Cyclist Liability – When is an accident the cyclist’s fault?

In accidents involving a bike-on-car collision, liability is generally allocated to the driver because of the lack of protection afforded to cyclists. However, there are rare cases in which a cyclist can be at fault for a car accident, either by ignoring traffic signals, riding on the wrong side of the street, or otherwise practicing negligent behaviors. In such cases, cyclists could be prevented from pursuing monetary damages. Nevertheless, drivers are still held to a higher standard of care than cyclists for the simple reason that cyclists have a higher likelihood of suffering injury in these accidents. The nuances of liability in bicycle accidents can be complicated, but here is a quick primer on the basics.

When a cyclist is found to have acted negligently leading up to an accident, they can be assigned contributory negligence. This legal theory states that a cyclist’s actions partly contributed to the injuries they suffered in an accident, making them unable to recover restitution. In another theory called comparative negligence, fault is allocated between both parties and some amount of compensation may be awarded, but not the full amount. Knowing whether your actions fall under the contributory or comparative negligence theory can be tricky, but well-versed counsel from the Goings Law Firm, LLC will help you determine if you are eligible for restitution.

Negligent Cycling Behaviors

Some people think the rules of the road apply less to bicycles since they are not motor vehicles. However, cyclists are obligated to follow traffic rules just as much as drivers. There are many behaviors that can shift fault onto a cyclist in the event of an accident, including:

  • Not stopping or rolling through stop signs
  • Not riding in the bike lane
  • Riding on the wrong side of the street
  • Riding against the direction of traffic
  • Failing to yield
  • Abrupt turns without giving signal

However, under the “tender years” doctrine, children are incapable of contributory or comparative negligence, automatically shouldering responsibility onto a driver during a bike accident. In the law’s eyes, young children cannot be expected to exercise the normal standard of care on the road.

Contact a Bicycle Accident Attorney

Due to emerging bicycle and traffic laws, determining whether you are able to obtain damages can be confusing. If you were in a bicycle accident, do not be misled by insurance companies’ low settlement offers and risk not receiving the full amount of restitution available to you. Contact a knowledgeable bicycle accident attorney at the Goings Law Firm, LLC who is on your side to learn the full scope of your legal rights. Reach out to our Columbia offices today at (803) 350-9230 to discuss your case in further detail.