Does a Bicycle or a Car Have the Right of Way on the Road?
Florida law treats bicycles as vehicles like a car or trucks. Bikers can ride on roads but must obey traffic laws. Vehicle drivers should always yield to bike riders, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for bicyclists to ride recklessly or disobey traffic laws. There are also rules about where bikers can ride and when they should yield.
In many cases, collisions between bicycles and cars happen due to the vehicle driver’s failure to yield, resulting in an accident. Florida is a “no-fault” state for car accidents, but the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance required for all drivers won’t help those who ride a bicycle but don’t own a car. However, there may be other options for getting your expenses covered after an accident.
If you or someone you care about were injured by a vehicle while riding a bike, please contact a bicycle accident lawyer at Darrigo & Diaz for a free consultation about your case. Your initial consultation is free, and there is no obligation. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and explain the possibilities for pursuing compensation. If we take your case, we won’t charge you anything until we win.
How To Prevent Bike Accidents
Both vehicle drivers and bicyclists can work to reduce accidents on the road. First, everyone should understand the rules of the road and laws regarding bicycles, pedestrians, and their interactions with other vehicles:
- Drivers should always yield to cyclists, even if you think they’re disobeying a law about bikes.
- Bicyclists should ride in the bike lane if one is available. If it isn’t and they choose to ride on a road, they should keep right.
- Riding on the sidewalk is fine, but bikers must yield to people on foot.
- Like pedestrians, bicyclists should obey traffic signs and signals when using a crosswalk. When pedestrians are also in the crosswalk, bikers should yield the right of way and wait until they can safely cross without getting in the pedestrians’ way.
- Vehicle drivers should always yield to anyone in the crosswalk. Approach crosswalks slowly and proceed with caution if bikers or pedestrians are nearby, even when you have the light.
- If a bike rider and vehicle are both at a four-way stop, the vehicle driver should yield to the bicyclist.
Understanding the road rules is a good first step in bicycle safety for everyone. But not all bike-car accidents are caused by a misunderstanding of rules. Sometimes collisions happen or are made worse due to weather or road conditions, poor visibility, failure of safety equipment, or a simple error at the moment. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself when riding a bike:
- Make every effort to be visible, especially if you ride at night. Buy reflective clothing, or add reflective patches or tape to your clothes, helmet, shoes, and bike.
- In line with promoting visibility, Florida law requires people riding between sunset and sunrise to have a headlamp light on their bike. It should put out a bright white light that can be seen 500 feet away. Your local sporting goods store should carry them. The back of the bike must have a reflector and a taillight that can be noticed from 600 feet away.
- Keep your bike in good working order, and give it a once-over before going out. If anything isn’t working, get it fixed before riding it again. Issues with brakes, chains, tires, and other components can sometimes contribute to collisions.
- Always wear a helmet. It’s required by law for riders younger than 16, but you should care about preventing head injuries at any age. A helmet reduces the risk of concussion, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other brain injuries. These types of injuries may be severe and sometimes lead to permanent damage or disability.
- Wear sneakers, or at least choose a pair of shoes that can’t come off easily. Flip-flops, slip-on shoes, and bare feet can increase the risk of accidents as they may cause your foot to slide off the pedal at the wrong time.
- Just like you wouldn’t text and drive, don’t text and bike. Also, avoid wearing headphones so that you can hear traffic approaching.
- Cross only at intersections if possible (some rural areas may have long stretches of road without any intersections).
- Avoid dangerous moves that can surprise motorists, like pulling onto a roadway from between two parked cars.
- When passing pedestrians, proceed carefully and state your intentions aloud to warn them before passing – “Passing on your right!”
- Obey all traffic laws, and slow down in situations of poor visibility, such as cloudy or foggy days. Remember that if it’s harder for you to see, it’s harder for motorists to see you as well. You might consider turning on your headlamps and taillights in these situations.
What To Do If You Get In An Accident With A Car
Call 911 immediately to report the accident, even if it doesn’t seem like a big problem. This will help protect your legal rights if you later realize you have injuries or your bike was damaged worse than you thought. Not all injuries cause pain and symptoms immediately, so it’s a good idea to be checked by a healthcare professional, even if you think you’re fine.
Get the driver’s contact and insurance information, even if your car has Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. PIP provides $10,000 in no-fault coverage for accidents and will extend to situations where you are riding your bike instead of driving your car. However, being hit by a car can cause very serious injuries for a bicyclist, and some riders end up with far more than $10,000 in medical expenses and lost income. If this happens to you, making a claim on the at-fault driver’s insurance may be possible if they have liability coverage, which isn’t mandatory in Florida. If they don’t have liability, you may be able to sue the driver directly for the rest of your costs. Unlike with PIP claims, you will need to prove the driver was at fault in the accident, which may be difficult depending on the situation. A Florida bicycle attorney can help you gather evidence to support your case.
Call the Bike Accident Lawyers at Darrigo & Diaz
In the aftermath of a bicycle accident, you may be dealing with multiple medical bills, missed time at work, and physical or mental pain from your injuries. It’s easy to feel frustrated, stressed, or helpless, but you may have more options than you think. The best way to identify alternatives for compensation is to speak with a Florida bicycle accident lawyer right away. Please contact Darrigo & Diaz for a free, no-obligation review of your case. Call us at 813-734-7397.