Riding bicycles on or near the roads in south Florida is always dangerous, and there are plenty of news stories related to cyclists who get injured or killed on the roads in the Palm Beach area. The victims and their families do have certain remedies available to them through the civil courts, regardless of whether a driver at fault is charged criminally or not.
A fatal accident involving a car and a bicyclist occurred in Lake Worth, just south of West Palm Beach.
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The incident occurred on a Saturday night on Hypoluxo Road. That particular street runs east to west, and the cyclist was attempting to cross through the traffic from north to south. The 50 year old male victim went into the path of a car while in the middle of the street. The impact forced the victim off of the bicycle and into the windshield of the driver’s car. He was pronounced dead from these injuries a short time later at the scene when emergency crews arrived.
The driver of the car that struck the victim was a Broward County resident, who was not injured during the collision. It was unknown whether they would be charged criminally or given any traffic citations. Police noted that the victim was wearing dark clothing and had no lights on his bicycle, making it unlikely that any drivers would have seen him at that time of night.
Is the cyclist at fault for wearing dark clothing?
A crucial issue in any case related to a bicycle accident like this will be determining the cyclist’s level of fault for wearing dark clothing and not using lights or any other equipment to make their bicycle more visible at night. An experienced defense attorney can make a compelling argument that no reasonable driver would have been able to see a cyclist in this situation.
Even if the bicycle rider is considered to be partially at fault for the accident for being dressed in colors that would be difficult to see at night, this does not bar the lawsuit under Florida law or end the inquiry. There is a doctrine in the state called comparative negligence that allows people who are partially at fault to file lawsuits and collect money after accidents.
Florida’s comparative negligence law
Florida is a state that is considered a pure comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that the total amount of fault in any accident can be divided between all parties involved to equal one hundred percent, and any of them can still file a lawsuit or personal injury case regardless of their level of fault. Some other states have modified their negligence laws to stop someone from filing a lawsuit if they are above a certain level of fault.
Negligence is the legal term for cases where one person or entity is not careful enough and hurts someone else. Most lawsuits that follow accidents involving cars and bicycles are filed as negligence cases. Under this comparative negligence doctrine, the lawyer for each plaintiff must still prove all the elements of the case and fault from another driver, however the plaintiff’s own fault is also a factual determination that will be made by a judge or jury and affect their ability to collect money.
Other local laws regarding bicycles
Lawyers who specialize in accident cases in Florida know that there are also certain rules and regulations related to bicycles which are important. The attorney you choose to handle your case after a bicycle accident should be aware of these issues and related traffic laws.
From a legal standpoint, bicycles are essentially treated like cars. This means that they must follow all regulations on the road such as stop signs, traffic lights, and posted speed limits. Cyclists who violate these laws can be given traffic citations just like if they were driving a motor vehicle. There are even special regulations regarding a cyclist’s use of their hands while on the road, and keeping the bike in working condition so that it is safe to use on the road.
Florida has lenient laws regarding helmet use by people on bicycles. Helmets are not technically required by law unless the cyclist is under 16 years of age. However, they can be an important way to prevent serious injuries such as concussions and brain damage after a crash. There are also federal regulations for helmets related to safety standards, and helmets manufacturers will often advertise that they are compliant with these federal regulations.
Get assistance from a local Florida lawyer in your city
Smith and Vanture can assist after any kind of accident in the West Palm Beach area. They provide expert advice and representation related to personal injury cases and other matters.