Many Floridians enjoy the beautiful Florida weather by riding their bicycles along our streets, sidewalks and trails. During these economic times, more people may be riding a bike in order to save money, and we need to pay attention to an increase in bicyclists. In a collision between a car and a bicycle, the car is going to win. Our law firm has represented many bicycle riders who have been on the losing end of that collision and have been seriously injured.
Bicycle accidents can happen for many reasons and can be caused by the rider or the driver of the car. For example, the rider may be listening to music and not paying attention to traffic, or the driver may be changing a radio station and not notice the bicycle. Sometimes, the driver of a car may not correctly interpret the speed of the bicycle and may turn in front of a bicycle or the driver may expect the bicyclist to stop.
As a bicycle rider, you may help yourself to avoid an accident by making yourself more visible to traffic. For example, make sure your bike has a headlight and reflectors, and ride with traffic not against it. Additionally, you could install a horn on your bike so that you “honk” the horn if you notice that a car does not see you on your bicycle. You can also ride your bike a little bit more to the left so that you won’t strike a car door that opens in front of you or you may be more visible to drivers who usually look in the middle of a lane rather than the side. You should also avoid riding on sidewalks. Riding on a sidewalk is illegal in some places, but it also makes it more difficult for a driver to spot you before they turn into a business or residential driveway or onto a side street.
As a driver, one of the most important things you can do while driving is to “pay attention” to driving! Don’t talk on your cell phone, play with the radio, or otherwise be distracted while driving. You will be liable for striking a bicyclist who is obeying all the rules if you simply don’t see the bicyclist. If you see a bicyclist crossing the roadway ahead of your motor vehicle, even if you THINK you have the right of way, take your foot off the gas pedal and be prepared to stop.
If you are injured as a result of being hit by a car while riding your bike, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and loss of income or earning capacity, as well as compensation for your pain and suffering. If you own a motor vehicle, your own personal injury protection insurance (PIP) for your motor vehicle will pay for the first $10,000 of your medical bills and lost wages. If you don’t own a motor vehicle and don’t live with a relative that does, the negligent driver’s PIP will pay for the first $10,000 of your medical bills and lost wages. The negligent driver who caused the accident will also be responsible for your medical bills and lost wages that exceed the PIP benefits, as well as compensation for your pain and suffering, future medical bills, future lost wages, and future pain and suffering.
Florida does not require motorists to have bodily injury liability (BI) coverage. If the negligent driver does not have BI coverage or does not have enough BI coverage to compensate you for your damages, and you own a motor vehicle, hopefully, you have purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) as part of your car insurance policy. If you have UM/UIM coverage, such coverage will compensate you for your money damages and pain and suffering. If the negligent driver does not have BI and you do not have UM/UIM, the negligent driver is still personally responsible to pay you for your damages. But it is unlikely that you will recover from the negligent driver personally because it is very likely that in the absence of such BI coverage, the uninsured driver/car owner is uncollectible. If you own a motor vehicle, UM/UIM coverage is extremely important!