The peaceful act of riding a bike can take an unsettling turn when you’re hit by a vehicle, especially when you thought you were safe on the sidewalk. Accidents like these not only cause physical injuries but also open up a plethora of legal complexities. If you find yourself injured in a bicycle accident in Florida, there are key aspects of state law and insurance policies that you should understand.
Can Bicyclists Ride on the Sidewalk in Florida?
In Florida, the law allows bicycles on sidewalks. According to Section 316.2065 of the Florida Statutes, a person propelling a bicycle on a sidewalk has the same rights and responsibilities as a pedestrian.
This means that drivers must yield to cyclists at crosswalks between sidewalks, just as they would for pedestrians. However, cyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on sidewalks and should signal audibly before overtaking and passing them.
Legal Options for Injured Cyclists in Florida
Florida operates under a no-fault insurance system, also known as personal injury protection (PIP). In the event of an accident, regardless of fault, an injured cyclist must file a claim under his or her own auto insurance policy. This can cover 80% of reasonable medical expenses and 60% of lost wages, along with services like childcare or lawn maintenance if needed.
If the cyclist does not have auto insurance, he or she can file a claim under the at-fault driver’s policy to recover damages, which may include property damage liability (PDL) benefits or bodily injury coverage.
To pursue damages beyond the scope of PIP coverage, the cyclist must have suffered a serious injury such as significant scarring, disfigurement, or loss of a bodily function. Given the exposed nature of cyclists, the likelihood of sustaining severe injuries in an accident is unfortunately high. In these situations, the cyclist could pursue a third-party claim against the negligent driver. If the injury was fatal, surviving family members may also file a wrongful death lawsuit.
What to Do If You Were Hit While Riding a Bike on the Sidewalk
If you were hit while riding a bike on the sidewalk in Florida, it is important to remain calm and seek the help you need. There are immediate actions you should take to protect both your health and your legal rights:
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if injuries seem minor, a medical evaluation is crucial for your well-being and for documenting injuries that may become relevant in a legal claim.
- Notify the Authorities: Call the police to the accident scene. Their report can be a vital piece of evidence in your case.
- Collect Evidence: Gather names, addresses, and insurance details of all parties involved, including witnesses. Photograph the accident scene if possible.
- Contact a Lawyer: Do not provide a statement to an insurance provider or speak with the at-fault driver before contacting an attorney. A Riverview personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the claim process and recover the compensation that you deserve.
The aftermath of a bicycle accident is fraught with challenges, both medical and legal. An attorney can be your guide during this difficult time. After seeking medical care, contact a Riverview bicycle accident lawyer to discuss your case.