When Is a Bicyclist At-Fault in a Vehicle Accident?
The city you live in will affect the number of bicyclists on the streets and in your neighborhood. Unfortunately, when asked about bikes on the road, most vehicle drivers are annoyed when they see a bicyclist. And some don’t even believe that they should have to share the road with a bicyclist at all. This is why many vehicle accidents involving a bicycle occur in the first place.
Many of these attitudes aren’t entirely unfounded, though. For example, you can find some bicyclists treating traffic laws as a buffet, picking and choosing which ones they want to obey. Bicyclists, however, have some of the same feelings about motorists and their lack of caution to bicyclists on the road, often making sure the bicyclists know how unwelcome they are.
Either way, despite the attitudes of either party, drivers and bicyclists can be held responsible and legally liable for causing or playing any part in a traffic accident. Let’s discover more about all that is involved in a bicycle/vehicle accident.
Careless Bicyclist Behavior
Bicyclists and other drivers might think that traffic laws are somewhat less strict for cyclists than for regular vehicles. The truth is that road laws are vital to the safety of both bicycle and vehicle operators.
Sometimes carelessness on the bicyclist’s part can be necessary for determining fault in an accident. Some of the most careless actions can include:
- Ignoring or not completely stopping at a stop sign
- Riding the wrong direction (against traffic instead of with traffic)
- Not yielding to other bicyclists or cars
- Suddenly turning without signaling
- Not taking advantage of the bike lane
Truly a bicyclist is uniquely at risk when moving down the road with other vehicles that are much larger than themselves and moving at higher speeds. What this means is that cyclists must be extra careful on the road. In addition, if a cyclist violates a law, they certainly can be held just as liable as any other driver. This liability can include injuries and other losses incurred.
Common Bicycle and Vehicle Accidents
In 2018, an average of two bicyclists was killed every day in crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While there are many ways for a bicycle and vehicle to crash, a few seem to happen repeatedly. The following are a few widespread types of accidents:
- Being brushed or hit by a car traveling too close to the cyclist
- A biker being hit by a car turning right
- A bicyclist running into the open door of a vehicle parked on the side of the road
- A cyclist being hit by a car backing out of a driveway
- A biker riding against traffic instead of with traffic
Some may say that an increased amount of distracted driving (texting, changing music, reprimanding children, eating in the car, etc.) has the biggest impact on the bicycle and car accidents. We all tend to multitask whenever we have the chance, but combining different tasks while driving isn’t the best time.
People are driving larger cars than ever before, which can be a big part (no pun intended) of accidents rising. Larger SUVs and trucks are safer driving down the road for the passengers, but pedestrians and bicyclists are at an increased risk. First, they are at higher risk of being hit in the first place. And when they are hit, instead of being thrown over the hood of a car, they are pulled under the car. Sadly, this results in greater fatalities for the pedestrians and bicyclists involved.
Preventing Bicycle Accidents
With the increases in the price of gas and the amount of traffic in cities, more and more Americans are deciding to bike for transportation. Because more bicyclists are sharing the road, drivers need more awareness and caution to keep everyone safe.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) encourages road safety and accident prevention by sticking to the following tips:
- Wear a helmet, and make sure it fits properly
- Try biking during daytime hours if possible (Most bicyclist deaths occur between 6-9 p.m.)
- Don’t drink and ride/drive
- Make sure you’re visible to others no matter the time of day
- Ride/drive defensively, stay alert
- Obey street signs, signals, and normal traffic laws
- Don’t ride or drive distracted
- Be as predictable as possible
- Yield to bicyclists as if it were another car
- Allow cyclists plenty of room when passing
Negligence and Who’s at Fault in a Bicycle and Vehicle Accident
Just like most accidents, the court examines a bicycle and vehicle accident closely to find who was negligent. Once the accident is looked at closely, the person or people at fault can be liable for personal injury damages and more. That sounds easy enough to figure out, right? Well, it can get quite a bit more complicated.
Sometimes proving fault can be tricky. Other times, there is more than one person that contributed to the accident. The state of Oklahoma is a comparative negligence state. This means that decisions regarding injury claims and other damages collected happen case by case. If one of the parties involved in the accident is deemed even halfway responsible for the crash, they can no longer receive any compensation whatsoever.
A Legal Team You Can Count On
It can be hard to be in the middle of a lawsuit where they need to determine fault while dealing with injuries and high emotions. It’s confusing and tough to navigate. If you have experienced a bicycle accident, don’t let the other party take advantage of you. Instead, hire a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the legal system and is ready to work hard to get you the settlement or other compensation owed to you.
AMA Law has the experience and expertise to represent you well. If you are looking for a lawyer to represent you in your bicycle and vehicle accident case, contact us with any questions. You can make sure you are prepared to fight for your case. Call to schedule a consultation.