In 2018, 857 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. Unfortunately, when a crash involves a car and a bicycle, the bicyclist is usually on the losing end. It’s just the nature of the beast.
However, just because bicyclists are more likely to be injured in an accident doesn’t make them innocent parties. As with traffic accidents between motorists, it can be difficult to determine who bears the blame (or the majority of the blame) for an accident.
This can be further complicated if the accident occurs while the bicyclist is working for a bike courier company. Who’s liable? Take it from an experienced bicycle accident attorney in Miami: the answer isn’t always clear cut.
Let’s take a look at some of the details.
First things first. If you are injured in a bike accident while working in West Palm Beach, you should be covered under the company’s worker’s compensation just like any other on-the-job injury.
However, it’s not like being hit by a fellow employee driving a forklift or having a box fall on your head. In this case, there are outside parties involved.
Depending on who’s at fault for the bike accident, you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the guilty party. A successful case will go a long way towards helping to pay the bills while you’re out of work because of your injuries.
Unfortunately, determining who is at fault is not always cut and dried. Plus, who is liable will be affected by the circumstances of the case.
When You’re Hit By a Car
This is the big one. It’s an unfortunate fact that in a collision between a car and a bicycle, regardless of who is at fault, the bicyclist has a greater chance of walking away with injuries—or not walking away at all.
For this reason, you may think that the case is cut and dry. You were on a bike in Jupiter, FL, you were hit by a car, you were injured, the driver is at fault—case closed. However, it’s not that simple.
In Florida, bicycles are treated as vehicles. This means that you as a bicyclist are subject to the same traffic laws as motorists. You must obey all traffic signals and controls while operating your bicycle. Failure to do so can mean that you’re found responsible or partially responsible for the accident.
You’ll have to prove that the accident was directly caused by the motorist or came about because of their negligence. This isn’t always an easy undertaking.
When Both Parties Are to Blame
There are few accidents in Palm Beach that are completely black and white. In other words, where one party is totally to blame for the accident and the other party is fully innocent.
In some states, if the injured party is even a tiny bit to blame for the accident, they cannot seek reparations. This is called pure contributory negligence.
Thankfully, Florida is not one of those states. Florida follows the pure comparative negligence rule. With this rule, the jury can find you partially at fault. You can still collect your award but it will be adjusted by whatever percentage of blame you were assigned.
For example, say you bring a suit against a motorist for $50,000. The jury finds that the motorist was 90% at fault but that you contributed 10% to the accident. You would only be able to collect $45,000—90% of the amount named in the lawsuit.
Interestingly, the motorist is also able to sue you, perhaps for damages to their vehicle. The same rule applies to them. If they win their suit, they are awarded 10% of the amount of the lawsuit since you were found to be 10% at fault.
When the Accident Was Your Fault
What about when you cause an accident, damage someone’s property, or injure a pedestrian or another cyclist? The person you injured or whose property you damaged may be looking to bring a personal injury lawsuit against you.
There are a number of ways that bicyclists can be at fault. For example:
- Running into a parked car
- Crashing into a store window
- Hitting a pedestrian
- Colliding with another cyclist
- Causing an accident with a moving vehicle
Remember, you are responsible for following the rules of the road just as if you were driving a car. Failing to do that can lead to an accident and the blame is placed on your shoulders.
If you are an employee of a bike courier company (and were working at the time of the incident), the company may be liable. This means the injured party may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer.
If you were working as an independent contractor or were not officially working at the time of the bike accident, you may be liable. Some homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies will cover this type of occurrence. You can also buy specialty insurance policies to cover you if you work as an independent contractor for bike delivery companies.
Before you begin working, you should check to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance. You never know when an accident can occur.
Figuring It All Out
So, who is liable in an accident involving a bike courier? Well, it depends on the circumstances. Understanding who is liable can be tricky.
Don’t try to navigate the waters on your own. Hiring a bicycle accident attorney will help ensure that you get the compensation you deserve from your personal injury case. They will also help you avoid personal injury lawsuits being brought against you when your employer is actually liable.
Looking for a bicycle accident lawyer who is also a fellow cyclist? Contact us today here at the Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Vivo to get started. We specialize in bicycle injury cases, meaning we know all the ins and outs to help you win your case.