Although most motor vehicle accidents involve cars, motorcycles and trucks, you can also be injured while riding your bicycle and being struck by a motor vehicle. In order to avoid a trip to a bike accident attorney, you need to minimize the risk of accidents with cars. This requires maximizing your visibility, understanding the rules of the road, taking safety precautions and recognizing potentially dangerous situations ahead of time.
The dangers of riding a bike through an intersection
Despite the fact that only a small percentage of a cyclists travel route includes intersections, that is where they are at the greatest risk for injury. While only 11 percent of bicycle accidents involve a crash with a car more than 45 percent of those accidents occur at an intersection. This type of accident is common for many reasons. Car drivers often underestimate the speed of a cyclist. Another problem is that drivers do not really expect to see a bike on the road, so they don’t really look out for them. Even if they were watching for bikes, it is easy to miss them because they are small and often blend into the background.
How to avoid an accident in an intersection
Here are a few extra steps you can take to help avoid being involved in an accident with a motor vehicle at an intersection:
- increasing the visibility of yourself and your bike (e.g., front and rear lamps, reflective or brightly colored clothing)
- having a heightened awareness of the surrounding traffic
- riding defensively
- using emergency maneuvers to avoid collisions
- be prepared to brake suddenly if a car cuts you off in a turn
- never pass a car on the right at an intersection
- avoid being in another vehicle’s blind spot
According to the law in almost every state, a bicycle is considered to be a “vehicle.” That means cyclists are also required to follow the rules of the road. Therefore, liability is generally based on who had the right-of-way.
Determining who has the Right-of-Way according to a bike accident attorney
As with cars, motorcycles and trucks, determining who has the right-of-way in a given situation depends on several factors, especially whether there are traffic signals. When there are two vehicles approaching an intersection that does not have a traffic signal or only has a stop sign, the vehicle arriving at the intersection first has the right-of-way. In situations where the vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way. There is an exception to this rule. When a minor street intersects with a major street, the traffic on the major street always has the right-of-way. When an intersection is controlled by a traffic light, right-of-way would obviously be determined by the traffic signal.
A cyclists liability for accidents or injuries
While you may think the primary issue in an accident involving a car and a bike is how badly the cyclist was injured, there may be a bigger issue of liability. Because a cyclist is required to follow the rules of the road, if they violate those rules, they could possibly face legal consequences of their own. In fact, if the driver of the other vehicle is injured in any way or, more commonly, if their vehicle is damaged, the cyclist may be held responsible. The other side of that coin is that, when the cyclist is at fault, they may not be able to recover for their own injuries.
Be sure to actually stop at an intersection
Be sure to avoid the “almost stop.” In many states, when a cyclist fails to come to a complete stop at an intersection, the cyclist may be legally barred from any recovery. This is true even if the motorist is more responsible for the accident than the cyclist. The lesson to learn here is that, in order to protect your legal right to recovery for injuries following an accident, you must come to a complete stop when the rules of the road require it.
Never ride your bike against traffic
Since, under the law, bicycles are considered “vehicles” and are required to obey traffic laws, a cyclist who rides against traffic are breaking the law. Contrary to popular belief, riding against traffic is more dangerous and actually accounts for the majority of bike accidents. Another reason to refrain from riding against traffic is that it typically leave less time to maneuver away from an imminent collision.
If you have questions regarding bike accidents or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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