There are many reasons to ride a bike: exercise, train for a triathlon, enjoy a sunny day, run short errands, or as a main method of transportation. Yet nothing will put a dent in your plans like getting hit by a car. It can be even worse if the damage is substantial.
If you’ve been on the unfortunate receiving end of this type of accident, it’s important to know how to move forward. Knowledge allows you to protect yourself as much as possible.
Bicycle Accidents on Florida Roadways
Florida Statutes Section 316.2065 establishes all of the responsibilities of people who ride bicycles on the road. While a victim of a car accident has the right to sue to recover damages to their person or property, it’s crucial to be aware of the duties that are expected of you because Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. What this means is that if you’re in an accident and you sustain worse injuries because you weren’t adhering to the laws of bicycle riding, the amount you can recover in a lawsuit may be reduced in accordance to your degree of negligence.
Say, for example, that you get hit by a car and break an arm. Let’s say you were also traveling with a fraternity brother who was sitting on the handlebars. Guess what? The laws are clear on how to ride a bike, and having a passenger on the handlebars is not permitted. So if both of you sustain injuries, your buddy is out of luck. Your recovery of damages may also be diminished if the person sitting in front of you blocked your vision while riding.
Below is a list of other responsibilities that are imposed on bike riders. Failing to comply with them means that a judge may find that you were negligent.
Responsibilities of Bicycle Riders in Florida
1. People are only to ride a bike while sitting astride on a bicycle seat. So if you or your teenage kids are prone to sitting a friend on the handlebars, correct that situation.
2. If you must travel with a small child, you’re expected to securely place the baby in a backpack or sling designed for that purpose.
3. If the person riding the bike is under 16 years of age, wear a helmet at all times. Failing to do so is also a traffic violation.
4. Ride in the bicycle lane. If there isn’t one, ride your bike on the right-hand shoulder of the road. If you’re riding on a one-way highway, you may also ride on the far-left side of the road.
5. When riding at night, use a lamp. The light has to be white and visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front. You also are required to install a lamp and reflector on the rear of the bicycle, each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear.
6. Make sure the brakes are working. Every bicycle is required to have brakes that allow the rider to stop the bike within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry pavement.
What to do if You’re Hit by a Car While Riding a Bike
If you’re hit by a car while riding a bicycle, you have a right to file a claim for damages against the motorist who hit you. Damages include:
– Medical bills
– Damage to your bicycle
– Lost wages if you have to miss work due to injuries
– Lost wages for future earnings if the accident results in a disability
– Pain and suffering if the disability is permanent or if you’re disfigured
Motorists who are involved in an accident are required by law to stop their vehicle (without obstructing traffic, if possible), and render assistance to any injured parties. Failing to do so subjects the motorist to criminal liability and suspension of their driver’s license.
Now, before even thinking of filing a lawsuit, be aware that you may be able to file for personal injury protection (PIP) claim with your own car insurance company. This is because Florida requires all car insurance policies to offer these benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This is how it works:
PIP will cover 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages, up to a cap of $10,000 for any of the following individuals:
– The named insured
– Relatives residing in the same household
If you’re the one who hit someone who was riding a bike, PIP will also cover:
– Persons operating the insured motor vehicle
– Passengers in the motor vehicle
– Other persons struck by the motor vehicle
To obtain these benefits, you are required to file your claim within 14 days from the date of the accident.
If your insurance policy also includes Medical Pay (also known as MedPay), it’ll cover the remaining 20% of medical bills not covered by PIP.
Any amount of damages above what PIP and MedPay cover (anything over $10,000) can only be recovered by filing a claim against the motorist who hit the pedestrian. You’ll have to prove that the other party was negligent by providing medical records, surveillance footage, witness testimony, pictures taken at the scene of the accident, and any other relevant evidence.
Call LMW Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you or someone you love was hit by a car while riding a bike, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to prove your case.
At Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins PA, we have experienced attorneys who can design a strategy to help you. Contact us today.
Disclaimer: The information above is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.