Bicycle accidents can result in serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Lawsuits to recover damages for injuries in bicycle accidents with automobiles involve many of the same issues as any auto accident lawsuit. Liability for bike accident injuries often comes down to negligence. Primarily, did the car driver’s negligence cause the cyclist’s injuries, and did any negligence by the cyclist cause or contribute to the accident?

Bicycle Accident Liability Basics

Cyclists and drivers are obligated to obey the rules of the road. These rules include traffic laws, as well as the duty to exercise ordinary care in regard to one’s own safety and that of others on the roadways. Like other vehicle accident lawsuits, bicycle accident lawsuits are governed by state law, and often informed by state and local traffic laws.

Negligence and Bicycle Accidents

When a cyclist sues to recover damages for injuries suffered in an accident with an automobile, the outcome often depends on two questions:

  1. Did negligence (or recklessness) on the part of the driver cause the accident and resulting injuries to the bicyclist?
  2. Did any negligence of the bicyclist cause or contribute to the accident?

Driver Negligence or Recklessness

Negligence by a driver can take many forms. For example, speeding, running a stop sign, and drifting into a bike lane all constitute driver negligence, or even recklessness if done with knowing disregard for the safety of others.

In a lawsuit alleging negligence by another person, plaintiffs typically must prove that the defendant acted in a way that violated a duty owed to the plaintiff. In auto accident cases, this means violating the basic duty of care owed to everyone else on or near the roadways.

Accident lawsuits come down to facts specific to the individual case, and often the ability of the plaintiff to prove negligence through eyewitness testimony or other evidence. In car accident cases, however, behaviors which constitute traffic violations can constitute “negligence per se.” This means that if a driver was cited for a violation such as speeding at the time of the accident, evidence of the speeding violation counts as evidence of negligence. The burden then shifts to the defendant to prove that he or she didn’t cause the plaintiff’s injuries.

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Accidents involving automobiles and bicycles can involve serious injuries and large liabilities. Bicycle accident lawsuits often come down to whether the driver or the cyclist negligently caused or contributed to the accident. This negligence determination can be a complex and require in-depth analysis.