Bicycle Accidents & Your Rights
Florida is the Sunshine State, which means that on most days of the year, the weather is perfect for bicycling. Unfortunately, Florida also has some of the worst statistics in the nation for cycling accidents and, yes, fatalities too.
Bicyclists in Florida have an expectation to obey the same laws as operators of motorized vehicles, including other restrictions such as using bike lanes or clinging to the far right of a road that has no lane for bicycles.
Both motor vehicle operators and bicyclists have the same responsibility to care for the safety of others, so bicycle accidents sometimes fall into a gray area where both driver and bicyclist can share some of the blame.
The one thing that clearly separates a bicyclist from a motor vehicle operator is the greater exposure to danger and injury. If a driver is bumped into another vehicle, there may be a dent in the fender, but people inside both vehicles may be totally unharmed. If a bicyclist is bumped into by a vehicle, serious injuries – even death – can result.
If you or a loved one has been injured while bicycling in or around Altamonte Springs, Florida, contact me at the Law Office Of Mark A. Cornelius P.A. today for guidance. I will listen to your story, investigate, and advise you of your best options going forward to receive compensation for your injuries and losses, whether it be through a claim with the driver’s insurance or through a personal injury lawsuit.
My office proudly serves clients throughout Central Florida, including Seminole, Orange, Osceola, Volusia, Polk County, and Lake County.
Personal Injury Laws in Florida
As in all states, personal injury claims in Florida are based on the concept of negligence. If you or a loved one has been injured by an operator of a motor vehicle, another bicyclist, or bad road conditions, you must show that negligence led to your or your loved one’s injuries.
Drivers by Florida law have a duty of care to protect others on the roadway, and bicyclists have the same duty of care. Municipalities, counties, and the state also have a duty of care to maintain safe roadway conditions.
To prevail in a personal injury claim based on negligence, you must thus show the at-fault party:
Had a duty of care (by law, they basically all do)
Breached their duty of care
The breach resulted in your injuries
If you prevail in your claim, you can recover compensation for medical expenses, wages lost due to missed work, and even for your pain and suffering.
Now if you file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, the insurer is going to try to pin as much of the blame on you sd possible to reduce their liability or even deny your claim outright. In Florida, however, the principle of pure comparative negligence allows you to recover compensation proportionate to your percentage of fault and the other party’s percentage of fault.
Say the insurance adjuster or a judge and jury find you 20 percent at fault, and the other party 80 percent at fault, and your settlement or award is $20,000. You would receive 80 percent of that amount, or $16,000. If the tables are reversed, and you’re deemed 80 percent at fault, you can still receive $4,000, or 20 percent.
Florida Bicycling Laws
Florida Statute 316.2065 states: “Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.” In other words, all the laws pertaining to vehicle operators also pertain to bicyclists. You must observe all traffic signals and signs, speed limits, and other rules of the road.
In addition, bicyclists who are not traveling at the same speed as motorized vehicles must use the available bike lane, and if no lane is available, ride as far right to the road as possible. Lane splitting – riding between two vehicles traveling side by side – is illegal.
Riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is permitted in Florida, but if you do so, you must observe the same rules as pedestrians. You can’t just ride roughshod over them.
Helmets are only a requirement for bicyclists under 16 years of age but are a recommendation for all bicycle riders. Head injuries are among the most serious that can result from a fall from a bicycle.
Bicyclists have an expectation to signal both left and right turns using their arms, and they must have at least one hand on the handlebar at any time. Reflectors are required for riding at night, and nighttime riding is generally the most dangerous time for bicycle accidents.
Filing a Claim
If you have auto insurance in Florida, it is a requirement to file a claim for your injuries first under your auto insurance’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) provision.
You may have the temptation to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance as well, but here it is advisable to check with a personal injury attorney before involving yourself with a claims adjuster from an adversarial insurance company. They’ll try to trick you into admitting some form of guilt or responsibility and then lowball or deny your claim. Let your attorney handle them.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
Dealing with claims adjusters on your own can jeopardize your potential for recovering what’s truly owed you. Just like the Miranda Rights warning when you’re arrested, these people can and will use anything you say against you.
That’s why if you or a loved one has been injured while out bicycling, you need to contact me immediately at the Law Office Of Mark A. Cornelius P.A. Let me deal with these trained – and tricky – insurance professionals. I know exactly how they operate and can fight for your full rights. In addition, I know when a personal injury lawsuit is the best route to recovering your just compensation.
If you’re in or around Altamonte Springs or anywhere in Central Florida, bring your case to me and let me hold the others responsible for your injuries and suffering accountable.