The presence of bicycles on city streets is a common sight around the world. Trailing only cars and perhaps motorcycles in sheer number, bicycles are an extremely popular method of transportation and recreation. Often cyclists do not have a dedicated biking lane or enough shoulder in which to share the road with motorists. If the cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles do not exercise caution when passing a bicyclist, serious injuries can occur. Therefore, it is important bicyclists understand their legal rights, especially in the event of an injury.
Are There Any Special Laws a Bicyclist Must Follow?
Bicyclists, just like all other vehicles permitted to be on public roads, must follow the laws set by local authorities. All cyclists must follow the same rules of the road as an individual in a car or on a motorcycle.
- Stop at all red lights and stop signs
- Signal turns
- Ride on the right-hand side of the road
- Move to the right of the travel lane when moving slower than other vehicles
What Rights Do Bicyclists Have?
One of the most important things to note about bicyclist operating on public roads is that they are afforded the same right as every other vehicle on the road.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Riding on any street – Bicycles and motorized bikes may ride on any street, except for interstate travel lanes and where prohibited by local law.
- Treated like any other vehicle – Motorists are not allowed to pull out in front of a bicyclist, cut them off, or pass them unsafely.
- Sharing the road lanes – Bicyclists are not required to ride on the shoulder of the road, even though many do.
- Having exclusive use of the bike lane – Bicycle lanes may not be blocked or used for parking.
- Yielding the right of way – The law dictates who must yield the right of way. It does not give anyone the right of way.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
A bicycle accident can occur for several reasons. Since cars, trucks, and buses are much larger than a bicycle, accidents can cause serious injury and even death. Below are some of the most common types of bike accidents:
- Distracted drivers
- Drivers turning into the path of oncoming bicyclists
- Other driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Drivers changing lanes without looking
- Dangerous road conditions
- Drivers failing to yield the right of way
- Bicycling at night without proper lights to bring attention to the rider and illuminate their path
Who Can Be Sued for a Bicycle Accident?
Much like any other accident, the parties that may be held responsible will vary from case to case. In some instances, the manufacturer of the bike or the shop that maintains the bike may be at fault for providing the rider with an unsafe method of transportation. In other cases, the fault may lie with other drivers on the road or even pedestrians.
An experienced attorney will be able to determine who was at fault, and consequently who should be held responsible in your case.
What Do I Need to Prove My Case?
One of the most important things to prove in an injury case is who is at fault and thus who is responsible for your injuries. As with many factors in a bicycle accident lawsuit, this will depends entirely on the circumstances and details of your case.
If you were struck by another vehicle, the other driver’s actions will need to be evaluated and the road conditions will need to be researched. Perhaps your bike operated incorrectly due to a defect, or the road may have been unfit for travel. These are all considerations that an experienced attorney can help you determine.
To help prove your claim, you may need to obtain the following:
- A copy of the police report
- Witness testimony
- Photos of the accident scene
- Medical records
What Injury Damages Can I Receive?
When a car or truck hits a bicycle rider, the rider tends to be badly hurt due to the lack of protection a bicycle provides. Conversely, motorists involved in bicycle accidents often walk away without any injuries at all. Bicyclist are at a disadvantage in these accidents, but negligent drivers and other parties can still be held accountable. In some cases, injured parties can obtain compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Can I Still File a Lawsuit If I Violated the Law or Received A Ticket?
Even if you received a ticket following your accident, you will still possess the ability to file a lawsuit when you have been involved in an accident. Along with this, you could still recover a settlement when you have received a ticket.
Although it may seem that violating the law would end any idea of recovering losses from a bicycle accident, this is not necessarily true. What it does mean is that the defendant will have a better chance of finding “Comparative Fault”, which they will use to try shifting blame to the injured party. This does not necessarily mean you will lose your case, although it does mean that you will need an experienced attorney to fight for you in court.
Helping Injured Riders
As with any other type of personal injury lawsuit, your chances of recovering a settlement are greatly improved when you choose an attorney with years of experience. Monsees & Mayer P.C. has been helping individuals injured in biking accidents for over 30 years. Our extensive case experience includes:
- Cases involving cyclists who were struck by drivers who simply did not see them
- Accidents involving children who were hit while riding their bikes
- Accidents involving distracted drivers and drunk drivers
- Cases involving drivers who were speeding or driving recklessly at the time of the collision
- Unsafe or defective bicycles
- Defective helmets
- Hit-and-run accidents
- Catastrophic injuries such as brain and spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death cases
Every accident is different. Only some bicycle accidents form the basis for a personal injury case. Our firm’s personal injury attorneys can help you understand your rights and options. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.