Hi, it's Jim Dodson, the Florida bike guy. I want to talk about some of the common questions we receive, here, in our office, and I think you're gonna be interested in knowing the answer. These are things that people didn't understand, and they called us to try to find out what really they should understand.
So we had a call, this week, from someone who said, "Hey, listen, Jim. "My bike fell off my car when I was traveling down the road, "and another vehicle ran over it. "Am I covered?" This is really amazing, how often this happens. I think that two things really come into play. When a bicycle falls off a car at highway speeds, either the rack fails, or it wasn't secured properly on the rack. Car then runs over it on the road, but they can also cause injury to somebody else. Your bike goes tumbling down the road, maybe it's 50 or 60 miles an hour, and goes off the road, maybe hits a pedestrian. So it raises a lot of implications about your own personal liability. And obviously, the question you have is, am I covered for this?
So the first thing I would tell somebody in this situation is, check your auto insurance carrier, first. You should get covered by them for something that's attached to the vehicle and falls off while you're in motion. In one case, recently, the vehicle that was following, and ran over the bike, claimed they had $10,000 in damage to their own vehicle, so you wanna make sure you are covered.
The other thing that you can consider is whether you might be covered by homeowner's insurance, as well. So I would start with my automobile insurance, for the protection that they afford, and if for some reason, you don't have coverage there, or can't get it, and if you own a home, there's an opportunity, potentially, to get covered by your homeowner's insurance. I hope that helps with that one.
The other one would be someone who is injured on their bike because of a vehicle pulling out in front or towards them, and stopping suddenly, or missing them, so what I would call a near miss. So in a near miss situation, does the driver still have responsibility, or can they be found at fault, when they didn't actually hit me? But because of them pulling into my path, or frightening me and pulling so close to me, it caused me to fall down and get injured.
We actually have some experience doing these cases. Had a case in Tampa, a few years ago, where my client is driving down the road, as we all do, on the right hand side, and a car is coming out of a condominium parking lot. Well, they approached the road as if they were gonna come onto the road, apparently saw the cyclist coming at the last minute, hit the brakes. At that point, they were right on the edge of the bike line, and the person fell off their bike. They were injured pretty significantly. It's interesting, in some of these cases, that the initial response from the insurance company, in that case, was they didn't believe the claim could even be possible, because we didn't make contact with your client. That all got worked out when I explained the law to them.
We had another situation not long ago, where someone is driving down the road on their bike, in the bike lane, car's gonna pull out of a side road. They don't stop at the stop sign. They pull directly into the lane of traffic. The lead cyclist, ahead of my client, was able to stop and miss the vehicle, but my client ran into the lead cyclist because they stopped so suddenly, and this person got injured pretty significantly, as well.
So this raises a whole area of law we call the zone of risk. So when you or I do something that's negligent, we create what you could call the zone of risk. It's an area that you didn't hit them, you didn't come that close to knock off their bike, but you created a zone of risk. You raised the risk for the person who got injured, so that as a result of what I did, pulled too close to them, pulled out in front of them, backed out of a driveway and stopped suddenly before I ran into them. It creates its own risk, and the person trying to avoid the motorist, then falls off their bike and suffers a broken, fractured hip, or collarbone, or something like that. So there is liability for the person who drove the vehicle backwards onto the road, stops suddenly. These near misses can create liability. It's all a question of how close did they come, what was their speed, the circumstances of the crash. So definitely, when you have that situation, it needs to be looked at by a very knowledgeable bicycle injury lawyer, to make sure that the person gets the coverage that they're entitled to get.
I had a call, also this week, another one was someone who, they were a member of a pickup group, so they're not in an organized bicycle ride, or a scheduled ride, from one of the clubs, but they were on a pickup group. So this is a meetup, and the concern was whether, during one of these rides, if the cyclist causes an injury to another cyclist, your wheels overlap, or you run into somebody, or you somehow cause injury to a cyclist, are you covered, is there insurance that's gonna cover you in that situation? A lot of times, if you're on an organized bicycle club ride, there's gonna be insurance coverage through the bike club for some of that. It doesn't protect it entirely, and there's also some protection about not being able to bring a claim against somebody on an organized bicycle ride. I think most of the clubs have a provision that says you can't do that.
But on these pickup groups, or maybe you're riding by yourself, you're riding singly, and something happens, and the allegation is that you did something wrong, you did something that causes liability for you, and I guarantee you, when someone goes down hard, the inclination of people is to try to find a lawyer to raise the issue with liability on the person that made them go down. I know a lot of people have the philosophy that they just wouldn't bring a claim in that situation, but the whole world doesn't share our feelings about that.
So the personal liability of a cyclist when they do something, either run into a pedestrian, hit another cyclist, do something that raises the issue of fault, when someone's been injured, the first line of defense is typically, if you own a home, you're gonna report it to your homeowner's insurance carrier, because their general liability policy for you, on your homeowner's policy, should extend to you on your bike, and should offer you protection when you're riding that way. That would be the thing that I would do first.
Of course, I'm always talking Velosurance, and I'm sure you might've seen our interview with Dave Williams a couple weeks ago. You can catch it on our Facebook Live program, here in the archive. Dave is the president of Velosurance, which is the largest bicycle insurer in Florida, that I'm aware of, and they have a component of liability insurance on their policy, as well. I believe that you need to verify that with them. So if you don't own a home, check with Velosurance as to whether they would offer that coverage, or if it's something you can purchase through them that would give you coverage to give you some measure of comfort about being out on the road, and exposing someone to danger, potentially, by something you do.
In some states, they have this doctrine called the assumption of the risk, that when you or I are involved in an activity like bicycle riding, that does have an element of risk, in some states, there is this law that, if you participate, knowing the risk, then you've assumed responsibility for your own care, and you can't bring a claim against someone when an injury does occur. Florida doesn't have that rule. I know we have a lot of people that come from other states, and sometimes you hear these kinds of things. In Florida, when someone is injured, you'd look to the conduct of the person who caused the injury, and you'd look at the conduct of the person who was injured. And the question is, is there liability on one of them, on both of them, or could the liability, or responsibility, be shared between them? It's what we call comparative fault, and when you're evaluating a claim, the defense is always looking to see, can we put fault on the plaintiff? The plaintiff wants to put all the fault on the person who caused the injury to the defendant, and you have this dynamic tension of looking to the conduct of both people to find out where the argument for fault can lie.
So you want to have the sense that when you're out riding, because things happen in our lives we don't intend, unintended consequences occur, that you feel comfortable that you do have coverage, should the unfortunate event happen, and someone's pointing a finger at you, saying, "Hey, you should've been more careful." So your first line of defense is generally gonna be your homeowner's insurance policy.
We have a free offer for you, today that you can download from our website. This free report covers 8 Things to Do After a Bike Accident.
I wanna thank everybody for joining with us, today. We've got an interview on the 20th of September with Phil, who's gonna talk to us about e-bikes, and all things e-bikes. Phil is the owner of Pedelec, down in Punta Gorda, and it's got a real interesting bike shop. I think you're gonna learn a lot about e-bikes, during that interview. I hope you can join us at 10 o'clock on the 20th.
And so that's all I've got from the Florida Bike Guy, today. I’m your Florida bicycle and injury lawyer. If I can help you in any way. Be safe, out there.