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Can Bicyclists Be Liable for Traffic Accidents?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

It's great that there are more people getting more exercise, and easing pollution and traffic by getting on a bicycle rather than in a car. But with more cyclists on the road, there are bound to be more cycling accidents.

With bike laws and some traffic laws, states and cities are trying to protect bicyclists on the road. But does that include absolving them from responsibility in collisions? Are traffic accidents always the car's fault or can bicyclists be held liable? Here's a look.

Liability in Theory

As a general rule, bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as automobiles while on the road. That means sharing the road, signaling for turns, stopping at red lights and stop signs, and yielding the right of way when appropriate. Cyclists must also avoid riding on sidewalks and yield to pedestrians on crosswalks.

Overall, the same liability standards will apply to bicyclists as drivers and pedestrians when it comes to traffic accidents and collisions, meaning the negligent party will be at fault for any injuries or damages that arise. If a bicyclists fails to meet the appropriate standard of car, or negligently, carelessly, or recklessly in causing an accident, he or she can be liable.

Liability in Practice

Knowing a bicyclist can be liable for an accident is one thing. Proving it can be quite another. One thing that can help is a police report. If there is serious damage or an injury, you should contact the police and obtain a report of the accident. The report can also indicate whether the cyclist broke any traffic laws, which could be used as evidence of liability. Witness statements and photos of the scene and damage can also help.

You should also contact your insurance agency right away. And confirm whether the bicyclist has insurance. There are insurance policies that cover cyclists and in some cases a bicyclist's insurance will cover damage to your car.

In many cases, sorting out accident liability is best left to the experts. If you've been involved in an accident with a bicycle, you should contact an experienced injury attorney near you.

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