Florida Bicycle Accident Law: What Florida Law Applies if Injured in a Bike or Pedestrian Accident?

Florida Bicycle Accident Law_fightsforyou.net

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Given that us Floridians and all of the out of state vacationers and non-residents take advantage of the wonderful weather down here in South Florida, we are always participating in activities such as water sports, boating, wave riding, ATV riding, skate boarding, in-line skating, rollerblading and bicycling. However fun these activities may be, they can involve substantial risks, most notably, bicycling on our public roads (given the few bike paths we have) wherein Florida bike riders have sustained catastrophic injuries, head injuries, neck injuries, leg injuries, knee injuries, ankle injuries, elbow injuries, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, road rash, broken arms, fractured bones and sometimes even death.  Some of the most common causes of South Florida bicycle accidents include the following:

  • Being in a motor vehicle accident and getting hit by a car, truck, taxi, limo, van, bus or motorcycle;
  • Road defects (such as cracks, sand, gravel, road resurfacing, potholes, street grooves, uneven sidewalks, standing or pools of water, manhole imperfections and raised surfaces);
  • Debris in the roadways;
  • View obstructions (such as trees, bushes, parked cars and utility poles);
  • Running over railroad tracks;
  • A defective bicycle part or component (such as the tires, wheels, pedals, rims, brakes, chain, frame, handle bars or seat); and
  • Riding a bicycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (ie. drunk).

When Miami Florida bicyclists or vacationers are involved in bicycle accidents (especially in resort and vacation areas such as South Beach, Miami Beach, Clearwater, Fort Lauderdale Beach, and Key West), some of the most common and frequently asked questions of a Miami Florida bicycle accident attorney or Florida Keys bicycle injury attorney include the following:

If I am in a Miami Florida bicycle accident and am hit by a car or truck because they were not paying attention or they failed to yield the right of way, what insurance can be applicable?

If you are struck by a car or truck, you MAY be entitled to personal injury protection benefits (PIP) from the driver or owner of the vehicle that hit you.  If you owned a vehicle at the time of the accident, then you would be able to claim your Florida personal injury protection benefits under your own car insurance policy. For more on Florida’s new personal injury protection (PIP) law, see my previous article.

You may also be entitled to additional insurance coverage if you had Florida uninsured motorist coverage or Florida underinsured motorist coverage, ie., Florida UM or UIM benefits, should the car or truck that hit you not have any insurance or they simply did not have enough to cover the medical bills and bicycle accident injuries sustained (ie., your pain and suffering).  You could also bring a liability lawsuit against the truck or car driver/owner should they have been negligent in causing or contributing to your bicycle accident.

If a car, truck, bus, motorcycle or limo does not strike my bicycle but causes me to swerve and I am injured in a Homestead Florida bicycle accident, can I still recover from the driver or owner of the motor vehicle?

Possibly.  In a bicycle accident of this sort, you can still pursue a liability lawsuit against the driver or owner of the vehicle who caused you to crash and sustain injuries, even if they did not make contact with your bicycle.  In fact, if the driver of the vehicle leaves the scene and this becomes a “hit and run” or “phantom vehicle” accident, you may still be able to pursue a claim against your own car insurer if you had Florida uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. For an extensive discussion on Florida Uninsured and/or Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage, see my previous article.

What is the time limit (ie., the statute of limitations) for filing a Florida bicycle accident lawsuit arising out of the negligence of another bicyclist or a motor vehicle ?

Under Florida Statute 95.11(3)(a), the statute of limitations for negligence actions in the state of Florida is four years.

What is the time limit (ie., the statute of limitations) for filing a Florida bicycle accident lawsuit arising out of a defective bicycle part (ie., product liability)?

Under Florida Statute 95.11, the statute of limitations for product defect actions in the state of Florida is four years.

What is the definition of a bicycle under Florida law, in relation to Florida’s traffic laws?

According to Florida Statute 316.003(2), a bicycle is defined as every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or similar device. No person under the age of 16 may operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle.

What is the definition of a bicycle path under Florida law?

According to Florida Statute 316.003(63), a bicycle path is defined as any road, path, or way that is open to bicycle travel, which road, path, or way is physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or by a barrier and is located either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way.

As a Florida bike rider, do I have to obey the traffic laws as if I was a motor vehicle?

Yes.  According to Florida Statute 316.003, a bicycle is defined as a vehicle for purposes of Florida’s Uniform Traffic Control Law. As such, a cyclist must follow the traffic rules common to all drivers, as well as the rules adopted specially for bicycles.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(1), a cyclist has all of the rights to the roadway applicable to any driver, except as to the special regulations for bicycles. Thus, a person riding a bicycle must obey all traffic control devices such as stop lights, stop signs, yield signs, railroad crossing signs, etc.

As a Florida bicycle rider, do I have to have a permanent seat attached to my bicycle?

Yes. According to Florida Statute 316.2065(2), a person operating a bicycle may not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto.

How many people may ride on a bicycle under Florida law?

According to Florida Statute 316.2065(3)(a), a bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped, except that an adult rider may carry a child securely attached to his or her person in a backpack or sling. Moreover,  a bicycle rider must carry any passenger who is a child under 4 years of age, or who weighs 40 pounds or less, in a seat or carrier that is designed to carry a child of that age or size and that secures and protects the child from the moving parts of the bicycle.

If I am under 16 years old, do I have to wear a bicycle helmet under Florida law?

Yes.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(3)(d), a bicycle rider or passenger who is under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted and is fastened securely upon the passenger’s head by a strap and that meets the federal safety standard for bicycle helmets, final rule, 16 C.F.R. part 1203. A helmet purchased before October 1, 2012, which meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z 90.4 Bicycle Helmet Standards), the standards of the Snell Memorial Foundation (1984 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling), or any other nationally recognized standards for bicycle helmets adopted by the department may continue to be worn by a bicycle rider or passenger until January 1, 2016. As used in this subsection, the term “passenger” includes a child who is riding in a trailer or semitrailer attached to a bicycle.

Under Florida law, if I am 16 years old or older, do I have to wear a bicycle helmet when operating a bicycle?

No.

Under Florida law, can I ride my bicycle while being pulled by a motor vehicle?

No.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(4), no person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle may attach the same or himself or herself to any vehicle upon a roadway.

If I am riding my bike on the street or roadway under the speed of traffic, can I still ride my bike on the roadway?

Yes.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(5)(a), any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

3. When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition or potential conflict, including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, turn lane, or substandard-width lane, which makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge or within a bicycle lane. For the purposes of this subsection, a “substandard-width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

If I am riding on a one-way street or highway, do I have to ride on the left hand edge of the road?

Yes.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(5)(b), any person operating a bicycle upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.

Can I ride my bike along side more than one bike rider on a public street or roadway?

In general, no.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(6), persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and shall ride within a single lane.

If I ride my bike at night, do I need front lamps?

Yes. According to Florida Statute 316.2065 (7), every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp and reflector on the rear each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear. A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by this section.

If I am riding a bicycle on a sidewalk or crosswalk, do I have the rights and duties of a pedestrian?

Yes.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(9), a person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

If I am riding a bicycle on a sidewalk or crosswalk, do I have to yield the right of way to pedestrians?

Yes.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(10), a person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.

Under Florida law, if I am riding a bicycle on a sidewalk or crosswalk, do I have to watch out for roller skaters and skate boarders?

Yes.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(11), no person upon roller skates, or riding in or by means of any coaster, toy vehicle, or similar device, may go upon any roadway except while crossing a street on a crosswalk; and, when so crossing, such person shall be granted all rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to pedestrians.

Under Florida law, does my bike have to have brakes?

Yes.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(13), every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake or brakes which will enable its rider to stop the bicycle within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.

If I am on vacation and rent a bicycle, if I am under 16 years old, do I need a helmet to rent a bike?

Yes.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(15)(a), a  person may not knowingly rent or lease any bicycle to be ridden by a child who is under the age of 16 years unless:

1. The child possesses a bicycle helmet; or

2. The lessor provides a bicycle helmet for the child to wear.

If I am required to wear a bicycle helmet under Florida law and do not wear one, am I considered to be comparatively at fault for causing the accident if I file a lawsuit for damages arising out of a Florida bicycle accident?

No.  According to Florida Statute 316.2065(18), the failure of a person to wear a bicycle helmet or the failure of a parent or guardian to prevent a child from riding a bicycle without a bicycle helmet may not be considered evidence of negligence or contributory negligence.

If a car, truck or other motor vehicle attempts to pass me while riding a bicycle, how much distance are they required to have between the car and me?

According to Florida Statute 316.083, the driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.

Under Florida law, can I wear a headset or Ipod while riding my bicycle?

No.  According to Florida Statute 316.304, a bicyclist may not wear a headset, headphone, or other listening device other than a hearing aid when riding. Wearing a headset can not only distract you from other vehicles on the road, it also prevents you from hearing other vehicles on the road such as when they honk, brake, etc.

If I am riding a bike and need to make a left turn at an intersection, what does Florida law require me to do?

According to Florida Statute 316.151 (1), a bicyclist intending to make a vehicle left turn is entitled to full use of the lane from which the turn is made. After scanning, signaling, and moving to the center of that lane, the bicyclist must check the signal, then proceed when it is green and safe to do so. However, a bicyclist may proceed through the right-most portion of the intersection and turn as close to the curb or edge as possible at the far side. After complying with any official traffic control device, the bicyclist may proceed in the new direction.

Under Florida law, how do I signal if I intend to make a left or right turn?

According to Florida Statute 316.155 and 316.157, a signal of intention to turn must be given during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning. If a bicyclist needs both hands for control, the signal need not be given continuously. A bicyclist may signal intent to turn left or right by extending the left hand and arm upward (left) or by extending the right hand and arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle (right). If you intend to stop your bicycle or suddenly reduce speed, you can by extending the left hand and arm downward.

Under Florida law, can I ride my bicycle on a highway or limited access facility?

No.  According to Florida Statute 316.091, so person shall operate a bicycle on a limited access facility or an interstate highway. Moreover, no person shall operate a bicycle on the roadway or along the shoulder of a limited access highway, including bridges, unless official signs and a designated, marked bicycle lane are present at the entrance of the section of highway indicating that such use is permitted pursuant to a pilot program of the Department of Transportation.

Moral of the Story: if you are a Florida resident, tourist, vacationer or non-resident and are injured in a bicycle accident, whether the Florida bicycle or pedestrian accident happens in Cutler Bay, Daytona, Fort Pierce, Orlando, Port St. Lucie, Tampa, Fort Myers, Naples, Jacksonville, Sarasota, Bradenton, Hollywood, Port Charlotte, Palm Beach Gardens, Pensacola, Ocala, Cape Coral, Saint Augustine, Aventura, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Gainsville, Palm Coast, Port Orange, West Kendall, Homestead, the Florida Keys, Cutler Ridge, or another area within Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach, or anywhere in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach or Monroe Counties, know that bike riders who are seriously injured in Florida bicycle accidents may have options available under Florida law that may require the retention of a Miami Florida bicycle accident lawyer or a Florida pedestrian accident injury lawyer, given the many complexities involved when injured in a bicycle crash and the unknown of whether a Florida bicycle accident insurance claim is possible.

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