Bicycle AccidentsBicycle vs. Car: Who’s At Fault in an Accident?

April 23, 2024

Bicycle riding has surged in popularity as more people seek environmentally friendly and affordable transportation options. But with more cyclists on the road, accidents involving bikes and motor vehicles are also increasing. When a bicycle and car collide, determining who’s at fault is crucial but not always straightforward. Fault affects who pays for medical bills, vehicle repairs, lost wages from missed work, and other damages. For injured riders considering legal action, understanding fault and liability is essential.

General Rules About Right-of-Way

Generally, bicycles on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities to follow traffic laws as motor vehicles. However, determining fault depends largely on right-of-way, which varies by state and municipality. At intersections without signs or signals, motorists must yield to bikes just as they would other cars. If the cyclist has the right-of-way when a collision occurs, the driver is typically at fault. However, right-of-way becomes less clear on roads without bike lanes. Bicyclists riding on sidewalks typically must yield to vehicles entering or exiting driveways. Running stop signs or traffic lights can also impact fault determinations after crashes.

Common Auto Driver At-Fault Scenarios

While bicyclists must ride defensively, the driver is more likely to be deemed responsible when collisions occur in many common accident scenarios. For example:

  • Making improper turns in front of a bicycle
  • Opening car doors into an oncoming bike’s path
  • Unsafely overtaking a bicycle from behind
  • Failing to spot a bike before colliding at a stop sign
  • Speeding or distracted driving leading to inability to avoid a slowed or fallen rider

Bicyclist Negligence Contributes to Accidents

Bicyclists must also ride safely and follow traffic regulations. Negligent cycling can shift fault or establish shared liability in a bike/car collision. Common bicyclist errors leading to liability include:

  • Ignoring stop signs or traffic lights
  • Riding against traffic flow without adequate signaling
  • Veering unexpectedly into a car’s path
  • Riding at night without lights and reflectors
  • Distracted cycling while texting or listening to music

Helmet use and regular bike maintenance can also reduce a cyclist’s injury risks and liability after accidents. Children especially should not ride unsupervised near roadways. Ultimately, bicyclists behaving unpredictably or unsafely in traffic can jeopardize their legal protections if crashes occur.

Evidence Gathering Critical After Collisions

With disputes over bike/car crash fault common, evidence gathering is crucial for injured riders weighing legal options. Calling the police to file an official report, seeking medical attention, taking photos of vehicle damage and roadway conditions, and obtaining witness contact info can all help demonstrate fault later. An experienced personal injury attorney can recreate the scene using evidence to maximize the liable driver’s accountability.

Staying Safe: Accident Prevention Tips

Sharing roads safely remains a top priority for responsible cyclists and drivers alike. While following traffic laws and riding or driving focused and sober may not prevent every accident, they do minimize risks substantially. Drivers should allow at least three feet when overtaking bikes and yield accordingly at intersections and driveways. Defensive cycling also means assuming motorists cannot always see you until eye contact is made. Bike/car collisions may still occur despite best practices. But keeping liability questions front of mind can help prevent accidents while ensuring victims recoup damages if crashes do happen.

Legal Options for Pursuing Damages

For bicyclists injured by negligent drivers, legal options exist to pursue damage reimbursement. Possible compensation sources include:

  • The at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy
  • Underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage if driver lacks adequate limits
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments coverage from the bicyclist’s auto policy
  • Personal health insurance or medical bills negotiations
  • Claims against government entities responsible for unsafe road conditions

An attorney can identify all potential recovery avenues while building the strongest injury claim possible. They understand liability laws and use evidence strategically to prove fault rests with the driver. This expertise raises chances of a satisfactory legal outcome.

What a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do

For any injured bicyclist determining fault after a collision with a motor vehicle, contacting our experienced personal injury firm can help protect your rights each step following the crash. Our attorneys can:

  • Launch an in-depth, evidence-based investigation demonstrating fault
  • Negotiate aggressively with insurers to maximize compensation
  • Finance lengthy litigation if fair settlements aren’t reached
  • Alleviate stress during recovery with personalized legal guidance

Reach out today to arrange a free consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss your options. Our goal is obtaining the bike accident settlement amount you deserve. You can visit our office at:

422 Jacksonville Dr. Suite B, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250.

Or call us today for a free consultation on (904) 633-9999.
48-49 Russell Square, WC1B 4JP, London
1 800 643 4300

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