Who Is Usually at Fault if a Bicycle Is Involved in an Accident?

Bicyclists who get into traffic accidents with multi-ton motor vehicles are much more likely to suffer serious injuries from the incident compared to anyone inside the cars or trucks involved. That said, It is not uncommon for police officers who respond to a crash to be unaware of the rights cyclists have on roadways. It’s also not unheard of for injured bicyclists to be found mostly or even entirely to blame for their own accidents.

The person riding the bicycle is usually not the person at fault if a bicycle is involved in an accident. Cyclists who get hurt in traffic collisions often have legal grounds to demand compensation from the person who is to blame. Below are the basics of how civil fault works and what factors may determine who’s to blame for your wreck. For more in-depth information and a free case review of your specific accident, call our trusted legal team at OnderLaw.

Civil Fault for Auto Accidents Involving Bicycles

Like most other auto accidents and personal injury claims, establishing civil fault for a bicycle collision centers around legal negligence. Everyone using a public road in any way for any reason assumes a duty of care requiring them to act lawfully and responsibly to minimize the risk of them causing a preventable accident. Anyone who causes an accident resulting in an injury by breaching this duty is legally negligent and can be held responsible for ensuing damages.

When it comes to motor vehicles colliding with bicyclists, fault typically lies with motor vehicle drivers who fail to allow safe distances when passing, strike a cyclist who is obeying the law, or who turn in front of oncoming cyclists. Drivers who violate traffic laws, drive while drunk or high, or just don’t pay attention to their surroundings are equally negligent if their actions are the main and direct cause of a wreck.

What if a Bicyclist Collides with a Stationary Vehicle?

Of course, bicyclists can also be negligent when riding on or near public roadways—for example, by not equipping their bike with proper lights and reflectors or proceeding through an intersection without the right of way.

Suppose a bicyclist is found partially to blame for a collision with a moving or stationary vehicle based on their own misconduct. In that case, they may have a percentage of comparative fault assigned to them, which could reduce their final damage award by the same percentage.

However, just because a motor vehicle isn’t moving when a bicyclist collides with it doesn’t automatically mean the bicyclist is 100 percent at fault for the incident. For example, dooring—a motor vehicle occupant not paying attention and opening their car door directly into the path of an oncoming bicyclist—is an especially common cause of bicycle accidents that are usually mostly or entirely the fault of the person in the stationary motor vehicle.

Other Parties Who Could Be Responsible for a Bike Wreck

In other situations, someone may be at fault for a bicycle crash who wasn’t directly involved in the accident. Depending on the circumstances, this could be:

  • A mechanic who failed to service or repair a bike properly
  • A manufacturer that produced a defective bike component
  • A local government entity which did not properly maintain safe bike lanes

Identifying the specific person or entity to blame for a particular incident is something an experienced bicycle accident attorney at OnderLaw can help you uncover. Contact our firm today to get the dedicated representation you deserve.