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Bike Accidents and Florida Law: Tips and Advice from Partner Jack Fine

Florida Rules of the Road for Cyclists

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A cyclist must obey all applicable traffic control devices such as signs, markings, and traffic signals while traveling on Florida roads. Fla. Stat. § 316.074. A person operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than a normal speed of traffic must ride as close as practicable to the roadway’s right hand curb or edge unless the cyclist is passing another vehicle, making a left turn, or avoiding a dangerous condition in the roadway, or when the street or lane is too narrow for the bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side. Fla. Stat. § 316.2065; 316.081.

When making a left turn at an intersection, a cyclist is entitled to the full use of the lane from which a driver may legally make a left turn. Cyclists may proceed through the right most portion of the intersection and turn as close to the curb or edge as practicable at the far side before proceeding in the new direction of travel. The cyclist must comply with any official traffic control device. Do not swerve left from the far right corner of the roadway and be aware of risks of conflict with traffic from several directions. The signal of intention to turn must be given during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning. If the cyclist needs both hands for control, the signal need not be given continuously. The cyclist signals intent to turn left by extending the left arm horizontally. The cyclist signals intent to turn right either by extending the left hand and arm upwards or by extending the right hand and arm horizontally. Signal of intent to stop or suddenly reduce speed is given by extending the left hand and arm downward. Fla. Stat. § 316.155; 316.157.

Overtaking on the right is permitted upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles which has sufficient width for two or more lines of moving traffic in each direction. The driver of the vehicle may overtake and pass a vehicle on the right only under condition permitting such movements in safety. Fla. Stat. § 316.084.

When riding on a sidewalk or crosswalk, the cyclist has the rights and duties of a pedestrian. Fla. Stat. § 316.2065. A cyclist riding on a sidewalk or crosswalk must yield the right of way to pedestrians and must give an audible warning before passing. Vehicles may not be propelled by other than human power on sidewalks or bicycle paths. On a sidewalk, a cyclist may ride in either direction. At a signalized intersection, he must obey the direction of any applicable pedestrian signal. A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than for the number for which it is designed or equipped. However, an adult cyclist may carry a child in a backpack, sling, child seat, or trailer designed to carry children. Fla. Stat. § 316.2065.

A bicycle rider or passenger under sixteen years of age must wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet. Fla. Stat. § 316.2065. A cyclist may not wear a headset, headphone, or listening device other than a hearing aid while riding. Fla. Stat. § 316.304.

Drivers must exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or cyclist and must pass to the left or at a safe distance. Fla. Stat. § 316.130; 316.083; 316.085. All drivers must operate their vehicles in a prudent and careful manner so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. 316.1925.

These are some important state laws or “rules of the road” applicable to both cyclists and motor vehicles.

Interaction of Florida “No-Fault” and Cyclists in Accidents

Florida has a unique “no-fault” system of insurance laws. These laws apply to bicycling accidents. The following is a brief summary of some key no-fault provisions.

Injuries, Property Damage, and Medical Bills

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If a cyclist is injured in a collision with a motor vehicle, Florida’s no-fault rules come into play. If a cyclist has his/her own PIP through ownership of a car, even if the other vehicle is at fault, the cyclist’s PIP should cover 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages regardless of who is at fault. If the cyclist does not have PIP that covers him/her through his/her own policy or a relative he/she lives with, then he/she would be covered through the no-fault coverage of the tortfeasor’s vehicle. Either way, there should be no-fault coverage for the cyclist.

Property damage should be covered under the property damage provision of the tortfeasor’s policy. It may be worthwhile to obtain an estimate for repair from a reputable bike shop.

It is much easier to prove fault if the collision was written out by a police officer and determined to be the fault of the tortfeasor. Through the peculiar application of Florida law, the investigating officer’s conclusion as to fault are not admissible in a subsequent court case, but they are very persuasive with the insurance company of the offending motorist.

If a cyclist has a permanent injury, he/she can collect for his/her pain and suffering from the bodily injury liability provision of the tortfeasor’s policy and potentially from the uninsured motorist provision of his/her own policy. An experienced lawyer can guide the injured cyclist to expert physicians who can expedite the rehabilitation process.

The other rules concerning automobile collisions and PIP, such as the 14 day requirement and the emergency medical determination, which are discussed in other articles on this website, apply to bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles.

Just as in any other case, the insurance carriers try to settle or resolve cycling accident cases for minimal amounts. Litigation may be necessary to produce the best result. If you have any questions about the interpretation of these laws, please do not hesitate to call any of the attorneys at Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A. We welcome such inquiries and especially welcome the representation of bicyclists who are injured due to the wrongful act of motor vehicle drivers. To access our up-to-date bike map which will help you identify which routes are the safest in Gainesville as a biker, click here.