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Bicycle AccidentsWhat Do I Do if I Was Hit by a Car?

Bicycle Accidents

While bicycle accidents are common, bicycle accident lawsuits are not. Most of the time a bicycle accident usually just involves a self-inflicted fall. However, if someone else is involved – such as a motorist – then the bicyclist may not be the person at fault and bicycle accident lawsuits may be necessary.

What Do I Do if I Was Hit by a Car?

Most bicycle accidents usually are caused by an individual’s mistake and result in minor injuries. However, a bicycle accident involving an automobile will likely result in more serious injuries and liability falls on the negligent party.

Drivers hold an obligatory duty of care to bicyclists on the road. There is an increased duty of care when the cyclist is a child. Cyclists also hold some duty of care to drivers, but this duty significantly decreases for children.

Most bike and car collisions that occur involve children, unfortunately. To counter this issue, the court places increased duty on vehicles operating near children. If a person is driving in an area of which they are aware of or they can at least expect with a degree of certainty that children will be present, they must exercise “unusual care.” These areas include schools, parks, subdivisions, residential neighborhoods, etc. Some districts even have “tender years” statutes that say very young children are unable to demonstrate a duty of care and are therefore not capable of contributory negligence.

The expectation of “unusual care” requires drivers to act above a normal state of awareness and caution. The driver can be held liable, even if he/she met the normal expectations of the duty of care if a child is involved in the accident. This is not to say a driver will always be held liable in this event, but the driver will need to prove that he/she displayed increased attentiveness and caution.

Example:

A taxi driver is driving down a Main Street following all the laws and regulations of the road. He has a customer in his car acting as witness to the following events. The driver looks down at his radio to change the station. At the same time, an adult bicyclist illegally cuts across the road without looking for cars and heads into the driver’s path. The driver has looked up from his radio, but he does not have enough time to react and the two collide. The driver isn’t necessarily in the wrong because he was following the rules of the road and therefore meeting the expectations of duty of care.

Now take the same situation, but the driver is driving down a road where a school is getting out. The driver is still operating under the rules of the road, even driving slower than the suggested speed limit because of the children getting out of school. The driver looks down to change the radio station. At that same time, a little boy illegally crosses the street on his bicycle. The driver looks up, but does not have enough time to react. The little boy and the driver collide. Even though the driver was following the rules and operating with some unusual care, driving below the speed limit, he will likely still be held responsible for the incident. Because he took his eyes off the road, he was not displaying increased attentiveness and therefore not meeting the full duties of unusual care.

Who is at Fault – Me or the Driver?

Like most other personal injuries, liability falls on the individual(s) who displayed negligence. In car-bicycle collisions, shared liability is more likely the case. In a shared liability case, both parties displayed at least some negligence resulting in the accident. The parties will need to arbitrate the damages based on each party’s perceived level of liability.

If the bicyclist believes that the driver is at fault, they must prove that the accident occurred because of the driver’s negligence. To do so, the bicyclist will need to establish the following argument:

  • The driver had an obligatory duty of care to the bicyclist, this duty of care is a set of expectations of how the driver should behave to ensure the safety of other people on/near the road.
  • The driver breached this duty of care, acting in some way to put others in a dangerous or potentially harmful position.
  • This breach of duty of care directly resulted in an accident to occur.
  • The bicyclists suffered damages from the accident, and there is tangible proof linking these damages to the accident.

Any violations of the laws of the road are considered “negligence per se”. Showing that the driver broke the law is enough to hold them at least partially accountable for the accident. For these specific accidents, there are other ways in which a driver can be held accountable based on negligence.

Example:

A driver, following the rules over the road, is following a bicyclist down the road. The driver becomes annoyed by the bicyclist’s speed and begins to tail him. The bicyclist does not have any room to move aside but attempts to anyway to allow the aggressive driver to pass, but in doing so the bicyclist wrecks. Because the driver is close behind he doesn’t have time to react and the bicyclist and the car collide. Even though the driver was following the rules of the road, he did not meet the expectations of the duty of care and therefore displayed negligence.

The driver may try to prove that the bicyclist is at least partially at fault for damages. Bicyclists also have a duty of care, or an obligation to mitigate any possible accidents. Most districts have laws and regulations that act as guidelines for anyone operating a bicycle.  If the driver can prove that bicyclist defied their duty of care, they may be able to place liability for damages on the bicyclist. It is important that bicyclists familiarize themselves with bicycle rules and regulations to avoid breaching their duty of care.

How Do I File a Case for My Bicycle Accident?

If you are involved in a bike accident, the first thing you want to do is be sure that you recognize the liable party. Use the previous information figure out who is at fault.

Next, you will want to calculate any damages that you incurred. Use our damages guide to help you calculate any possible damages you may want to include.

After that, begin to collect evidence. It is preferable that you begin collecting at least some evidence on the scene of the incident. Use our evidence guide to help you in the process of collecting all applicable evidence for your case.

Finally, you will need to choose an experienced bicycle accident lawyer to help you put together your case.

How Do I Choose a Bicycle Accident Lawyer?

You will want to find an experienced attorney who is dedicated to your case. While bicycle accident lawsuits are relatively straightforward, they can be time-consuming and involve multiple negotiation processes. You also will want to make sure that your lawyer is easily accessible and that they will keep you up-to-date on your case.

Some important questions to consider asking before hiring a bicycle accident lawyer:

  • Do you have experience with bicycle accident lawsuits? If so, was the outcome?
  • How do I pay for your services?
  • Will I be able to contact you during the case?

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