Broward County Bicyclist Killed In Collision With Van
On August 13, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office reported a fatal bicycle accident took place in Pompano Beach. At around 11:44 p.m. that evening, local 911 received an emergency call reporting that a bicyclist had been struck by a vehicle. A preliminary investigation by the sheriff’s office determined that the “vehicle” was a Chevy van.
According to the sheriff’s office, the bicyclist was “riding his bicycle within the southbound right thru lane in the path of the van.” When the van subsequently made contact, it pushed the bicycle into the center of a multi-directional left turn lane. The bicyclist died as a result of their injuries.
It was not immediately clear exactly what caused this bicycle accident. The sheriff’s preliminary investigation did not reveal any evidence of speeding or drunk driving. And the report indicated that “there were no lights or reflectors” on the victim’s bicycle.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits Following Fatal Bicycle Accidents
When someone is killed in an accident, their estate has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against any party whose actions contributed to that accident. Essentially, the wrongful death action takes the place of the personal injury lawsuit the victim may have filed had they survived the accident. Any damages recovered in a wrongful death case, however, go to the estate and the victim’s surviving family members.
As with any type of personal injury case, however, the defendant may try and shift blame for the accident to the victim. This can prove especially effective when the victim is dead and cannot testify. Florida follows a comparative fault rule in personal injury cases. This means that it is ultimately up to the jury to apportion fault among all parties, including the victim. If the defense can convince the jury that the bicycle accident victim was somehow negligent or partly at-fault, that can significantly reduce the amount of damages owed to the estate.
In determining comparative fault, a seemingly minor detail like the absence of lights or reflectors on the victim’s bicycle could prove important. It might allow the defense to argue that the bicycle was not visible to drivers on the road, especially at night. On the other hand, all motorists have a duty of care to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. This includes maintaining a proper lookout for others using the road, including bicyclists. So the absence of lights on a bicycle does not, by itself, absolve a negligent driver of liability.
And even when a preliminary police investigation suggests there was nothing negligent about a driver’s conduct, that is not the last word on the matter. It often takes further investigation by the victim’s family and their attorneys to get at the full truth of what happened. That is why if you have lost a loved one due to a bicycle accident, it is important that you consult with counsel as soon as possible.
If you would like to speak with a qualified Coral Springs bicycle accident attorney, contact the trial lawyers at Lyons & Snyder today to schedule a free consultation.