How Do Helmet Laws Impact Fault in a Bike Accident?
Bicyclists face significant dangers when sharing the road with motor vehicle drivers. Since bicycles are smaller than cars and trucks and lack the same protective equipment, riders often sustain more severe injuries than vehicle occupants.
Although a helmet can protect a bicyclist’s head during an accident, many people choose not to wear one. It could mitigate the severity of a head injury and even save the rider’s life. However, state law does not make it mandatory for anyone 16 or older to wear a helmet.
You might wonder if you can pursue legal action against the person responsible for a bicycle crash if you didn’t wear a helmet. Under Florida Statute 316.2065(18), the failure to wear a helmet cannot be used against you as you pursue compensation for your injuries.
Understanding Helmet Laws in Florida
Florida statute § 316.2065(3)(d) requires every bike rider under 16 to wear a bicycle helmet. The helmet must meet the federal safety standard, fit properly, and fasten securely on the person’s head with a strap. Any child passenger riding in a semitrailer or trailer attached to a bicycle must also wear a helmet.
If you are 16 years of age or older, you are under no legal obligation to wear a helmet while riding your bike. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Helmets can protect your head during a collision. Even if you’re in a high-speed accident, you might not be able to prevent a head injury, but you could avoid a fatal injury.
Possible Injuries from a Bicycle Accident
When you’re a bicyclist involved in a crash with a motor vehicle, you will likely incur significant injuries. Even if the accident occurred at slow speeds, you could be injured. Typical injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Head and neck injuries
- Spine and back injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ injuries
These injuries all require treatment, which can be expensive. Pursuing an insurance claim or a lawsuit could help you obtain the compensation you need to cover all your accident-related losses.
Understanding Shared Fault in a Lawsuit
Pure comparative fault is a law in Florida that aims to balance fault and compensation during a lawsuit. That means the compensation someone receives could end up being less than the available amount. This could happen if the defense lawyer shows that the plaintiff shares fault for the accident.
For example, let’s say you incurred $100,000 in expenses from the bicycle accident. If a driver caused the crash because they were speeding, they would be 100 percent at fault. You would be entitled to $100,000 in compensation.
However, if the jury assigns the speeding motorist 80 percent of the fault and determines that you are 20 percent at fault for not yielding at an intersection, you can only recover 80 percent of your compensable expenses in an award from the court. That means you will receive no more than $80,000.
The pure comparative fault rule applies even if you’re 99 percent responsible for an accident. There is no bar to recovery, regardless of your percentage of shared fault.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit
In Florida, the statute of limitations provides that a person injured by someone else’s wrongdoing has four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If you miss the statutory deadline, the court could throw out your case without hearing it. If that occurs, you could lose your right to pursue compensation in court. You would also lose your ability to use the “threat” of filing a lawsuit to improve settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Contact The Bruner Law Firm Today
The Bruner Law Firm has fought for injured clients in Florida since 1992. We have represented accident victims in cases against negligent individuals and companies for three decades. We believe in helping members of our community fight to hold others liable for their misconduct.
The Fort Walton Beach personal injury lawyers of The Bruner Law Firm have a track record of success. We received awards from prestigious organizations, including the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, The National Trial Lawyers, and Super Lawyers. We also hold an AV® Preeminent™ rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating possible.
We provide personalized attention and services to everyone who hires us. You will be our top priority while we handle your personal injury case. We will advocate for your rights and fight for the justice you deserve.
If you sustained injuries in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, do not hesitate to contact the Fort Walton Beach bicycle accident attorneys of The Bruner Law Firm. We can meet you for a free consultation to discuss your case and determine whether we can represent you. Call us at (850) 243-2222 today.