The Need to Protect Yourself When Cycling: Create and Keep Your Own Evidence

Crashes while riding your bicycle are a fact of life. Unfortunately, so are crashes with motor vehicles. The roads are not fair to us. Neither is the “fairness” of police officers investigating bicycle/car accident cases objectively. We all have read articles that seem to suggest the cyclist was at least partly at fault, even when in a legally designated lane, and struck from behind. Police are much more likely to not issue a citation to the motorist, where had both vehicles been motorized, there would not be such hesitation. We all have to be aware that it is not a level playing field when you are hit on your bicycle; you will more likely than not be blamed; and, where it appears you are not at fault, the driver still will not be cited.

What can be done to right this wrong? Education of the police? Sure. Better education of motorists? Sure. But, in the meantime, what you can do to better be able to show you did no wrong? Have the proper gear necessary to prove your innocence. What gear is that? Cameras. Yes, have a video camera on your front bars, and another on your rear seatpost. Make your own evidence, and then hope you never need it. Video mutes almost every motorist’s claim that “he came out of nowhere,” or “he swerved right into me,” or, “the sun blinded me,” or “the cyclist struck me, not the other way around.”

It’s my belief that cameras, front and rear facing, are a necessity if you are going to ride Florida roads. Unlike the driver who just tried to “buzz” you and denies it when asked, the camera documents reality.

There are numerous options: Garmin, Cycliq, Shimano, and numerous others make these products. While not cheap, they can save you many times their cost if you are the victim of a negligent or malignant driver, one who goes out of his or her way to scare, injure, or kill you. The Cycliq products are especially functional, providing not only video and audio, but also accident preventing lights in the same package. This product automatically begins overwriting when the memory is full. It also has automatic save functions if an accident occurs, preventing the valuable evidence from being inadvertently discarded.

I’ve handled several cycling accident cases where the video made the difference between having a case or not. In one current case, the video could prove invaluable in showing the driver didn’t turn on her turn signal until already making the turn, thereby giving no adequate warning to the cyclist before striking the bicycle.

Christmas is not too far away. Ask for the best Christmas gift a cyclist can have this year: cameras for the bike.

Be safe out there.

How Having a Video Camera on My Client’s Bicycle Would Have Saved the Stress of Trial

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.