have been in moments following your accident are indescribable. The frustration that you are probably feeling right now is completely understandable. Our experienced Tampa bicycle accident attorney is here to help you take on the legal process of filing a bike accident claim so that you can focus your energy on your recovery. Please call us today for a free consultation.
Bicycle Accident Cases in Tampa Can Be Complicated
If you have suffered serious personal injuries and/or property damage in a bicycle accident which occurred in Tampa, we offer our sincere sympathy. Due to their vulnerability on the road, bicyclists can suffer catastrophic personal injuries which require significant medical treatment, or even death.
Bicycle accidents involving trucks, cars, other vehicles, objects, other bicycles or pedestrians are unfortunately very common. Nationwide, hundreds of bicyclists are killed and tens of thousands are injured each year.
Tampa bicycle accident cases can be complicated. Make sure you protect your legal rights and options by hiring the right Tampa bicycle accident attorney, so that you may receive the amount of money you rightfully deserve.
Hire Your Tampa Bicycle Accident Attorney as Soon as Possible
First, it is very important to hire a Tampa bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible. As we will address in a moment, the filing deadlines to protect your potential No-Fault benefits and lawsuit award should be dealt with immediately by you and your attorney.
Hiring a strong personal injury lawyer as soon as possible can help your case by immediately performing a complete accident investigation, including taking photographs of the accident scene, and obtaining witness statements, police accident reports, and medical records.
Tampa Follows “No-Fault” Rules for Bicycle Accidents
In Tampa, if you are injured in a bicycle accident, your options to recover damages may be limited by the “No Fault” car insurance law.
Tampa follows what is known as the “No-Fault” car insurance law. This means that if you are injured in a bicycle accident, no matter who is at fault for causing the accident, you must first file a No-Fault claim under either your own car insurance policy or the other driver’s car insurance policy if you do not have your own car insurance.
No-Fault insurance will pay accident benefits to you for only a part of your medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. In order for you to file a lawsuit against the other driver to recover legal damages beyond what the No-Fault laws will pay, you must prove that you suffered a permanent or “serious” injury, such as either: significant scarring, disfigurement, loss of a bodily function, death, or where your medical expenses and lost wages are greater than $10,000.
Tampa No-Fault insurance filing deadlines are short and require immediate action. Ask your attorney to help you file all necessary No Fault paperwork on time.
Determining the Liability and Case Value
If your injuries qualify as a “Serious Injury” and you decide to sue the defendant, or defendants in court for your bicycle accident, you and your attorney need to prove that the defendant or defendants you sue owed you a duty of care, that they failed to perform this duty of care either by their action or failure to act while driving, walking, or performing some other action, that the defendant caused your bicycle accident and is therefore responsible for your injuries and that your injuries resulted in money or other types of damages.
However, bicycle accident cases are complicated. For example, although a driver may have hit you, a second driver may have caused the first driver to swerve into your path. Road conditions and weather on the date of your accident also have to be taken into account, as does your own portion of fault in causing the accident, if any.
Overall, the types of damages that may possibly be awarded to you in a Tampa bicycle accident case may include: medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, lost wages, damages to your bicycle, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring and disfigurement, loss of companionship, emotional distress, disability, and pain and suffering, which is often the largest portion of damages awarded. Fortunately, Tampa does not limit the amount of pain and suffering damages that may be awarded to you.
Also, if there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally disregarded a known risk and acted with more than mere negligence in causing your bicycle accident, you may be able to collect additional “punitive” (or punishment) damages.
Please be aware that Tampa follows a “Pure Comparative Negligence” rule. For example, this means that if you were found to be 70% at fault for causing your bicycle accident, then your damage award would be reduced by 70%. This would be defined as your proportion of fault, or “comparative negligence.” Therefore, your personal level of fault, if any, in causing your bicycle accident is a very important part of your case.
Hire a Tampa Bicycle Accident Attorney as Soon as Possible
It is very important to hire a Tampa bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident. In Tampa, bicycle accident cases must be sued against the defendant or defendants who caused the accident within 4 years from the date of the accident. This 4-year period is called the “statute of limitations.” If you fail to sue your case with the court within the 4-year period, your case will be thrown out and you will be unable to obtain either a fair settlement or damage award at trial.
Also, if your bicycle accident case involves a Tampa government (municipality) defendant and/or vehicle, you must serve a Notice of Claim upon the defendant and State within 3 years from the date of your bicycle accident. You may then sue the municipality in court for your bicycle accident personal injuries and damages. Ask your attorney about when you have to sue. This is the municipality “statute of limitations.” If you fail to follow these time-lines, you will be unable to obtain either a fair settlement or trial award against the municipality in Tampa.
Please note that, if you are injured in a bicycle accident while you are riding your bicycle in your capacity as a worker or employee, you may also need to file a worker’s/workman’s compensation claim to protect your rights. You should ask your attorney about this.
Another reason to hire a bicycle accident attorney right away is that memories fade over time. The witnesses will have a different story to tell three months later as opposed to three days later. The evidence can disappear even faster than memories as people drive, walk, and bike through your accident scene. Prompt investigation of the facts by your attorney will help make sure your bicycle accident case’s evidence is protected for your benefit.
Finding the Right Attorney for Your Tampa Bicycle Accident Case
Do not hire an attorney who is merely a general practice attorney or handles cases in several different areas of the law. The law has become very specialized and you need an attorney who specializes in Tampa bicycle accident cases.
In addition, while interviewing possible attorneys to represent you, ask them how many trials they have personally handled in bicycle accident cases. The insurance company will be much more willing to make reasonable settlement offers to settle your bicycle accident case if they know your attorney is an extremely experienced Tampa trial attorney in these types of cases.
When you interview possible attorneys, be sure to also ask them whether you will be regularly dealing with them directly, or mostly their junior associate, paralegal, or nurse.
Most Tampa bicycle accident attorneys will expect to be paid roughly 1/3, or 33.3%, of any legal recovery you may receive, whether through settlement or trial award. However, you do not have to pay any money out of pocket to hire a bicycle accident attorney to represent you. It is the attorney who pays all of your case’s expenses and out of pocket costs up front, such as filing fees and office expenses as well as the hiring of expert witnesses to prove fault (liability), and/or the amount of your damages. Also, you do not have to pay your attorney anything if he is unable to settle your case or win at trial.
It is important to respond quickly to any question or request for information that your attorney sends to you. The faster you respond, the faster they can move your bicycle accident case along. However, if you feel that your attorney does not return your calls, e-mails or texts quickly, you should consider interviewing other attorneys.
Importance of Seeking Medical Attention
If you have suffered a serious personal injury as a result of your bicycle accident, seek medical attention immediately. Some injuries, pain, and limitations are not immediately noticeable and may take some time to develop. In some cases, you may not even be aware that you have suffered an injury at the time of your bicycle accident. But don’t worry, your Tampa bicycle accident attorney will recommend a doctor to you so that all of your injuries may be properly documented and treated.
Remember, the longer you wait to seek medical attention, the harder it may be for your attorney to relate your current injuries back to your Tampa bicycle accident and therefore prove your case.
The Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friends
If you are contacted by a representative of an insurance company, do not respond. The insurance company is not on your side. They want to pay you as little as possible for your bicycle accident. After you hire your bicycle accident attorney, ask your attorney to respond to the insurance company.
If an insurance company makes an early settlement offer to you in order to settle your bicycle accident case, you should understand that the offer will usually be very low and nowhere near the amount you could possibly receive through a later settlement or trial.
Other Important Things to Remember
Be careful – accepting an early settlement offer will prevent you from proceeding with your bicycle accident lawsuit for additional damages against the responsible defendant or defendants. On the positive side, insurance companies usually make much higher settlement offers once a bicycle accident case approaches its trial date, especially if your attorney is known to have a good deal of Tampa bicycle accident trial experience.
Please remember that Tampa bicycle accident defendants, their insurance companies and their attorneys are focused on only one thing – paying you as little as possible for your bicycle accident. And that’s not right. That’s why we will do everything we possibly can to make sure you receive a fair damage award in your bicycle accident case.
Although the legal process does not move along as quickly as we would like, we will do our best to push the insurance companies to move as fast as possible and will do everything in our power to make sure your case takes as little time as possible.
Experienced Tampa Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you need a strong and dedicated Tampa bicycle accident attorney, please call us today to schedule a free meeting.