If you enjoy pedaling your way through sunny southern Florida, you must be on the alert. When it comes to bicycle safety, Florida is the deadliest state in the United States. Despite the dangers, 36% of bicyclists are not using helmets.
It doesn’t matter where you are riding, knowledge of Florida helmet law and compliance with all safety measures is important to ensure your personal safety. Every year approximately 2% of those who die in automotive accidents are bicyclists.
Deaths of bicycle riders have a 36% increase since 2010. Ninety percent of the 843 bicycle deaths in the U.S. during 2019 were those 20 years and older, and 62% of those killed were not wearing helmets.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about Florida helmet law and when you need to contact a bike accident lawyer for assistance.
Does Florida Have a Helmet Law?
A bike helmet may save your life, but if you are over the age of 16 it is not a legal requirement in Florida. Children under the age of 16 must wear a bicycle helmet that is compliant with federal safety standards.
This is a requirement whether the child is operating the bike or a passenger in a seat carrier, trailer, or semitrailer attached to the bike. The helmet must be securely fastened to the child’s head with a strap pursuant to FS 316.2065.
If the helmet law for minors is violated, FS 318.18 allows for the issuance of a citation. If it is the first violation and you furnish proof of purchasing a bike helmet to the court they will dismiss the citation.
Does Helmet Use Affect My Florida Bike Accident Case?
Attorneys who work in high-risk areas for bike accidents, including Westin, Pembroke, and Key Biscayne, know that a defendant in a lawsuit is unable to use your decision not to wear a helmet against you. Florida law does not permit a reduction in the monetary award. FL 316.2016(18) states that a person failing to wear a bicycle helmet or failing to prevent a child from riding a bike without a helmet is not evidence of negligence or contributory negligence.
Violations of the helmet requirements are within the category of non-criminal traffic infractions. They fall within pedestrian violations of traffic requirements.
When riding a bike in Florida, you do need to be aware of FS 768.81 regarding comparative fault. This law allows the reduction of your award dependent upon the percentage a jury finds you to be at fault. This comparative fault with a head injury could be relative to not wearing a helmet.
This means if a jury determines your total damages to be $600,000.00, but also finds you to be 40% at fault, your award will be $240,000 less. You will receive only $360,000.00 of the money the jury awards. With the severity of injuries from a bike accident, you want to be eligible for a full award.
What about Florida No-Fault Insurance?
Pursuant to FS 627.736 every Florida automobile insurance policy must include $10,000.00 of personal injury protection (PIP). In an accident with two automobiles, each person’s no-fault insurance covers their own auto and medical expenses.
When an automobile collides with a bicycle, the law is different. Because cyclists do not purchase auto insurance for their bikes, they carry the designation of a pedestrian in an accident. That means you collect PIP coverage from the automobile driver’s insurance.
If You Are In An Accident
No matter how cautious you are, it can happen. You are pedaling your way through Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, or Hillsborough Beach and suffer an impact with a motor vehicle. When this happens, you need to contact a Florida bike accident lawyer as soon after the incident as possible.
Your attorney will immediately begin gathering evidence and working with insurance companies and defense attorneys to negotiate a settlement. If they are unable to obtain a satisfactory agreement, they will proceed with filing a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit must be done before the statute of limitations expires.
In the case of personal injury torts, actions for matters of negligence have a four (4) years statute of limitations. This lengthy time frame allows you time to recover and your attorney to obtain a prognosis on your permanent life-altering injuries. While recovering you want your attorney gathering evidence to support your case while it is fresh.
What About Electric Bikes?
In Florida operators of electric bikes must be over 16 years old. In Florida, electric bikes do not require licensing or insurance.
As of July 1, 2020, new Florida law designates electric bikes as being a motorized bicycle that is propelled by human power. It further designates that the bikes may not go faster than 20 mph. When being operated they must comply with the same rules as a traditional bike.
A new statute, FS 316.20655 deals with e-bikes and states that riders have the same rights and privileges as riders of traditional bikes. You may use your e-bike on all streets, bike lanes, sidewalks, and multi-use paths in the same manner as a traditional pedal bike. Be aware that local cities and governments may pass more strict laws regarding E-bike operation.
Motor vehicles must provide e-bike riders with a minimum of three (3) feet when passing them. When riding an e-bike you fall within the definition of “vulnerable road user” under FS 316.027. This affects your legal claims when in a crash.
If you purchase an e-bike manufactured after January 1, 2021, it must have a permanent label containing its classification number, top assisted speed, and motor wattage. That label must not be tampered with.
Stay Safe When Cycling
When bicycling in Florida, following safe cycling tips helps prevent accidents. The most important things are to know your state laws and remain alert. Even the cautious rider can become a victim of an accident.
If you are in a bicycle accident you want an attorney representing you who is a lifetime athlete and cyclist. Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Vivo. We understand the risks and how Florida helmet law impacts your claim.
We represent bicyclists throughout southern Florida. You can reach us by calling (561) 665-1130 or use our online contact form. Check us out today!