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When Are Drivers Responsible for Bicyclists’ Bad Driving?

Written by Ankin Law Office

Both motorists and bicyclists make mistakes in traffic, but a cyclist is much more likely to be injured. Determining fault and liability are essential to both parties.

Almost 60 percent of all bicycle crashes involve the bicyclist only, when a mechanical malfunction, poor judgment or hazardous road conditions such as potholes throw the biker to the pavement. But that means about 40 percent of bike accidents involve a car, truck or bus.

There are certainly cases where the motorist is at fault. But sometimes a car-bike accident is the fault of the biker. These tragic scenarios are often controversial.

The physics of lightweight bikes up against heavy vehicles is an unfair match: the bicyclist is almost certain to be injured where the car, truck or bus driver, and their passengers, escape virtually unscathed. But of course when bodily harm is involved – more than 700 bicyclists are killed every year, with many more thousands experiencing serious injuries – both parties are likely to engage car wreck lawyers. In Chicago this has become a more frequent problem over the last decade because bicycling has grown significantly in popularity.

So do auto drivers always shoulder the blame in accidents? Not at all. A bicyclist might be operating well within the law – or not. The bicyclist might hire a Chicago car accident personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation for damages and economic losses, but he or she might not have a solid case. If the biker fails to yield the right of way, or is riding in the wrong direction, the auto driver may be relieved of fault. Very common accident scenarios include:

  • No front light at night – Illinois bike laws require bikers to have a red rear reflector and front light that emits a white light seen at least 500 feet away. Without these, a driver might have a good defense against liability.
  • Cyclist failure to make a complete stop – As is required of cars and trucks, a bicyclist is required to come to a full stop at stop signs. Failure to do so can negate the biker’s ability to collect for damages from a motorist. Many bikers coast through stop sign intersections without even slowing down.
  • Cyclist makes a right turn in front of a vehicle not turning right – This is particularly dangerous to bicyclists who misjudge a vehicle appearing to be turning right also. The matter of directional signal use may well play into litigation.

What should be clear is that an investigation of the accident may well be warranted. There is a mix of factors that need to be considered and supported with evidence. A motorist who feels they are unfairly blamed for the accident will need an accident lawyer in Chicago who might have direct experience with this type of cases.

Categories: Personal Injury