Florida offers fantastic bicycle riding weather pretty much all year round. When most people think of accidents involving bicyclists on the roadway, they think of the incident as being the driver’s fault. However, what happens when a bicyclist is responsible for a Florida car accident? Who is responsible for paying compensation for damages in these cases?
These are complicated questions, but they are important. If you were the operator of a vehicle involving a bicycle versus car accident, you may need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
Bicycle accident stats can be alarming
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there were 6,590 total bicycle crashes during the latest reporting year across the state. Out of these incidents, there were 160 reported fatalities and 6,183 reported injuries. Those numbers are astounding, and they show just how vulnerable a bicyclist is in these incidents.
When it comes to bicycle accidents, people usually discuss the injuries to the cyclist. However, those inside vehicles can also be seriously injured, particularly if the incident causes them to crash into another vehicle or a stationary object.
When is a bicyclist liable for a crash in Florida?
What the numbers above do not show is who was at fault for the incidents. While there are certainly many bicycle accidents in which a vehicle driver is at fault, there are also times when a bicyclist causes a crash. Bicyclists in Florida are required to follow all traffic laws and they should always operate their bicycles safely.
Florida bicyclists have several laws they must obey when they are on the roadway, including the following:
- Riding in the same direction as traffic (contrary to popular misconception)
- Staying in the bike lane or as close to the edge of the road as practical
- Always granting the right-of-way to the correct person (not always the cyclist, sometimes a driver)
Most bicycle accidents arise over issues dealing with who had the right-of-way. Proving right-of-way in the aftermath of an accident can be complicated. For example, while riders are required to stay in a bike lane or as close to the right of the roadways practical, they are permitted to leave these areas and enter the roadway to avoid a hazard, to make a left turn, or to pass someone. When a bicycle rider performs one of these actions, drivers are supposed to give them three feet of space.
Drivers are also required to give bicyclists three feet of space when they are passing them or traveling next to them. While a bicyclist may very well be at fault for performing certain maneuvers without indicating their intention to do so, proving this can be difficult.
Florida’s no-fault insurance laws
In Florida, we follow a no-fault insurance system for car accidents. This means that anyone involved in an accident recovers compensation for injury expenses and lost income through their personal insurance policies. Drivers injured in bicycle accidents caused by the cyclist will generally only be able to file for additional coverage from the bicyclist’s insurance or through a personal injury lawsuit if their injuries reach the “serious injury” threshold, meaning the following occurred:
- significant disfigurement
- permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member
- a significant limitation of use of a body function
- bone fracture
- substantially full disability for 90 days