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.

Confessions of a Frustrated Cyclist Attorney

If anyone out there ever reads my articles, thank you. I say “if,” because despite my regular articles attempting to educate all who cycle on our roads—Roadies, recreational cyclists, and triathletes—there seems to be a never ending supply of cyclist/accident victims who don’t yet understand the vital importance of having GOOD uninsured/underinsured motorists’ (UM/UIM) limits on their auto insurance policy. Because we choose to put ourselves at risk riding bikes and jogging/running/training on some of the most congested roads in the country, we owe it to ourselves to carry limits on our auto policy for UM/UIM of, at the very least, $100,000, and more if your budget allows. Why? Because when you are injured by a driver while on your bicycle, or as a pedestrian, your auto insurance policy is directly involved. Florida law says your auto policy applies not just when you are driving or riding in a motor vehicle, but WHEN YOU ARE IN AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING A MOTOR VEHICLE. You don’t have to be in your car, or, for that matter in a car at all; you just have to be injured by a motor vehicle.

Unfortunately, most irresponsible drivers who run us down are not responsible about having adequate liability coverage on their policy, which is where you first look for damage recovery after being struck. This is where having good UM/UIM coverage saves you, because it acts as additional liability insurance for the bad driver when your injuries aren’t adequately compensated by that driver’s insurance. Your coverage applies in two instances: when the driver at fault has no insurance (one in four on the road have none), but also where they don’t have enough to compensate you for your injuries.

Your PIP coverage, the no fault part of your policy that pays the first $10,000 of your medical bills, regardless of fault, also applies when injured by a motor vehicle while riding your bike, as well as if you’re struck while walking or jogging.

This coverage is too valuable not to have. Make it your number one to-do to review your auto policy, and get the highest amount of UM/UIM you can afford. No one wants to be injured, but we have seen time and again during this past year, that some of us will be, despite taking all reasonable precautions. Be sure, if you have an accident, you have provided adequate coverage for yourself. Don’t count on the idiot behind the wheel to be ready to take care of your financial needs.

If you are confused, or not sure what you should do, reach out to me, I’ll be happy to help you make sure you get adequate coverage. I am not an insurance agent, but after forty years representing injured athletes, I know what you need to protect yourselves. Please don’t wait to review your auto coverages until you are injured; you cannot change the limits for an injury that’s already occurred.