WESH NBC-2 reports an alleged wrong-way driver was traveling west bound in an eastbound lane when he struck the bicyclist. He then exited the vehicle briefly, then got back in and drove away, according to a witness. He then came back a short time later, with police at the scene. He was reportedly very emotional and apologetic, but his apologies could not save the life of the man he’d struck. The cyclist was soon thereafter pronounced dead.
While the driver faces serious felony charges, the question of what legal options the family may have in this case still lingers. We don’t know much about the victim, other than his age and gender. However, we do know that bicyclists in general are at great risk in Florida. The most recent Dangerous by Design report indicates 8 of the top 10 most dangerous metro regions for pedestrians and bicyclists are in Florida. The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area ranks No. 3.
Victims in these collisions vary, but people of color and older adults are over-represented. The risk of pedestrian danger is also closely correlated with low income and uninsured persons.
The Florida Highway Patrol’s most recent annual Traffic Crash Facts, released in October, reveals there were 7,120 bicycle crashes statewide in 2015, resulting in nearly 6,700 injuries. That year, there were 154 bicycle accident deaths, which was an increase of 14 percent from just a year earlier. That’s especially noteworthy considering that overall traffic crash deaths comparatively rose by 8 percent.
When it comes to hit-and-run accidents in Florida, these cases can be challenging as far as recovery of damages. The Florida Highway Patrol reports that 25 percent of all crashes are hit-and-run. Last year, there were more than 99,000 hit-and-run crashes in the state – an increase of 25 percent since just 2013. Of those crashes, 1,291 resulted in bodily injuries and 179 people died. Orange County was the site of a substantial number of these cases – 7,343, which resulted in 147 injuries and 21 deaths.
If a driver is not caught, often the only way to recover damages is through the victim’s own insurance. Partial recovery may occur through PIP (personal injury protection) benefits, which are extended to insureds regardless of fault. However, uninsured motorist coverage is typically where we would expect to see more sufficient recovery of damages. These benefits can be obtained by bicyclists who are struck by a hit-and-run driver and are also insureds on an auto insurance policy. The coverage applies even though the cyclist wasn’t driving a car.
This type of coverage is also important because even in a case like this where the driver is identified, they often don’t have insurance (25 percent of Florida motorists don’t, and that’s a big reason why a lot of them leave the scene of a crash in the first place) or if they do have insurance, it’s not enough to fully cover the damages. That’s likely to be the case here, where the bicycle accident resulted in the death of a man in the prime of his life.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Police: Bicyclist, 37, dies in Rockledge hit-and-run crash, Feb. 6, 2017, WFTV ABC-9
More Blog Entries:
Report: Car Insurance Unaffordable for Millions of Americans, Feb. 3, 2017, Orlando Bike Injury Lawyer Blog