A recent uptick in the popularity of riding a bicycle has made it more important to understand the laws and regulations bicycles fall under. What rights do you have as a bicycle rider in the state of Florida? If you’re in an accident with another bicycle how can you protect yourself? A Florida bicycle accident attorney can help you with that.
Florida bicycle accident attorney Guy DiMartino has 18 years of experience studying up on Florida bicycle laws and protecting the people who ride them. Bicycle riders are more vulnerable when riding around with other motorists, so it’s important to know how to educate and protect yourself in case of an accident or even worse.
Florida Bicycle Accident Statistics
Florida bicycle accident attorney Guy DiMartino encourages all riders to be aware of the laws and safety regulations around their bike. Florida has become notorious for bicycle accidents and even worse, deaths. In 2015 Florida lead the country in bicycle fatalities with 150 — 21 more than second-place finisher California. To add insult to mortality, that number for Florida was up from 139 in 2014.
That’s just deaths too — this doesn’t include non-fatal accidents. In a study conducted from 2007-2011, over 20,000 bicycle accidents were recorded in the state of Florida.
Florida bicycle accident attorney Guy DiMartino likes to stress the responsibility of safety on riders rather than waiting for the state to try to clean up what is a big problem. We’re here to help Florida bicycle riders proactively understand the laws and safety around their bike so they don’t become a statistic too.
Florida Bicycle Accident FAQs
What is the bicycle helmet law in Florida?
Florida bicycle accident attorney Guy DiMartino strongly urges anyone who rides a bicycle in the state of Florida to wear a helmet regardless of age restrictions for their own personal safety. However, the law in Florida states anyone under the age of 16 must wear a helmet that is “properly fitted and securely fastened” by a strap around the head. This would include anyone under the age of 16 riding in a trailer or buggy being pulled beside or behind the bicycle.
Helmets must meet the standards of the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), which were updated on January 1, 2016. So if you purchased a helmet before that date you need to buy a new one! Anyone under the age of 16 who is wearing a helmet that doesn’t meet the CFR standards may be subject to a citation from law enforcement.
Even though this citation is easily waived at a hearing when the court is provided the proof-of-purchase of a proper helmet, Florida bicycle accident attorney Guy DiMartino strongly urges all bicycle riders wear up-to-date helmets to avoid the hassle of a citation.
Remember parents! Just because you gave your child permission not to wear a helmet doesn’t mean you can’t be held accountable for being negligent. The law in Florida says a parent can not prevent their child from wearing a helmet under any circumstance.
With all of that being said, Florida bicycle accident attorney Guy DiMartino would strongly urge all riders to wear a helmet regardless of age or experience to save yourself a literal headache.
Do bicycles have the right of way in Florida?
For all Florida bicycle riders, it is important to know one thing about yourself on public roads:
In the state of Florida, a bicycle is legally considered a vehicle and the rider is legally considered a driver. This means a bicycle rider must obey the same traffic laws as anyone driving a car. This includes stopping at stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic and not against it, giving pedestrians the right of way at crosswalks and following the same right of way rules at intersections you would in a car.
Just because you ride a bicycle doesn’t mean you get a special set of rules on public roads. All “human propelled” vehicles riding on public roads are treated the same in Florida, no matter how many wheels they have. So, no, there is no special right of way rules for bicycle riders in the state of Florida.
Do I have to have file auto insurance if I’m in a Florida Bicycle Accident?
Florida has a no-fault insurance law, also known as the personal injury protection law (PIP). This means anyone involved in an accident involving a “human propelled” vehicle in the state of Florida must file a claim with their auto insurance policy.
The PIP is designed to limit the power of a bicycle rider to file suit against an at-fault driver. In the state of Florida, certain conditions must be met in order for a bicycle rider to claim damages outside of a regular insurance claim.
However, the answer to this question is yes, the law in Florida actually requires anyone in a bicycle accident to file a claim with their auto insurance company. If you don’t have auto insurance, there are other options for you.
Can I file homeowners insurance if I’m in a Florida bicycle accident?
Some Florida residents don’t use cars and ride their bicycle to get where they need to be. While this certainly saves money on gas and car insurance premiums, it’s important to know how to handle a Florida bicycle accident when you’re not covered under a regular auto policy. That’s where a Florida bicycle accident attorney can come in handy.
If a Florida bicycle rider has a homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy on their house or apartment, the policy can be used to protect yourself in case a biker is injured on your property or you as a biker injure another person on your bike. It is often the case a Florida homeowners policy will cover the damages to the other party if the bicycle rider is considered “at-fault” for the accident.
However, Florida homeowners and renters policies normally cover liability only. This means the policy won’t cover any damages to the rider or the bicycle. Normally health insurance is the only option at this point to cover your own medical bills.
One more important note, if you are a professional bike rider and you are being paid to ride in a race a Florida homeowners policy won’t cover the liability for the other party. So be careful in the peloton!
Can I ride my bicycle on the sidewalk or crosswalk in Florida?
Before diving into details let’s come out and say, yes, you can ride your bicycle on the sidewalk or a crosswalk in the state of Florida.
Just like a bicycle is considered a vehicle on Florida public roads, the minute a bicycle hits the pavement of a public sidewalk you are considered a pedestrian and will be held to all the same rules and standards as someone on foot.
This means pedestrians don’t have to look out for you, you have to look out for them. Florida bicycle riders have to yield their right of way to pedestrians and have to give a signal loud enough to hear when passing pedestrians on a sidewalk or crosswalk. Remember, bicycle riders still have to use helmets and lights when required and can still be charged with a DUI on a sidewalk.
Six Common Florida Bicycle Accident Scenarios
Car pulls out in front of bicycle
This is by far the most common bicycle injury we see today. A car will pull out in an intersection, driveway or parking lot and strikes a bicycle rider crossing in front of the car. Often these injuries are less serious because the car normally isn’t traveling at a high speed when pulling out of a certain area.
Car door opens on bicycle path
Another common and less serious injury sustained by bicycle riders in Florida is riding into an open car door. Often times a driver will open their door without looking into their side mirror, leaving a massive obstruction in the path of a bicycle rider without any time to react. Florida has a specific law that prohibits a person from opening a door in a motor vehicle unless it is reasonably safe to do. What this means is when a person exits a vehicle, he must look to make sure a bicycle is not coming. Also, it is against the law to leave a car or truck door open for a period of time longer than exiting or entering the vehicle.
Car “rear ends” a cyclist changing lanes
This common incident is often a result of a bicycle rider not signaling when changing lanes. A car not paying attention to their surroundings may not slow down when a bicycle rider changes lanes in front of them and will “rear end” the cyclist. These injuries are often serious and can be fatal.
Car makes a right turn into a cyclist
This common accident can be easily avoided by the bicycle rider paying attention to all of their surroundings, in this case looking towards the car blinker signals if riding along the right side of one. But every so often a bicycle rider will ride along the right side of a vehicle and be hit when the vehicle makes a right turn.
Bicycle rider pulls out in a street
The accident which most commonly ends in fatalities is when a bicycle rider tries to cross a street or pulls out into a road. Often times the vehicle is traveling fast and doesn’t have enough time to stop for the bicycle rider, resulting in bad accidents.
Car makes a left turn into a cyclist coming from opposite direction
In this more uncommon scenario, a bicycle rider traveling one way will be hit by a car turning left into an intersection, driveway or parking lot. This too can be avoided by the cyclist being aware of the turn signals of the vehicles around them. These collisions are often head-on, making them especially dangerous.
Four Common Florida Bicycle Accident Injuries
The most common injury sustained by bicycle riders is when flesh meets the earth. The severity of these injuries can vary from a simple skin surface burn to traumatic damage and debris removal from the skin. Almost anyone who’s fallen off a bike has probably experienced some kind of road rash.
The next most common and severe injury sustained by bicycle riders are those to the head, especially in the case of children. Head related injuries account for up to 47 percent of total bicycle injuries and up to 60 percent of bicycle deaths. Of course, these decrease exponentially when you wear a helmet!
Broken bones can often be the result of being thrown off a bicycle at high speeds. The most common bones broken in bicycle accidents are the clavicle (collarbone), forearm, shin, elbow and occasionally joint dislocation. Next, to head injuries, these can be the most debilitating to our clients.
If you’re a professional cyclist, there’s a good chance you ride with a mouthguard just in case of an accident. But for those casual riders, there’s a better chance you have no protection for your mouth. Accidents that occur head-on will result in the loss of teeth or even damage to the actual jaw.
Six steps for filing a Florida Bicycle Accident Claim
Call the police and report the incident
If you read our FAQ section, you’ll know the state of Florida has a no-fault or personal injury protection (PIP) law. This requires both parties in an accident involving a “human propelled” vehicle on public roads to file a claim, which starts with calling the police who will write a report for the insurance companies.
Double check the incident
Don’t leave it up to the police to gather all the relevant evidence of your Florida bicycle accident. A small missing detail can be the difference between getting full compensation for your medical bills and 50 percent compensation in the state of Florida. Take photos of the accident scene and get contact information for people who witnessed the accident.
Go see a doctor
Even you don’t feel hurt or notice any apparent injury, go see a doctor for a checkup immediately after an accident. Obtaining a doctors report can assist you in your claim and can potentially save your life. Some brain and skull injuries don’t become apparent or take effect until a couple days after the accident. If you don’t get checked within 14 days of the accident, PIP will not pay for any medical bills related to the bicycle accident.
File the claim
Remember, under the Florida PIP law you must file a claim with your insurance company. Even if this doesn’t occur the day of the accident, you must file or the state of Florida can penalize you. It is especially important to file if you were involved in a hit-and-run accident.
Do NOT give a statement to the other insurance company
If you’ve been a Florida bicycle accident, and this is very important to remember, you are NOT obligated to give a statement to the liable party’s insurance company. Worst case scenario, the other insurance company is looking for ways discredit your claim and reduce your compensation.
Find an experienced Florida bicycle accident Attorney
The process of getting the compensation you deserve for your bicycle injury can be complicated and often times lonely, so don’t go it by yourself. Florida Bicycle Accident Attorney Guy DiMartino deals with cases every year that starts out just like this and will deal with the insurance companies from start to finish so no bill is left unpaid.
Florida Bicycle Accident Settlement Process
When figuring out what comes included in a Florida bicycle accident settlement, there are two kinds of damages to consider: economic and non-economic.
Economic Damages are very concrete and can often be calculated down to the cent. These damages aren’t limited to losses which occurred at the accident site, such as physical injury and the loss of a bicycle. You can receive financial compensation for economic damages for the following reasons:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of ability to keep up your house or apartment
- Loss or damage to personal property
- Costs of repair to personal property
It’s important to keep up and save any medical bills, receipts or any other expenses reports during the claim process so you can receive maximum compensation for your bills.
Non-Economic Damages are often abstract and can be much more difficult to prove in litigation. These are often “post-traumatic stress” psychological issues which can affect your life well after the actual accident has occurred. An experienced Florida bicycle accident attorney like Guy DiMartino can help you sort through the various non-economic damages you can suffer. Examples can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment in everyday life
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
These different categories all seem like they mesh together, but each one does mean something different. For example, “pain and suffering” refers to the physical pain you endure in everyday life that you would not have otherwise had to deal with before the accident. “Loss of enjoyment in everyday life” refers to your inability to do activities you once enjoyed doing.
Consortium, not a word you hear every day, refers to the physical ability to love your spouse. Whether this means kissing, hugging or providing care to your partner — this can be used to request compensation.
Contact a Florida Bicycle Accident Attorney today
When you strap on your helmet, pick up your bicycle and head out for a ride there’s a lot you don’t think about — which is how it should be. A ride on a bicycle should be a healthy and mind-clearing activity.
While keeping your own personal safety in mind, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not you will be taken care of if something happens on your ride. Peace of mind is important no matter what you do and in the case of your Florida bicycle accident, it shouldn’t be a battle you fight alone.
For 18 years Florida bicycle accident attorney Guy DiMartino has fought for Florida bicycle riders to get the peace of mind they deserve when they’ve been injured in an accident. If you or someone you care about has been injured in a Florida bicycle accident and aren’t getting the full care they deserve, call 352-267-9168 for a free consultation today.