Many Florida cyclists believe the safest place for them on the road is within an available bicycle lane. In fact, under Florida law cyclists are required to use a bike lane if it is available. However, my experience handling bike accident claims as a personal injury lawyer (as well as being a cyclist myself) has shown me that using a bike lane isn’t always enough to guarantee safety. Recent news reports indicate a 52-year-old man was killed while in the bike lane on Hillsborough Avenue. Apparently, he was struck from behind by a car in the early morning hours. Investigators reported they found no evidence of impairment, excessive speed or erratic driving on behalf of the driver. If that’s true, how does such a crash occur?
Florida Law Is Clear: Drivers Have a Responsibility to Avoid Colliding With Cyclists
The driver of a vehicle involved in a Florida bicycle crash in which the cyclist dies or is injured may still be entirely responsible for what happened even if they did not violate a criminal law such as driving under the influence or reckless driving. Drivers have a responsibility to avoid colliding with or injuring a bicyclist who may be sharing their lane or in the adjacent bicycle lane.
Distracted Driving Kills Far Too Many Florida Cyclists
One of the most common factors involved in a bicycle crash in which a driver leaves the traffic lane and drives into the bicycle lane is driver distraction. The simple act of being distracted from the road for several seconds often allows the vehicle to drift into the bicycle lane. When a cyclist is killed while occupying the bike lane there is virtually no other explanation for what happened other than driver negligence. Frankly, this is one of the biggest fears of any experienced cyclist. In most cases, a bicycle rider has no advanced warning that a car coming up from behind is actually in the bicycle lane. Consequently, in these situations there is virtually no opportunity to avoid being hit.
There are a host of factors that can lead to a driver's momentary inattention behind the wheel. These include fatigue, reaching for something within the vehicle, attempting to use a cell phone or other device, or being distracted momentarily by someone else within their car.
Regardless of the cause, under Florida law a driver who negligently leaves the travel lane and strikes a bicyclist within the bike lane may be held civilly liable for the injury and pain they cause to the injured cyclist, or to their survivors in the event of a tragic death.
Let an Attorney Who’s Also a Cyclist Represent You after Being Hit
For more information about fatal bicycle crashes download a free copy of our Florida Bicycle Accident Guide written by experienced Florida bicycle injury lawyer and avid cyclist Jim Dodson. If you want immediate help please contact us online or call us directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free consultation. There's never a charge to discuss a potential case.