Car crashes can be extremely dangerous, but collisions between cars and bicycles are often even more fatal. Just like in car-on-car accidents, fault is a very important factor in determining how damages are compensated. Fault is determined in very similar ways for different types of accidents, but these are some steps you can take to avoid causing or being assigned fault for accidents while cycling.
How fault is shown
The most important part of proving who was at fault in an accident case is proving negligence. By utilizing the road at all, vehicle users are expected to behave in such a manner that limits the risk of harm to others. Reckless behavior or violation of traffic laws show negligence of that duty.
However, the driver of a car is not always at fault in a bicycle accident. A cyclist can also be shown to be negligent. If a cyclist shares fault or is completely at fault for a crash between their bicycle and a car, they may not be able to recover any compensation at all, or they may even have to compensate the injured car driver’s damages.
Here are some important things to do to limit your chance of being in a bicycle accident:
- Obey all traffic laws: Bicycles are considered to be vehicles. Therefore, you are subject to all the same laws that cars and other vehicles must follow. When cycling, pay attention and obey traffic signs, such as stop signs. The same rules of right-of-way for cars apply to you, so never assume you have the right of way just because your vehicle is smaller than the cars and trucks around you. Violating traffic laws could very well prove fault on your part if you are in an accident.
- Wear bright clothing and use reflectors: The more visible you are, the better. Wear bright colors and be sure to have a bike reflector and light for night visibility. A reflector and front light are mandatory under Pennsylvania bicycle laws. Visibility will also greatly increase your safety.
- Always ride with the flow of traffic: Cyclists should always be riding in the same direction as traffic. Riding against the flow of traffic is incredibly dangerous and makes your movement much less predictable. If you were to get in an accident while riding against traffic, you could be considered to be violating traffic laws.
- Always signal at turns: Just as cars signal the direction they are turning at an intersection, cyclists should do the same to make their movement more predictable. There are universal hand signals you can use to let drivers know which way you are turning. Not only does this increase your own safety, but it also lowers your chance of being at fault if you get into an accident after making it clear what you were doing.
If you are in a bicycle accident, get help
If you end up in a bicycle accident, immediately call 911. Bicycle accidents usually involve injury and you will need to be examined and treated right away, regardless of the type of injury. After you have received immediate help and medical attention, consider contacting an attorney about compensation for damages and injuries. It is important to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side in accident cases.
Written on behalf of Friedman, Schuman. Contact our firm for a consultation to discuss your legal matter.