If I was injured in a Florida bicycle accident at night when a car struck me and I did not have a head light on my bicycle, do I still have a claim?
Author: Attorney Daniel Villalobos
Yes. This question has to be answered in two parts:
First, as of July 25, 2014, under Florida’s PIP law if a person is struck on a bicycle by a car or truck, the victim’s own personal injury protection insurance (PIP) will cover 80% of their medical bills up to $10,000. If the victim does not own a car but resides with a resident relative, then the resident relative’s automobile PIP insurance will cover the medical bills. However, if the victim does not own a car, nor reside with a resident relative, then because the victim was on a bicycle at the time of the accident, the PIP insurance for the driver who struck the bicyclist will pay the victim’s medical bills up to the first $10,000.
Second, the mere fact that a bicyclist was struck by a car or truck and there was no flashing red light or head light on the bike does not mean that the victim cannot collect money for his injuries. Florida Statute § 316.2065 (7) states, “Every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp and reflector on the rear each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear.” The law states that a violation of this law may result in a fine or warning, but that the fine can be dismissed after the first violation upon proof of purchase and installation of the proper lighting equipment. Therefore if the accident occurred at night and the bicyclist did not have the proper flashing lights on his bicycle, he may get a ticket for not having the proper lighting on the bicycle, but he is not forbidden from filing a claim for injuries sustained in the accident.
Florida is a comparative fault jurisdiction. What this means is that a person’s own negligence will decrease the amount of recovery they can collect if they are injured in an accident. The amount of recovery will decrease pro rata according to their percentage of fault. For example, if Person A is riding his bicycle at night without flashing lights and is struck by a vehicle, if his case is worth $100,000 but the jury feels that the bicyclist is 30% at fault for not having the proper lighting, then the bicyclist can only recover $70,000. He would lose $30,000 of the $100,000 for being 30% at fault.
So in conclusion, the short short answer to the question of whether or not a bicyclist can recover money damages when struck at night is YES.
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