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Bicycle Versus Car Accidents: Who Can Be Liable?

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Aug 21, 2019 in Personal Injury

bicycle versus car accident at nightWhen a bicycle and car collide, many people assume the driver is at fault. However, since Oregon law says a bicycle is a vehicle, riders have the same duties as drivers when it comes to traffic safety. This means there could be situations when a bicyclist may share liability in an accident with a car.

Below, learn more about some of the factors an experienced Portland bicycle accident attorney from Rizk Law may consider when trying to determine fault after these kinds of accident. If you were injured by a car while riding a bicycle, contact our firm for a free consultation.

Fault in Common Bicycle Accidents

There are many situations where an accident between a bicycle and car could occur. Here are some of the most common examples of bicycle versus motor vehicle accidents and an explanation of some of the factors that go into determining fault after these crashes:

Stop Sign Accidents

Stop sign accidents are very common, and often happen when:

  • A bicyclist brakes quickly at a stop sign before riding into an intersection in front of a car that has the right-of-way. This is a situation where the bicyclist would most likely be at fault.
  • A driver ignores a stop sign and fails to yield to a bicyclist who does not have a stop sign and has the right-of-way in an intersection. The driver would likely be assigned fault in this kind of situation. However, if the bicyclist was riding against traffic, the rider may share liability with the motor vehicle operator.

Failure to Yield Accidents

Accidents that result from a bicyclist riding into an intersection without yielding cause about seven percent of all intersection accidents involving a bicycle and a car. Frequently, these accidents happen because the cyclist did not see a vehicle approaching or he or she misjudged the distance. In these situations, the cyclist is usually found to be at fault.

Left-Turn Accidents

Left-turn crossing accidents occur when a bicycle and motor vehicle are approaching an intersection from opposite directions. When a driver enters an intersection to turn left, he or she may misjudge a bicycle’s speed or may not see the rider entering the intersection.

Even though the motor vehicle operator is typically the one at fault for this kind of accident, a cyclist may reduce his or her chances of being involved in this type of accident by taking a few precautions:

  • Enhancing his or her visibility, especially at night
  • Slowing down when approaching an intersection to enable a sudden stop, if necessary
  • Using the entire lane, if safe, to move through the intersection. This may make the rider more visible to drivers, although you may also irritate impatient motorists traveling behind you.
  • Not riding into a crosswalk but walking your bike across. If you ride your bicycle into the crosswalk you might not have right-of-way.

Right-Turn Accidents

There are three common ways this type of collision may happen, and the driver is usually the one at fault:

  • A motor vehicle operator approaches an intersection to make a right turn but cuts off and collides with a bicycle rider because he or she did not see the cyclist, who was traveling on the right side of the car.
  •  The same thing can occur if the bicyclist passes a slower-moving car.
  • While both vehicles are stopped at a traffic light, the car maneuvers to turn right when the light turns green, but either cuts off or collides with the cyclist in the process.

When Comparative Negligence May Apply

Comparative negligence comes into play when more than one person’s negligence is to blame for a personal injury. For example, a motorist may have been distracted, while at the same time a bicyclist may have failed to signal. In this type of situation, both parties may share liability because both parties failed to act with reasonable care.

The question then becomes what percentage of fault gets assigned to each party. The judge, jury or insurance adjuster will be responsible for assigning a certain degree of fault to each party involved in the accident from zero to 100 percent.

If the bicyclist is partially to blame for the accident and he or she is awarded compensation, his or her damages award would be reduced by his or her degree of fault. For example, if the bicyclist is found to be 10 percent at fault and suffers $200,000 in damages, his or her award would be reduced by 10 percent, or $20,000.

However, if the other driver is less than 50 percent at fault, the victim cannot recover compensation, according to Oregon law.

Sharing the Road Responsibly

Since Oregon law treats bicycle riders the same as motor vehicle operators, with the same rights and responsibilities, they are both required to exercise reasonable care when on the roadway.

However, Oregon’s Safe Passage Law requires motorists to give bicyclists additional room when passing them:

  • If someone is driving a car and wishes to pass a bicyclist while driving at a speed greater than 35 mph, he or she may only do so if there is enough distance to prevent the car from coming into contact with the rider if he or she fell.
  • If a motor vehicle operator is not able to pass a cyclist safely, he or she must slow down and remain behind the bicycle until it is safe to pass.
  • A bicycle attempting to pass a motor vehicle must abide by the same rule, only crossing the center line if it is both safe and in accordance with all traffic laws. The rider must then return to his or her lane as soon as it is safe to do so.

Personal Injury Protection Medical Coverage for Bicycle Accidents

If you suffer a bicycle accident injury, you may be able to pursue compensation from the personal injury protection (PIP) medical coverage in your car insurance policy. This coverage provides compensation for medical bills from your injuries in the bicycle accident.  

If you do not have PIP coverage in your insurance policy, you may be able to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance policy. 

Contact an Experienced Lawyer for Help

If you are a bicyclist who was involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, we encourage you to contact a trusted attorney who is familiar with these types of accidents and the complex issues involved.

At Rizk Law, we pursue maximum compensation for our clients who were injured by the negligent acts of others. If we determine you have a valid case, we are ready to pursue compensation you may be eligible to receive.

We work on a contingency fee basis, so there is no cost to you unless we take your case and recover compensation on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule a free review of your claim.

Call now for a FREE case evaluation!