New Year’s Resolution Number 1: Safety!!!

Woman in neck brace shakes attorney's hand

It’s that time of the year again.  We are evaluating our lives and future.  This will be the year we turn our lives around to be better, stronger, healthier, happier . . . you get the picture! Our family and friends have listened carefully to our holiday wishes and New Year’s resolutions and have showered us with new bicycles, gym memberships, running shoes and all the must have equipment to achieve our goals in 2012. Nothing can stop you now —- unless of course you have the misfortune of an accident that results in injuries. (Your Will Power and Discipline are rock solid and would never play a role . . . please keep the laughter to a minimum—this is a serious article.) Below are some tips to stay safe while achieving your goals this year.

Runners and cyclists. . . SEE AND BE SEEN. As cyclists there are a few rules that we must follow. Most of the serious cyclists share the roadways with automobiles.  It is important that you make yourself visible to drivers. This is particularly important when it is dark out. Reflective gear and lighting is of the upmost importance. Riding in groups has its advantages and disadvantages. A group of riders can be more easily seen by motorists. However, a rider in a group is more susceptible to a fall as a result of the inexperience of another rider or your own collision with another cyclist.

State law requires that you ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic and obey the same traffic control devices as the driver of an automobile. Make sure you are familiar with local traffic regulations and laws before you set out to break Lance Armstrong’s records. (Which we all know you will undoubtedly do.) A few examples include the following. When riding on sidewalks and crosswalks, a cyclist has the same duties and rights as a pedestrian. But a cyclist must yield the right of way to a pedestrian. Significantly, a cyclist may not wear a headset, such as an ipod, because it blocks out audio cues of the traffic. Wear your helmet! (Even if not required). A little road rash will sting but an injury to the head may have life altering repercussions.

Runners familiarize yourself with the path you choose to run before going for a full out run. You should understand the peculiar nature of the surface you have chosen and any imperfections that may pose a tripping hazard. Run with a buddy or a group. Do not give a would-be assailant an easy target on a lonely path. Watch for cars and — dare we say CYCLISTS — runners and cyclists often share the same paths. Of course, we can’t hear one another because we are listening to our new ipods.

Let’s not forget the Gyms. The Gyms are full of peril. Make sure your familiar with the use of any equipment before sculpting the new you. Many of the other Gym goers tend to leave dumbbells and other equipment on the floor where an unsuspecting member would not expect. Whenever in doubt about what to do, ask a trainer or employee of the gym.

With all of this in mind it is a great time of the year to review your insurance coverage for Health, Disability, Homeowners and Auto. If you find yourself on the side of the party injured by the negligence of another, you need to make certain you and your family are provided for. Review your policies with your insurance agent or attorney and make sure there are no exclusions that leave you without coverage if  you are injured in the activity of your choice.

Significantly, never allow anyone but a licensed Florida lawyer to tell you your rights. For example, many people do not know that a Homeowner’s policy of insurance provides general liability coverage for negligent acts of the homeowner even if they occur outside of their property. Examples could include negligence during a cycling ride, while jogging, or while working out at the gym that results in injury to you or your loved one. Never assume you have no recourse until you have spoken to a lawyer and never let an insurance company convince you that there is no coverage.

Stay safe and the best of luck to all of you on your New Year’s Resolutions!

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