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The Five Most Common Causes of Bicycle-Car Accidents

As more cities adopt bicycle-friendly cultures, bicycle-and-car accidents become more common. Even though cyclists often enjoy their own lanes, cars and bicycles still share the road. In most states, they also share the same traffic laws—and liability for negligence.

By remembering these common causes of bicycle-car accidents, you can help protect yourself from injury and lawsuits.

  1. The “Right Hook.” Many bicycle lanes are along the side of the road. When there isn’t any bike lane, cyclists often ride close to the shoulder. Drivers turning right at an intersection might not see cyclists approaching on their right and accidentally cut them off.
  2. The “Left Cross.” This happens when a car, turning left at an intersection, pulls into the path of an oncoming cyclist. The bicycle could be coming from the opposite direction or going in the same direction as the car on its left side.
  3. Not all roads have stop signs at intersections. Sometimes, a car will heed its stop sign but not realize that an oncoming cyclist, with the right-of-way, doesn’t have a stop sign. The car then pulls out in front of the bicycle, causing a collision. Other times, the bicyclist has a stop sign and the car does not.
    Some states require that cyclists come to a complete stop at intersections. If they don’t, and are involved in a collision, it could bar them from recovering damages—regardless of who was at fault.
  4. Sometimes cyclists follow too closely to cars. If a car stops abruptly, it can lead to a rear-end collision.
  5. Drivers who fail to check their mirrors can accidentally block a cyclist’s path by opening their doors as the cyclist approaches.

Both cyclists and drivers can take steps to minimize the likelihood of an accident. For example, cyclists can always ride with traffic, wear reflective clothing and use hand signals to indicate their intentions. Drivers can exercise greater awareness of cyclists and maintain a safe distance.

Who Was Negligent?

Despite everyone’s best efforts, accidents happen.And either, or both, the cyclist and driver could be at fault.

Just as with car accidents, liability depends on whose negligence caused the bicycle-car accident.

Both drivers and cyclists are required by law to follow the rules of the road. That means, for example, giving the right-of-way and respecting traffic lights and signs.

Drivers will want to remember that violating traffic laws during a bicycle-and-car accident can be considered “negligence per se.” Speeding is one example.Their speeding violation can contribute to evidence that they were negligent in the accident.

It’s also worth noting that drivers face a higher standard in accidents involving children riding bicycles.

Bicyclists should think of themselves as drivers. For example, if they fail to signal, or ride against traffic,it constitutes “contributory” or “comparative” negligence. If the driver were injured, it would be the cyclist’s fault. That would mean the cyclist also couldn’t collect for any injuries or damages they sustained in the accident.

Whenever you’re involved in a bicycle-car accident, protect yourself by calling the police to file a report. Gather the other person’s name, address, phone number, vehicle information and insurance information. And get contact information for witnesses. And never admit fault.

Always consult a professional lawyer who’s familiar with vehicle accident law. Visit today to get help with your bicycle-and-car accident questions.

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