Biking is an excellent option for persons keen on keeping fit and reducing their carbon footprint. However, as great as it may be, biking can mean exposing yourself to severe injuries if you are hit by a vehicle.
If you or a loved one has been hit by a car while riding a bike, you could be wondering who is liable for the resulting damages. But worry not, as this article seeks to explain various factors that come into play when determining liability in a car-bicycle accident.
Whose Behavior Caused the Collision?
Determining fault in an accident involving a car and a bicycle is pretty much the same as for other accidents. In other words, you need to answer the question of who between the bicyclist and the driver acted negligently.
However, accidents where cars and bicycles are involved can get a little complicated. In some instances, the car driver may carry the blame for the car-bicycle accident, while the bicycle rider could be responsible in other cases. Sometimes both parties can share responsibility for damages resulting from the accident.
The Car Driver Liability
Many situations can make a car driver liable for a car-bicycle accident. These situations include:
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving is driving while the attention is on something else, such as reading a text message, calling, or flipping through channels on the radio. If a driver hits a cyclist under such circumstances, they will be liable for an accident.
- DUI. Driving under the influence of alcohol is among the leading causes of road accidents. If you are hit by a driver operating their vehicle while intoxicated, they may be liable for the damages resulting from the accident.
- Traffic rule violation. Every driver owes a duty of care to other road users and thus must follow traffic rules to ensure that they do not endanger the lives of others. If a car driver violates traffic rules and hits a cyclist, they will be responsible for the accident.
A cyclist can also be responsible for causing an accident. A cyclist may be liable for a car-bicycle accident due to:
- Distracted riding. Like motorists, bicyclists can be distracted too. If the distraction causes them to drive into another vehicle resulting in an accident, they will be held responsible. Distractions for cyclists are similar to other road users’ distractions, including receiving a call, reading a text, listening to music, smoking, etc.
- Failing to follow traffic rules. Cyclists are expected to follow traffic rules like other road users, including stopping at stop signs, riding with the traffic flow, and yielding the right of way to deserving road users. Some states have bicycle-specific rules like wearing a helmet and wearing reflective clothes when riding in low visibility. If an accident results from a traffic violation, the rider will be fully or partially responsible for the accident.
- Faulty bike. Before getting on the road as a bicycle rider, you must ensure that your bicycle is roadworthy. For example, you must ensure that the tires have the proper pressure, the brakes are functioning correctly, and that it has a functional light when riding in the dark. If an accident results from a fault that causes the bicycle to crash into a car, the bicycle rider will be responsible for the accident.
The person whose actions or inactions cause an accident is liable for damages resulting from an accident.
However, there are situations where the two may share liability. For example, if a drunk motorist hits a cyclist who was not wearing a reflective jacket at night, the two parties may share liability for their negligent actions.
Therefore, if you have been injured in a car-bicycle accident, you need to involve a personal injury lawyer to increase your chances of a favorable outcome.