Bicycle Crashes and Florida Law

Bicycle Crashes and Florida LawWhile many personal injury lawyers focus primarily on motorcycle crashes, there are other two wheeled vehicles crashes that also result in serious injuries – bicycles. When a bicycle meets a car on pavement, the car always wins and the cyclist is usually way worse for the wear.

Those of us who bike know that there are rules of the road for bicyclists as well as motorists. In fact, according to Florida Statutes (316.2065): Every bicyclist “has all the rights and all the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle…”

In other words, if you’re on a bicycle and are hit by a car, it’s not a given that the motorist was at fault. You must follow the rules and if you’re at fault for the crash or even partly at fault, any liability of the motorist is reduced by your degree of negligence.

Case in point: Years ago I had a client who was riding her bicycle on the sidewalk (permitted) going against the direction of the traffic on the street (permitted) when she approached the exit of a strip mall. A driver was exiting the mall and looked left to see if traffic had cleared so she could pull out into the street. The driver never looked to the right to see my bicyclist client who was approaching the exit apron.

Kaboom! Driver accelerated to ease into traffic, but before she could, she knocked my bicyclist client off her bike and into the street. Luckily, my client wasn’t hit by another car.

Bicyclists on sidewalks have the same rights as pedestrians and drivers should always check both directions before easing into traffic. Since pedestrians have the right of way in this situation, my client on her bike did as well. In short my client did nothing wrong and this motorist did everything wrong.

Making things even a bit more interesting, this driver was legally blind in her right eye. She essentially had zero peripheral vision to her right. Is it possible a dual sighted driver would have seen my client approaching from the right?

It is legal to drive with only one eye so long as certain legal requirements are taken (oversized side view mirrors) which the driver had obeyed, so the point was legally moot, but just imagine the jury appeal of this. A motorist legally blind in her right eye hits and greatly injures a bicyclist approaching from the right. Of course it wasn’t intentional, but this was a case that the insurance company for the motorist was anxious to settle not knowing what a jury would do with a half-blind driver.

A number of bicycle enthusiast clubs out there promote riding in packs, which is allowable so long as they’re not riding more than two abreast, and essentially taking over the right lane of traffic forcing cars to travel in the median lane or having to wait to pass the pack in oncoming lanes of traffic once clear.

This is not Florida law! F.S. 316.2065(5)(a) states any bicyclist “shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or as close as possible to the right hand curb. The only exceptions are:

  • When a bicyclist is overtaking another bicycle or car;
  • When preparing to turn left at an intersection; or,
  • When necessary to avoid an unsafe condition, like a pothole a moving animal or pedestrian. Only when the lane is a “sub-standard width lane” can the cyclist encroach the through lane of traffic.

Stay safe out there and remember to always wear a helmet! It’s also the law.

Author Bio: Walt Blenner is a Palm Harbor attorney who is an “AV” (highest) rated by Lawyers.com and Martindale Hubbell. He has successfully represented hundreds of clients in Palm Harbor, Dunedin, New Port Richey as well as Tampa and looks forward to helping you and your family whether in the area of personal injury, estate planning or corporate representation. Please visit Walt’s personal injury attorney blog for more articles by Walt Blanner.

Image credit: jahmaica / 123RF Stock Photo

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