How is Fault Determined in Bike vs Car Accidents?

Cycling is becoming a more popular means of transportation in many American cities. More often, people are riding to get somewhere (like work) rather than just for pleasure or exercise. Houston (and several other cities) even feature a yearly “Bike to Work Day.”

This means there is a heightened awareness of bicycle safety as cities around the country focus on improving roadways to allow easier access for cyclists. It also means however, that there’s a greater chance of collisions between cars and bikes.

Remember that cyclists have the same rights to the roadway that drivers do, but that this cuts both ways. Cyclists have a duty to obey traffic laws and avoid accidents whenever possible. That means that it is quite possible for someone on a bike to be at fault in a car vs bike collision.

Three common types of car + bike accidents include:

  1. Being brushed by a passing vehicle
  2. Being hit by a motorist turning right, and
  3. Being hit by a motorist turning left.

In all three of these accident types, either the driver of the car or the cyclist may be at fault. But how is that determined? Typically, the police officers who first arrive at the scene will gather the facts and weigh in on who the at-fault party is. However, this is not necessarily the final word – the details can also be argued further in court.

Avoid Being At-Fault in an Accident

The easiest way to avoid being the party responsible for causing a collision is to closely follow the rules and laws laid out for Texas cyclists. Just as a driver can be held responsible for negligence, so too can a cyclist.  It is important to note that in Texas, cyclists have all the same duties (duty of care) as drivers. That means, if you are riding down the road and pass through a stop sign without stopping, and a driver who did stop proceeds to turn right and hits you, you are likely at fault for causing the accident.

Police officers are not going to go easy on you because you are operating the smaller, less powerful vehicle. In fact, being a cyclist may actually work against you in some cases. That is why it is important that you follow the rules of the road and, if you are in an accident, be sure to get the contact information for any witnesses.

Determining the At-Fault Party

Ultimately, fault will be decided by the court or a jury. Like other accidents, state law will be the deciding factor in assigning fault – whether the evidence and facts are revealed through investigation, discovery, or at trial. During the claim or lawsuit proceedings, attorneys for the cyclist must prove that there was negligence, which means the other person violated his or her duty of care owed to the cyclist.  

If the driver is found to be negligent then the driver may be able to recover his or her damages from the at-fault driver.  However, if the cyclist is found to be negligent, he or she will be left to pay for any resulting medical bills or other damages.

A cyclist could be found negligent for a variety of reasons. A few example of this type of negligence might be riding the wrong way through traffic, running a stop sign or red light, or turning without warning into traffic due to a lack of attention. Do not let this happen to you. The best way to avoid an injury or accident is to focus on safety and follow the established rules of the road.

Hank Stout
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