I was struck by a motorist recently while riding my bicycle on Beechwood boulevard right by the playground at Frick park. I have video footage of the event. He struck my handlebar, and I was knocked over. I was not seriously injured, only bruised my posterior when I landed on the pavement. My bicycle was scraped up.
The motorist stopped, and argued with me about why I was riding in the lane, instead of using the bike lane.* He made it clear that he knew where I was in the lane before he struck me.
I believe this denotes either intentionality in his actions, or, to be as charitable as possible, that he has extremely poor vehicle control. In either case, he knowingly drove his car into me. The difference is whether he wanted to hit me or whether he merely didn't want to not hit me.
I have showed this video to zone 4 police. They claim that this is not a crime they can cite, because it could have been an accident. There's no way to prove intentionality, they claim, because the motorist stopped, and complied when I asked him for his insurance information. I don't see how that makes any sense, but I've moved on.
My plan now is to file a criminal complaint against the guy myself. I was told that I should go prepared, and that part of being prepared is to know which crimes to cite the guy with
That's why I'm asking for yinz opinions, suggestions, and advice. What crime is he guilty of? I know he failed to pass me with the required four feet of space for safety. I will probably charge him with that, for starters. But this man knowingly drove his car's windshield into my handlebar from behind me.
Is that gross negligence? Assault with a deadly weapon? Reckless endangerment?
These are all just phrases to me. I've heard them, and they sound about right. But I'm not lawyer. I've talked to some lawyers about this, and with luck I will hear from one sometime today. Nevertheless, I thought it would be good to ask here. It might be something that has come up before, or will come up again in the future. For me, it's something I didn't ever think I'd have to know.
*I very much hope this does not become a thread of arguing about cycling in the bike lane. I know many, many cyclists disagree with me on this, but I do not ride in the bike lane for a variety of reasons. All of these reasons have to do with my safety and with my rights. I know there are as many styles of cycling as there are cyclists, and I don't try to insist that people do it my way, so I hope that you all will return me that courtesy. Rubber side down, right?
I'm not a lawyer and I would like to make that known. I would recommend maybe not putting the entire details of the case online, as they can be brought up in trial and you can be impeached for not telling the story exactly as it says in the post.
I think this has come up before.
I would talk to a lawyer if you can afford one. The law is tricky here and hard to interpret. I know that, for example, gross negligence would require you to show that the motorist knew he was breaking the law, and decided to break it anyway. It's not enough to show that he was just being really negligent in the ordinary sense, i.e., driving really badly (which is, as I understand it, simple negligence or careless driving).
But I think you're on pretty safe ground with failure to give you four feet while passing. And, frankly, that should be enough to get his attention -- along with the claim I hope you're filing against his insurance company.
Here's a website that discusses the differences between careless driving and reckless driving in Florida (note that the terms are defined differently in different states): https://www.theticketclinic.com/blog/careless-driving-v-reckless-driving/
Also, try to keep safe, my friend -- glad you weren't hurt more seriously.
" but I do not ride in the bike lane for a variety of reasons. All of these reasons have to do with my safety and with my rights."
I have a feeling you are going to lose whatever you do here. Not sure why you don't ride in the "bike lanes", but your style is going to get you in more situations that I would ever want to encounter. Good luck. Maybe someone will advise, but highly unlikely you are going to get something out of this. Also the driver stopped AND even gave their insurance information. Wow! I doubt many would do that these days.
But, if I was to provide some potential charges:
Simple assault (Chapter 27, Title 18, Section 2701), Aggravated assault (Chapter 27, Title 18, Section 2702), Recklessly Endangering Another Person (Chapter 27, Title 18, Section 2705), Gross Negligence (I can't find a title here), or assault with a deadly weapon.
You may also want to contact the district attorneys office directly and show them the video. As I understand it, it is the DA's office that actually decides who gets tried & prosecuted, not the police. Of course they may also decide not to bring charges, but it may be worth looking into since that would be the least amount of work for you (the victim).
If you do have video and are wondering how to share it, while retaining some control over who sees it, go ahead and upload it to YouTube, but where you see the drop-down list that says "Public", select "Unlisted" instead. That way, for anyone to see the video, you would have to give them the link.
Agree with @Marko82 all day. Take it to the DA, they make the charges, the police investigate the crime.
Also as others have indicated, a lawyer would also be another good route to explore. You could look to file civilly(for medical bills and damages to property)if you can't get anywhere criminally.
The four foot law states "Every car that passes a bike must give a minimum of 4-feet of clearance at a “prudent reduced speed" I don't know what's up for interpretation here, as the car made contact with the cyclist. The language of the law doesn't seem care about intent. I'd suggest talking with the bike lawyer if you're up for the expense. That being said, even in the recent cycling fatality, they didn't charge the guy on the 4ft passing rule.
It is extremely frustrating that The State still finds it A'Okay when peds and cyclists get hit and killed due to negligent driving