Can a Bicyclist Be at Fault for an Accident?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Alan J. Robertson with Sloan Firm.
Car-on-bicycle accidents can be particularly disastrous, which isn’t terribly surprising considering the difference in size and body protection between a bike and the average vehicle. In most cases, bicycle accidents are considered the fault of the driver; however, a bicyclist could still be considered at fault, fully or even partially. If you or a loved one were injured in a bicycle accident and are not sure who is at fault, talk to a bike accident attorney before discussing the case with anyone else. Even if you were partially at fault you may still be able to recover a percentage of compensation to help pay for damages including medical bills, lost wages, and more.
Yes, a bicyclist could be considered liable in an accident.
It’s important to note that no one is inherently free of liability in a traffic accident. Any party that caused or contributed to the event could be considered liable for the resulting damages. This rule extends to pedestrians as well; for example, if a pedestrian darts out into heavy traffic leaving cars with no reasonable way to avoid striking them, the pedestrian could be considered liable. Similar conduct by a bicyclist could result in full or partial liability on their part. However, bicyclists often have more rules to keep in mind than the average pedestrian.
Bicyclists are expected to follow basic traffic rules.
This includes riding in designated bike lanes whenever possible, and adhering to traffic lights, signs, and signals. If a bicyclist fails to pay attention or obviously violates one of these or another traffic rule resulting in an accident, they could very well be considered liable. In this situation, a bicyclist’s car insurance may be able to help; it’s important to note that contrary to popular belief, car insurance follows the person and not the vehicle.
Depending on the state, a bicyclist may be able to seek compensation even if they were partially at fault.
Every state has different rules regarding who can seek compensation after an accident and when. A majority of states follow comparative negligence, which means a bicyclist at fault for an accident can receive a percentage of compensation equivalent to the percentage they were not at fault for the accident. Texas is one of these states, however, Texas practices modified comparative negligence, which limits the at-fault party’s potential for compensation with the 51% bar rule; this rule means that if a bicyclist is considered any more than 50% at fault for the accident, the bicyclist cannot receive anything at all.
Some of the most common accident-causing traffic violations made by cyclists include the following:
- Failing to stop at a stop sign
- Failing to yield to pedestrians
- Making illegal right turns on red
- Passing a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian
- Carrying an item that prevents controlling the bicycle with both hands
- Riding with headphones or earbuds in both ears
- Riding with excessive speed
While all of the above significantly increase the risk to bicyclists and anyone else on the road, it’s important to remember that drivers have a strong responsibility to look out for bikes on the road. If you were injured in a car-on-bike accident, even if you suspect you may be partially at fault, it’s important to talk to a car accident attorney about your options for physical and financial recovery.