Many cycling accidents happen because of the motor vehicle driver’s negligence or outright reckless behavior. Many drivers are unaware that bicyclists share the road with them, have a right to be there, and to expect drivers to pay attention to their presence. Alternatively, there are cyclists out there that assume drivers will see them and take appropriate precautions. Many cyclists do not drive defensively by making sure eye contact is established with motorists (especially before turning), or by being acutely aware of where the vehicles are around them.
According to the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), cyclist deaths account for two percent of motor vehicle accident fatalities. While the cyclist has the right to file an accident claim with the driver for compensation, what happens if the cyclist is at fault for the accident?
Determining Fault in the Accident
In a personal injury case, there are two major factors that will determine the outcome – negligence and causation. When the cyclist is at fault or partially at fault, this can make the case more difficult.
Negligence is one party’s failure to take reasonable actions to avoid an accident. Causation means that the negligence of that party actually caused the accident and resultant injuries – therefore, the negligent party is liable for any damages they’ve caused.
When the Cyclist is at Fault Entirely
If the cyclist is 100 percent at-fault for the accident, then the driver of the vehicle would need to prove that the cyclist was at-fault. This can be difficult, especially because cyclists are given the right-of-way in most situations.
If, however, it is obvious that the cyclist failed to adhere to his or her duty of care, the vehicle’s driver (and passengers) can seek compensation against the cyclist. For example, the cyclist pulled out into oncoming traffic when traffic had the right-of- way.
When the Cyclist is Partially At-Fault
Georgia law employs the modified comparative negligence rule. That means that injured parties can recover damages even if they are partially at fault.
What is Modified Comparative Fault?
Some states allow a victim to recover compensation even if they are 99 percent at-fault for their own injuries. In Georgia, however, a person can only recover damages if they were less than 50 percent at-fault. So if you are the plaintiff, and you are alleging that you are owed damages, it would be your burden of proof to establish that the opposing party was 50 percent or more at fault.
If you were 49 percent at-fault, in theory, you can still collect damages. But be assured that the opposing side will work very hard to prove that you were over 49 percent to blame – thereby mitigating or eliminating any potential judgement in your favor.
More than a Pointing Finger Game
Proving negligence is more than just pointing fingers. It must be backed by evidence. There must be enough evidence presented to prove that one side behaved more negligently than the other – in order for either side to walk away with a favorable judgement.
Injured in an Accident? Leave it to An Attorney
You have been seriously injured in an accident. The last thing you need to worry about is proving fault. Instead, hire an injury advocate to do the evidence collection and negotiations on your behalf.
Speak with an injury attorney in Savannah that knows what you and your loved ones are going through. Attorney Clarke Nash is here to help you after your serious accident. Contact Clarke today for a free, no-obligation consultation at 912-200-5292 to explore your options, or ask him a question online.