Delray Beach Bicycle Accident Lawyer
There are a variety of Florida laws in place designed to govern the behavior of both drivers and cyclists while sharing the road. If followed appropriately, these laws are capable of preventing the vast majority of bicycle accidents and personal injuries. The Delray Beach Bicycle Accident Lawyers at our office usually find when an accident does occur, it is a result of someone failing to follow the law. While prosecuting a bicycle injury case, it is important to have a baseline understanding of the rules of the road as they relate to the cyclist to help prove fault and obtain compensation.
Bicycle Laws in Delray Beach, Florida
To win a bicycle injury claim, our first step is proving that you were compliant with the rules of the road while the defendant failed to follow the laws or applicable standard of care. In the event you were not compliant with the laws, you may still be entitled to compensation although your recovery will be diminished by your percentage of fault. Here are some of the responsibilities you have as a Florida cyclist.
Ride with the Traffic
Florida Law requires cyclists operating on the roadway ride with traffic. Some people tend to think it’s safer to face oncoming traffic when you’re cycling. Many cyclists believe that the ability to keep vehicle traffic in view allows them to evade potential oncoming accidents and, thus, makes their travel safer.
However, research indicates that cyclists who ride facing traffic are actually two to four times more likely to get into an accident. The reason for this is multifaceted, but it’s mostly due to the fact that drivers who are entering or exiting roadways from side streets aren’t expecting cyclists to come from a different direction than the cars are coming from.
Just as you look to see where traffic is coming from before you pull onto the main roadway, you, as a driver, also look that direction to see where cyclists are coming from. Many times, accidents happen because a driver pulls onto a roadway while looking toward the direction that traffic is coming from and inadvertently hits a cyclist coming the opposite way. Another hazard of driving against traffic is that if you come across the path of a cyclist who is following the laws, you increase your risk of a two-cycle crash. This can also increase your chance of injury, especially if the collision spills onto the main roadway and involves vehicles. Ultimately, it’s much safer to follow the laws and ride with traffic, not facing it.
Act Like a Vehicle
A bicyclist who chooses to travel on the roadway share the same rights and responsibilities of other vehicles. Accordingly, while operating a bicycle on the roadway, it’s best to treat yourself as a vehicle and follow all the rules of the road. If you are unable to keep up with traffic, you are required to travel in the bicycle lane or as close to the far right curb as practicable.
Bicyclists are required to stop at traffic lights, stop signs and yield to pedestrians….just like other traditional vehicles on the roadway.
Expect Unlawful Road Hazards
Florida law requires property owners, cities and government entities to maintain roads in a reasonably safe fashion for all vehicles—including bicycles. This means the road should be reasonably free of potholes, holes or gaps in the pavement. The Florida Department of Transportation specifies certain regulations that shall be considered during the planning, construction, and maintenance of a roadway that are intended for bicycle safety. For example, there should not be gaps between pavement and drainage grates in excess of ½ inch.
If a city or property owner fails to maintain its roadways, an injured cyclist may take legal action. In 2015, our law firm filed a lawsuit against the City of Boynton Beach because an unkept drainage grate on its roadway (with an unlawfully wide gap between the pavement and grate) caused serious injury to one of our clients. One of the aftereffects of our lawsuit included the City retrofitting its drainage grates to be bicycle-friendly. Below is a photograph depicting the before and after.
Retrofit Drainage Grate Minimizing Gaps In Roadway
We heavily litigated the above-referenced case with the City of Boynton Beach. The parties were able to reach a settlement on the first day of the scheduled 5-day jury trial. You can read more about the case above:
Florida law provides the cyclist the discretion in choosing whether to operate their bicycle on the roadway or sidewalk. However, some cities have enacted ordinances that restrict bicycle usage on the sidewalk and force cyclists to operate on the roadway.
Cyclists should also be aware that it is very dangerous to operate a bicycle on the sidewalk across driveways to a shopping plaza. Drivers often turn in and out of shopping plazas without any consideration for cyclists who may be moving quickly across the roadway connecting the sidewalks. Drivers exiting a shopping plaza have a duty to stop and yield to oncoming bicyclists.
Use Lamps and Reflectors Together ( and avoid riding at night)
A majority of fatal bicycle accidents occurred during twilight and non-daylight hours. Most of those deaths are due to issues relating to visibility. Traditionally, bicycles come with a rear-facing reflector, and many cyclists add additional reflectors to help improve safety. Cyclists also commonly wear reflective clothing when cycling at night, and they may even attach a small, blinking light to their bicycle or clothing in an attempt to bolster safety.
However, while these steps are important and can certainly help, the best way to ensure you don’t end up in an accident at night is to add a forward-facing lamp. Adding a rear-facing lamp, as well, can increase your safety even further.
One of the main reasons this is effective is because, even if your reflectors work as intended, they’re only going to protect you from people behind you. Drivers approaching a cyclist from the rear at night have headlights on. Those headlights, in theory, will bounce off the reflectors and alert the driver that a cyclist is near.
However, drivers in front of the cyclist won’t be able to see reflectors because tail lights usually aren’t bright enough to engage them. Without the aid of a forward-facing lamp, drivers may pull in front of or directly into cyclists because they simply didn’t see them there in the first place. That’s why it’s so important to utilize forward-facing lamps. Studies also show that a consistent, steady white light is more effective at preventing injury and death than a blinking light or a light of any other color.
What To Do After Being Injured in a Bicycle Accident
Despite your best efforts, accidents do happen, and if you’re in a bicycling accident involving a motor vehicle, especially when it results in personal injury, it can be a terrifying experience. If you’re injured in a Florida bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle, you have legal rights that you should know about.
First, the best course of action you have is to take as much evidence from the scene as you can. Take as many photos as possible, jot down as many details, and obtain the contact information for any witnesses. Even if the accident has already happened, it would behoove you to go back to the scene (if possible) and take photos of the place where it happened. You may find that photographing an intersection, the visibility of specific signage, road conditions, and other details can be very helpful to your case.
Second, as you remember events and details of the incident, write them down. As soon as you can after the accident, you should find a way to record your side of the story before minor details escape you. Be sure to take photographs of your injuries, get medical reports from your doctor, and jot down details such as the weather at the time of the accident, what you were wearing, and any safety equipment (such as lights) your bicycle has.
After documenting the initial evidence, the next step is to file an insurance claim. Most bicyclists are surprised to learn that Florida auto insurance policies will provide $10,000 of medical benefits to cyclists injured in a car vs. bicycle accident.
Finally, it’s critical to consult with a Delray Beach personal injury attorney who’s familiar with the laws and has a demonstrated track record of helping victims like you get what they deserve. While you can never be guaranteed a specific outcome, you certainly shouldn’t navigate the legal waters on your own. Having a reputable and practiced Florida personal injury attorney on your side offers you the best chance of obtaining a successful outcome.
AAG Law has a demonstrated track record of helping those who have sustained a personal injury due to bicycling accidents in Florida. We’re committed to helping our clients seek justice and receive the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been involved in a cycling accident that resulted in personal injury, contact us today for a free case review at 561-266-9191.