Bicycle ridership has increased tremendously in recent years, as more and more people are looking for healthy and eco-friendly transportation options. However, this increase in ridership has also led to a corresponding increase in bicycle accidents. For one, many drivers are simply not used to sharing the road with bicyclists and may not be aware of the laws pertaining to their interactions. Additionally, distracted driving (e.g., texting, talking on the phone, etc.) has become a major problem on our roads, and can be especially dangerous for cyclists. Also, compared to motorists, cyclists are much more vulnerable to serious injury in the event of an accident. This is due to the fact that they are not protected by a metal frame and airbags and are often thrown from their bikes upon impact.
Common Bicycle-Related Accident Causes
There are many potential causes for bike accident. Some of the most common ones include the following:
Distracted driving – This is one of the most common causes of accidents in general, and it can be especially dangerous for bicyclists. Drivers who are distracted may not see a bicyclist until it’s too late, leading to a collision.
Failure to yield – Drivers are required to yield to bicyclists when turning, and failure to do so can often lead to accidents.
Opening car doors – This is known as “dooring,” and it can be very dangerous for bicyclists. When a driver opens their door without checking for oncoming traffic, they may cause a bicyclist to crash into the door, leading to serious injuries.
Driving under the influence – Driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol is especially dangerous for bicyclists. Impaired drivers may have difficulty seeing cyclists or may make poor decisions that can lead to accidents.
Bicycle defects – Sometimes, an accident may be caused by a defect in the bicycle parts. This could be something as simple as a loose chain or flat tire, or it could be a more serious issue like defective brakes.
Riding in bad weather – Cyclists also need to take extra precautions when riding in bad weather, such as wearing bright clothing so that they are visible and using caution when riding on wet or icy roads.
Florida Bicycle Laws
Most states have bicycle statutes that cover such topics as right-of-way, riding on sidewalks, use of lights at night, and wearing helmets. However, these laws may vary from state to state, which is why it’s important for cyclists to know the laws in their state.
According to the bicycle accident lawyers at Kogan & DiSalvo in Florida, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. This means that they are required to follow all the same rules of the road, including obeying traffic signals, yielding, and riding in the same direction as traffic. There are other, more specific laws that pertain to cyclists. For instance, only one person should ride on a bicycle built for one person, and cyclists must use hand signals when turning. Another important law to be aware of is the “three-foot rule,” which requires drivers to give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing them on the road. When travelling at slower speeds, such as when riding on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk, cyclists must yield to pedestrians. And if they are riding on a one-way highway, they’re advised to stick near the left-hand edge of the road so that they are more visible to oncoming traffic. Crossing guards also have the authority to stop traffic for cyclists and pedestrians, so it’s important to obey their signals as well. The issue of brakes is also addressed in Florida law. All bicycles should have brakes that allow the cyclist to halt within 25 feet, from a speed of 10 miles/hour on dry, level pavement.
Liability And How It’s Determined
When a bicycle accident occurs, the issue of liability will generally come down to who was at fault. In most cases, the determination of liability will be based on negligence, where if one party can be shown to have acted carelessly or recklessly, then that party will be held liable for any damages that occur. So, If the cyclist was following all the rules of the road and the driver still hit them, then the driver would likely be found liable. However, if the cyclist was riding recklessly and caused the accident, then they would be held liable. It’s important to note that the state recognizes pure comparative negligence, which means that even if the cyclist is found to be partially at fault, they can still recover damages from the other party, but their recovery will be reduced by their own percentage of fault.
There are other instances where liability may be imposed even if neither party was at fault. For example, if the cyclist was hit by a car that was being driven by an uninsured or under-insured driver, then the cyclist may be able to recover damages from their own insurance company through what’s known as uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage.
In any case, it is important to speak with an attorney after a bicycle accident in order to determine who may be held liable for the damages.
How A Lawyer Can Help
We’ve already established that there are many different factors that can contribute to a bicycle accident. This means that the process of investigating an accident and determining liability can be complex. Besides investigating the facts about your accident, an attorney will also build a strong case in order to hold the responsible party liable. They will be familiar with the insurance claims process, which will be crucial in getting you the full amount of compensation. Serious injuries can result in high medical bills, missed time from work, and a reduced quality of life. A lawyer can help make sure that you are fairly compensated for all of these damages.
It is important for both cyclists and drivers are aware of bicycle statutes, in addition to general rules of the road. As a cyclist, you have a responsibility to yourself and others to obey all traffic laws, including those that are specific to cyclists. Consequently, if you are involved in an accident, it is more likely that the other party will be held liable if you were following the law.