Bicycling is one of the outdoor activities Floridians and guests greatly favor. So does our climate. Lots of us use a bike as our primary transport. It’s great exercise, too. Alas, not all rides have happy endings. Accidents and injuries happen. The popularity of cycling means the numbers are large. In fact, Florida leads the 50 states in bicycling fatalities, and in per capita bicycling fatalities. The vast majority of bicycling accidents involve collisions with cars. Obviously, the injuries sustained by the cyclist in such a crash can be severe. They are too often fatal.
Needless to say, Florida personal injury lawyers are very active in bicycling accident cases.
INSURANCE AND BICYCLING ACCIDENTS
A key aspect of this legal area is that Florida car insurance does cover bicycling accidents. That is, the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in a cyclist’s car insurance applies when the rider is hurt in an accident. The coverage is the same as if the insured had been driving rather than biking. PIP is meant to provide quick help with medical expenses and lost wages, without regard to fault. Note that the injured person has to get medical help within 14 days of the accident. Also, PIP benefits cap out at $10,000. Any compensation above that has to be settled based on fault.
The judgment of fault in a crash involving a bike and a car or truck hangs in part on traffic laws. There are some common myths about how traffic laws apply to bicycles. Not surprising, since the law treats bicycles as motor vehicles – except when it doesn’t. For example, Florida law permits bicycles, but not cars, to travel on sidewalks. Otherwise, the law sees bicycles as motor vehicles. Cyclists have the same rights to the road as cars and are subject to exactly the same laws. Cyclists have to stop for red lights, stop at stop signs, use lights at night, and so on.
However, there are also some clauses in the law about lane-sharing with cars, use of bicycle lanes, and rights-of-way.
LIABILITY AND COMPENSATION
Overall, the settlement process for Florida bicycle injury claims is like that for car crash cases. The issue of the injured cyclist’s share of liability has some extra twists. For example, there are grey areas where a cyclist is passing from a sidewalk to a roadway. That is, from being “like a pedestrian” to being legally a motor vehicle operator. The bottom line is is that after any bicycle accident with injury, it’s imperative to contact a personal injury lawyer and get the ball rolling as right away.