Bicycle accidents happen all too often, and when they do, both the cyclist and driver can be held liable. Although many people assume that the driver of the car is always at fault, this isn’t always the case. In fact, in some situations, the bicyclist can be held responsible for the accident. If you are involved in a bicycle accident, it’s important to understand your rights and what you should do when bicyclists are responsible for a Florida car accident.
If you are involved in a bicycle accident, car insurance will usually help you recover the cost of medical bills, damages to the car, and even lost income. But there are other legal options that can be taken especially when bicycle riders caused the accident. It is important to get a free consultation from the Law Offices of Jared Spingarn, P.A. They can provide you with an experienced bicycle accident attorney who can give you sound advice on how to proceed after the accident.
What are the rights and responsibilities of Florida cyclists and motorists?
In Florida, both automobile drivers and bicyclists are required to follow the same traffic laws. Bicyclists are also considered drivers on the road and have the same rights and responsibilities in sharing the road. Often, a motor vehicle accident occurs because either the cyclist or the motorist is not aware of the traffic law they need to abide by.
On the road, the relationship between cyclists and motorists can become temperamental. Motorists tend to get annoyed at cyclists who swerve in and out of lanes, while cyclists can get frustrated with other drivers who refuse to share the road. Although most drivers are aware of their responsibilities on the road with other vehicles, some are not mindful of sharing the road with bike riders.
Rights and Responsibilities of Cyclists under Florida Law
In most Florida counties, there are bicycle lanes that cyclists can use to reach their destination. But in areas without a bike lane, cyclists are allowed to ride on the roadway at a distance of at least three feet from other vehicles. Cyclists are allowed to change lanes provided that they are about to make a left turn or if they need to avoid a hazard on the road. In these cases, cyclists must make the proper hand signals to alert other drivers around them.
If cyclists are traveling in a group, they are not allowed to occupy several lanes. They are also not allowed to ride parallel to each other on the same lane, unless on a bike lane. Instead, they must keep to their lane and follow the traffic signals. Cyclists should stop at red lights and stop signs. They must also ride in the same direction as the motor vehicle traffic.
Rights and Responsibilities of Motorists under Florida Law
Motorists must acknowledge that cyclists are entitled to the same rights as them. Thus, they must respect the space of the cyclist, allowing a distance of three feet when passing them. Drivers are not allowed to pass a bicyclist in the same lane as this will be violating the law. When making a turn, motorists must activate the proper signals on their vehicle to alert cyclists behind them.
Many drivers tend to ignore cyclists on the road because they are not aware of the traffic rules they must follow. Most accidents that lead to serious injuries are caused by a lack of awareness of the road rules.
How often do bicycle accidents occur in Florida?
Bicycle accidents are a common occurrence in Florida. As bicyclists are vulnerable road users, most bicycle accidents can lead to serious personal injury on the part of the bicycle rider, even if they were the ones who caused the accident.
Severe bicycle crashes can lead to bicycle fatalities and wrongful death lawsuits. This is why it is important to immediately consult with Jared Spingarn, P.A. Accident Attorneys. They have experienced bicycle accident attorneys and personal injury lawyers who can give sound legal advice after an accident.
In Florida, data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) recorded 169 bicycle fatalities in 2020 alone. The counties that recorded the highest number of bicycle fatalities were located in South Florida – Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County.
The most common causes of bicycle accidents include distracted driving and failure to yield right of way. Distracted drivers often cause crashes when they are preoccupied with things such as using a cell phone while operating a vehicle.
Cyclists and motorists who make unsafe lane changes and drive into oncoming traffic also put themselves at risk of an accident. Many bicyclists killed in Florida were involved in an auto accident with other motorists who exhibited this type of negligent behavior.
When is a bicyclist liable in a bicycle accident?
Many bicycle accidents happen wherein the driver of the motor vehicle is at fault. But in some cases, even if the bicyclist is the injured party, they can be held liable for causing the crash. The failure of a bicyclist to abide by traffic laws can be ground to prove liability or a percentage of fault on the part of the bicycle rider.
It may be hard to prove liability when dealing with right-of-way issues. In Florida, motorists and cyclists are required to yield to the driver with a right of way.
For instance, cyclists should remain in the bike lane or in a single lane on the road at all times. Bicycle accidents can happen when a cyclist crosses the path of a motor vehicle in an attempt to avoid a roadblock or hazard. In this case, it would be difficult to prove who had the right of way. This is because, (1) the cyclist may not have used the proper hand signal before changing lanes; and (2) the vehicle driver failed to notice the cyclist, resulting in a collision.
Proving when bicyclists are responsible for a Florida car accident is a difficult task that you cannot do on your own. It is best to seek legal assistance from Jared Spingarn, P.A. so you can hire a bike or car accident attorney to assist you with your case.
Florida’s No-fault Insurance System
Florida is a no-fault state. This means that it has a no-fault insurance system that ensures that both parties can recover compensation for medical expenses due to personal injury.
All motorists are required to secure personal injury protection and property damage liability coverage. This coverage will travel with the policyholder. Thus, bicycle accidents can be covered by no-fault insurance.
Most bicycle accidents happen with an automobile. The injured person can then file a claim with their personal insurance policies. If you are the driver of the vehicle, you can file a claim under your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage regardless of who was at fault. Likewise, bicycle riders who have PIP coverage can also file a claim with their own insurance company.
The requirement for PIP coverage is a minimum of $10,000. The auto insurance company is obligated to cover up to 80% of your medical expenses due to the accident, as well as 60% of lost wages.
Bodily Injury Liability
Although personal injury protection coverage will cover your own injuries, it will not cover the other party. In this case, bodily injury liability insurance coverage can cover the injuries of the other driver that you hit. However, this type of coverage is not required in Florida.
For bicycle riders without personal injury protection coverage, you can opt to file a claim under the other driver’s bodily injury liability policy. In most cases, however, you must prove that the other driver caused the injuries you sustained. For both car drivers and bicyclists, if the other driver does not have BIL coverage, you can opt to file a personal injury lawsuit instead.
Whether you are a bicyclist or a motorist, a bicycle accident is something you wouldn’t want to experience. Be sure to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer from the Law Offices of Jared Spingarn, P.A. Accident Attorneys to get a free review of your case.
Comparative Negligence Rule
In Florida, there is a comparative negligence rule in place to protect both parties in a car or bicycle accident. Under this rule, both parties involved in the bicycle accident maintain the right to sue the other party for damages. If both parties were determined to contribute some level of fault to the accident, this percentage of fault will be deducted from the damages being sought.
For instance, in a bicycle versus car accident, if both parties were found to be equally at fault, the percentage of fault is deemed to be 50%-50%. Thus, the plaintiff will be awarded only half of the damages they are suing for.
Bicycle accidents occur at any time of the day and can cause serious injuries that need immediate medical attention. Although in most cases, the automobile driver is deemed to be at fault, it is important to also know when bicyclists are responsible for a Florida car accident.
In Florida, bicyclists and motorists are on the same ground, holding the same rights and responsibilities when it comes to sharing the road. Motor vehicles and bicycle riders are expected to follow the same traffic rules. Thus, all drivers have the right to file a liability claim or lawsuit for personal injury, damages, and pain and suffering caused by the bicycle accident.
If you are involved in a bicycle accident, you should get a free consultation and hire a knowledgeable bicycle accident attorney from the Law Offices of Jared Spingarn, P.A. to help you with your case. Attorneys at this established law firm will also build an attorney-client relationship with you to make you feel comfortable discussing your case, even if you feel like you were at fault in the car or bike accident.