Florida is the deadliest state in the nation for bicyclists, and Miami is the fourth-worst city in this dangerous state. Cyclist say riding to work or school, can be akin to taking your life in your hands.
Cyclists must be seen by motorists. Even then, riding a bike remains a dangerous way to travel.
Several recent lawsuits and settlements related to bicycle accidents in Miami and the state of Florida tell the story of the dangers cyclists face every day on the state’s roads.
Settlement Follows Drunken-Driving Accident
In 2015, college student Alejandro Alvarez crashed into two men riding their bikes on the Rickenbacker Causeway. One of the men, 59-year-old real estate executive Walter Reyes, was killed, and his friend sustained severe injuries.
Reyes’ death served as an impetus for improvements to the popular road, and Alvarez was sentenced to two years imprisonment and two years of community control, along with 10 years of probation, after he pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter. As part of Alvarez’ probation, he is required to talk to students about the dangers associated with driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The family of Alvarez reached a settlement for an undisclosed sum in a civil lawsuit brought by the family of Walter Reyes. The Reyes family also had encouraged prosecutors to reach a plea agreement focusing on rehabilitation rather than a lengthy prison term.
$10 Million Settlement After Boca Raton Accident
Miguel Octavio, a well-known financial analyst and scientist, was incapacitated when he was struck by a car as he rode his bike in 2016. Attorneys had a difficult time getting Octavio’s medical records until his wife was appointed as guardian by a probate judge, and estimating the future costs for his medical care and lost earnings was challenging as well.
Octavio was on a bike ride with his wife in Boca Raton when a new driver — just 16 years old at the time of the accident — veered into the bicycle lane, striking Miguel Octavio and causing serious injuries to his head.
Following the accident, Octavio’s wife and attorneys had issues with health care providers because Octavio was too severely injured to make requests on his own. Medical organizations would not provide records despite the fact that his wife was making his medical decisions for him.
After going to probate court, Octavio’s attorneys were able to win an emergency guardianship for his wife and gather the medical data they needed to pursue a claim.
The 16-year-old driver, it turned out, was the son of the CEO of an insurance company, and he was driving his father’s Mercedes SUV at the time of the accident. Following negotiations, the Octavios received a presuit settlement of almost $10.6 million from their insurance company and the insurer for the young driver’s family.
Payout From Sheriff’s Department Follows Teen’s Death
In December 2016, a Florida NBC affiliate confirmed that the Lee County Sheriff’s Office would be paying out $300,000 following a crash in which a deputy struck and killed a teenage boy.
The deputy reportedly was adjusting the brightness level on the screen of a laptop in his police cruiser when he struck 15-year-old Austin Dukette, a freshman at Mariner High School. The boy was riding his bicycle on Kismet Parkway, on his way to school, when the deputy struck him from behind.
The boy’s family was expected to receive a $300,000 settlement from the sheriff’s department but stated that the money would not relieve the pain of losing their loved one.
Cpl. Douglas Hood, the deputy who caused the accident, originally received a citation for reckless driving after he was found to be adjusting his laptop at the time he hit Dukette. A judge later dismissed the ticket due to a lack of evidence, but the family will receive the $300,000 settlement of the civil case.
Work With an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney
Have you or a loved one been injured in a bicycle accident? If so, it’s critical that you work with an attorney who can help you secure compensation for your medical bills, lost time from work and other expenses. For a consultation, please contact Kaire & Heffernan, LLC.
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 15 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for 4 years.