Bicyclists and automobiles share the roadways. When a car and bicyclist are involved in a traffic accident, who is at fault?
Determining who is at fault at the scene of an accident is a matter of figuring out which person was careless, negligent or disobeyed a common traffic law.
Some situations are obvious making it easy to determine who is at fault while other situations need more information to determine if there was any negligence or thoughtless carelessness.
Each state has a written rulebook of traffic laws that each person who passes a driver’s test must learn, understand and know.
Scenario 1: you are driving in the city obeying the speed limit, a bicyclist traveling the same direction on the right side of the road darts across lanes in front of you to make a left turn at an up and coming intersection, and you hit them. Who is at fault?
Answer: the bicyclist is at fault. Bicyclist must obey all the rules of the road the same as cars have to. The bicyclist would be in violation of an“unsafe lane change”.
Scenario 2: you are driving on the street and come to a four-way stop sign at the same time a bicyclist from the opposite direct stops at his stop sign. You both start out and you hit the bicyclist. Who is at fault?
Answer: you the driver are at fault for “failing to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic”.
Scenario 3: you are driving on the street obeying the speed limit when a bicyclist who is riding against traffic runs into your car. Who is at fault?
Answer: the bicyclist is at fault for riding on the “wrong side of the roadway”.
Scenario 4: a bicyclist is riding on the sidewalk when a pedestrian is coming out of a store and is hit by the bicyclist. Who is at fault?
Answer: in most states, there are no laws that prevent a bicyclist from riding on a sidewalk so it is permitted; however, some communities may have municipal codes preventing sidewalk riding.
It is important to note that studies indicate that riding on a sidewalk is ten times more dangerous than riding on the roadway. Therefore, because of these studies, a pedestrian would win any lawsuit against a bicyclist for any damages or injuries.
Scenario 5: a bicyclist is riding at night with no forward lights and reflectors on the bike. The bicyclist rides through a red traffic light and you hit them. Who is at fault?
Answer: the bicyclist is at fault for not having “a forward light and reflectors” and for a “red light violation”
With the price of gas today and people being more health conscious, more and more bicyclists are on the road.
Regardless of fault, a bicyclist will always lose against a three thousand pound automobile. For this reason, bicyclist should not to assume that a car would see them, obey all traffic laws and ride with caution and all drivers should slow down, be watchful, and share the roadway.