Pinellas County Bicycle Accidents
by Sean McQuaid on April 14th, 2020 in Personal Injury
According to The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2019 there were 513 reported bicycle crashes in Pinellas County. Out of that figure, seven people died. According to a 2018 research article conducted by the Wall Street Journal, Pinellas County was ranked the most dangerous place in the country to ride a bicycle! If you have driven on the roads in Pinellas County, you know why it is so dangerous for bicycles. Pinellas in the most densely populated county in Florida. It also has an extremely high number of tourists, visitors, and elderly drivers. When you combine those factors, the congestion, plus the beautiful weather that invites a lot of bicycles, you have a dangerous mix.
At Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., we specialize in representing those who have been injured in bicycle accidents. Our Firm has been helping people injured in these accidents since 1958, making us one of the oldest law firms in all of West Florida. Because we live and work in the area, we understand the dangers of bicycle accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a local bicycle accident, then please read the following on how a bicycle injury claim works.
Who Pays My Medical Bills After a Bicycle Accident?
This section deals with the payment of bills after you have been injured as a result of the actions of a car or other vehicle. In this scenario, there are several ways under Florida law to get your medical bills paid. Florida is a no fault state, so Personal Injury Protection (PIP) will apply regardless of fault. That means that if you were on a bicycle and have your own vehicle you will qualify for PIP. If you don’t have car insurance and you live with a resident who does have car insurance, then you will be covered through their policy. Lastly, if you don’t own a vehicle and don’t live with a relative that does, you will qualify for PIP through the vehicle that you were in the accident with. Therefore, in every bicycle accident incident, there should be PIP available. Now, PIP does not solve all of most people’s medical bill issues. It will only pay up to $10,000 for those bills. If you have had to go to the hospital after the accident, that bill normally exceeds what is available through PIP.
What Happens With Your Bills After Pip Is Exhausted?
After the $10,000 of PIP benefits are gone, you have two choices. If you have health insurance, you can get treatment with a provider in your network and handle the bills that way. Or, if you have already hired a bicycle accident attorney, you may be able to get treatment on a letter of protection (LOP). An LOP is basically an IOU. It is an agreement that you will sign with a medical provider that states that they will continue to provide medical treatment to you and you will pay their bills out of the money that you receive in your accident injury claim. It is a common way for our clients to keep receiving medical treatment from doctors who are specialists in treating their type of injury. The down side to an LOP is that if there is no recovery in the accident claim, the client is still responsible to pay the bills.
If I Get Money From the Car That Hit Me, Can I Get Additional Money Through My Own Policy?
Yes. This is called a claim for Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage. It is available if the vehicle that was at-fault for causing your injuries did not have insurance or did not carry enough insurance. If the at-fault driver had insurance, you must receive the full amount of the policy before you can submit a claim against your own UM coverage. Prior to accepting the check and signing the release, you also must ask your own company for permission to accept that check. Once you have received that permission, you can then deposit the check and prepare your UM demand. Remember, that UM is not required in Florida. You must specifically purchase this insurance in addition to the required coverages. It is always a good idea to have some UM coverage on your car insurance policy. There are so many people in Florida driving around without insurance or a valid driver’s license that you should protect yourself. I recommend carrying at least 10/20 in UM coverage.
Who Pays for the Damage to My Bicycle?
Assuming that another vehicle was at fault for the accident, that person’s insurance will pay for the damages. Every vehicle in Florida is required to carry at least $10,000 of property damage and that is where the payment comes from. This property damage insurance is enough to cover all of the damages unless you have a really expensive bicycle. It has been my experience that insurance companies do not pay to repair bicycles, they just simply pay the value to replace them. The insurance companies also don’t require you to turn over your bicycle to them, they simply will write a check.
What Is the Process for Filing a Bicycle Accident Claim?
Generally speaking, when we are retained to handle a bicycle claim, we first send out our letters of representation to the insurance companies. This step requires them to communicate only through our office. Once our clients complete their medical treatment and reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), we send out a demand against the at-fault vehicle’s Bodily Injury (BI) coverage. Once we negotiate and settle that claim, we then have the option of pursuing additional money through our client’s UM coverage. If a client has not had surgery or invasive medical treatment, the case should be ready for the initial demand in about six months. If surgery or injections were required as part of the medical treatment, then add a few months.
Contact a Pinellas County Bicycle Accident Attorney
Pinellas County is a dangerous place for bicyclists. The roads should be safe for both bicycles and cars to travel safely, but that is sadly not the reality here. At Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., we have handled countless bicycle accident claims in our over 60 year history. We are all too aware how dangerous it can be for bicyclists. While we hope that you or a loved one has not been injured, if you would like to discuss the incident with an honest and experienced attorney, please contact us for a free consultation.