When we hear about bicycle vs. vehicle accidents, most people assume that the vehicle driver was at fault. Cars are faster, heavier and can cause far more damage—but that doesn’t mean that drivers are always to blame. When are bicyclists liable for causing accidents?
Bicycles are also bound by the rules of the road
We all know that vehicle drivers have to follow Florida traffic laws, from speed regulations to obeying traffic signs and signals. While bicycles aren’t as fast as cars, they’re bound by most of the same rules of the road, such as yielding to pedestrians, obeying traffic signs and signals, avoiding the sidewalk and refraining from making unsafe lane changes.
When a bicyclist fails to follow the traffic laws, and an accident results, the cyclist can be held liable for damages that occur—even if they ultimately suffer more harm than the vehicle driver.
Negligence and bicycle vs. vehicle accidents
To prove negligence, a plaintiff has to show that the defendant had a duty to avoid causing them harm, they failed in that duty and as a result, the plaintiff suffered actual injuries. This is the same whether the plaintiff is a vehicle driver, a cyclist, a pedestrian or were engaged in another activity. For example, since cyclists are expected to obey traffic signals, running a red light and causing an accident would violate their duty of care.
What happens when drivers and cyclists share responsibility for the accident—such as a cyclist running a red light while a vehicle driver was speeding through the intersection? In that case, the concept of comparative negligence comes into play. Courts and insurance companies will assign each party a percentage of fault. For example, if a driver is deemed 20 percent negligent and the cyclist is 80 percent at fault, the driver’s compensation will be reduced by 20 percent.
If you believe a cyclist is responsible for causing your accident, we can help. Call the skilled Sarasota, FL personal injury lawyers at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh today.