Bicycle Accidents – The Liability Basics
February 18, 2015
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Bicycle accidents can result in serious injuries. Tragically, some of these bicycle-versus-car accidents can be fatal. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 726 cyclists were killed in a traffic accident in 2012.  A cyclist (or a loved one of the injured cyclist) may want to seek justice or compensation for injuries suffered. Lawsuits to recover damages for injuries in bicycle accidents with automobiles involve many of the same issues as any auto accident lawsuit. Liability for bike accident injuries often comes down to negligence — whether the car driver’s negligence caused the cyclist’s injuries, and whether any negligence by the cyclist caused or contributed to the accident. This negligence evaluation is complex and may involve multiple issues, not just the negligence of the car driver, but the negligence of the biker as well.

Share the Road

Both bicyclists and car drivers are bound by rules of the road. These rules include traffic laws for cars and any special state or local rules created specifically for cyclists. There is also often a common-sense aspect to sharing the road. Both cyclists and car drivers must exercise care when navigating through traffic.  Much like other vehicle accident lawsuits, bicycle accident lawsuits are governed by state law, and often informed by state and local traffic laws.


Driver Negligence

When a cyclist sues a driver for injuries suffered in an accident, the behavior- specifically the negligence of one or both parties leading up to the accident- plays a key role. Negligence by a driver can take many forms:

  • Speeding
  • Running a stop sign or red light
  • Improper use of designated lanes

These are just a few examples of potential traffic violations according to state laws.

Cyclist Negligence

On the other hand, the cyclist’s negligence can determine the outcome of the lawsuit. Examples of biker negligence may include:

  • Riding the wrong way on a one-way street
  • Running a stop sign
  • Turning abruptly into traffic (depending on the applicable state laws)

In these types of circumstances, a cyclist may not be able to sue for negligence at all. Or, the cyclist may not get a full damages award if the cyclist’s negligence played a role in the accident, and thus caused at least some of the cyclist’s injuries. The details regarding the role of a negligent cyclist in a car-bicycle accident are also governed by state and local laws.

In a lawsuit alleging negligence by another person, plaintiffs typically must prove that the defendant acted in a way that violated a duty owed to the plaintiff and that action caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In many auto accident cases, this can include violating the basic duty of care owed to everyone else on or near the roadways.

Ultimately, the outcome of a lawsuit is highly-fact specific and depends on recounts of the accident and relevant laws. These case-specific details will determine whether or not the cyclist can receive compensation from his or her injuries as well as the amount awarded for damages.

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Know Your Rights

When you or someone you love have been injured in a bike-versus-car accident, navigating the ins and outs of legal action can prove more difficult than you think. The nuances of negligence and case by case circumstances are often tricky and require the help of an experienced, well practiced attorney. If you or a loved one are in this situation, please contact us online today or call us at (866) 709-0505 for a free consultation.