Bicycle Accidents: Who is Responsible?
According to the CDC, nearly 1,000 bicyclists are killed in traffic crashes on US roadways each year, and more than 130,000 are severely injured. Bicycle accidents cost the economy more than $23 billion annually, which includes healthcare expenses, lost work productivity, diminished quality of life for those who are seriously injured, and wrongful death. Most bicycle crashes are preventable.
Like motorcyclists and pedestrians, bicyclists are at greater risk for serious injury during a traffic crash, because they have very little protection compared to occupants of motor vehicles. For this reason, bicyclists account for a disproportionately higher percentage of traffic deaths on the roadways. Bicyclists between the ages of 55 and 69 are at the highest risk for fatalities.
If you or someone close to you has been injured in a bicycle accident in Alabama, M. Adam Jones & Associates is here to help! Call our office today at 334-699-5599 or message us online to set up a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.
Who is Liable for a Bicycle Accident?
In most cases in which there is a collision between a bike and a motor vehicle, the motor vehicle driver is likely to be the one who is held liable. As we talked about earlier, vehicle occupants have far greater protection than bicyclists, and they can move much faster. For this reason, a car driver has an inherent responsibility to be extra careful around bicycles, just as they would be if there was a motorcycle or pedestrian nearby.
To establish that the car driver was liable, you would typically need to show the following elements:
- The driver owed a duty of care to ensure the safety of the bicyclist.
- The driver breached that duty by operating the vehicle in an unsafe manner.
- The collision with the bicycle would not have occurred but for the unsafe/negligent actions of the driver.
- The collision that the driver caused resulted in compensable losses to the bicyclist (e.g., serious physical injuries, damage to the bike, etc.).
If the bike crash happened because the vehicle driver broke the law, then they might be presumed liable for the accident under the legal principle known as “negligence per se”. Some examples may include:
- Exceeding the speed limit.
- Texting while driving.
- Drunk driving.
- Illegal lane changes.
- Failure to yield the right-of-way.
Although automobile drivers have a responsibility to look out for the safety of bicyclists who share the roads with them, bikers are not totally off the hook for their own actions. When a bike crash happens because of the negligence of a bicyclist, they could be the ones held liable.
Some instances in which a bicyclist could be responsible for a collision with a car include:
- When a bicyclist rolls through a red light or stop sign and does not stop.
- When a bicyclist ignores a designated biking lane.
- When a bicyclist rides on the wrong side of the street.
- When a bicyclist rides in the opposite direction of the traffic.
- When a bicyclist makes a sharp turn without signaling.
- When a bicyclist refuses to yield to oncoming traffic.
- Legal violations such as chemical impairment and texting while riding.
Although the law tends to favor bicyclists over vehicle drivers when a bike and a car are involved in a collision, if the biker’s actions at the time of the crash were clearly negligent or illegal, then they are likely to be held responsible for the accident.
There are some instances in which an outside party could be responsible for a bicycle accident. Here are some examples:
- Crashes that are caused by a defective vehicle or bicycle parts.
- Accidents that occur when a vehicle driver or bicyclist is acting within the terms of his or her employment.
- Bike accidents caused by teen drivers whose parents negligently entrusted the vehicle to their child.
- Alcohol-related bike crashes in which the party that supplied the alcohol could be held partially liable for the accident.
Whatever the specific circumstances, there are two important things that you should do immediately after a bike crash:
- Get medical attention and get prompt treatment for any injuries that you sustained.
- Speak with an experienced bicycle accident attorney.
You must not put off getting medical help, because, without a diagnosis, it may be difficult to know how serious your injuries may be. The sooner you get treated, the better your chances of making a full recovery.
You should not put off speaking with an attorney either. The insurance company for the responsible party wants to pay you as little as possible for your injuries, and those without legal representation typically receive significantly lower settlement offers for their injury claim.
Contact M. Adam Jones and Associates for Legal Help with Your Bicycle Crash
For skilled legal guidance after a bike accident, call M. Adam Jones & Associates or send us an online message. We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed. Contact us today to get started.
- Adam Jones,
- Adam Jones & Associates, LLC
206 N. Lena St.
Dothan, AL 36303