When a car hits a bicycle, the driver is at fault more often than not. However, there are situations when a bicyclist can be completely or partially to blame, as well as other third parties. Who the liable party is in a bicycle accident case will often depend on who was negligent. A party is considered negligent when they owe a duty of care to another party, and breach that duty either by an action or inaction. For example, a driver owes others on the road a duty of care to adhere to traffic laws and would be considered negligent if they run a red light and crash into a bicyclist who had the right-of-way. When a party’s negligence is responsible for causing an accident that results in injuries and/or property damage, they are at fault.
When the Driver of the Car is At Fault
Drivers have a duty to share the road with bicyclists and understand that they have the same rights. Because of a cyclist’s unique safety challenges, motorists should also demonstrate extra caution when driving near bicycles and must always look carefully for one before turning. An example of when a driver would be at fault for an accident due to negligence would be failing to check for an oncoming cyclist before merging into a bike lane to make a right turn. In this case, the bicycle rider had the right of way, and the driver breached their duty of care. If that violation directly resulted in an accident with the cyclist who suffered an injury or other losses, the driver would be considered at fault and legally liable for the resulting damages. In this case, the bicyclist should consult with a West Palm Beach bike accident attorney for help with their case.
When a Bicycle Rider is At Fault
In Florida, bicycle riders have the same rights, responsibilities, and duties as drivers. If a cyclist violates the law and their negligence contributes to or causes an accident, they may be partially or entirely at fault. For instance, a cyclist would be considered negligent and at fault for a collision if they failed to yield the right of way to a vehicle that first arrived at an intersection and chose to roll through it.
In some situations, both the driver and the bicycle rider will share fault. Florida law applies the theory of pure comparative negligence in bicycle accident cases. Rather than only one party being at fault, each party involved is assigned a percentage based on their contribution to causing the collision. For example, an insurer may find a driver to be 80% at fault for an accident where they failed to check for an oncoming cyclist when making a right turn, and the bicycle rider may be 20% at fault for failing to wear a helmet. The compensation they recover will be reduced accordingly. For instance, if a bicycle rider is awarded $100,000 and found 20% responsible, they will only receive 80% of their award or $80,000.
When a Third Party is At Fault
A third party can also potentially be entirely or partially at fault in a bicycle accident. For example, if hazardous road conditions such as a pothole or missing traffic sign contributed to causing the accident, a government agency may be liable. If a defective part on the vehicle or a faulty bicycle part (e.g., tire or brake failure), the part’s manufacturer may be to blame.
As a result, determining who is at fault and liable for a bicycle accident can be complex and requires a thorough investigation.