Whether you enjoy biking for recreation, rely on it as your primary mode of transportation, or regularly participate in races and competitions, you have the same rights and responsibilities when sharing the road with motor vehicles. If you ride a bike in the state of Florida, it is important that you know and follow all applicable laws. It is also important that you know what to do if you are involved in an accident with another cyclist, pedestrian, car, or another type of motor vehicle.
At Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A., we have been representing injured individuals and the families of those wrongfully killed throughout Florida since 1994. To date, our attorneys have recovered more than $300 million in settlements and verdicts and have earned a reputation for providing client-focused, results-oriented representation. If you or someone you love was injured while cycling, we can help.
Florida Bicycle Laws
Every year, hundreds of cyclists are killed and thousands more suffer severe injuries in accidents with motor vehicles. According to recent reports, Florida was one of the most dangerous places for bicycle riders in 2020, with the second-highest number of cyclist fatalities in the nation. In fact, along with California and Texas, Florida has consistently remained in the top three states when it comes to fatal bicycle accidents over the past decade.
So, what can cyclists do to stay safe?
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself when sharing the road with motorists, pedestrians, and fellow cyclists is to follow all applicable state and municipal bicycle laws. The exact laws may differ from one city to the next, so make sure you are aware of—and follow—the specific laws in your area.
As of 2021, some Florida bicycle laws you should be aware of include:
- Anyone under the age of 16 must wear an approved, securely fastened helmet when operating or riding a bicycle
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic control devices and signals, such as stop signs, red lights, and crossing guard instructions
- In some areas, bicyclists are permitted to ride on sidewalks but must yield the right of way to pedestrians
- When overtaking a pedestrian on a sidewalk, bicyclists must give an audible signal (such as a bell or voice signal)
- Bicyclists must keep at least one hand on the handlebars while operating a bicycle and cannot carry more than the number of passengers for which the bike was designed
- Cyclists are required to share the road with motorists, meaning they may use the full lane but should use designated bike lanes when possible
- Bicyclists may not ride more than two abreast (side by side) on roadways, paths, or areas designated for bicycles and may not impede traffic when riding two abreast
- When riding at night, bicyclists must attach a white light to the front of their bikes and a red lamp and reflector to the rear
- Bicyclists are not permitted to use headphones, headsets, or other audio/listening devices except hearing aids while operating a bicycle
These represent just some of the many laws that bicyclists must adhere to in Florida. In addition to observing all applicable laws, you should always ride defensively and avoid making sudden or erratic movements, as these could put you at risk of a crash.
Types of Bicycle Accidents & Their Causes
There are four primary types of bicycle accidents:
- Bicycle-Vehicle Accidents: Among the most common and most deadly of all bicycle accidents, collisions with motor vehicles tend to result in catastrophic injury. Bicyclists are virtually unprotected and frequently suffer broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other devastating physical damage when they are struck by large, heavy vehicles. Additionally, these accidents are often unpredictable. They commonly occur due to motorist negligence, including distracted driving, drunk driving, and failure to yield the right of way.
- Bicycle-Pedestrian Accidents: Cyclists may become involved in accidents with pedestrians in a variety of circumstances. These incidents can occur when cyclists lawfully or unlawfully ride on sidewalks, or when pedestrians cross streets at places other than designated crosswalks or intersections. A distracted pedestrian may step into the path of an oncoming cyclist, or a cyclist may fail to see a lost or disoriented person on a sidewalk or near a roadway. In any case, these collisions can be catastrophic for both parties involved.
- Single Bicycle Accidents: A single bicycle accident occurs when a cyclist crashes without the involvement of another party. Common causes include dangerous or defective roadways, potholes, defective sidewalks, and faulty bicycle design and/or defective bike parts. At Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A., we investigate all bicycle accidents, including single bike accidents, to determine whether underlying negligence or wrongful may have contributed to our clients’ injuries.
- Multiple Bicycle Accidents: In some cases, bicyclists who are sharing the road with other bicyclists can become involved in accidents when those fellow bicyclists act erratically or fail to follow applicable rules of the road. Multiple cyclist accidents can be devastating, with all parties involved sustaining severe and even life-threatening injuries. Our Florida bike accident attorneys know how to investigate these cases and seek maximum compensation for our clients.
If you or someone you love was involved in any type of bicycle accident, turn to the team at Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. for aggressive legal representation. We recognize that no two cases are identical, which is why we take the time to develop customized, innovative legal strategies tailored to each individual client’s unique situation.
What to Do After a Cycling Accident
After a serious bicycle accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. Regardless of the apparent severity of your injuries, you should always see a doctor after a crash, as you could have underlying injuries that may not fully appear for days, weeks, or even months. If possible, you should also get the name(s), contact information, and insurance information of everyone else involved in the crash and be sure to file a police report right away. Be honest and detailed when discussing what happened but refrain from apologizing, admitting fault, or downplaying your injuries or damages in any way.
If you are contacted by the other person’s insurance company, we strongly advise that you do not talk to them until you have first spoken with an attorney. Never accept a settlement without discussing your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer. The insurance company will likely try to pay you as little as possible; the settlement they offer may not cover the full cost of your current damages, and it will certainly not account for future losses.
At Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A., our Florida bicycle accident attorneys can work with the insurance company on your behalf. We are adept at navigating complex bike accident cases and have secured hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of our clients, including many million- and multimillion-dollar results. We understand the far-reaching impact bicycle accidents have on victims and their families, and we are prepared to fight for every last cent you deserve.
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