A bicycle accident can result in severe, if not fatal, injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 726 bicycle riders were killed in 2012 accidents.
An injured cyclist and their loved ones may want compensation for the devastation caused by these incidents. To recover compensation, victims and their families must establish liability – which means who is primarily at fault for the accident.
Sometimes the party liable for an accident is a driver, other times it could be the cyclist. Sometimes the party was not at the scene of the crash at all – such as a manufacturer.
Determining liability is extremely complicated, which is why accident victims are encouraged to speak with an attorneyafter being in an incident. A bicycle accident attorney can review the evidence, decide which party might be liable for the accident, and then aggressively seek compensation on their client’s behalf.
The Basics of Bicycle Liability in Savannah
Both drivers and cyclists are required to obey the rules of the road. Rules include traffic laws, as well as both parties’ duty to exercise caution and avoid accident or injury. While drivers are at fault in most accidents involving motor vehicles and bikes, there are instances where the cyclists are also at fault. Georgia laws see a cyclist on the road as a motor vehicle; therefore, cyclists have an equal number of laws to follow while riding.
Here is the bottom line: The issue of liability typically comes down to who had the right of way at the time of the accident.
When Accidents Occur with No Traffic Signals
One of the easiest ways to determine who had the right of way is the traffic signal – in other words, who had a green light? When no traffic signals are present, it will come down to who was there first. For example, at a stop sign who came to the stop sign first? The party that arrived at the stop sign first would have the right of way.
The same goes for entering a street with traffic. The vehicles already on the road would have the right of way. So in a situation where a cyclist pulls out in front of oncoming traffic, the cyclist would be at fault – not the motorist that struck the cyclist.
When Traffic Signals are Present
When traffic signals are present, they control who has the right of way. Therefore, if the cyclist crosses on a red light, they would be at fault. Likewise, if the cyclist was crossing the intersection on a green light and a vehicle turning left struck them, the motorist would be at fault, because the cyclist had the green light and the right of way.
Stop Sign Accidents
A vast majority of incidents between motor vehicles and cyclists occur at stop signs. When the cyclist has a stop sign, and the motorist does not, a cyclist might ride out into the intersection in front of oncoming traffic.
However, the cyclists that do this are typically under the age of 15. That is important to note. Since children are unable to judge the severity of their actions in these situations, they are not held liable. However, if the victim been an adult the courts would consider the cyclist at fault for the incident – because they did not have the right of way.
Sometimes a cyclist has the right of way because they are on the main road. A vehicle will approach a stop sign to enter the main road and after stopping, enter the street without seeing the cyclist – causing an accident. In this case, the motorist would be at fault, because the cyclist had the right of way.
Riding Against Traffic As a Cyclist
Cyclists must follow the rules of the road, which means going in the same direction as traffic. Riding against traffic is breaking the law. Additionally, drivers do not expect to see cyclists coming at them on the street, which puts riders at high risk for a collision. So riding against traffic is dangerous, illegal, and causes numerous accidents each year. Don’t do it!
Failing to Yield As the Cyclist
Another common cause of bicycle accidents with motor vehicles is failing to yield. This happens when the cyclist stops at the intersection and rides into the traffic without yielding to cars. Sometimes the cyclist does not see the motorist or misjudges their speed. In this instance, the cyclist would be at fault because they did not yield and rode into oncoming traffic.
Left Crossing Accidents
The left cross is when one vehicle is turning left across traffic to enter another roadway’s traffic. When the motorist turns left, they collide with the cyclist. Typically, the driver does not see the cyclist or does not check to their left before turning. In this case, the driver would be at fault, because the cyclist was riding along with traffic.
Right Hook Accidents
Like the left cross incident, a right hook accident happens when a motorist is turning right into traffic and does not see a cyclist crossing the street with traffic, waiting at the light with them, or crossing from an opposite direction. Motorists must check both ways before crossing into traffic, even on a green light.
When Drivers Are Negligent
A driver’s negligence can take many forms. Sometimes a driver skips a safety check before crossing the street, while other times a driver’s actions are reckless – such as driving intoxicated and colliding with a cyclist.
When a driver disregards the safety of others, they are negligent and therefore liable for any injuries they cause.
The victim must prove that the driver’s actions breached the expected standard of care while driving. For example, a motorist speeding has breached their duty to obey the law of the road and follow posted speed limits. Therefore, the driver is at-fault for any accidents they cause while speeding.
When Cyclists are Negligent
A cyclist could be sued for causing an accident as well. Negligent cyclists, despite their injuries, may be required to pay for the damages of those in the motor vehicle.
Speaking with an Attorney is Important
If you have been involved in an accident as a motorist or cyclist, report the incident to your insurance company. Then, speak with a Savannah injury attorney. Determining liability is complicated, and even the “right of way” theory might not always apply. Therefore, you need an injury lawyer with experience handling these types of cases to help prove fault and seek compensation on your behalf.