If you have lived in South Florida long enough, you have seen a Larry Kline Meats delivery truck. In fact, you probably have had the experience of staring at their top hat and cane logo as you sat parked in the middle of I-95 waiting for rubber-neckers to get their fill of the latest car pulled over for an HOV violation.
Sadly, this case was no HOV violation – it was a serious bicycle accident that left the Steven Caine, CEO of Larry Kline Meats, dead.
According to news reports, Caine was riding his bicycle in Weston, Florida around 5:30 pm when he was rear-ended by a 1991 Toyota. That Toyota was driven by a man named Michael Chatman – also of Weston. Thankfully, Chatman remained on scene following the accident. It is reported that Caine was riding his bicycle in the correct direction of traffic on the edge of Bonaventure Boulevard when Chatman rear-ended him.
Insofar as the legal issues are concerned, this accident appears to present a textbook example of rear-end liability. Under Florida law, when a motor vehicle rear-ends another party, whether that party is another motor-vehicle or a bicycle, the car doing the rear-ending is presumed to be the responsible party. However, this presumption can be countered with other information, such as evidence that the “victim” party did something to cause the accident – as does happen from time to time.
This rule exists because Florida law places the onus of responsibility on the car in the back. In other words, when you drive a motor vehicle, you have a duty to operate it safely – which includes three basic things: 1) driving at a safe speed, 2) maintaining your lane of travel, and 3) driving at a safe enough distance from other travelers so that you can stop short without causing an accident.
When it comes to car versus bicycle accidents, causation of the accident is always an issue. In most cases, the accident is usually the result of a careless driver who hits a cyclist they don’t even see or a risk taking cyclist who puts themselves in a place where they don’t belong… such as in the middle of the street – we have all seen them.
In this case, it appears as though Caine was doing everything right.
He was traveling with traffic and he was riding on the edge of the roadway where he belongs. Based on this information, not only did Chatman likely violate the rear-end rule, but he probably also violated the 3-Foot Rule as well. Pursuant to Florida Statute 316.083, “The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle.”
Violating the 3-Foot Rule is one of the most common causes of bicycle accidents in Florida.
Career Meat Man
According to Larry Kline’s website, Steven Caine was a career meat guy. He started in the meat industry as a high school student in New Jersey and joined Larry Kline as a butcher after college. To his credit, he rose through the ranks from butcher to CEO at Larry Kline.
As a cyclist myself, I hate hearing stories like these. Frankly, after hearing enough of them, I have all but given up riding on South Florida streets. Not enough is done by the government to protect riders and South Florida drivers are some of the most careless, distracted, self-absorbed people behind the wheel I have ever seen.
In any event, I am sure this is a horrible loss for one of South Florida’s most well known and iconic businesses.