Serious personal injury can occur when a bicyclist gets into an accident with a vehicle. Injuries sustained in bicycle accidents with automobiles are handled in a very similar manner to auto accident lawsuits. Depending on how events transpired, liability for the accident can lie with the cyclist or the driver, since both parties are obligated to obey the same rules of the road.
In North Carolina, bicycles are legally defined as vehicles. This means that pedestrians, school zones, crosswalks, etc. must be treated the same by cyclists as they are by automobile drivers.
When Does Negligence Occur During a Bike Accident?
Like automobile accidents, the concept of fault is quite simple. It must be proven that the negligence of the driver caused the accident that resulted in injuries to the cyclist. If the bicyclist caused or contributed to the accident through a negligent act, they may not be entitled to compensation for their injuries.
Duty of Care as a Cyclist
If you are a cyclist, it is important that your actions on the road are in accordance with traffic law in order to protect yourself and others around you. If you fail to follow any of the following rules, it may be judged that you are at fault should an accident occur:
- Yield to Traffic Already on the Road – Simply put, you must try to keep with the natural flow of traffic. You may not pass traffic in the same lane as you on the outside if they are going slower than you.
- Drive on the Right Side of the Roadway – Always ride with traffic and never against it. Drivers are trained to look for traffic in certain patterns, especially near intersections and entrances/exits to side streets. If you are on the wrong side of the road, they may not see you.
- Obey Traffic Signals – Just like you’re driving in a car, never run a red light or turn right on a red signal (where signs indicate not to.)
- Be Aware When Moving Laterally – When changing lanes or making any lateral movement, be sure to look behind you. If there is sufficient space between you and the next vehicle in that lane, complete your merging action, but if there is not, use hand signals to indicate that you would like to merge. The car can then react and slow down to let you into their lane.
- Position Yourself When Turning at an Intersection – When turning left, position your bicycle on the left side of the lane. If you’re turning right, position your bicycle on the right side of the lane. If going straight, be sure to stay out of turn lanes and use the through lane only.
Have you Suffered Personal Injury in a Bicycle Accident?
If you have been in a bicycle accident, call the police and have them file a report, even if you don’t think you are injured. Injuries may become more evident a few days or even weeks later. Secondly, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer.
Thomas Bumgardner knows traffic and personal injury law and has experience protecting Charlotte and Ballantyne resident’s rights. Call (704) 870-4779 today to discuss your case. Consultations are always free.