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Who Is At Fault in a Bicycle Accident?

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Find out how to determine liability in the bicycle accident.

A Law.com Premier Bicycle Accident Lawyer can build a strong case on your behalf!

Bicycle accidents are alarmingly common and can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities. Determining who is at fault in such accidents is crucial for legal and insurance purposes. But sometimes fault in a bicycle accident isn’t entirely clear. This can complicate bicycle accident cases and require a thorough investigation.

That’s where the help of a Law.com Premier Attorney comes in. Our verified lawyers are skilled at investigating bicycle accidents and establishing fault. Find out how an attorney can help you by scheduling your free consultation with a lawyer near you.

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The first step in determining liability in bicycle accidents is understanding the traffic laws applicable to both bicyclists and drivers. Bicycles are generally considered vehicles, and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. 

This means obeying traffic signals, signs, and lane markings. When accidents occur, the same legal principles that apply to car accidents are typically used.

What are negligence and duty of care?

In most cases, determining fault revolves around the concept of negligence. Negligence means failing to exercise a level of care that a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances. 

Bicyclists and drivers owe a duty of care to each other, as well as to pedestrians. If either party breaches this duty, they could be found negligent and, therefore, at fault.

Accident reconstruction often plays an important role in determining fault. This involves analyzing physical evidence from the accident scene, such as skid marks, vehicle damage, and injuries sustained. 

Eyewitness testimony can also be crucial. In some cases, security or traffic cameras capture bicycle accidents and provide indisputable evidence.

How does comparative negligence allocate fault?

Many states follow the comparative negligence principle. This means that if both parties share some degree of fault, the liability is divided accordingly. For example, if a bicyclist was riding recklessly, but a driver was speeding, both may share the blame.

Some states use the pure comparative negligence rule while others use modified comparative negligence. Under the pure comparative negligence rule, you can seek compensation for your damages, as long as you’re less than 100% at fault. However, your compensation would be reduced by the degree of fault you contribute.

The modified comparative negligence rule works the same way, but the threshold for seeking compensation is 50% or 51% at fault. If your fault exceeds that threshold, you won’t be able to pursue compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.

Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents with motor vehicles include:

  • Dooring: This happens when a driver or passenger opens their car door into the path of an oncoming bicyclist. Bicyclists can be severely injured if they collide with the door or swerve into traffic to avoid it. In most cases, the person opening the door is found at fault.
  • Right-of-way violations: Bicycle accidents frequently occur when drivers fail to yield the right-of-way to bicyclists. This can happen at intersections, stop signs, or when a driver is making a turn across a bike lane. Determining fault typically depends on right-of-way laws and whether either party violated them.
  • Rear-end collisions: If a driver hits a bicyclist from behind, the driver is usually at fault. Drivers are expected to maintain a safe distance from bicyclists.
  • Speeding and reckless driving: Speeding increases the risk of a collision and the severity of injuries involved. If a driver's speeding or reckless driving leads to a crash with a bicyclist, they will likely be held liable.
  • Impaired driving: Impaired driving makes it difficult for motorists to respond to bicyclists. If a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and hits a bicyclist, they are most likely at fault.

If you sustained injuries in a bicycle accident, you may be compensated for your damages. These include:

  • Medical expenses: You can claim for all medical-related expenses, including hospital bills, costs of surgery, medication, physical therapy, and any future medical care.
  • Lost wages: If your injuries prevent you from working, you can claim compensation for the wages you would have earned had the accident not occurred.
  • Loss of earning capacity: If your injuries result in a long-term or permanent disability that affects your ability to work, you may be compensated for the loss of earning capacity.
  • Pain and suffering: This covers the physical pain and emotional distress suffered due to the accident and subsequent injuries. Pain and suffering can include depression, anxiety, trauma, loss of enjoyment of life, and other psychological impacts.
  • Property damage: If your bicycle or any personal property was damaged or destroyed in the accident, you can seek compensation for repair or replacement.
  • Rehabilitation costs: If you need rehabilitation therapy to recover from your injuries, these costs can also be included in the claim.
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses: This can include any costs for transportation to medical appointments, hiring of help for household chores, and any other expenses incurred due to your injuries.

Handling a bicycle accident claim on your own can be challenging. To ensure the best possible outcome, consider hiring a Law.com Premier Bicycle Accident Lawyer with strong investigative and negotiation skills.

An attorney will work tirelessly to build your case and fight to recover every dollar you’re entitled to in compensation. Don’t handle the aftermath of a bicycle accident alone. Schedule a free consultation with a lawyer in your area. It won’t cost you any money upfront. That’s because Premier Attorneys work on a contingency fee basis and only get paid if they win your case.

Injured? Call Now
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