Imagine you are driving through the Sunshine State, where the weather beckons cyclists to its scenic routes every day. You are aware of your surroundings, following the rules of the road, when suddenly, a cyclist appears and despite your best efforts, an accident occurs. Your first thought is concern for the injured cyclist, but then you must think about the next steps to prove you were not at fault. Sadly, The People Powered Movement reported that of the 169 fatal bike accidents in Florida in 2021, police found that the bicyclists were at fault in 17% of them.
Understanding how to navigate an accident with a bicyclist is important because Florida’s laws about vehicle and bicycle collisions can seem complicated. Knowing the right actions to take immediately after an accident can significantly affect your ability to demonstrate your innocence.
Collect evidence from the scene as your priority. Use your smartphone to take pictures of the surroundings, the bike, your car and any relevant street signs or signals. If there are skid marks on the road or damage to property, document these as well. These images can later serve as proof of the circumstances that led to the accident. Seek out any witnesses who saw the incident and ask for their contact information. Witness statements can provide an objective account of what happened and may corroborate your version of events.
Understand the road rules
You must understand the specific road rules that apply to cyclists and drivers in Florida. For example, Florida requires drivers to maintain a safe distance when overtaking a bicycle. If you were adhering to this rule, mention it and provide any evidence you have, such as dashcam footage, to support your claim. Knowing and explaining the rights and duties you have as a driver concerning cyclists on the road will help establish a strong foundation for your case.
Cooperate with authorities
When the police arrive, cooperate fully with their investigation. Provide your account of the accident clearly and factually, avoiding any speculation about what the cyclist might have been thinking or doing at the time. Do not admit fault; simply give your statement about the events as they unfolded. The police report will play a significant role in determining fault, so your accurate and immediate account can influence the outcome of the investigation.
By taking these steps, you put yourself in the best possible position to demonstrate that you were not responsible for the unfortunate event.