Keeping an Eye Out for Child Bikers
Hopping on a bike and exploring places near and far as a child is typically the first time a person gets a taste of the freedom and autonomy that fully forms as an adult. But, it is not just children that enjoy the benefits of getting around outside without being confined within a car. Adults also enjoy the chance to be in nature, while retaining the ability to get around at a decent pace. The one big difference, though, between child and adult bike riders is the ability of an adult to anticipate and react to movement by cars that children have not developed.
Unfortunately, bicycle accidents are a common occurrence on Florida roads as bikers and cars fight for space. In fact, the rate of bicycle fatalities in Florida is almost triple the national average, and signifies that biking is an activity with some unavoidable risk. Children are especially vulnerable to accidents due to inexperience, and drivers should exercise caution when passing or approaching anyone on a bike since bikers have little to protect them if a collision occurs. Drivers who are negligent or distracted pose a risk to others, and face potential liability if someone is injury or killed in a bicycle accident. As a sad example, a 13-year-old boy was tragically killed when a truck hit him as he was riding his bike in Miami Beach last month. An overview of how bikers are treated under Florida law, and the basics of liability in bicycle accidents will follow below to help both bikers and drivers understand their responsibilities on the road.
How Does Florida Law View Bikers?
Florida biking regulations state that bicyclists are permitted to travel on roads, sidewalks, and crosswalks, and have the same legal status as pedestrians. This means that cars should yield the right of way to bikers when they are riding through a crosswalk when the signal is illuminated signaling they can proceed, or when traveling on a sidewalk. Children under the age of 16 are required to wear bike helmets. Both bikers and drivers have a responsibility to act reasonably when on the road, including obeying traffic signals and regulations. Children are also expected to ride in a predictable manner, but drivers need to exercise greater caution and give child riders more room (Florida law requires at least three feet). This extra room is to account for the greater likelihood for a child to become scared and act erratically if a car comes too close.
If a child is injured in a bicycle accident, the parents have the option of pursuing a personal injury claim against the driver for negligence. Determining whether someone is liable for an injury comes down to figuring out who is at fault. Negligence claims have four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. It is important to note that Florida law has something called comparative fault. This law says that even if the injured party is partially at fault for an accident, they can still recover compensation for the harm they sustained. Drivers that are distracted, such as by a phone, or driving recklessly, are apt to miss seeing a biker until it is too late, and will probably be entirely at fault. Regardless of the circumstances, investigating all the legal options available to a family of the injured child is critical to holding the driver responsible.
Get Legal Help
Do not assume you have no legal options if you or your child is injured in a bicycle accident. Talk to a personal injury lawyer who can assess the merits of your case and determine whether you have a strong claim. The Miami law firm of Weber, Pita Weber & Del Prado knows how to build a strong case, and will fight to hold the driver responsible. Contact them for a free consultation.