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Posted by Craig Swapp and Associates on 10/15/2017

Bicycle vs. Car Accidents: How Liability Differs

Bicycle vs. Car Accidents: How Liability Differs

If you’re a cyclist who shares the road with cars, you probably already know how vulnerable you are to accidents and injuries. But as a cyclist, you need know the liability issues that riding a bicycle in motor vehicle traffic can carry. And if you’re the driver of a car, you should also know what your responsibility is to cyclists. 

As you might guess, liability can be quite different in either type of accident.

Side-of-the-Road Laws

Cyclists have the right to share the roadway with automobiles. In most states, side-of-the-road laws dictate that a cyclist must ride as far as possible to the right of the road or on a bike lane, if one is available. He or she may leave this area if:

  • He or she is keeping up with auto traffic.

  • The lane is too narrow to safely share with passing cars.

  • He or she needs to make a left turn.

  • He or she needs to skirt road hazards, such as fallen debris.

The side-of-the-road law requires cyclists to ride close to parked cars. As a result, an accident in which a motorist hits a cyclist when opening his or her car door is almost always the motorist’s fault.

Passing Cars

Motorists have a legal obligation to maintain a safe distance when passing a cyclist on the roadway. If the cyclist is at the far right side of the road, he or she has no further obligation to make way for passing cars. 

If a motorist cannot safely pass a cyclist, he or she must slow down and follow the cyclist until safer conditions emerge. If a motorist hits a cyclist while trying to pass, the cyclist’s attorney may be able to successfully argue in court that the motorist is at fault.

Right Turns

A motorist who passes a cyclist and then slows down to make a right turn risks cutting directly through the path of the cyclist, causing the cyclist to collide with his or her car. The motorist could even hit the cyclist head-on. In this circumstance, the motorist is at fault because he or she must yield to the cyclist before turning right.

Car and Bike Accident Attorneys at Craig Swapp & Associates

Liability in car crashes and bicycle accidents can be complicated, depending on your circumstances. This is just one of the reasons you’ll need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the process. Call Craig Swapp & Associates at 1-800-404-9000 or fill out the form on our website for a consultation.

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