As a trial attorney specializing in representation of cyclists when struck by motor vehicles, I’d like to summarize a jury trial I had in December of 2017. My client, a long time cyclist/triathlete, was struck by a full-size van just after entering the roundabout onto Clearwater Beach. The van came from the interior lane of traffic, crossed over the outer lane of traffic, and struck the left side of the front wheel of the bicycle, throwing my client’s body, including his left shoulder, into the right front side fender. He sustained a significant shoulder injury that required two separate surgeries, plus a third surgical procedure to remove hardware, once the shoulder healed. Unfortunately, the shoulder, when healed, was no longer strong enough to allow my client to return to his profession: a firefighter EMT. As a result, he lost two years’ salary, in addition to being no longer able to compete in triathlons nor ride the distances and frequency of riding he was able to do prior to the crash.
Here’s why the camera would have been vital to pre-trial resolution: the driver (and passenger) of the van insisted they never saw the cyclist prior to impact, and that the impact didn’t occur as we stated, but, rather, they claimed the cyclist ran into the right side of the van, midway back at the side door area of the van. Had the accident actually occurred that way, then the cyclist would likely have been found at least substantially comparatively responsible, since he would have had enough time to see the van and brake. They only argued liability or responsibility for the crash, not his injuries. It was necessary for me to retain the services of an accident reconstruction expert/forensic engineer in order to make our case that the physical damage to the bicycle, and the lack of physical damage to the door of the van, were more consistent with my client’s version of the crash than the driver and passenger.
Fortunately, the jury believed my client and our expert, and not the driver, passenger, nor defense expert. We obtained money damages in the jury verdict of $364,000, which was subsequently adjusted by statute in the final judgment. Here’s the point of my story: had my client used a video camera on his handlebars, the defense would not have been able to make their argument, and the case would have been resolved without the stress and added expert expense required at trial. You can purchase a good camera (often as a part of a front light) for about $200. The expert’s bill for preparation and trial testimony alone was more than 20 times the estimated cost for the camera. Even purchasing both front and rear cameras costs significantly less than most of our sets of wheels. If you are like me, there are near misses with thoughtless drivers nearly every day. Protect yourself. Give yourself a fighting chance to be treated fairly in court should a driver be texting and not watching where you are. It happens all too often. Protect yourself and your loved ones.