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Bike and Motor Vehicle Accidents: Finding Fault

by Rob Morrissey on June 27, 2013

Robert Morrissey is a recent law school graduate who has picked up a love of writing. He contributes frequently to Solomon-Relihan, a law firm based out of Arizona. When he’s not writing or making the coffee at his office, Robert spends time traveling and volunteering in his community.

With rising gas prices and more attention being paid to staying fit and ‘going green,’ more people are opting to ride their bicycles as opposed to driving or taking public transportation. If you have been biking with traffic for any length of time, however, you know the dangers inherent to sharing the road with vehicles. Many drivers are simply not use to sharing the road with cyclists. As a result, drivers aren’t paying the attention they need to spot a bicyclist sharing the road with them.

In the United States in 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that 52,000 bicyclists were injured in collisions with motor vehicles. An additional 618 cyclists were killed. Both of these numbers make up roughly 2 percent of all motor vehicle traffic accidents and traffic fatalities. Where ever there is a mix of bikes and cars, accidents are sure to happen. The more crowded and compact the area, the greater risk for accidents.

A bicyclist needs to pay special attention to what’s going on around them. However, if they are in an accident with a motor vehicle, the chances of being injured are substantial. Lawsuits to recover damages resulting from injuries to a bicyclist by a motor vehicle include the same issues as any motor vehicle accident lawsuit. A cyclist involved in an accident with a vehicle should seek the guidance of a car accident lawyer to determine if they are eligible to collect damages.

Proving Negligence

Fault for an accident usually comes down to negligence, either on the part of the motor vehicle driver or that of the bicyclist. Bicyclists must obey the rules of the road the same as motor vehicles. In addition, a bicyclist should take measures to ensure their own safety when sharing the road with vehicles.

If a bicyclist has suffered an injury and sues for damages, the outcome will generally depend on several circumstances. First, did the driver of the vehicle show negligence which led to the injuries sustained by the bicyclist? Second, did any negligence on the part of the bicyclist cause or contribute to the accident?

Negligence on the part of a vehicle driver can result from a number of reasons. Speeding, running a stop sign, or drifting into a marked bike lane are just a few causes of negligence on the part of drivers that may lead to an accident with a cyclist. Even parked cars can be a danger. For example, “dooring,” or opening a car door immediately in front of a bicyclist without looking, is a major cause of accidents between bikes and automobiles, usually resulting in injury to the cyclist if they don’t have time to react.

When a bicyclist sues to recover damages from an accident, they must prove negligence on the part of the defendant either through eyewitnesses or other testimony. Other testimony may include video from local surveillance cameras or a violation cited to the driver at the time of the accident. For example, a speeding ticket issued at the time of the accident would count as evidence of negligence.

Negligence on the part of the cyclist will also play into the amount of damages collected by the cyclist. A cyclist would display negligence by riding the wrong way on a one way street, ignoring traffic laws, or making an abrupt turn into traffic. If a cyclist’s negligence is deemed to have contributed to the accident, this is known as contributory or comparative negligence. As a result, the cyclist may not be able to collect for injuries suffered in the accident.

Rob Morrissey

Rob Morrissey

Rob Morrissey

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