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I have been asked the question above on multiple occasions and the short answer is NO. The long answer is NO for the following reasons:

1. Florida is a Comparative fault state.
2. Bias and ignorance of bicycle regulations in Florida cause law enforcement to reach the wrong conclusions about who is at fault in an accident.
3. Inaccurate account of events.
4. Traffic citations and civil lawsuits are judged in very different venues.

Florida is a Comparative Fault State. What this means is that a person’s recovery in an accident is directly proportional to their actions and causation of the accident. This is best illustrated through hypotheticals:

Example 1:

A driver was driving above the speed limit and rear-ended a cyclist in a bike-lane, it would be likely that the driver is found 100% at fault, and the cyclist would then be able to recover 100% of their medical bills and pain and suffering from the driver.

Example 2:

A cyclist and a driver arrive at a four-way stop and neither makes a complete stop causing a collision. It would be likely that the driver is found 50% at fault, and the cyclist would be found 50% at fault, limiting their recovery at 50% of medical bills and pain and suffering.

Cyclists are sometimes discouraged in hiring a cycling attorney after being ticketed for an accident believing that they are wasting their time. The ultimate attributer of fault(i.e. liability) is a jury of one’s peers, and not a law enforcement officer.

2. Bias and ignorance of bicycle regulations in Florida cause law enforcement to come to the wrong conclusions about who is at fault in an accident. It is undeniable that cyclists in South Florida are vilified by drivers. As in all groups, it is unfair to attribute the actions of a few cyclists to the cycling community as a whole. That being said, law enforcement sometimes approach a cyclist vs. car accident with an assumption that the accident was the cyclist’s fault. The reality is, I have seen this more often than I would like to admit, where the liability later turns out to be 100% the driver’s fault.

In some instances, officers are ignorant to bicycle regulations in Florida and will often cite the cyclist for erroneous or wrongfully applied statutes. I have seen cyclists ticketed after an accident for “failing to ride in a bike lane,” when there was no bike lane present. If you feel that you were lawfully riding your bike, do not let a traffic citation discourage you from consulting a cycling attorney.

3. Inaccurate account of events. Oftentimes cyclists can sustain head injuries in an accident that affect their ability to accurately recall events. In the event that a cyclist is unconscious, the l officer will likely rely on their one-sided investigation to determine fault in the accident. As you can imagine, if the officer only hears one side of they story, he/she will likely come to a conclusion that favors the driver. I have seen on multiple occasions, a law enforcement officer present a cyclist in the hospital with a traffic citation without ever speaking to them. It is a sad reality, but do not let this discourage you from seeking the help of a cycling attorney.

A cycling attorney will preserve evidence, interview witnesses, and use their expertise as cyclists to recreate your accident and make sure the truth is presented to a jury so that you are properly compensated for your injuries.

4. Traffic citations and civil lawsuits are judged in very different venues.
Bicycle accidents are dealt with in civil court and traffic citations are handled in traffic court. These courts have different burdens of proof, rules of procedure, and presiding judges. Traffic court tends to have a more relaxed attitude and an infraction trial can last all but 5 minutes. A person has minimal opportunities to present evidence and experts. In civil court, a cycling attorney will advocate on your behalf in front of a jury of your peers. Do not let a traffic citation scare you from seeking the help of a cycling attorney.

The above mentioned tips are not meant to be legal advice, rather advisory tips to allow the average cyclists to understand their rights in the event of a bike accident.

Thank you for reading this post, and feel free to email me any questions you may have.

I will see you on the road.

-Vivocyclingattorney