While cycling can be a fun and effective means of exercise or transportation, it comes with a myriad of risks. There is much to be said about how you put yourself at risk when cycling on the road or sidewalk, but what about those around you, too?
According to statistics, over 800 cyclists are killed in traffic accidents in the United States per year, since 2018. Yes, this number is alarming, but what about cyclists who are at fault and end up injuring pedestrians in the process?
If you’re an avid cyclist in the South Florida region and regularly use your bicycle as a mode of transport, here’s what to do if you’re ever in a cyclist accident, and you’re to blame.
What Are Your Responsibilities as a Cyclist?
When you head out onto the road for a cycle, you have a duty of care to maintain — the same way a pedestrian does. When it comes down to a cycling accident between you and a pedestrian, fault is usually determined by who failed to fulfill their duty of care the least.
This is also known as the law of negligence and is often applied to cases of personal injury and compensation claims. So, as a cyclist what does your duty of care involve? You are expected to:
- Ride a bicycle that is in good condition and well-maintained
- Always stops at red lights and stop signs
- Never ride distracted, i.e. using your cellphone
- You must always yield and give way to the right
- It’s your responsibility to obey all directional traffic rules and road markings
- You must never cycle under the influence of alcohol or any other substance
- You must wear appropriate clothing and reflective gear if riding at night
- You must wear a safety helmet at all times
- Your bicycle must be fitted with appropriate lighting for night riding
Despite the fact that the majority of states across the U.S. do not enforce a bicycle helmet law, it’s still important to cycle with safety at the forefront of your mind at all times. You may want to research your state’s particular bicycle helmet law to be sure of what your responsibilities are.
What Is a Pedestrian’s Duty of Care?
Most people assume that just because they are walking on the sidewalk or crossing the street that they have the right-of-way in most situations. But in reality, this is not the case. Pedestrians must also uphold a duty of care that includes:
- Following all traffic signals at road intersections
- Only cross the road at marked crossroad sections
- Do not walk in non-designated areas, such as on the side of the road, or towards oncoming traffic
- Do not cross major roads without using a marked crossroad signal
Pedestrians can also be at fault, and in some cases, are the main cause of many accidents involving both bicycles and cars, due to negligence and lack of awareness. In this case, you could be held liable for a cycling crash.
At-Fault in a Cyclist Accident? Here’s What to Do
If you are ever involved in a cycling accident where a pedestrian has suffered bodily injury or property damage, there are a few steps you’ll need to take in order to protect yourself and minimize legal consequences:
1. Prioritize Safety
This sounds ironic because a lack of safety is what led to the accident in the first place. But it’s important to ensure that everyone is safe after the accident has happened. This means clearing everyone off the road and moving onto the sidewalk or traffic median.
If anyone involved in the accident cannot walk or move, you want to make sure they are clearly visible to traffic and other drivers. You can also ask bystanders for help if need be. Do not attempt to move an immobile, injured pedestrian, as this can only further exacerbate their injury.
2. Call Emergency Services
No matter the extent of the accident and a person’s injuries, you should always contact emergency services by dialing 911 and requesting an ambulance and the police.
An ambulance may be necessary to properly assess your condition and the pedestrian involved in the accident. They can also assist with treating and moving an injured person if they are immobile. A police presence is necessary so that you can accurately report the accident and recount what happened when it’s fresh in your mind. You can also ask bystanders to offer up any extra information they have about the accident.
An accurate and in-depth police report is very important. Insurance companies will assess the report in the case of compensation, and it can also be used in court (if your case gets there). Make sure to obtain the police officer’s badge information and the incident reference number.
3. Always Exchange Personal Details
Where possible, it’s also important to exchange personal details with the pedestrian involved in the accident. Take a picture of their ID if they are unable to respond or think clearly immediately after the accident.
While this information should be included in the police report, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have access to this information when you need it. It’s always better to take extra precautions.
4. Ask for Witness Statements
If there was anyone around when your accident happened, it’s also a good idea to ask witnesses to give an account of what they saw. An objective witness statement may be able to help your case and could also contain certain details that you may have overlooked or forgotten amidst the panic of the accident.
5. Document Everything
When it comes to a case of personal liability and compensation during a cycling accident, there’s no such thing as too much documentation. Make sure to document and take photos of everything, preferably with a date stamp.
Important things to document include the state of your bicycle, the accident scene, traffic signs and stops in the area, and any injuries sustained by either party.
6. Keep a Record of All Your Doctor’s Visits
Even if your injuries are not as severe as the other party, it’s still important to get a check-up with your doctor and document your injuries. Remember that some injuries tend to develop after some time and could have latent side-effects after your accident.
Ensure you keep a record of all doctor reports, receipts, medication, and related therapy sessions, if needed.
Find a Reputable Bike Accident Attorney
Cycling accidents happen all the time throughout the state of Florida. The reality is that anyone can be at fault — you just need to know how to protect yourself and the right steps to take after an accident takes place.
If you’re looking for one of the best bicycle accident attorneys in the state, Vivo Law Offices offers the best legal advice in the state. We service the South Florida region, including areas such as Westin, Pembroke Pines, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, and surrounds.
Learn more about our services and how your case will be handled with Vivo Law Offices.