Recovering Compensation After a Bicycle Accident with the Help of a Fort Lauderdale Bike Accident Lawyer
Bike riding is a popular hobby in Florida as well as an easy way to get around in our moderate climate. Sometimes the worst happens, however, and an accident occurs. Fort Lauderdale bike accident attorney, Joseph Maus, outlines the answers to some of your toughest questions.
Q: Are Bicycle Accidents Covered by Insurance?
Yes, bicycle accidents are covered by auto insurance in Florida. If you were injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle, the accident was the driver’s fault and the driver has auto insurance, then your case will most likely involve filing a claim under the driver’s auto insurance policy.
In Florida, all drivers are required to carry insurance. Florida law imposes enhanced insurance requirements for taxis and rideshare drivers. Unfortunately, despite these laws, Florida also has the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the nation. The Insurance Information Institute (III) estimates that more than one in four Florida drivers are uninsured. So, while your bicycle accident should be covered by the driver’s policy, it might not be; and, if this is the case, you will need to pursue an alternate source of financial compensation.
Q: What are My Options if the Driver Who Hit Me was Uninsured?
If you were injured in a bicycle accident involving an uninsured driver, your options will depend on a number of different factors. The first of these factors is whether you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. If you do, you can use your UIM coverage for your bicycle accident, and you can seek coverage up to your policy limit. However, even though you are filing a claim with your own insurer, this is still a fault-based claim. So, in order to secure coverage, you must still be able to prove that the uninsured driver is legally responsible for your injuries.
In addition to filing a UIM claim (if you have the coverage) other potential options include:
- Filing a claim for a road, vehicle, bicycle or helmet defect (i.e. if the driver’s brakes failed or your helmet did not adequately protect your head during the collision);
- Filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s employer if he or she was working at the time of the accident; and,
- Filing a claim against another third party that contributed to causing the collision (i.e. another driver who rear-ended the driver who hit you or who forced the driver who hit you to swerve into the bike lane or shoulder).
Q: Can a Fort Lauderdale Bike Accident Lawyer Help Me if I was Injured in a Hit-and-Run Accident?
From the perspective of seeking financial compensation for your injuries, hit-and-run accidents are similar to accidents involving uninsured drivers. You can file a UIM claim (again, if you have the coverage), and you can seek compensation from any third parties that played a role in causing the accident as well.
This, of course, assumes that it is not possible to identify the hit-and-run driver. If your attorney can identify the driver (and if he or she is insured), then you can file a claim under his or her policy.
Q: What are My Options if the Driver’s Insurance Coverage is Inadequate?
Even if the driver who hit you has auto insurance, there is still a good chance that his or her coverage will be inadequate to cover all of the financial and non-financial costs of your injuries. If this is the case, you can seek coverage under the “underinsured” portion of your UIM policy, and you can pursue any available third-party claims in order to further enhance your financial recovery.
Q: Does Florida have a Bicycle Helmet Law?
Florida has a bicycle helmet law, but it only applies to riders who are under 16 years old. Riders who are 16 years of age or older are not legally required to wear a helmet (although this does not mean that riding without a helmet is necessarily a good idea).
Importantly, Florida’s bicycle helmet law also includes the following provision:
“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.”
This means that your decision not to wear a helmet cannot be used against you in your claim for financial compensation. Insurance companies will frequently try to blame bicycle riders for their own injuries, and Florida’s contributory negligence law allows for the reduction of riders’ compensation awards in some cases. However, under Florida law, the fact that you chose not to wear a helmet cannot form the basis for denying or reducing your claim for damages.
Q: What are Some Examples of Contributory Negligence in Bicycle Accident Cases?
If riding without a helmet does not constitute contributory negligence, then what does? Depending on the circumstances involved, examples of contributory negligence could include:
- Weaving through traffic
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Texting or talking on the phone while riding
However, no matter what you were doing when you got hit, it is still extremely important for you to speak with a Fort Lauderdale bike accident lawyer. You should never assume that you were partially to blame, and you cannot afford to let the insurance companies take advantage of you. A Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorney who has experience handling bicycle accident claims will be able to thoroughly analyze the facts of your case and provide you with a comprehensive assessment of your legal rights.