Bicycle Accident Injuries Can Be Severe
Riding a bicycle is a great way to get exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and save money on gas. Unfortunately, when you’re on a bicycle, you are at the mercy of other vehicles on the road. A bicycle provides very little protection in the event of an accident. You can therefore sustain serious injuries when another driver negligently causes an accident. What would be a minor fender-bender if you were in a car can result in significant injuries when you are on a bicycle.
Who Is at Fault in a Bicycle Accident?
Cyclists and pedestrians follow the same basic laws when it comes to traffic. In cases where there has been an accident, police will attempt to make a determination as to who is at fault in their police report. These reports, however, are notoriously inaccurate. The first duty of police is to clear the scene and ensure that everyone at the scene is attended to properly. Afterward, it is their duty to take down witness statements and describe the accident.
In many cases, your attorney’s job will be to tell a different story than the one that the police report tells. In other cases, it will be your attorney’s job to corroborate the police report. Either way, your attorney will advocate for your interests and ensure that your rights to recovery are preserved under the law.
With accidents that involve bicycles, it is typical that one or the other party violated some law of traffic and this caused the accident. Below, we explain which laws are most pertinent to these cases.
Traffic Laws Pertaining to Bicycle Accidents
There are three major laws that apply to bicycle accidents that you need to be aware of. These laws are basically the same as those that apply to pedestrians. In cases where there are bike lanes, bicyclists will automatically the right of way when the car is moving into the bike lane and vice versa.
In cases where there is a bicycle in an intersection with a crosswalk, the driver of a motor vehicle is obligated to yield the right of way (RCW 46.61.235). This is true regardless of whether or not they have a green light. On the other hand, cyclists cannot race out into the street without first ensuring there are no cars around. The driver cannot be expected to anticipate a bicyclist entering the street if they do so suddenly and without warning. In such a case, the driver could not be held liable.
If there is no crosswalk, then it is the cyclist who must yield the right of way to the driver (RCW 46.61.240). The same rule applies to pedestrians. Bicyclists are expected to cross in a straight line unless otherwise directed. In other words, they should not cross diagonally or wherever they please.
Exercising Due Care for Drivers
Drivers are expected to exercise due care when on the road. This is especially true in school zones, near playgrounds, and in other reduced-speed zones. In cases where a driver does not exercise due care, they may be held liable even if they have not broken any traffic law. This means doing everything in their power to avoid the accident (RCW 46.61.245). In cases where the driver is in a residential neighborhood, exercising due care becomes even more important.
Understanding Comparative Negligence in Washington State
Car accidents insurance falls under two categories: No-fault and tort states. In tort states, like Washington, an injured party will make a claim on the other driver’s insurance policy. Some determination will be made as to who was at fault for the accident. However, just because one party shares some (or even most of the blame) does not mean that they cannot recover damages for the accident.
An injured party may file a lawsuit even if they are 99% responsible for the accident. This is known are “pure” comparative fault. In other states, an injured may not be able to press charges if they are more responsible for the accident than the other party. Washington law states that an injured party is barred from recovery only if they are 100% responsible for the accident.
In cases where there is a cyclist struck by a motor vehicle, the bicyclist is likely to have severe injuries while the driver only has minor damage to their car. The bicyclist can thus recover damages in the amount of the other driver’s percentage of blame of their total damages.
For instance, let’s say a bicyclist has $100,000 in medical expenses, lost time from work, pain and suffering, and any other claim they can make, but they are 70% responsible for the accident. That means the driver is only 30% responsible for the accident. The cyclist would be able to recover 30% of $100,000 or $30,000 — still a significant sum of money.
Dealing With the Insurance Company
The insurance company’s job is to protect themselves and — by extension — their client. When you make a claim against the other driver’s policy, you should not expect that the insurance company will extend you a fair first offer. They won’t. It’s your attorney’s job to argue on your behalf and ensure that you are compensated for all your damages, including non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
In order to shortchange your recovery, the insurance company will attempt to blame you for the accident, claim your injuries existed prior to the accident, and interpret ambiguities in the police report and physical evidence against you. Essentially, that is their job. They have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of their policyholder.
Your attorney has the same responsibility to act in your best interest. That means:
- filling in gaps in the record,
- getting physical evidence,
- speaking to your doctors about your injuries, and
- ensuring that you are compensated fairly for your injuries.
Talk to a Washington State Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver or a driver who bears at least some responsibility for the accident, Fielding Law Group can help you recover as much money as you possibly can under the law. Contact us today.
You May Be Entitled to Compensation for Your Personal Injury
If you have been in a personal injury accident, Fielding Law Group can help. We are some of the best bicycle accident attorneys. We make it our passion to preserve and protect the rights of our clients. If you suffered injury because someone acted negligently and it caused you to have a bicycle accident, you should be able to recover your expenditures on medical bills, treatment, and lost wages due to an inability to work.
Schedule Your Free Personal Injury Consultation Today
We never charge you a fee to review your case. In fact, we don’t charge you a dime until you get paid. We know that if you have had a bicycle accident, you need a experienced accident lawyer who will act with your best interests in mind. For this reason, we do not charge our clients a fee until we have won. So you don’t have to worry that you’ll rack up legal bills you cannot pay. We believe that our clients deserve an attorney without regard to their ability to pay.
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