Bike Accidents and How to Avoid Them

Who’s at fault when a bike and a car collide?

Many cyclists, especially those who ride for pleasure rather than commutation, try to ride through as few intersections as possible. Nonetheless, in spite of the fact that most bicycle accidents (59 percent) involve only the biker cyclists most frequently collide with cars at intersections.

If you have suffered a serious personal injury in a bicycle accident, you should consult with a competent personal injury attorney at once to see if you have a viable case against the driver involved. A skilled lawyer may be able assist you in collecting compensation for medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.

Determining Liability in a Collision between a Bicycle and a Car

Because bicycles generally move considerably more slowly than cars, and because cyclists are so much more vulnerable to injury, people tend to assume that drivers are more likely to be found to be at fault when bike and cars collide. This is not the case, however.

It is important to remember that the bicyclist is expected to follow the rules of the road and to maintain a careful lookout for motorists. Bikers should also bear in mind that their vehicles are much smaller, and therefore much less visible, than cars and make sure to increase their visibility by wearing reflective or brightly colored clothing and having their bicycle equipped with front and rear lights.

It is also important for cyclists to take into considerations factors that may affect their visibility (or invisibility!) to drivers, such as sun glare, rain, or darkness.

Who is liable if there is an accident?

Because bicycles and cars are both considered vehicles, when there is a collision between the two at an intersection, the law is typically on the side of whichever party who has the right-of-way. When there are no traffic signals at an intersection, the following rules apply:

  • The bicycle should always be riding with, not against, traffic
  • The vehicle that arrives at the intersection first has the right-of-way
  • If the vehicles arrive simultaneously, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way
  • If a main street is intersecting with a side street, however, the vehicle on the major thoroughfare has the right-of-way

It is expected that the cyclist will take extra precautions at to be defensive at an intersection, particularly one where cars are turning. Cyclists, like cars, are expected to make a full stop at a stop sign or blinking red before continuing, although (somewhat surprisingly) it is not necessary for the cyclist to put a foot on the ground to come to a complete stop. It is extremely important that both drivers and cyclists pay careful attention when driving or riding. Wearing a headset, failing to check one’s mirrors, or failing to use hand signals can result in catastrophe.

On the other hand, if a car is making a right turn too sharply and/or without looking, and hits a cyclist, the driver is at fault. Still, it is all too common for a cyclist to ignore a traffic signal in order not to have to stop. In such cases, the cyclist is foolishly risking life and limb to keep balanced and in motion. That said, there are plenty of situations in which drivers ignore bicycles or do not give them the respect and deference they deserve because of their increased vulnerability. Though there is a certain level of danger present when cyclists and motorists share the road, there are many ways both can decrease the number of accidents.