By Michael Versnik, attorney, Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, P.A.
Already in January, a man was killed in a hit and run accident with his bicycle in Fort Myers. In December, news media reported that Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson broke some ribs and punctured his lung after falling off his bike.
These were an important reminder that bicycle accidents can happen to anyone. If you received a bicycle for Christmas and are looking forward to riding in the cooler weather, or are hoping to cycle to meet your new year’s exercise goals, take care.
With weather conducive nearly year-round for bike use, Florida has a high number of cyclists. It also has a lot of motor vehicles and visitors who are not as familiar with area roadways, which may be why Florida has the highest number of bicycle accident deaths in the United States.
In 2018, there were 6,568 reported bicycle crashes in Florida, resulting in 148 deaths and 6,175 injuries. For the first quarter of 2019, preliminary data reported 1,695 bicycle accidents statewide with 40 fatalities and 1,588 injuries. Many bicycle accidents go unreported, so the number are likely higher.
Many bicycle accidents are caused by mistakes made by both bikers and motorists, with most fatalities caused by one or the other failing to yield the right of way. The Department of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles notes these tips for motorists sharing the road with cyclists:
Drivers must give bicyclists a minimum of three feet of clearance when driving alongside or passing them. It’s the law.
When turning, yield to any bicyclist in the bike lane and make your turn behind them.
Avoid using high beam headlights when a bicyclist is approaching.
Before opening a car door, check for bicyclists who may be approaching from behind.
In Florida, the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and has all the privileges, rights and responsibilities on public roads (except for expressways) that a motor vehicle operator does. When it comes down to a 20-pound bicycle versus a 3,000-plus pound automobile, however, it’s necessary for cyclists to be vigilant about their own safety.
The Department of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles suggests bicyclists should:
Obey all traffic controls and signals.
Not ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Stay alert – do not text or wear headphones or earbuds, so you can hear everything around you.
Use the bike lane if you are not traveling at the speed of other traffic. If no bike lane is available, you must stay on the far right side of the road.
Use the full lane when making a left turn, passing, avoiding hazards or when a lane is too narrow for you and a car to share it safely.
Use directional hand signals to show other drivers that you are about to turn.
Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on a sidewalk or crosswalk.
Have a white light visible from 500 feet on the front and a reflector and a red light visible from 600 feet on the rear between sunset and sunrise.
Wear neon or fluorescent colors and something reflective when riding, day or night.
Wear a helmet. Bicyclists under age 16 are required to wear helmets.
While following the above safety tips will help ensure safer cycling, there is no way to eliminate the risks involved in riding a bicycle. If you are in a bike accident with a motor vehicle or another cyclist, be sure to get medical attention. You’ll also want to make sure the accident has been reported to police so there is a record.
After the accident, it’s important to attempt to preserve your damaged bicycle and document the scene of the incident with photographs, including vehicles and any tire marks or other roadway evidence. The nature of the damage and evidence will help tell the story of who was at fault for the accident.
An insurance investigator or claims adjuster may contact you regarding your claim. Unless you have discussed your case with an attorney, do not give a written or recorded statement or sign any releases for the insurance company.
The claims adjuster works for the insurance company, and it’s the adjuster’s job to settle claims for the lowest amount possible, which is often less than many claims are worth.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident due to the negligence of a motor vehicle driver, seek advice from an attorney experienced in personal injury cases. An attorney can advise you of your rights, help make sure you are receiving any required medical treatment needed and investigate your case.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Versnik is a personal injury trial attorney at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, P.A. who focuses on motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, motorcycle and bicycle accident and premises liability cases. The attorneys at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice and Purtz have over 50 years of experience dealing with car and motorcycle accidents and have six offices located throughout Southwest Florida.
By Armando Llechu, chief administrative officer of Golisano Children’s Services at Lee Health
We all want to be home for the holidays. It’s especially important to children who have been in the hospital. In fact, going home for the holidays is their greatest wish.
Children’s Hospital provides life-saving care to kids in need. And
when kids can’t be home, Golisano keeps them close to home and
together with their families.
Your gift will help make their wishes come true by making them feel more at home in the hospital, or returning to home, healthy for the holidays.
You can ensure no child has to leave their community for the care they need. The 134-bed hospital treats more than 37,000 young patients per year. And those numbers are only expected to rise.
When it comes to supporting lifesaving pediatric health care, a gift to Golisano Children’s Hospital is the best way to make an impact. Donations are dedicated to advancing innovative programs, technologies and services.
Located in Fort Myers and serving a 5-County region, the children’s hospital also provides pediatric specialty care at satellite clinics in Port Charlotte and Naples. Through innovative programs, Golisano Children’s Hospital is also integrating lifesaving health care into local schools and homes. The vision is to bring health care closer to every child in Southwest Florida.
The impact of donations to the hospital and its programs can be seen, one patient at a time, as they get well and go home. Meet five of thousands of children and families who are together at home for the holidays this year because of treatment at Golisano’s Children’s Hospital:
Last Thanksgiving, Sarai Hernandez Salinas woke up with a stomach ache and after surgery was diagnosed with stage 4 sarcoma. She received treatment five days a week, which meant she missed holiday parties and the rest of kindergarten.
The team at Golisano Children’s Hospital not only focused on getting her well but also made her visits fun and educational. Now Sarai is home and excited to be back in school.
Kadin Williams was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had surgery the next day to remove his kidney and a tumor that was the size of a cantaloupe and weighed 2 pounds. He required intensive chemotherapy and radiation therapy for six months. Now Kadin has finished treatment and will celebrate the holidays with his sister.
Much anticipated Finnegan was born 11 weeks early at Golisano Children’s Hospital weighing just 3 pounds, 1 ounce. His father, Jason Jones, aka “Big Mama” on B103.9FM’s morning show, and mother, Sara, went through fertility treatments and were finally able to conceive through IVF.
Finn spent 72 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Sara celebrated her first Mother’s Day at the hospital where she and Jason kept vigil. Now Finn is thriving and is home with his family.
Kennedy’s mother, Marie Heisler, had preeclampsia. As a result, Kennedy was born nine weeks early at Golisano Children’s Hospital, weighing 2 pounds, 15 ounces. She spent six weeks in the hospital before going home, weighing 4 pounds, 11 ounces. Now she’s caught up with her peers on growth charts.
On Jan. 1, 2015, at the age of 10, Summer Kates was hit by a car while playing with friends. The Golisano Children’s Hospital team did their best to keep a smile on her face while she recovered. In thanks, she sold cookies she baked to raise money. She now has a nonprofit called Summers Project and has raised thousands of dollars to support programs at the hospital that helped her.
Everything we do is dedicated to saving children’s lives. … Everything you give enables this meaningful work. Make your holiday gift at LeeHealthFoundation.org/GoingHome.
Photo credit: Caronchi Photography
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Armando Llechu is chief administrative officer of Golisano Children’s Services at Lee Health. Golisano Children’s Hospital is the only full-service hospital between Tampa and Miami.
Cape Coral residents will now have convenient access to free legal advice for civil lawsuits, bankruptcy, evictions and more. The new service is made possible through collaboration between Lee County Clerk Linda Doggett, the Lee County Legal Aid Society, and the United Way House of Cape Coral.
“The Lee County Legal Aid Society attorney consultations provided at the Clerk’s Self-Help Center in Fort Myers have assisted thousands of Lee County citizens resolve their legal issues,” Clerk Doggett said. “I appreciate the Legal Aid Society expanding this service to Cape Coral during convenient hours. It will help thousands more get access to justice.”
Citizens who wish to represent themselves in court can schedule a 15-minute meeting with an attorney starting Aug. 1. The legal consultations will be held the first Thursday of each month from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to noon. All sessions will be held at the Cape Coral United Way House at 1105 Cultural Park Blvd.
Assistance with small claims, family law matters, and probate cases will also be provided.
To schedule an appointment, call the Lee County Clerk’s Self-Help Center at 239-533-2835. The free legal consultations are being provided by the generosity of Lee County Legal Aid Society attorneys, led by Executive Director Andrew Banyai, Esq.
Lee County Emergency Management has two new tools to help residents prepare for and be aware of hurricanes and other emergency situations – the LeePrepares app and the AlertLee system.
LeePrepares (Replaces LeeAlert app)
The LeePrepares app is available in Google Play and the App Store.
It assists individuals and families with preparing for and recovering from all types of disasters that may affect the community.
GPS functionality for locating the user’s Evacuation Zone;
Real-time information from the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on shelter openings, with mapping/directions and hurricane evacuations;
Current Emergency (EOC) Activation Level;
Recovery information on re-entry, curfews, points of distribution, and coping with disasters;
Sign-up for AlertLeeemergency notification system (see below).
Frequently Asked Questions;
Links to Special Needs registration for those with special medical needs, and/or transportation needs during an evacuation;
Family Disaster Plan and Emergency Supply List;
American Sign Language Disaster Preparedness Videos;
Current local weather and hazardous weather outlooks.
AlertLee (Replaces CodeRed)
AlertLee is an emergency notification system that allows registered users to receive telephone, text, and/or email alerts related to natural or man-made emergencies.
The AlertLee system will be used when an emergency arises, such as severe weather situations, missing persons, evacuation notices, boil water notices, fire or floods and active shooter situations.
To sign up, residents should go to www.AlertLee.com, select their municipality or unincorporated Lee County and complete the registration steps.
The AlertLee system already includes published, listed landline telephones, but not cell phones or VOIP numbers. To be certain to receive alerts, it is important to register and update the information if it changes. The information will be used only for AlertLee notifications.
There is no charge to register or receive system alerts.
Halloween is just days away, one of the most popular holidays in this country.
Little witches, ghosts, pirates, and superheroes will soon take to the streets for trick or treat fun.
The American Red Cross Southern Gulf Chapter has tips to help everyone stay safe while enjoying the festivities.
“Halloween is a popular holiday and enjoyable for the whole family but it’s important to stay safe while having fun,” said Jill Palmer, executive director for the Southern Gulf Chapter. “The Red Cross provides great tips to keep in mind when taking children out to Trick or Treat.”
Make sure trick-or-treaters can see and be seen.
Use face makeup instead of masks. Masks can make it hard to see.Give kids a flashlight to light their way.Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.Have everyone wear light-colored clothing.
Use flame-resistant costumes.
Plan the trick-or-treat route in advance – make sure adults know where their children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children door-to-door in neighborhoods.
It’s not only vampires and monsters people have to look out for. Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.
Walk, don’t run.
Only visit homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street.
If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic.Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner.Don’t cut across yards or use alleys.Don’t cross between parked cars.Use extra caution if driving. The youngsters are excited and may forget to look both ways before crossing.
Make sure a grown-up checks the goodies before eating.
Make sure to remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards. Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.
And finally, for those planning to welcome trick-or-treaters to their homes, follow these safety steps:
Light the area well so young visitors can see.
Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps. Clear your porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over.
Download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to expert advice in case your ghost, goblin or super hero has a mishap. Use the Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families.
The Cape Coral Police Volunteer Unit (PVU) is now accepting applications for its upcoming academy class for those interested in becoming a member.
The Cape Coral Police Volunteer Unit academy runs from January 14-18, 2018, from 8 AM to 4 PM. This academy is a fun and informative combination of classroom, lecture, and practical exercises that prepares new volunteers to hit the streets. Recruits will learn the basics of police procedures, how to operate department vehicles and equipment, direct traffic, communicate on our radios, and more.
Upon successful completion of PVU academy class, the applicant will be assigned a road trainer and followed by a supervisor road test. All other information will be provided during the oral interview.
Applicants must have a valid Florida driver’s license, be a Lee Country resident, and be at least 21 years old. Applications are available for pickup at the Police Department information desk Monday – Friday 8 AM to 5 PM.
The Cape Coral Police Department has an incredibly active and vibrant Police Volunteer Unit. From administrative tasks at Police Headquarters to checking vacant homes for vacationing residents, to helping patrol the roads and waterways of Cape Coral, our Police Volunteer Unit is busy giving back to the community and helping to make Cape Coral a safe place to live, work, and play. The Cape Coral Police Department Police Volunteer Unit provides over $1 million/year in in-kind services every year!
If you have some time, and an interest in both giving back to your community and becoming part of a world-class law enforcement agency, the Cape Coral Police Department Police Volunteer Unit is for you!
Download the application at the link below, fill it out and drop it off at the Cape Coral Police Department. Application deadline is November 25, 2018. For more information, contact the Police Volunteer Unit at (239) 242-3346.