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Florida Comparative Negligence Law with Bicycle Accidents

Florida Comparative Negligence Law with Bicycle Accidents - KMW

Bicycle riders in Florida need to be aware of the state’s comparative negligence law regarding bicycle accidents. In the event of an accident, the comparative negligence law addresses how fault is determined and what percentage of fault each party has for the accident.  This directly affects how much the victim of a bicycle accident can recover in a lawsuit.

Understanding this law is important for any cyclist in Florida. It can be the difference between receiving full compensation for their injuries and not receiving anything.

Read on to learn Florida’s comparative negligence law and how it applies to bicycle accidents.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal principle used to determine the level of responsibility for damages in a personal injury case. This law allows the jury to evaluate the involved parties’ actions to determine who is more at fault for the incident. The final settlement or judgment will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff.

There are two main types of comparative negligence, which are pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence. Under pure comparative negligence, the plaintiff can recover damages even if they were mostly at fault for the incident. However, their damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to them.

For instance, suppose a jury finds that a plaintiff was 70% at fault for an accident. In that case, they can still recover damages, but they will only receive 30% of the award.

In contrast, modified comparative negligence has a threshold or “50% bar rule” that the plaintiff cannot exceed to recover any damages, which means that if the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, they are barred from recovering any damages. It is worth noting that different states have different laws and approaches to comparative negligence.

Florida follows pure comparative negligence law.

How does comparative negligence apply to bicycle accidents in Florida?

In Florida, comparative negligence similarly applies to bicycle accidents as it does to accidents involving other types of vehicles. When a bicycle accident occurs in Florida, both the bicyclist and the driver of the other vehicle(s) may be held liable for the accident. A judge or jury determines the degree of fault for each party based on the evidence presented.

If the cyclist and the driver are judged to be partially at fault, the damages they sustain are scaled back accordingly. The damages given to the bicyclist would be 20% less if judged to be 20% at fault for an accident, while the motorist was found to be 80% at fault. In other words, the bicyclist would only be able to recover 80% of the damages they incurred due to the accident.

It is vital for anyone who is involved in an accident to have a clear understanding of how Florida bicycle laws and comparative negligence may apply in their specific case.

This law underscores the importance of the necessity of a skilled attorney to handle these cases.

Examples of a Comparative Negligence

Below are some examples of these comparative negligence scenarios:

  • If an accident involves a car and a bicycle and the cyclist was riding outside the provided cycling lane, but the driver was driving well above the speed limit. Under pure comparative negligence, the judge or jury can attribute a percentage of comparative negligence to the cyclist and the cyclist will receive damages reduced by the percentage of comparative fault assigned by the judge or jury.
  • Another example is an accident involving a driver and a cyclist riding at night without any reflective gear. Florida law requires bicyclists to use a white front light and a red rear reflector when riding at night. For neglecting this rule, a judge or jury can hold the cyclist comparatively at fault and reduce the damages awarded by the percentage that they believe the cyclist was at fault.
  • Let’s say a cyclist riding on the sidewalk ran a red light while the motor vehicle driver was texting and failed to yield to the cyclist. In this case, the cyclist may be found to be 25% at fault for running the red light, while the driver may be 75% at fault for the accident for not yielding to the cyclist for texting while driving.

What is the threshold for comparative negligence in Florida?

In Florida, there is no threshold for comparative negligence as discussed above, Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. If an individual is found to be at fault for a percentage of the accident, they can recover damages, but the damages are reduced by the proportion of their degree of fault.

Is there comparative negligence in a bicycle accident if the cyclist did not wear a helmet?

In Florida, a bicycle helmet is only required to be worn by a person under 16 years of age.   However, if a person is injured in a bicycle accident and did not wear a helmet, Florida statutes state the fact that the injured party did not wear a helmet cannot be considered as evidence of negligence or contributory negligence.

Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accidents in Florida

The statute of limitations for a bicycle accident refers to the time limit within which an individual can file a legal claim. The specific time can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the claim type. In general, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims resulting from a bicycle accident is typically 4 years from the date of the accident. Suppose you wish to file a claim for injuries or damages sustained in a bicycle accident. In that case, you must do so within 4 years of the date of the accident.

However, in some jurisdictions, it could be shorter, like one year, and in some cases, it could be more, like four years.

What type of evidence determines negligence?

Some pieces of evidence help to determine negligence. These forms of evidence include:

Eyewitness testimony

Accounts from individuals who observed the incident can provide valuable information about what occurred and who may have been at fault.

Physical evidence

This may include items such as photographs, video footage, or the physical condition of the property or vehicles involved in the incident, and the physical location of debris from the property as a result of the accident.

Expert testimony

Experts in a particular field may be called upon to provide testimony about the incident, such as accident reconstruction experts or medical experts.

Medical records

Medical records can be used to demonstrate the extent of an individual’s injuries and link them to the incident in question.

Documents and records

These may include police reports, maintenance records, and incident reports.

Circumstantial evidence

This is evidence that allows an inference to be drawn about the existence of a fact.

It is important to note that the standard of proof in civil bicycle accident cases is a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that it is more likely than not that the negligence occurred. In contrast, it is “beyond a reasonable doubt” the highest standard of evidence in criminal cases.

It’s worth noting that the specific types of evidence used will depend on the circumstances of the case. Additionally, suppose the case goes to trial, the judge and jury will use their discretion to determine the weight and credibility of each piece of evidence presented and ultimately decide whether negligence occurred.

What Are Some Common Bicycle Accident Liability Issues?

Common bicycle accident liability issues include:

Negligence

If the driver of a motor vehicle is found to have been negligent in causing the accident, they may be held liable for any injuries or damages that result.

Examples of negligence may include failing to yield the right of way to a cyclist or texting while driving.

Recklessness

Any injuries or property damage sustained will be the driver’s responsibility if they were driving carelessly at the time of the accident. Examples of recklessness may include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or speeding.

Premises liability

If the accident occurred on someone else’s property, the property owner might be held liable if they failed to maintain the property reasonably safe.

Product liability

If a defect in the bicycle or its components caused or contributed to the accident, the manufacturer or seller of the bicycle may be held liable.

Comparative negligence

In some cases, a cyclist may be found to have been partially at fault for the accident. If this is the case, the cyclist’s awarded damages are reduced in line with the degree of their fault.

It’s important to remember that laws regarding liability in bike accidents vary depending on the state. Therefore, it is important to consult a personal injury lawyer with experience in bike accident cases.

What are the available legal remedies for bicycle accident victims?

There are a variety of legal remedies available for bicycle accident victims. Some of the most common include:

Personal Injury Claims

Bicycle accident victims can file a personal injury claim against the person or entity responsible for the accident to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

If the bicycle accident victim is employed at the time of the accident, they may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim if the accident occurred while on the job.

Product Liability Claims

If the accident was caused by a defect in the bicycle or parts, the victim might be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer or seller of the defective product.

Wrongful Death Claims

If a bicycle accident results in the victim’s death, their family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for their loss.

Note that the legal remedy most appropriate for a particular victim will depend on the specific circumstances of their accident.

Also, each state has its laws and statute of limitations for personal injury cases, so it’s important to consult with a licensed lawyer in the state where the accident occurred.

It is essential to know the Florida comparative negligence law with bicycle accidents. If you are involved in an accident with a bicyclist in Florida, you can hold cyclists responsible for their injuries.

First and foremost, it’s always important to call the authorities after an accident to help prevent more damage to the property and the people involved in the crash. After that, you want to make sure that you follow steps to preserve evidence and protect your rights.

Contact an Experienced Florida Bike Accident Attorney

If you would like a free case evaluation, contact our experienced bicycle accident attorneys today. We can be reached by filling out our contact form or by calling (561) 295-5825.

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