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What Are the Legalities Involved If You’re a Cyclist Hit By a Car?

Accidents on the road happen more often than we’d like
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Accidents on the road happen more often than we'd like. Car accidents are among the leading causes of death in the United States, and while they are inherently dangerous, the same is true for motorcycle and bicycle accidents, especially since these vehicles don't have the same level of protection as that of their four-wheeled counterparts.

It's not uncommon for a car to get into an accident with a bicycle, and cyclists will almost always sustain serious injuries, even when they wear protective gear. According to Christensen Law, cyclists are at a distinct disadvantage in the event of a collision with a car. Even at low speeds, the injuries resulting from an accident can be devastating

Whether you're a motorist or a cyclist, it's important to understand the legalities that surround an accident that happens between a car and a bicycle.

The Right-Side-of-the-Road Law

If there's one law that all states have, it's the Right-Side-of-the-Road Law. This law requires cyclists to use a bike path, or if one is not available, to use the right side of the road, riding as close as possible to the side. However, there are exceptions to this law that allow a cyclist to leave the bike lane. These exceptions Include:

  • When a cyclist is making a left-hand turn.
  • When a cyclist is travelling at the same speed as the traffic.
  • When a cyclist is passing a stationary vehicle.
  • When a cyclist is travelling on a road that is too narrow to be shared with a vehicle.

When passing bicycles on the road, motorists are required to only do so when there is enough room to pass the bicycle safely. This is more difficult for larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs because their sheer size makes it difficult for drivers to judge the amount of space available.

Common Bicycle Accidents

Car Door Accidents - These accidents happen when a bicycle collides with an open car door. As a general rule, drivers are required to ensure that it's safe to open their door onto a busy street. This is especially true for those who are parked on the road. Many drivers forget to check their surroundings before opening their car door and thus, this type of accident is often the driver's fault.

Side-Swiping - As mentioned earlier, drivers of larger cars have difficulty in judging space and are thus more likely to run a bicyclist off the road, or worse, side swipe them. This, too, is the driver's fault, especially when the cyclist is on a bike lane, or on the right side of the road.

Right-Turn Collisions - Another common bicycle accident is when a driver fails to check oncoming traffic before making a right-hand turn. This often puts the car into the path of a cyclist, striking the cyclist onto the pavement. Again, a driver, whose responsibility is to ensure that the path is clear before turning will be held at fault here.

Remember that even if bicyclists often enjoy these legal measures, it shouldn't be an excuse to pedal carelessly. Remember the rules of the road, and always stay alert.