In a tough weekend for cyclists and pedestrians, a couple of tragedies underscored the dangers of those who travel among the cars on the roads and highways in Tampa.
In one case, a 17-year-old girl’s lost her life after a drunk driver struck her as she was riding her bike in a bike lane on the Indian Rocks Causeway Bridge. The accident happened around 10:30 p.m. Friday, June 28, 2019, when a BMW veered into the bike lane and struck her. The driver is in jail awaiting trial on charges of DUI and manslaughter.
Paramedics rushed her to a local hospital, but unfortunately, she died from her injuries. Friends and classmates were shocked and upset at the news. The victim had signed up to become a Marine after graduating high school, and she played on the school’s football team.
In another case, a pedestrian hit by a car near the I-75 northbound rest stop in Hillsborough County on Saturday, June 29, 2019, around 12:15 p.m. According to witnesses, the deceased was on the side of the road on I-75 when a Volvo commercial vehicle struck him. The driver kept on going, and California Highway Patrol is asking anyone with information to call them at (813) 558-1800.
Pedestrians and Cyclists
There are laws that protect cyclists and pedestrians from being injured by cars, but even with these laws, accidents occur. Both groups are especially vulnerable to injury. They do not have protection when traveling on the roads and streets where motor vehicles run.
Even the slightest bump by a car that weighs at the least around 15 to 20 times the weight of the average person—even with a bicycle—can be deadly. A cyclist is almost always knocked to the ground, and a pedestrian has nothing protecting him or her from the vehicle.
The Law and Negligence
When a driver breaks the law and injures a pedestrian or cyclist, what happens? Does this mean it’s automatically the driver’s fault? Can the injured person just sit back and wait to collect compensation?
The answer is no, a law violation doesn’t mean that the driver is automatically at fault. In fact, Florida state law says that a violation of a criminal law or traffic code is not to be used to automatically say a driver is at fault in a personal injury case.
This means that the injured person—or their family in a wrongful death case—must prove that the driver was at fault. More importantly, they must determine the driver to have acted negligently.
If the person was impaired, it sure seems that the driver is going to be at fault, and more times than not, this is the case. However, an impaired driver may not be the one that ran the light or drove into the side of the other car. The injured must still prove that the impaired driver was at fault.
The same goes for a hit-and-run driver. They will face criminal charges when caught. In some cases of serious injury felony. However, at a civil trial, the court will look at which person was responsible for the accident.
Do I need an Attorney?
Injured as a pedestrian or a cyclist by a hit-and-run or drunk driver, then don’t make any assumptions. Speak to an attorney who can give you an unbiased evaluation of your case and inform you of your rights.
At RHINO Lawyers, we offer a free consultation to go over your case and help you to get the best possible outcome.