Did you know that people report an average of 45,000 bicycle accidents each year in the US? Most bicycle accidents involve only the bicyclist, but in some cases, a vehicle is also involved in the crash.
If you are a bicyclist or vehicle driver, it’s important to understand the laws and know your rights when you get into an accident. Keep reading to learn all about bicycle accident law and what to do if you get into a bicycle accident.
1. Bicycle Accident Law Vs Vehicle Laws
The “share the road” rule allows bicyclists to legally ride in the streets with vehicles. However, these bicyclists are allotted a specific space in the road in which they are allowed to ride. This is called the “side-of-the-road” rule, which states that the bicyclist must ride on the far right side of the road, or in the designated bike lane.
While all bicyclists are expected to obey traffic laws when sharing the road, some bicyclists either forget about this rule or assume they have the right-of-way. When this happens, accidents can occur.
There are a few key differences between bicycle accident and car accident laws. For one, bicyclists don’t need a license or insurance to ride a bike as vehicle drivers do. Most states have separate laws for bicycle and vehicle transportation, as well as different laws for when they are involved in accidents.
2. Different Bicycle Accident Situations
There are various ways a bicyclist can get into an accident, whether solo or with another vehicle. The following are different common scenarios in which a bicycle accident can occur:
Accidents at Intersections
There are many different scenarios in which an accident can occur at an intersection. Two common situations occur when one party has a stop sign and the other does not.
In the first situation, A bicyclist will have a stop sign at the intersection while a car is coming from either the left or right side and does not have a stop sign. After coming to a stop, the bicyclist then continues into the road, right in the path of the oncoming vehicle. This can happen if the bicyclist either didn’t see the car or thinks they have enough time to cross before the car reaches the intersection.
In the second situation, a car will have a stop sign while the bicyclist does not. After stopping at the intersection, the car will then continue driving and hit the bicyclist who had the right of way. This can happen if the driver didn’t see the bicyclist or underestimated how much time the vehicle had to make it across the intersection.
In this scenario, the vehicle is making a left turn and strikes a bicyclist that was crossing the road the vehicle was turning onto.
This is the most common accident that occurs in intersections for bicyclists. In this situation, the vehicle making a right turn hits the bicyclist who is to the right of them.
Running Into a Car
This situation can occur in one of two ways: when a distracted bicyclist isn’t paying attention in front of them or loses control of their bicycle and hits a car, or when a parked car suddenly opens a door right in a bicyclist’s path.
Road hazards include unsecured sewer grates, potholes, or any obstacles blocking the bike lane. These can cause a bicyclist to lose control of the bike and crash.
3. Who Is at Fault?
If a bicyclist rides into oncoming traffic or hits a car that had the right-of-way, the bicyclist is normally found at fault. Because bicyclists must comply with traffic laws, it is illegal to ride against traffic. Any accidents that occur when a bicyclist is riding against traffic are the fault of the bicyclist.
The driver of a vehicle is usually at fault if they hit a bicyclist, and especially if they hit a bicyclist while turning left or right. Vehicles must yield to bicyclists in these situations.
If a bicyclist runs into a car due to distracted riding or losing control, the bicyclist is usually at fault. Any damage done to the vehicle or person(s) in the vehicle will be paid for by the bicyclist.
However, if a bicyclist hits a door that someone in the car opened, either the driver/owner of the vehicle or the passenger who opened the door will be at fault. It is important to check your surroundings and open car doors slowly and cautiously to avoid these situations. Any damage done to the bicycle or rider will be paid for by the driver/passenger.
When there are hazards in the road that cause a bicycle accident, the one at fault is usually the state, county, or city government. It is the responsibility of these government agencies to maintain the roadways and ensure that they’re safe to ride on.
4. Who to Call After an Accident
Immediately after a bicycle accident involving more than one party, wait for the police to arrive. They will assess the situation, make sure anyone injured gets the medical attention they need, hear both sides, and determine who’s at fault.
After telling the police your side of what happened, get contact information from the other party involved and witnesses if available. Having a witness testimony will help clarify what happened without bias and will prove who is to blame in the situation.
Next, you can begin to document your injuries and any damage done to your property. If the other party was at fault, this documentation is crucial for estimating costs of medical bills and repairs that the other party will be covering.
Because the laws are different for bicycles and vehicles, most accidents involving both of them have complex legal issues. After an accident, We suggest seeking advice from a professional that handles bicycle accident cases to help you through the process. A personal injury lawyer, such as Collins Attorneys, will help advise you on how to proceed and represent you in a lawsuit.
5. What Compensation Can You Get?
If the other party is at fault, you are entitled to all costs incurred from the accident being covered by them. This includes medical bills, physical therapy, repairs to personal property, and any legal fees/costs.
More Legal Help for You
Bicycle accidents are never a fun thing to go through, but being informed on bicycle accident law can help you get through them more confidently.
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