Although some might assume pedestrians always have the right of way and the bicyclist is inevitably at fault when the two collide, that is not necessarily the case. Pedestrians do not have the right of way at all times in Florida, and they can cause accidents.
How Do Florida Courts Determine Who Is at Fault in an Accident?
In Florida, both pedestrians and bicyclists must follow safety regulations. When there is a crash involving a cyclist and someone on foot, the behavior of each party will determine who was negligent, or at fault. Negligence means that someone:
- Failed to meet the standards of their legal duties;
- That failure resulted in a wreck;
- That crash injured someone; and
- The injured party suffered economic or non-economic damages.
The person at fault is responsible for the damages they caused.
When Is the Pedestrian to Blame for an Accident?
Under state law, pedestrians must obey traffic control signals and stay on the sidewalks, except to cross the street. If there is no sidewalk, a pedestrian can walk on the far shoulder of the road, facing the approaching traffic. Unless authorized, walkers must not cross streets diagonally.
Many pedestrian fatalities involve intoxicated walkers. When someone under the influence of alcohol is walking in the middle of the street, they can be liable for any bike accidents that result from their behavior.
Pedestrians are not allowed to suddenly walk or run into the path of an oncoming vehicle. If a pedestrian is texting while walking and steps out into the street without looking, they may be responsible if that action caused a crash.
When Is the Bicyclist at Fault?
People riding bicycles must follow the same safety regulations that drivers of motor vehicles must. Laws prohibit cars and bikes from traveling through a red light or a pedestrian crosswalk. Since a car must yield to a walker who is in a crosswalk in accordance with the traffic control signal, a bicyclist must do the same.
Bikers also have a specific responsibility to give an audible signal to alert an upcoming pedestrian before passing or overtaking them. If a bicyclist is riding on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk, they have the same rights and duties as a pedestrian.
If a pedestrian was following state laws and a bike rider struck them, the cyclist is likely at fault for the accident. Cyclists are liable if they violate any of the duties Florida law imposes on bikers.
Is It Possible for Both the Bicyclist and the Pedestrian to Be at Fault?
Sometimes both the rider and the walker were not paying attention or were negligent in another manner. In these cases, the court will apportion the fault between the two. Each party will have to pay the damages they caused—after the court subtracts a proportional amount for the injured person’s fault. This legal principle is comparative fault.
What Should I Do After a Pedestrian-Bicycle Accident?
If you have suffered injuries in a wreck with a bicycle or a pedestrian, the Montero Law Center can help. Call us today at 954-767-6500 for a free consultation.
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