In car-versus-bicycle accidents, many people assume the vehicle driver is at fault. After all, autos are bigger and heavier than bikes, and can cause significantly more damage. This is a misconception: there are situations in which bicyclists can be held liable for causing an accident.
A cyclist’s responsibilities
Like auto drivers, bicyclists are required to follow most of the same rules of the road. This includes obeying signs and traffic signals, avoiding unsafe lane changes, yielding to pedestrians and staying off the sidewalks. If a cyclist fails to obey the rules of the road, they may be at fault for any accidents they cause.
Even though vehicle drivers are more likely to cause serious harm, cyclists should take care to observe all applicable safety precautions. This includes using lights, helmets, reflective clothing and avoiding biking while under the influence.
Negligence and bicycle-versus-vehicle accidents
Most bicycle-versus-vehicle accidents involve negligence. Both drivers and cyclists have a duty of care to everyone else on the road: they must obey traffic laws and avoid taking unnecessary risks, which could endanger others. When a cyclist fails to obey the rules of the road, and causes actual harm as a result, they may be held liable for damages.
When both the cyclist and vehicle driver(s) acted negligently, the theory of comparative negligence applies. Comparative negligence reduces a plaintiff’s award by the percentage of which they were deemed at fault. For instance, if a jury finds a vehicle driver 20 percent at fault for an accident, any damages they receive will be reduced by 20 percent. If both parties are equally at fault, neither will recover compensation.
If you’ve been injured in a car-versus-bike accident, contact an experienced Sarasota, FL auto accident lawyer at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh.