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When Are Bicyclists Liable for Auto Accidents In Florida?

In Sarasota like other areas, bicyclists must follow almost all the same traffic laws as vehicles sharing the roadways. Florida law follows a concept called shared negligence (comparative negligence). As unlikely as it seems it is possible that a bicyclist can be held liable for causing a car accident, whether they are riding along a quiet neighborhood street in Palmer Ranch, or along a busy road like Tamiami Trail near downtown.

The Laws Are the Same

While a bicycle on the roadway isn’t exactly the same as a vehicle, the laws are still similar. Bicyclists must follow the same rules that motor vehicle operators do. This means not making unsafe lane changes, yielding to pedestrians, staying off the sidewalks, and obeying traffic signs and signals. If bicyclists disobey these traffic laws and that violation causes an accident, they can be held liable for any injuries and damages.

In the state of Florida, in 2021, approximately 6,399 bicycle accidents were reported. Preliminary data from 2022 show 79 fatal bicycle accidents across the state, with over 3,102 reported bike accidents. This data shows that Florida leads the US for bicycle fatalities.

Sharing Fault

Like other accidents, there is something known as negligence and shared fault in Florida. Anyone operating a motor vehicle on Florida’s roadways must show reasonable care to others sharing the road. Failure to do so violates traffic law and can result in negligence if an accident involves injuries.

Comparative Negligence

Most states, including Florida, use a comparative negligence system. Under this system, each person involved in the accident can recover a percentage of damages for which they were not found at fault. Under modified comparative negligence, you cannot recover damages from an accident if the shared fault exceeds or meets 50 percent.

Determining Liability

Determining the liability for this kind of accident depends on the cause and who is at fault. Cyclists should ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic, stay in the bicycle lane or as close to the edge of the road as possible, and allow the right of way to other cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists to help avoid an accident.

As a bicyclist, it is important to understand your legal rights. Under Florida law, bicyclists are shown the same rights as pedestrians. If you fail to stop at a red light and it causes an accident, then you can be held liable. If you fail to obey other traffic signs or laws and it results in an accident, you can again be held liable.

The Statistics

Between 2014 and 2021, Florida reported over 600 bike fatalities. Also, according to a report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “for the whole of 2021, a statistical projection of traffic fatalities shows an increase of about 10.5 percent compared to reported fatalities in 2020.” Florida saw a 12.7 percent increase in fatalities on the road.

Bicycle death rates in Florida are 0.75 per 100,000 population compared to the national average of 0.26. These accidents most often occur in more urban areas where more cyclists and motorists share the same roads. Crash reports also found that most bike accidents occurred in the following counties: Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward counties.

Filing a Claim

Florida drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) and property liability insurance. Since it is a no-fault state, motorists and cyclists can file a personal injury claim with their PIP coverage, regardless of who is at fault. Cyclists that don’t carry PIP coverage cannot file a claim for their injuries under the motorist’s insurance.

If a cyclist hits a car, they can be held liable for the damages. The driver can also sue the cyclist for property damage. If you were involved in an accident that resulted from a cyclist’s negligence, you might be entitled to compensation.

Consult with an experienced Sarasota personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the process and get the compensation you rightfully deserve after the accident.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

When Are Bicyclists Liable for Auto Accidents In Florida?

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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