A study published by the Journal of Pediatrics has shown that in states where child cyclists are required to wear helmets, fewer child cyclists involved in collisions with motor vehicles die.
The lesson from the study was reinforced in a tragic way when a collision between a bicycle and a quad bike in Winter Haven left one young cyclist dead and three people fighting for their lives. The accident took place late in the evening, and witnesses reported that neither the quad bike nor the bicycle had lights on. None of the four victims, who were all aged between 18 and 21, was wearing a helmet.
Your obligations as a cyclist
When riding your bicycle, Florida law treats you as though you are driving a motor vehicle, subject to certain exceptions. This makes you responsible for observing basic traffic laws such as stopping at red lights. In addition, you are also subject to numerous safety obligations specific to riding bicycles. Examples of this include:
- Road position. If you are riding on a road at a lower speed than other traffic, you must either ride in a designated bike lane, or stay as close as possible to the right-hand curb.
- Lighting. When riding your bike between sunset and sunrise, you must have lighting in place at the front and back of your bicycle.
What happens if you are in an accident?
Cyclists are unfortunately vulnerable to serious injury when caught up in a collision. If injured while riding your bike, you may be able to claim compensation. If the negligence of the driver of a vehicle caused the accident, you can bring a lawsuit to recover damages. This also applies to cases in which the vehicle did not actually hit you, as long as the driver’s negligence forced you to take evasive action and you ended up injured.
If a defective feature on the bike, such as faulty brakes, caused your accident, you may be able to sue the manufacturer under products liability law, or a repair shop for negligent repair. If the accident arose from poorly maintained roads, you may have a claim against the local authority.
If you were in breach of Florida bicycle safety laws at the time of the accident, and this played a significant role in causing the accident, you could be the party at fault, and prevented from receiving compensation. If there is no sign of negligence in your accident, you may still be able to claim under your auto accident insurance coverage, if you have it.
Bicycle accident claims can be complicated. If you are involved in an accident, make sure a dedicated Bradenton bike accident lawyer represents you.