Bicycle accidents can be catastrophic for riders, and the aftermath can be a complex maze of legal jargon and settlement negotiations. It may seem like the rules and laws of the road in Florida are vague, especially if you’re a cyclist who doesn’t know if your bike should be regarded as a vehicle in Florida.
At Eltringham Law Group, we handle various personal injury cases and understand the intricacies and challenges of bicycle accidents. Contact us today and learn more about how our Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorneys can support you through a confusing and stressful time.
When Is a Bicycle a Vehicle in Florida?
Florida law defines a bicycle as a vehicle, and an individual riding a bicycle is the driver. The law does not differentiate between bicycles at rest and those in motion, so a bicycle is always a vehicle regardless of where it is and whether or not someone is riding it.
Due to the legal definition of bicycles and vehicles in Florida, bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways as any motorist. Likewise, bicyclists also have the same duties as operators of other vehicles; they must obey the same traffic rules and owe the same duty of care to everyone on the road.
One way in which bicycles differ from other vehicles is in helmet laws. Florida law only requires the use of a helmet for bicycle riders who are under 16 years of age. This differs from motorcycle helmet laws, which that adult riders who choose not to wear a helmet approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) must carry a medical benefits insurance policy with coverage of at least $10,000
What Rules of the Road Do Florida Bicyclists Need To Know?
If bicycles are considered vehicles, can bicycles ride on the road? Bicyclists must remain in the bike lane if there is one or close to the right-hand curb if there is no bike lane. However, bicycles have the right to the entire lane, meaning other vehicles may not attempt to pass a bicyclist within the same lane.
Like other vehicles, bicycles must come to a complete stop at traffic signals, intersections, and stop signs. Bicycles must also follow the same right-of-way laws as other vehicles and yield when necessary. The same passing laws also apply, meaning that lane splitting and weaving between cars on a bicycle is illegal.
Another set of rules that sets bikes apart from other vehicles is visibility laws. During low-light conditions, Florida law requires bicyclists to have a bright white light on the front of the bicycle, a red reflector, and a red light visible from 600 feet behind. For safety, it is also recommended to wear bright clothing or a reflective vest.
Does Auto Insurance Cover Bicycle Accidents in Florida?
Since bicycles are considered vehicles in Florida, your next question might be whether your auto insurance will help cover your injuries on a bike, especially if you are not at fault for an accident. Under Florida law, your auto insurance can cover a bicycle accident if you have the right coverage on your policy.
Personal injury protection, or no-fault insurance, is a type of coverage you can add to your auto insurance policy that will help cover expenses such as medical bills or lost wages, regardless of who is at fault. Suppose you have personal injury protection as part of your auto insurance coverage and suffer a bicycle accident due to the negligence of another motorist. In that case, you can receive compensation from your PIP policy and the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
What Injuries Are Common in Bicycle Accidents?
Unfortunately, even a bicyclist following all the rules of the road can experience a devastating injury. Negligent drivers can cause an accident by failing to adhere to traffic laws or operating a vehicle recklessly around bicyclists, even if the bicycle riders themselves are taking every reasonable safety precaution.
These injuries, among others, commonly occur in bicycle accidents:
- Skull fractures
- Rib fractures
- Road rash abrasions
Specific safety considerations can help you lessen the chances of suffering an injury. These include wearing a safety-rated bicycle helmet, riding at reasonable speeds, and addressing any mechanical issues with the bike.
Contact Us After a Bicycle Accident in Fort Lauderdale, FL
The law clearly states that bicycles are vehicles in Florida, but that does not always mean getting the compensation you deserve after a bike accident will be easy. Insurance providers might try to twist the wording of how the rules of the road apply and your coverage policies to get away with offering a lowball settlement payment.
Our team at Eltringham Law Group can advocate on your behalf and carry the burden of securing your rightful compensation while you focus on recovery. Contact us today by calling 561-338-0420 or using our online form for a free consultation.