Florida is an ideal place to ride your bike year-round. St. Petersburg, in particular, is a perfect destination with its miles of bike paths. Biking is also an eco-friendly alternative to driving a car and is excellent exercise. However, when biking on the road, both drivers and cyclists need to keep in mind to keep the other safe.
In bike versus car accidents, the car driver is usually held liable. But what happens when an accident is the bicyclist’s fault? When on the road, bicyclists must follow the same rules of the road as car drivers, so there are rare cases where a bicyclist can be held liable for causing an accident. Being involved in an accident can be overwhelming, which is why it’s crucial to speak to a personal injury attorney. They’ll be able to communicate with your insurance company, negotiate settlements, and represent you in court.
Rules Bicyclists Must Follow on the Road
According to Florida law, there are several rules and guidelines bicyclists must follow when on the road. These laws include:
- Obeying all traffic controls and signals;
- Using a fixed seat for riding;
- Having at least one hand on the handlebar at all times;
- Bikes must be equipped with a brake that is capable of stopping the bike within 25 feet; and
- Ride as closely as possible to the right-hand edge of the road.
Lawmakers put these rules in place for everyone’s safety on the road.
When Is a Bicyclist at Fault for an Accident?
Like car accidents, bike riders may be held liable when they fail to follow the rules of the road. When they fail to follow the law, they may have acted negligently. Failing to signal a turn, riding the wrong way on a one-way street, and not stopping at a stop sign are all actions that could make a bicyclist responsible for an accident.
Florida uses the comparative negligence fault system, which means that each person in the accident may recover a certain percent of damages that they were not at fault for causing. For instance, if both a driver and cyclist ran a stop sign, but the driver was legally drunk, both parties would be responsible for the accident. Insurance companies and attorneys can use this when negotiating settlements. So, if it’s determined the cyclist was only 15% responsible for the accident, they can recover 85% of their damages, while the driver may be able to recover 15% of their damages.
Tips for Avoiding Bicycle–Car Accidents
When sharing the road with vehicles, cyclists should keep in mind the fundamental laws of physics. Motor vehicles are much larger than bikes and can cause severe damage to the rider if an accident occurs. Whenever possible, you should plan your route. This may mean riding during non-peak hours, like the late morning or afternoon. No matter how busy the road is, a bicyclist should always practice defensive biking:
- Stay alert;
- Stop and look at intersections;
- Wear reflective gear if riding at night; and
- Watch your back for oncoming traffic.
Of the 1,024 bicyclist deaths in 2018, 682 deaths were the result of a motor vehicle accident. It’s essential to be aware of your surroundings when biking with other vehicles on the road.
If you’re driving a car and see a bicyclist on the road, it’s essential to be cautious of them. They may swerve, brake suddenly, or fall off their bike. Passing slowly and giving cyclists space are great ways of reducing accidents.
Contact a Skilled St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been involved in a bike versus car accident, reach out to Attorney Frank P. Marsalisi of Marsalisi Law. He’s a trusted personal injury attorney and can answer any of your legal questions. Attorney Marsalisi can help determine who was liable for your accident through a detailed legal investigation and advise you on the steps needed to have a successful claim.
As a proud member of the Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association, Attorney Marsalisi has consistently succeeded in helping his clients receive the financial compensation they deserve. Call (727) 800-5052 or complete a contact form to schedule your free consultation.
Marsalisi Law is Where Law Gets Personal!