Even in small towns, auto motorists and bicyclists often end up sharing the roadways. While this relationship can often be peaceful, every now and again, tragedy can strike. Bike accidents do happen and the results can be quite serious.
If you’ve sustained a bike injury as a result of an accident involving an automobile, you might be curious who is liable for your injuries. Is it always a driver who is liable in this type of situation, or might a bicyclist share some of the legal burdens?
It can be difficult to untangle these kinds of incidents if you don’t have any prior legal experience. Luckily, we can help. Read on and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about car-bike accident liability.
Understanding Negligence on the Road
All people, under the law, have a duty of care to others. We each have a responsibility to act in a way that does not put others around us in danger.
A business owner must make their premises safe for others to visit, neighbors must take reasonable precautions with their pets, and motorists must abide by the rule of the road.
When an individual acts in a way that does live up to the accepted standard of care, they open themselves up to legal liability. A person who behaves in a reckless fashion, without concern for others, acts negligently.
Negligence is the key legal concept at the heart of all accident cases. An automobile accident arises because one or more drivers acting in a negligent fashion. Perhaps they were texting and driving, speeding through a red light, or driving under the influence.
Proving negligence is key to proving fault in an auto accident case. However, things can get more complicated when there is a perceived unlevel playing field between the two parties involved in an accident.
This is certainly the case when an automobile and a bicycle collide. How can we determine who is at fault in this sort of situation?
Legal Expectations of Bicyclists
A bike is not the same as a car. This is an obvious statement, but it’s an important distinction to make. The operator of a bike is in a vulnerable position, operating their device around much larger and faster vehicles.
Despite these differences, bicyclists are still expected to follow through on all the rules of the road as they stand. That means that bicyclists cannot blow through red lights, make reckless lane changes, or other actions that might contribute to an accident.
If an accident results because a bicyclist failed to follow the rules of the road, that individual certainly could still be held liable for the injuries and damages that result. There is no legal immunity when it comes to bike accidents, no protection just because a person is on a bike.
Negligent behavior is negligent no matter what sort of vehicle is being used.
That being said, it’s worth mentioning that the injuries a bicyclist might sustain in an accident are far higher than that of a motorist. This is due to the lack of protection most bikes offer as compared to automobiles.
Who Is Liable?
An accident has occurred between a bicyclist and an automobile driver. Who is liable and to what degree? There may be some instances where the fault is clear-cut. A drunk driver who swerves off the road and collides with a bicyclist will be found guilty and at fault fairly easily.
In this situation, the injured individual will retain the services of a bicycle accident lawyer, gather evidence, and make their case. It shouldn’t be difficult.
However, what if the blame could somewhat be extended to both parties?
In some very strict states around the country, this might be enough to prevent a bicyclist from obtaining any compensation at all. Even if they were only 5% responsible for an incident, that might be enough to disqualify them from seeking compensation.
Pure Comparative Negligence
Luckily, that’s not the case in Florida, nor is it the case in many other states. Florida has a comparative negligence fault system. This means while the fault of both parties involved will be considered, an element of contribution will not prevent someone from bringing a case forward.
Florida specifically operates under a system of pure comparative negligence. This means that each person involved in the accident can recover damages based on the percentage they are not at fault.
If a bicyclist was only 10% responsible for the incident, they’d be able to recover 90% of their anticipated damages. Let’s say that a bicyclist in this example sustained $100,000 worth of damages. Under this law and at those percentages, he’d be able to recover $90,000 of that amount.
The Importance of an Attorney
As you can see, unraveling the complications involved with a car-bike accident can be a lot of work. If you don’t have any experience with this type of situation, you could leave yourself vulnerable to taking home less compensation than you really deserve.
An experienced bike accident lawyer will have handled cases just like yours dozens of times in the past. They will know the steps that need to be taken to ensure that you get what you deserve.
Recovering From a Bike Injury
If you’ve sustained a bike injury as a result of a car-bike accident, you likely have a difficult few weeks ahead. These kinds of injures can be serious and difficult to recover from.
You’ll also need to familiarize yourself with liability in these kinds of incidents. It’s important to understand everything that can contribute to. the amount of compensation that you’ll be able to take home.
Need immediate help with your case? Contact us for a free consultation.