Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Bicycles |Laws & Information To Help You Determine Liability

16 March 2015
 Categories: Law, Articles

Have you recently been in an accident involving a vehicle and bicycle? Or maybe you are just concerned about it happening in the future. Automobile and bicycle accidents are frightening, and may leave you worried about what you should do next. Here are some laws and information to help you determine liability.

Where bikes can ride

Bicyclists have laws just like vehicles do. A bicyclist usually has to ride on the side of the road or in a bike lane. There are specific instances in which a bicyclist can ride on the road with motor vehicle traffic. These include:

  • If the side of the road is too narrow for safe riding

  • If there are hazards and debris on the shoulder or bike lane

  • If the cyclist is fast enough to go the speed limit.

If a cyclist is not abiding by these laws, there is a good chance he or she will be held at-fault or any accident that occurs because of it.

Car doors

Cyclists injured by car doors is a fairly common problem. Nearly 600 cyclists were injured by a car door in 2011, which is about an 80% raise from 2009. People are becoming increasingly careless when it comes to watching out for people on bicycles.

If you're opening your car door on the road, highway code states that it is your responsibility to ensure that doing so does not endanger anyone. If you open your door and hit someone on a bicycle or motorcycle, you are at fault. The same goes for opening you door on the side of the road. If you're getting into or getting out of your parked vehicle, you have to look around to make sure your car door won't hit anyone. Bicyclists ride close to parked cars more often than not, so take extra caution. If you don't, you're at fault.

Riding with or against traffic

Your parents may have told you a dozen times as a child to walk against traffic so you can see the cars coming. When it comes to riding a bike, the rule is different. While riding, you are going much too fast for riding against traffic to be safe. Your speed against the speed of the vehicle can quickly cause a collision. Cyclists must ride in the same direction as automobile traffic. If an accident occurs from a cyclist riding against traffic, the cyclist will most likely be charged at fault and held responsible for all damages that occurred.

Bike lights

The laws for bike lights vary by state. Many people ride a bicycle to and from work, which leaves some commuting in the dark. It's common to use reflectors, but that isn't always enough for people in automobiles. Drives and cyclists both need to find out the bike light laws for the state that they live in. If they aren't required in your state, drivers need to be extra cautious when watching for cyclists in the dark. If you're a cyclist, you should use bike lights anyway for your own safety.

If the lack of bike lights cause an accident in a state where they're required, it the cyclist will likely be at fault for not using proper equipment, just like an automobile driver not having headlights.

If you are confused about any bicycle laws, you need to look them up for your state. North Carolina and Arkansas are the only states that have special bicycle laws when it comes to riding in traffic. The other states either use designated bike lanes, practice the "far to right" law, and/or abide by local regulations. No matter what the laws are, it's important to practice safety. Automobiles and cyclists need to watch for each other at all times to ensure no one becomes injured on the road. If someone does, gather witnesses and more info and call the police immediately.