Our Panama City personal injury lawyer is proud to be a part of the Bay County region. The wealth of beautiful beaches and lovely climate provide great recreational and business opportunities. One great part about living here is that bicycling is a real option as an alternative mode of transportation. Biking can save money in a time of high gas prices, helps protect our environment by limiting the number of cars on the road, and provides terrific health benefits to those who trade four wheels for two.
However, bicycle accidents in Panama City and throughout the Bay County region are a very real danger. The News Herald, in conjunction with Northwest Florida Daily News, is reporting on a recent tragedy involving a bicyclist in our area. 19-year-old Galina Bumbalova of Santa Rosa Beach was riding her bicycle on Monday night. She was travelling in the bicycle lane on the south side of Highway 98, heading south in the vicinity of Hidden Dunes Drive. Aaron Croy Shipes, a 22-year-old who also resides in Santa Rosa Beach, was driving a 2005 Nissan Xterra when he approached Bumbalova from behind.
For reasons that remained undetermined at the time of the report, Shipes veered from the car traffic lane into the bicycle lane where he struck the bicyclist. The impact pushed Bumbalova into a utility pole. Shipes did not stop after the accident, instead he returned to the traffic lane and left the accident scene. Responding emergency personnel transported Bumbalova to Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast. She later died as a result of her injuries. Authorities do not believe that alcohol was a factor and they are awaiting the results of further investigation prior to filing charges related to the crash.
Statistics compiled by federal authorities found 610 bicyclist fatalities and 51,000 bicyclist injuries in 2010. These numbers represent a drop in accidents from a prior study in 1995, but it is hard to know if that is attributable to safer riding or if it stems from a reduction in bicycle travel, especially on roads as opposed to trails or other automobile-free areas.
Interestingly, it appears that the greatest risk of serious crashes involves middle-aged men. In 2009, the average age of bicyclists involved in fatal accidents was 41, up from 32 in 1998 and 24 in 1988. Males accounted for 87% of the bicyclist fatalities and 80% of those injured in bicycle accidents.
Bicyclists and drivers alike share responsibility for ensuring the roadways are safe. Drivers must remain alert for riders and should allow plenty of clearance when passing a rider. Likewise, riders should remember that they are expected to obey the same traffic laws that apply to automobiles. The use of helmets is also key to preventing crashes from leading to death or serious injury.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, please contact our law firm. Wes Pittman is an experienced Panama City accident lawyer, and our team can help you recover compensation for your injuries.