Bicycle and pedestrian accidents are not uncommon, as they can occur anywhere people choose to walk or bike. Florida has more deaths due to bicycle accidents each year than any other state in the U.S. The majority of these deaths are attributable to collisions with motor vehicles. Although the cause of these accidents can vary, the most common reason given by motorists is they simply did not see the cyclist or pedestrian.
Since Florida laws vary when it comes to liability in these types of accidents, it is always important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible following any incident. Recovery may depend on many circumstances and acting in a timely manner can protect valuable pieces of evidence.
Cyclists and pedestrians often suffer severe injuries to the head and body including spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, compound fractures, and serious soft tissue injuries as well as skin damage, all of which can require multiple surgeries and years of ongoing therapy. In some instances, the bicycle rider may suffer from permanent disfigurement, paralysis or death from a collision with an automobile or truck. A pedestrian is extremely vulnerable and more likely to receive permanent injuries.
Typically, a driver, bicyclist or pedestrian who fails to exercise reasonable care can be considered negligent. Unless the bicyclist or pedestrian is incapacitated, law enforcement officers will take his or her statement along with statements from the driver and any witnesses to the accident. Sometimes this immediate investigation may be inclusive, or incomplete, requiring a more detailed investigation, but the police report will indicate who the officer saw as being at fault.
It is often more difficult in our state to determine who is responsible for paying for an accident claim than it is to determine who actually caused the accident. Bicyclists and pedestrians often incorrectly assume that it is the insurance carrier for the “at fault” party and are surprised to find out that it may be their own auto insurance company. Florida has personal injury protection (PIP) that is required by the state’s “No Fault” insurance law. In most cases, bicyclists and pedestrians who own an insured vehicle are required by law to file a claim under their insurance policy for compensation of accident injuries. In cases where the pedestrian does not own a vehicle, the at-fault’s driver’s policy or the No Fault policy of a blood relative living with the pedestrian may be available to pay for certain personal injuries and damages.
Filing a Bicycle-Motor Vehicle or Pedestrian-Motor Vehicle Claim in Florida
Following a motor vehicle-bicycle accident, certain exceptions can apply when the injured cyclist submits a claim to recover damages. If the bike rider does not own a vehicle or have auto insurance coverage, the victim will need to seek compensation outside the realm of their own PIP insurance coverage. In such cases, Florida law allows the bicyclist to file a claim under the at-fault’s auto insurance. In other cases, the victim may need to seek restitution from the driver’s bodily injury coverage, PDL (property damage liability) benefits, or another coverage area of the at-fault’s insurance policy.
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By law, bicycles on the road are vehicles with similar rights and responsibilities as cars, trucks and motorcycles. So, the NHTSA encourages all users of the roadways to respect each other and foster a safer transportation environment.
If you or a loved one were injured in a bicycle-motor vehicle or a pedestrian-motor vehicle collision, you should seek the services of our bicycle and pedestrian accident attorneys to determine whether you have a case and what needs to be done to investigate, document, and present your claim for compensation of injuries, financial losses and damage to personal property.