Cycling is becoming a popular form of transportation in cities throughout the nation. Several major cities have installed designated bike lanes on major roads in an effort to protect cyclists and reduce the risk of being struck by a vehicle. However, accidents involving bicycles and vehicles are still somewhat common. In 2015, 818 people were killed in bicycle-vehicle crashes.
If you were injured after being struck by a vehicle while riding your bike, you may be wondering about your legal options. Just like other accidents involving motor vehicles, you could have grounds for a lawsuit and recover financial compensation if the driver of the vehicle who struck you was at fault.
When Are Drivers At Fault For Striking Cyclists?
Proving fault in an accident involving a motor vehicle and bicycle is the same as an accident involving two motor vehicles – it’s all about establishing negligence. While many bicycle accidents result from cyclist mistakes, others only occur because of negligent driving.
Drivers owe a duty of care to cyclists – they have an obligation to drive safely and avoid dangerous driving behaviors that could endanger anyone else on the road, including people on bikes. If the bicyclist is only struck because of some type of negligent behavior, the driver could be held liable for damages.
Some common types of negligence found in bicycle-vehicle accidents include:
- Drifting into a bike lane and striking the cyclist
- Turning without checking rear-view mirror for cyclists
- “Dooring” a cyclist – when a driver opens their door without looking and strikes a cyclist riding past their vehicle.
- Running a red light or stop sign and striking a cyclist
- Tailgating a cyclist, causing the cyclist to lose control and crash
Determining negligence usually requires a legal review by a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer with experience in bike accident cases.
When Are Cyclists At Fault?
In some bicycle-vehicle accidents, the driver was following the rules of the road and the cyclist was at fault for the accident. This can apply to accidents where the cyclist is the only one who crashes, and in some other accidents, negligent cyclists cause vehicles to crash.
Some examples of when a cyclist may be at fault include:
- Running a red light or stop sign, causing a collision with a vehicle or causing the vehicle to swerve and crash.
- Trying to pass a vehicle when the opening is too narrow, instead of riding behind.
- Swerving out of a bike lane and into the main traffic lanes.
In cases where a negligent cyclist causes a vehicle to crash, the cyclist could be held liable for damages.
How Can I File A Bicycle Accident Lawsuit?
If you’ve recently been involved in a bicycle accident, it’s important to gather as much documentation as possible. Hang on to police reports and medical records, as these will prove useful in legal proceedings. If you haven’t sought out medical attention yet, we suggest doing that as soon as possible.
In order to have a strong case for a lawsuit, you’ll need to establish three things:
- The driver involved in the accident was negligent
- This negligence caused the accident
- You suffered injuries as a result of this negligence
Having the right documentation to back up your claim is key, but it’s also usually necessary to have guidance from an experienced bicycle accident lawyer. A lawyer with a track record of success in similar cases can help you prove your case in court and ensure that you get the full financial compensation you’re entitled to.
Laurence Banville. Esq is the managing partner and face of Banville Law, a personal injury law firm in New York City where his team of accident lawyers advocate for the rights of injury victims. Originally from Ireland, Banville moved to the United States of America where he worked at law firms, refining his litigation and brief writing crafts. He is also the recipient of the Irish Legal 100 and the Top 40 Under 40 awards.