Frequently Asked Questions
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If My Bike was Totaled in a Crash with a Car Do I Get a Full Cost Replacement?
A totaled bike is no different than a totaled car in Florida. The insurance company for the driver who caused the crash is obligated to pay you its fair market value, not its full replacement cost. Fair market value is what it was worth just before the crash taking depreciation into consideration. There is no set formula to calculate fair market value. Insurance adjusters typically want to apply a 5 or 10% depreciation for each year since it was purchased. Many times your dealer can help.
There is also a “blue book” for bicycles which I have had insurance companies rely upon. In practice, I always suggest to my client to begin with the replacement value. We have had many situations where this has been paid. If that doesn’t work, we fall back to purchase price and see if we can reach an agreement. We are always working to get the very highest number. The circumstances of every case varies as does what they will pay.
We don’t charge any attorney fee for helping get your bike replaced if it is part of your injury case. The most expensive bike we have had so far is $15,000, along with some $12,000 ones.
Can a Cyclist Wear Headphones While Riding a Bike in Florida
For many the answer to this question may come as a bit of a surprise. Did you know it is against the law to wear headphones or earbuds while riding a bicycle in Florida? Turns out, Florida is one of only two states (with the other being Maryland) that does not permit the use of headphones while riding a bicycle. Fla. Stat. §316.304 states:
No person shall operate a vehicle while wearing a headset, headphone, or other listening device, other than a hearing aid or instrument for the improvement of defective human hearing.
Remember that a bicycle is considered a vehicle. This prohibition still applies when riding on a sidewalk. Even though cyclists on the sidewalk have the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians, the bicycle is still governed as a “vehicle” and therefore this law applies.
Headphones interfere with hearing ambient traffic as well as audible warnings from other cyclists and pedestrians. The statute could also be used as evidence of comparative fault if a crash occurred and you were wearing headphones at the time. It would be argued that you should have heard the approaching vehicle.
Is Your Dog Covered Under Your Homeowner’s Insurance in Florida?
According to the American Pet Producer’s Association, over 63 million American Households include mankind’s best friend. This is probably why dog-related injuries are the most common liability claim on homeowner’s insurance policies. These claims include not only dog bites but also dogs knocking down children, cyclists, pedestrians, etc., all of which can result in severe injuries. Even your cute, little, lap dog may cause someone to fall.
Although many homeowners’ insurance policies cover dog liability up to the policy limits, there are quite a few exceptions. It is important to note that even if your homeowner’s policy covers dog injuries, any damages above your liability limits could put you on the hook personally for the additional losses.
In addition, some insurance companies will not insure homeowners with dogs who they believe to be a “dangerous” breed, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers. Others decide on a case by case basis whether an individual dog, regardless of breed, has a past history. Once the dog has bitten someone, the insurance company may charge a higher premium or exclude the dog, or their owner, from coverage altogether.
Finally, some insurance companies have an absolute or total dog injury exclusion and others are only willing to cover a certain amount below the policy limits for injuries caused by a dog. For instance, you may have a $300,000 liability limit but the company will limit your coverage to $50,000 for dog related injuries.
The best way to find out how your homeowner’s insurance policy handles your canine best friend is to either read the policy or call the company.
Do You Need to Buy Insurance for Your Golf Cart in Florida?
From neighborhood jaunts to even off-road adventuring, golf carts have grown far beyond their original purpose. But what if you are injured, or worse, if you injure someone else, while riding in your golf cart? Some people mistakenly assume that their existing automobile or homeowner’s insurance will cover the claim. This is not always the case.
Most homeowners polices will cover the cart while you are on the course or only use the cart on your own property. Most auto insurance policies will not cover a golf cart without specific language or endorsement allowing it.
It is possible to obtain insurance for your golf cart. This can cover property loss due to damage or theft as well as bodily injury and liability insurance. It can be done as an endorsement on your existing homeowners or car insurance policy or as a totally separate policy.
As always, the best way to know what is covered by your insurance policy is to check with your insurance agent and ask them to show you where in the policy it discusses what you want to have covered. If you find your cart is not covered, I highly recommend doing so.
How Can Social Media Ruin Your Florida Personal Injury Case?
Social media is a major part of many people’s day to day lives in 2020. Many people don’t know if you are injured in an accident then social media can seriously destroy your case. The scary truth is the insurance company and their lawyers will be looking at your social media posts. I have seen far too many cases where the other side shows social media posts to discredit a client’s injuries.
Regardless of whether your profile is set to “private” or “friends only,” everything on your profile can be brought into your claim and into court.
While we would not ask you to refrain from social media altogether, if you are ever engaged in litigation or considering litigation following an injury, it is best not to post anything at all during this period. Someone could interpret almost any photo of you doing an activity as being inconsistent with your injury. Even photos of you smiling or with friends are used to suggest you’re doing alright and things aren’t as bad as you claim.
If you would like to learn more about how seemingly harmless social media posts can destroy your personal injury claim, download our free report, Important Social Media Tips for Personal Injury Victims.
What's the Difference Between Stacked and Unstacked Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage in Florida?
Many clients ask us the difference between stacked and unstacked uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Stacked UM coverage increases your UM coverage with each vehicle you own that is on the stacked policy. It allows you to combine — or “stack” — the limits for each vehicle, giving you a greater total amount of coverage. For example, someone with two vehicles each with $25,000 stacked UM policy limits would have a total of $50,000 in UM coverage on each vehicle.
Unstacked UM coverage applies the coverage limits to one specific vehicle, without combining the amounts among all of a person’s vehicles. Using the same example as before, two vehicles with $25,000 unstacked UM policies would result in coverage being capped at $25,000 for an accident involving either vehicle.
Even with one car on a policy, stacked UM insurance provides broader coverage than non-stacked in a variety of ways. To learn more about UM policies, make sure to check out our free ebook Uninsured Motorist Insurance – Don’t Leave Home Without It. You can download it here.
Who Has the Right of Way in Florida?
Did you know Florida has no law explicitly granting the right of way? It’s true. Florida laws only provide for when someone must yield the right of way to other drivers. The goal is to always encourage defensive driving.
For example, Florida Statute 316.121 states that “the driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from a different highway.” Notice how the law only indicates the person who must yield.
Another example is Florida Statute 316.123, which relates to vehicles entering stop or yield intersections. “After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on said highway as to constitute an immediate hazard…”
So remember, when you’re in a situation where you are unclear about right away, patience is always the correct answer.
Can E-Bikes or Electric Bicycles Be Ridden On Florida Sidewalks?
On July 1st 2020 it became legal to ride an e-bike on Florida sidewalks. That’s because the legislature took a big step to define e-bikes and to give them the right to ride anywhere a bicycle can be ridden. It has always been legal to ride a bicycle on Florida sidewalks, unless prohibited by local ordinance. Now e-bikes fit into the same framework.
The law also recognizes 3 classes of e-bikes, including pedal assist up to 20 MPH (class 1), throttle only up to 20 MPH (class 2) or pedal assist up to 28 MPH (class 3). It also removed the restriction an e-bike rider had to be 16 or older. So, essentially anyone could operate an e-bike on our sidewalks within their category limits.
The new law is facing tremendous pushback because of the authorization of the enhanced speeds and permitting them to be used on sidewalks and other paths. There are many in the bike community who are opposed to allowing them on the sidewalk, particularly at those potential speeds. The new law has a home rule provision which permits local communities to restrict e-bikes on sidewalks within their communities.
How Does the Slow Speed Impediment Statute Apply to Cyclists?
A cyclist riding on the roadway is subject to nearly all of the traffic laws applicable to cars or motorcycles. A few people asked about the exception to which I referred, Fla. Stat. 316.183 (5), which states:
No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
The reason it does not apply is because a bicycle is not included in this statute’s definition of a “motor vehicle.” However, even though the speed impediment law does not apply, this does not allow cyclists to ride in any manner they so choose.
Remember, cyclists are required to ride in a bike lane, if available. We are permitted to ride two abreast within the bike lane and in those circumstances when we are permitted to “take the lane.” Otherwise, riding two abreast is not permitted and we can be cited for impeding traffic.
What is the Most Common Bike Crash Injury We See at Jim Dodson Law?
The simple answer is concussions. Although we see them as standalone injuries, much more frequently they are in addition to significant physical injuries. They are unique in that 50% of people will have a resolution of their symptoms within 30 days and the vast majority within the first year. However, that leaves a significant number of people whose symptoms will not resolve and, frankly, may become progressively more pronounced as time goes on. In many cases, there is no specific treatment; rather, our goal is to ensure it is properly diagnosed and fully discussed in the medical records so that its existence is fully accounted for in the settlement. Doing so requires complete frankness and cooperation from our client working with neurologists and, when appropriate, neuropsychologists and other specialists who are attuned to the unique nature of concussions and their potential effects on their victims.
Each concussion is unique, as are the facts of every case. Accordingly, there is no set value for a concussion in a settlement. They most frequently are a significant component driving the case value along with other injuries. In our practice we have experience handling these injuries in 7 figure settlements.