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Fatal Bicycle-Vehicle Collision On I-4

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A Tampa man is in custody after he allegedly struck a bicyclist and did not stop.

Police say that the accident occurred in the early morning hours on the eastbound Interstate 4 exit ramp onto Highway 301. When 44-year-old Christopher Cole struck 45-year-old Aristeo Pascual, of Brandon, Mr. Pascual was thrown off his bike. He apparently collided with the car as he flew through the air and then landed on the ground. By the time emergency responders arrived, Mr. Pascual had died from his injuries.

A few hours after distributing photos of the scattered car parts they recovered at the scene, police received a tip about a car with matching damage, which led to Mr. Cole’s arrest.

Bicycle Crash Injuries

In 2015, vehicle-bicycle collisions seriously injured over 467,000 cyclists. These victims have no restraint systems or steel cages to protect them during collisions, so like Mr. Pascual, the force of the collision almost always throws them off their bikes, resulting in serious injuries like:

  • Biker’s Arm: When riders are thrown, they naturally extend their arms to brace their falls. Unfortunately, this reflex often causes permanent nerve damage to the brachial plexus area, because the speed of the impact is far too great for the arms to safely absorb.
  • Broken Bones: This same reaction also breaks bones all over the arms, and the impact itself often shatters bones in other parts of the body. Broken bone victims usually face aggressive and painful surgery to set these bones, followed by months of physical rehabilitation to regain the use of their limbs.
  • Blood Loss: The biker’s severe external and internal trauma injuries bleed profusely until first responders arrive, and by that time, victims are often already in the early stages of hypovolemic shock, and a subsequent transfusion may be too late.

Serious injuries like these often result in medical bills which exceed $100,000 just for hospitalization, and most health insurance companies do not pay injury-related expenses for policy reasons. A personal injury attorney can not only connect victims with qualified medical help, but also arrange for these victims to receive this treatment without upfront cost.

Bicycle Injury Causes

Vehicle speed is usually the leading contributor to serious injury in these cases, and as the above-described wreck occurred on a freeway off-ramp, it is safe to assume that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was going quite fast. The serious injury rate in these kinds of crashes is 90 percent if the vehicle is travelling at least 46mph.

Other common causes include:

  • Impairment: Alcohol is a factor in about a third of the fatal car crashes in Florida, and in some areas, legal and illegal drugs cause even more crashes than alcohol.
  • Distraction: Cell phone users take their eyes off the road (visual distraction), take their hands off the wheel (manual distraction), and take their minds off driving (cognitive distraction). Other behaviors, such as eating while driving, are almost as dangerous.
  • Fatigue: Drivers who would never consider drinking and driving think nothing about driving with little sleep, even though operating a motor vehicle after eighteen consecutive hours without sleep is like driving with a .08 BAC.

If the tortfeasor’s conduct fell below the standard of care, or if the tortfeasor violated a safety law, the tortfeasor is generally liable for damages.

Damages Available

All victims in Florida are entitled to economic damages, such as medical bills. Additionally, car crash victims who sustain serious injuries are entitled to additional noneconomic damages. Section 627.737 of the Florida Insurance Code defines a serious injury as:

  • Significant loss of an important body function,
  • Disfigurement or scarring,
  • Death, and
  • “Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.”

Noneconomic damages include items such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and loss of consortium (companionship). Additional damages are available in some cases.

Count On Experienced Lawyers

Bicycle-vehicle collisions usually cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Our main office is conveniently located close to the Tampa Convention Center.

Resources:

tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/accidents/bicyclist-killed-in-hit-and-run-crash-on-i-4-exit-ramp-in-tampa/2341463

cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/bicycle/index.html

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