Proving Fault in Bicycle Accident CasesGet a Free Consultation
Bicycle accidents often result in serious and catastrophic injuries for cyclists. In Florida, an injured biker may have the right to hold a motor vehicle driver financially responsible outside of the state’s no-fault insurance system for severe injuries. However, the bicycle accident victim or victim’s Tampa bicycle accident attorney will need to prove fault before financial compensation will be awarded.
Florida’s No-Fault Law and Bicycle Accidents
Florida’s no-fault car accident insurance system means that a bicycle accident victim’s losses will be covered regardless of who was at fault for the collision. The cyclist’s own car insurance coverage will pay for his or her medical bills, lost wages and other losses. However, if the biker does not have insurance or his or her injuries are severe enough to meet Florida’s tort exemption threshold, the victim can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party, instead. A third-party claim may result in greater compensation than a first-party claim.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
According to the National Safety Council, in 2020, 1,260 bicyclists lost their lives in traffic accidents. This represented a 16 percent increase from 2019 and a 44 percent increase from 2011. Almost all bicycle accidents are preventable and stem from human error. Common causes include:
- Driver inattention
- Distracted driving
- Texting and driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Following or passing too closely
- Failing to yield the right-of-way to bikers
- Violating traffic laws
- Running red lights
Many drivers in Florida do not respect cyclists’ rights to the road. This increases the risk of drivers making dangerous mistakes behind the wheel that put bikers at risk. When these mistakes impact vulnerable bicyclists, accident victims may have the right to file injury claims in Florida.
Four Elements of Negligence
Most bicycle accidents are traced back to negligence, or the failure to exercise reasonable care. Drivers are negligent every day. Unfortunately, this can lead to deadly collisions. Securing financial compensation for bicycle accident injuries requires the victim to prove that the accused party (defendant) was negligent. Four elements of proof are necessary to establish negligence:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care, such as a responsibility to prevent car accidents.
- The defendant breached or violated his or her duty of care in some way.
- The defendant’s breach of the duty of care is what caused the bicycle accident.
- The victim suffered specific damages or losses as a result of the accident.
The burden of proof – how much evidence is necessary to prove a case – is a preponderance of the evidence in the civil justice system. This means a claim is established as true with at least a 51 percent certainty. Meeting this burden requires clear and convincing evidence.
How to Establish Fault in a Bike Accident Case
Establishing the elements of negligence and proving fault for your bicycle accident requires evidence. Evidence can refer to any statement, document, photograph or object that indicates whether the claim being made is true or valid. Common evidence used to support a bicycle accident case includes:
- A police report
- Photographs from the scene
- Traffic or surveillance videos
- Cell phone records
- Property damage
- Eyewitness statements
- Expert witness testimonies
- Accident reconstruction
- Medical records
The evidence used in a bicycle accident case must prove that one or more parties are at fault for the crash and that the victim suffered losses as a result. These losses may include physical injuries, which can be proven with medical records, or lost wages, which can be established with employment documents.
It may take an in-depth investigation and the hiring of experts to prove fault in a bicycle accident case. For assistance meeting your burden of proof after being injured in a bicycle accident in Tampa, contact Vanguard Attorneys.