In a tough weekend for cyclist 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 life was sadly taken by a drunk driver 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.
She was rushed to a local hospital, but unfortunately, she died from her injuries. Friends and classmates were shocked and upset at the news. She was signed up to become a Marine after graduating high school, and she played on the school’s football team.
In another case, a pedestrian was hit by a car near the I-75 northbound rest stop in Hillsborough County on Saturday, June 29, 2019, around 12:15 p.m. The deceased was on the side of the road on I-75 when he was struck by what witnesses say was a Volvo commercial vehicle. 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 as they are relatively unprotected when traveling on the roads and streets where motor vehicles run.
Even the slightest bump by a car that weights 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
So, what happens when a pedestrian or cyclist is injured by the driver of a vehicle that broke the law? 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. This means that the driver must be determined 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. If they are found, then they will face criminal charges which could be a felony if the person was injured significantly. However, at a civil trial, the court will look at which person was responsible for the accident.
Do I need an Attorney?
If you were 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.