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Can Bicyclists Be Liable for Traffic Accidents?


“There were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2018. As you might expect, when a crash occurs between a vehicle and a bike, it’s the cyclist who is most likely to be injured,” reported the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

While bicycles have been around for transportation purposes for a long time, Americans are using them increasingly for reasons other than transportation – we’re using them more for exercise and to help protect the environment from vehicle emissions.

The problem is, bicyclists don’t have the same protection as people encases in thousands of pounds of steel driving motor vehicles, so whenever there’s a collision between an automobile and a bicycle, the motorist almost always wins. But what does the law say? Even though bicyclists don’t stand a chance, does that mean that motorists are always on the hook for the bicyclist’s damages?

Are Bicyclists Ever at Fault?

“By law, bicyclists on the roadway are vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles,” according to the NHTSA. What does that mean? It means that bicycle riders can absolutely be liable for the accidents they cause.

Essentially, it’s not that different from a standard motor vehicle crash between two automobiles, only the other “vehicle” is technically a bicycle. The theory of “liability” all comes down to negligence. If the bicycle rider was negligent and if he or she violated a traffic law, then yes, they can be liable for a traffic accident.

Some ways a bicyclist can be liable for a traffic accident:

  • The bicyclist runs a red light
  • The bicyclists fails to yield to oncoming traffic
  • The bicyclist turns left on a red turn signal
  • The bicyclist runs a stop sign
  • The bicyclist darts out into the road

Essentially, if a bicyclist violates a traffic law causes a collision with a motor vehicle, the bicyclist can be liable for the accident. This means that if an insurance company, and possibly the police, find the bicyclist to be at fault, the injured driver can sue the bicyclist for damages, such as medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, property damage, etc.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you need to file a bicycle or car accident claim, contact Mesella Law Firm, P.A. by calling (803) 938-4952.

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