Who is at Fault if a Bicycle Hits a Car?

In a bicycle accident scenario, cyclists are at an extreme disadvantage compared to drivers and passengers of cars and trucks. Unlike the occupants of enclosed vehicles, bicycle riders experience direct exposure to the ground and their surrounding environment. Consequently, bicycle accidents frequently lead to severe and debilitating injuries, especially if the cyclist falls to the ground during the accident.

In some bicycle crash scenarios, the cyclist strikes another vehicle. However, in those circumstances, the cyclist may have had no choice or they may have had nowhere else to go because the driver violated a traffic law or otherwise engaged in negligent driving.

When that happens, the cyclist can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company seeking monetary recovery for their accident-related injuries and other losses.

If you or someone you love recently suffered injuries in a bicycle accident, you should take the necessary legal steps as quickly as possible. Specifically, you should talk with a knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer in your area right away and discuss the circumstances of your accident with them.

Your attorney can speak with you about your legal options for moving forward and help you file a claim with the appropriate insurance company. In addition, your lawyer can negotiate with insurance company representatives on your behalf or seek legal redress through the court system in your jurisdiction.

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Common Injuries in Bicycle Accidents

If bicyclists fall to the ground in an accident, they are very likely to suffer severe injuries, especially to their head, neck, or back. The injuries that a bicycle crash victim suffers will depend upon various factors, including whether or not they are wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, whether they fall entirely off their bicycle, and how they land on the ground.

Even when bicyclists wear helmets and other protective gear, they may still suffer serious injuries. In an especially forceful collision, a bicyclist’s helmet can crack, bringing about a concussion or further traumatic head injury.

Other common injuries that cyclists may suffer in an accident include:

  • Soft tissue injuries to their neck and back
  • Bone fractures, especially to the knees or ankles
  • Road rash injuries
  • Rib fractures
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Full or partial paralysis
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Death

To recover as much compensation as possible after your bicycle accident, you should follow through with your medical treatment regimen and that you focus on getting all of the care that you need.

For example, an emergency room physician may recommend that you follow up with your primary care doctor, attend physical therapy sessions, or undergo a medical procedure, such as surgery. This recommended treatment will depend upon the nature and extent of your bicycle accident injuries.

Following through on this treatment helps to increase your chances of making a full recovery. However, if you miss medical appointments and leave significant gaps in your treatment, adjusters believe you exaggerated your injury, and may offer very little monetary compensation to settle their case.

Your bicycle accident attorney can begin handling the legal components of your case right away while you focus on recovering fully from your injuries. Your lawyer can start gathering your medical documentation, police reports, and other investigation documents and send them to the insurance company once your medical treatment concludes.

How Some Bicycle Accidents Happen

Even in cases where a cyclist strikes another vehicle, the driver of that other vehicle might still be at fault for the accident. A common cause of bicycle accidents is excessive speeding, coupled with failing to yield the right-of-way at the proper time.

When another driver fails to yield the right-of-way to a cyclist at a traffic intersection and runs a stop sign, yield sign, or red traffic light, the other driver may cross the cyclist’s path, forcing the cyclist to strike the other vehicle.

In this type of failure-to-yield scenario, the negligent driver might also be distracted or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Distracted driving can take many forms, but it usually occurs when a driver becomes distracted with an electronic device in their vehicle, such as a tablet, cellular phone, music system, or GPS navigation system.

A vehicle passenger may also distract a driver from observing the road. In this situation, the distracted driver may not see an approaching red traffic light or stop sign, causing them to negligently proceed through the intersection and into the path of an oncoming cyclist.

Similarly, a failure-to-yield accident may happen when a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When drivers have a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of at least 0.08 percent (and sometimes less if they are under 21 or a commercial truck driver), they are legally intoxicated. Drivers who are under the influence typically experience limited concentration, limited reflexes, and delayed reaction time. Therefore, they may not stop their vehicle at a traffic intersection, negligently proceeding through the intersection and into a bicyclist’s direct path.

Bicycle accidents may also happen when a negligent driver pulls out of a parking space and into the path of an oncoming cyclist, causing the cyclist to hit the driver’s vehicle. These types of accidents are common when drivers fail to use their side view and rearview mirrors when backing out of a parking space at a parking garage or parking lot.

Similarly, dooring accidents happen when a vehicle driver or passenger opens their door into the path of an oncoming cyclist. The cyclist may have no choice but to strike the door, often falling off their bike and suffering severe injuries.

If you suffered injuries in any bicycle accident that resulted from a motor vehicle driver’s negligence, talk with a bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can review your claim, go over all your legal options, and pursue the maximum amount of monetary recovery you need for your injuries and other losses.

How to Win a Bicycle Accident Claim in Florida

The way to prevail in a bicycle accident case depends largely upon where your bicycle accident happened. In Florida bicycle accident cases, the state follows no-fault insurance laws.

Therefore, if a cyclist owns a motor vehicle, they will first need to pursue monetary compensation from their own insurance company by filing a claim under their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy. PIP benefits compensate accident victims for their related medical expenses and lost income up to a maximum of $10,000.

However, they may file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver if they suffered a permanent disability or disfiguring injury in their accident. In third-party fault-based claims, the injured cyclist must establish several legal elements in their personal injury claim or lawsuit to recover monetary compensation and damages.

Specifically, they must show:

  • That the at-fault driver owed them a duty of reasonable care to drive carefully and safely under the circumstances
  • That the other driver breached that duty of care in some way, such as by violating a traffic law or engaging in reckless and aggressive driving
  • That this breach brought about the subject bicycle accident
  • That they suffered one or more physical injuries and damages as a direct and proximate result of the accident.

Washington State Bicycle Accident Claims

Unlike Florida, Washington State is a tort-based – or fault-based – jurisdiction. Therefore, in almost all situations, an injured bicyclist must turn to the at-fault driver’s insurance company for monetary compensation after a collision. In addition, they will need to prove the above-referenced legal elements to recover financial compensation and damages for all of their accident-related injuries.

Helpful Evidence in a Bike Accident Case

Your attorney can introduce evidence on your behalf when establishing that a negligent driver ultimately caused your accident.

The evidence that may help in a disputed bicycle accident claim includes:

  • Photographs of the accident scene, which shows the positions of the vehicles
  • Camera footage, including body camera footage from a police officer, which shows the accident happening in real time
  • Medical records and medical bills that describe how the accident occurred and the injuries that the accident victim suffered
  • Property damage photographs that depict the damage done to all involved vehicles
  • Photographs of the accident victim’s visible injuries
  • Lost income documentation from the accident victim, if they are asserting a lost income claim

Your attorney can introduce this evidence to the appropriate insurance company, file a claim on your behalf, and pursue the monetary compensation you deserve. They can continue to present evidence of your losses if the insurer refuses to make you a fair settlement offer out of the gate.

Negotiating With Insurance Adjusters Following a Bicycle Accident

Insurers have absolutely no incentive to settle bicycle accident claims in a manner that is favorable to the accident victim. In fact, an insurance company will lose a lot of money if they have to pay out a sizable settlement in a bicycle accident claim.

In third-party scenarios, insurance companies will do everything they can to dispute liability for a bicycle accident and otherwise undermine the monetary compensation the accident victim deserves. Insurance company adjusters may also downplay an accident victim’s claimed injuries to get out of paying money.

A bicycle accident attorney can negotiate with the insurance company adjuster by pointing to the strengths of your case, highlighting your medical records, and, if necessary, threatening litigation. Your lawyer will do everything possible to help you maximize your total monetary damage award and recover the full and fair compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Potential Monetary Damages in Bike Accident Cases

The monetary damages that an accident victim recovers for their bicycle crash will depend on the jurisdiction where their accident happened, the claim filed, the extent of their injuries, and the cost of their medical treatment.

In a no-fault claim, the accident victim’s monetary damages are typically limited to medical expenses and lost income. However, if the accident victim can file a third-party claim and they satisfy the necessary legal elements of proof in their case, they can recover additional monetary compensation.

Those damages may include compensation for:

  • Anticipated medical costs
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of spousal consortium
  • Inability to use an injured body part
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement

Your attorney can determine the best way to maximize your monetary recovery. They can then file the appropriate claim on your behalf and, if necessary, pursue litigation in court on your behalf.

Contact a Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today

Tatiana Boohoff, Lawyer for Motorcycle Accident cases near Tampa area.
Tatiana Boohoff, Bicycle Accident Attorney in Tampa.

In some bicycle accident scenarios, bicyclists cannot avoid striking another vehicle. However, that is usually because someone drove their car recklessly or carelessly.

Sometimes a person in an accident might think that the circumstances of the accident were clear-cut and that they don’t need to contact an attorney. Thinking this is nearly always a mistake. Insurance companies have a lot of practice finding ways to not give accident victims the compensation they deserve. You should prevent this from happening by contacting an attorney.

If you or someone you love recently sustained injuries in a bicycle crash, you should take the legal steps necessary to file a claim or lawsuit as quickly as possible. Accident victims have limited time to seek monetary damages, according to the statute of limitations. Therefore, by retaining skilled legal counsel early on in the process, you safeguard your right to pursue and recover the monetary damages you need.

An experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa will begin to investigate your bicycle accident circumstances right away and can help you file a claim, negotiate with insurance company representatives, and maximize your total monetary award.

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Boohoff Law P.A. – Tampa Office

829 W Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Tampa, FL 33603

Phone: 813-725-5606

July 19, 2023
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