Florida is one of the most dangerous states for cyclists in the entire country. There are a number of reasons for this: Florida has more roads than most states, the weather is usually great, and the combination of these conditions creates what can be a dangerous atmosphere for bike riders.
What should a bicyclist do if he or she is in an accident? Would you have a case against the driver of the car, another cyclist, or someone else? In this post we want to explore a few different possibilities and take a look at the laws in Florida.
Who is at Fault?
One of the first things that needs to be determined in any accident case is who is at fault. That question can get murky when it comes to bicycle accidents in Florida because there are a variety of different ways that an accident can happen. There are accidents between bicycles where one rider runs into another. Accidents can happen that involve cars, pedestrians, motorbikes, or a combination of all of the above.
To find out who is at fault, it helps to understand the underlying rules that each person is bound by as they venture out into society. There are, for example, laws that regulate how bike riders should conduct themselves on the state’s highways and byways. Those laws can be found in Florida Statutes 316.2065.
Drivers of cars are also bound by a series of traffic laws, regulations, and rules. Underlying all of the rules that we each learn in driver’s education is the responsibility to drive reasonably so as to not cause harm to anyone else. Once you understand who was in the accident and what rules apply to the people involved, you can begin to understand who is at fault.
Fault can be an interesting issue in any bicycle accident. Imagine a scenario in which a bike rider does not fully stop at a stop sign and is struck by oncoming traffic. At first glance it would seem that the bicycle rider is totally at fault. Then consider that the oncoming car was speeding at 100 mph and the situation changes. Yes, the bicycle rider was somewhat at fault, but the person driving in such a reckless manner also deserves some of the blame. That is why Florida has a comparative negligence system.
Comparing Degrees of Fault
The comparative negligence system is quite simple. Florida’s comparative fault laws are found in Florida Statutes 768.81. There you will find that under this system a jury is charged with deciding how much at fault each party is in a given case. Then whatever award for damages is given by the jury will be reduced by the amount the plaintiff is found to be at fault. So in our scenario of the bike rider going through a stop sign, he may be apportioned four percent or more of the fault, and any verdict he was given by the jury would be reduced by that amount.
This is just a brief overview of theories of liability in bicycle accidents in the Panama City area. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact us. At The Pittman Firm we take accident and injury cases to fight for our clients until they are justly compensated.