Depending on the circumstances, there are many possible individuals who could be held liable in a bicycle accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), biker accidents per year break down as follows:
- 30% were hit by a car.
- 17% fell while biking.
- 13% had an accident due to poor roadway conditions.
- 13% were classified as “rider error.”
- 7% hit a stationary object.
- 4% had a dog suddenly run in front of them.
Let’s take a look at each of these scenarios and discuss who could be liable.
Bikers Hit by a Car
This is the most common biking accident. Determining negligence here is fairly straightforward. Unless a biker was breaking traffic laws or foolishly crossing in front of moving traffic, the car driver will likely be at fault. There are many ways this could happen.
The Driver Broke Traffic Laws
Perhaps a driver was speeding, ignoring signs, going before their turn, etc. When a driver breaks traffic law and injures someone, they could be held responsible in a strict liability claim. This means that the court must see a traffic offense did indeed occur to award damages.
The Driver Was Distracted
If the driver was busy operating the radio, eating, or otherwise engaged when they hit you, they could be sued for their negligence.
States across the nation have laws against texting and driving. In most places, texting and driving is a primary offense, meaning police can stop your car when they see you texting. Some states even go so far as to ban holding a cellphone while driving, even just to talk. If a driver was operating an electronic device when they hit you, they can be held accountable for a strict liability claim.
The Driver Was Reckless or Aggressive
There are laws against reckless driving, but there are also loopholes. Not all forms of aggressive driving are illegal, and an aggressive driver may not be criminally charged for their behavior. However, they could be held liable in a civil court. Cutting you off, tailgating you, passing too closely, etc. are forms of aggressive driving. If you can prove this behavior to the court, you could be entitled to compensation.
The Driver Was Under the Influence
All forms of impaired driving, from alcohol to drugs, are treated harshly in both criminal and civil court. It is a behavior that is not tolerated. This is another category that may fall under strict liability. If you can show a preponderance of evidence that the driver was impaired, the court may rule in your favor.
Bikers Falling Off Their Bicycles
A fall is not necessarily a biker’s fault. Often, falls occur when a cyclist is avoiding collision. Perhaps the biker’s view was obstructed when they fell. Maybe there was a foreign object in the road. When that happens, the object’s owner has a responsibility to remove it. Bikers may have grounds for a lawsuit when their fall is someone else’s fault.
The Road Was in Disrepair
Roads are the government’s responsibility. There are very few exceptions to this rule. Perhaps a sudden disaster damaged the road right before the biker arrived. That scenario, however, is highly unlikely. Roads are often neglected, crumbling over time and endangering riders who travel along them.
Bicycles are reliable machines, but even the smallest crack or bump can sometimes cause an accident. The city government may have been negligent in maintaining their roads, directly causing your injury. It may be possible to sue the government for these inactions. Holding a government organization liable for your injuries is a tricky process. It takes a skilled, tenacious lawyer to sue the government, but it can be done.
In a civil case, it is important to question what caused an error. Perhaps there was a defect in the bicycle you hadn’t noticed before. The brakes didn’t operate as intended, or one of the wheels suddenly came loose. Whatever the case, you may have responded incorrectly to this defect, qualifying your actions as an error. However, you would not have made this error without the defect. As such, you could still have grounds to file a product defect suit against the bike’s manufacturer or seller.
This is just one example, but there are limitless other possibilities. Maybe you were avoiding another accident ahead of you. You may have technically made a mistake, but you wouldn’t have made this mistake if not for someone else’s negligence. In a civil court, details like this can help you seek compensation.
Colliding with a Fixed Object
It should be clear by now that events leading up to an accident matter, even when a biker hits a stationary object. Like many examples outlined above, obstructed vision, defective bikes, another person’s negligence, or any number of other details matter. Even if you hit a permanent, stationary object, it may not be your fault.
A Dog Ran Out
Dog owners have a responsibility to keep their dogs restrained and behaved. If a domesticated animal ran in front of your bike, it is possible to hold the owner responsible. This is especially true if the dog attacked you.
If you were injured in a bicycle accident, reach out to us today. We can review the facts of your case, and we may be able to hold responsible parties accountable. For a free consultation, call (607) 228-8404, or contact us online.