Wrongful Death Bicycle Accidents
Florida wrongful death bicycle accidents are unfortunately far too common. Our state consistently leads the nation for the most fatal bicycle accidents, leaving loved ones devastated – emotionally and financially.
Our Fort Lauderdale wrongful death bicycle accident lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm are committed to fighting for just compensation for families of those killed in preventable crashes caused by negligent drivers or unsafe roads.
As noted in F.S. 316.1925, Florida’s careless driving statute, motorists are required to drive in a careful and prudent manner in all circumstances so as not to endanger the life, limb and property of another person. That includes bicyclists, whose rights and responsibilities are outlined in F.S. 316.2065. Florida bicycle regulations give cyclists all the rights and duties applicable to drivers of any other vehicle, except for certain special regulations (or which by the nature of bicycles can have no application). Per the purposes of F.S. 316.003(3), this includes bicycles with an electric helper motor that can’t propel it faster than 20 mph on level ground (also referred to as e-bikes).
It’s not uncommon in fatal bike crash cases for police to cite the bicyclist. The City of Fort Lauderdale reports 70 percent of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes in the city involve cyclists who violated traffic rules. But there are two things to keep in mind:
- The police officer’s findings of fault are not the last word, and it doesn’t mean you can’t obtain compensation. Ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide, in part using the evidence presented by your wrongful death attorney.
- Even if the court determines the bicyclist shared some part of the blame for the crash, Florida’s comparative fault law, F.S. 768.81, still allows claimants to collect damages, even if decedent was 99 percent at fault. The damages will be proportionately reduced by the percentage of fault. For instance, if the cyclist was deemed 40 percent at-fault, claimants can still collect on 60 percent of the total damages.
It’s also important to point out that cyclists over 16 are not required to wear helmets, and while they have been proven to reduce the risk of head injuries, the lack of one doesn’t indicate carelessness or fault on the part of the cyclist.
Wrongful death bicycle accidents are often more complex than they seem at first blush, which is why it’s important to talk to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. In the immediate aftermath, we can help you gather evidence that may be critical to your case. Often, more than one defendant are named in these actions. Time is often of the essence, as the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in Florida is two years, per F.S. 95.11.Why Florida is So Dangerous for Bicyclists
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there are approximately 800 bicycle accident deaths in the U.S. annually – a figure that is on the rise given the increasing popularity of bike riding. Although many Florida communities have been promoting cycling for commuters and recreation, riders first need to feel safe. Right now, many do not, and that is largely because approximately 150 cyclists die each year in the state. That’s about 5 percent of the total number of traffic death fatalities – more than double the national average of 2.3 percent.
The number one reason the Sunshine State is so perilous for cyclists is because it wasn’t designed for cycling traffic. Rather, our roads were engineered to accommodate fast-moving traffic (i.e., motor vehicles), so not only is the infrastructure lacking, but motorists are not used to watching for bikes.
As The City of Fort Lauderdale noted, a regional study that analyzed the actual or likely contributing factors in area bicycle-versus-motor vehicle collisions, and discovered these were the top causes where the motorist was to blame:
- Failure to yield, entering roadway from driveway – 20 percent
- Failure to yield at stop or yield sign – 8 percent
- Failure to pass cyclist at a safe distance – 7 percent
- Failure to yield, signalized intersection – 3 percent
- Improper turn in front of a cyclist – 2 percent
Investigating officers at the scene of a deadly bicycle accident are instructed to take careful note of:
- The position of the sun (i.e., glare factor);
- Surface hazards (debris, standing water, potholes, pipe lids, railroad tracks, cracked pavement, etc. that may have caused cyclist to swerve);
- Obstructions of view (bushes, parked cars, trees, utility poles, etc.);
- Whether the motorist failed to look for cyclist approaching from the right;
- Whether the motorist may have been distracted or under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs.
Officers are instructed not to move the bicycle from its location until it has been photographed. The bike needs to be thoroughly inspected by the investigator and held as evidence, released only when the case is considered closed.
The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner we can begin collecting our own evidence that can help bolster your case or contradict findings that are adverse.
If your loved one was killed in a bicycle accident in Fort Lauderdale, contact the wrongful death attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.