How is Fault Determined in Bicycles vs Car Accidents?

How is Fault Determined in Bicycles vs Car Accidents?

Unlike car accidents, which can often be reasonably straightforward to determine fault, bicycle accidents can be much more complicated. A bicycle user might say that the driver was not paying attention. In contrast, the driver might state that the bicycle user came out of nowhere. Given the complexities of such a situation, it can be worth considering the following information and contacting your local bike accident lawyer for advice.

The Driver’s Duty of Care

Even before determining who is at fault, analyzing the laws and regulations of vehicle drivers can shed some light on a possible outcome. All vehicle operators must drive safely to avoid accidents and injuries to other road users, which includes cyclists. They must be aware of their surroundings and follow traffic laws. If they do not, their actions can be seen as negligent under the law. This negligence can look like:

  • Being distracted while driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Not obeying right-of-way rules, signals, or traffic laws
  • Not observing surroundings before opening car doors on a road

The Cyclist’s Duty of Care

While it might look like all the fault lies with the driver, the cyclist also has a duty of care. They must also follow all traffic laws and signals and be aware of their surroundings. A cyclist at fault accident can be caused by the following:

  • Not signaling on turns
  • Not following traffic signals
  • Not using designated bicycle lanes or staying to the right-hand side of the road
  • Biking under the influence
  • Improper passing maneuvers

Most Common Types of Bicycle vs. Car Accidents

Bicycle accident fatalities make up at least 2% of motor vehicle crash deaths annually in the United States. In those accidents, and those resulting in non-fatal injuries, there were three common accident scenarios.

  • Being hit by a vehicle turning left
  • Being hit by a vehicle turning right
  • Being swiped by a passing vehicle

In all three common accident types, most occurred in urban settings, and either the cyclist or vehicle operator could be the negligent party.

How Fault is Determined in Bicycle vs. Car Accidents

As soon as emergency services arrive at the scene of a bicycle vs. vehicle collision, they gather the facts from the injured parties and witnesses to form a clear picture of what happened. However, these facts can be disputed and argued in court when a bike accident lawsuit is filed.

Typically, more information and evidence are revealed during the investigation stage, discovery, and, sometimes, at trial. During this process, the bike accident attorney must prove that the driver was negligent and violated their duty of care to the cyclist.

When fault is determined, the person liable can be held to account for all losses relating to the accident. However, if both parties share some of the fault, a judge or jury can assign a percentage to each party. This means they may pay a certain percentage of the costs each.

Determining fault in bicycles vs. car accidents is not always as straightforward as other accidents. If you request a free consultation with a bike accident attorney, you can allow experts to guide you through the process and fight for a fair outcome.