If you love taking your bike out every weekend, it’s important to know your rights as a cyclist. You know that in Florida, chances of getting into an accident as a pedestrian or a cyclist are high. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, deaths of Florida bicyclists have tripled since 1975.
Learning about accident law will help prepare you if the worst happens. Even better, you may be able to avoid accidents by learning more about bicycle law and what your responsibilities are as a cyclist.
Important Bicycle Laws to Know
It’s important to be aware of the bicycle laws in Florida in order to be a safer cyclist. Furthermore, if you’re following the law but still involved in an accident, you most likely won’t be the one held liable. Here are some laws you should know:
- Bicycles are defined as vehicles in Florida
- Cyclists need to follow the same traffic laws as vehicles
- Cyclists aren’t required to ride on the shoulder of a road
- Cyclists are allowed to ride two-abreast
- Bicycles need lights and reflectors between sunset and sunrise
- Bicyclists 16 or under are required to wear a helmet
Although it may feel as if you’re putting yourself at more risk, cyclists are encouraged to ride further into the lane. This is because it heightens their visibility to drivers and helps avoid accidents. It’s also legal for bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk in Florida.
However, they have to yield right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing.
Liable Parties After a Bike Accident
After you experience a bike accident, there are a few different liable parties that could be at fault. Here are the most common:
Motor Vehicle Driver
In 2018, there were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic accidents. This can be caused by negligent or reckless drivers that are driving under the influence, speeding, or breaking other traffic laws.
However, one of the most common ways bicyclists get into accidents with drivers is simply because the driver didn’t see the bicyclist as they were making a turn. A driver can also hit the bicyclist from behind, open car doors at the wrong time, or exit a parking lot into the bicyclist’s path.
All of these accidents can be avoidable by more diligence from motor vehicle drivers. Bicyclists can also protect themselves by being aware of Florida bicycle laws.
The government or private property owners can be at fault for bicycle accidents because of poor road conditions. Your local government could fail to maintain sidewalks so that they’re even or fix potholes. Cracked cement or loose gravel could also cause an accident.
Bicyclists can avoid poor road conditions by “riding big” and taking up enough space in the lane. This is because most glass, gravel, debris, and more often get pushed to the side of roads and in bicycle lanes.
Manufacturers can be at fault if your accident is caused by a faulty or defective bike part. Although this can be hard to identify during your accident, it’s important to take a look at your bike afterward if you’re not able to determine any other cause of the accident. Photograph any bike parts that appear broken or defective.
Pedestrians can also be at fault during an accident, and you’re able to sue them if you believe they’re the cause. Although this is less common, pedestrians may suddenly step out into bike traffic if they’re not paying attention. The failure to control their dog may also lead to an accident.
How to Prove Liability
If you’ve experienced an accident and feel as if another party is to blame, you need to be able to back up your claim with evidence. You need to be able to demonstrate that the party had a duty to care, that they breached that duty in some way, and that you suffered injuries as a result.
Photos and videos of the incident can be especially helpful in this case. You’ll also want to produce eye witness reports as well as medical reports of the injuries you suffered.
Just like a car accident, you’ll want to take as many photos and videos as possible in order to document the scene. If possible, you’ll also want to collect the names and numbers of any witnesses.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a cycling accident, this is when the aid of an experienced bike accident lawyer comes in handy.
Compensation After a Cycling Accident
If you’ve been injured in an accident and prove that the other party was at fault, the court may reward you compensation such as:
- Medical bills and expenses related to the accident
- Compensation for lost wages
- Compensation for permanent injuries
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Compensation for future pain, suffering, and inconvenience
- Compensation for mental anguish
It’s important that you call the police after an accident, even if it seems minor. You also never want to admit at fault, especially when you’re still recovering and aren’t sure what actually happened.
Accident Law for Bicyclists: Know Your Rights
Bicyclists in Florida tend to have a more stressful experience in crowded cities. By learning your accident law, you know what your rights are as well as your expectations as a bicyclist. You also know what to expect when it comes to motor vehicle driver’s behavior.
For instance, if you’re biking in a traffic lane and a car is honking behind you, you don’t need to move onto the sidewalk. This is because you’re well in your rights to bike in a lane as you follow regular traffic laws.
Ready to make a recovery claim after experiencing an accident? Contact Florida’s leading bicycle accident attorney today!