Bicycling has become more popular among Americans, with over 870,000 urban residents commuting by bicycle. Unfortunately, the CDC reports that over 130,000 bicyclists are injured in crashes each year, often in collisions with other vehicles. Although cyclists are not required to use bike lanes when sharing the road with other vehicles, they must follow the same traffic laws and have the same responsibilities as vehicle drivers.
If you were injured in a bicycle accident by a negligent driver while not riding in the bike lane, you still have a right to compensation for your injuries. The Michigan bicycle injury lawyers at Fieger Law can protect your rights and ensure that you receive fair compensation.
What is a Bike Lane?
Bike lanes are part of the roadway marked by colors, stripes, and signage for the exclusive use of bike riders. Bike lanes help reduce accidents by giving cyclists a separate area on the road to operate their bicycles.
Typically, bike lanes are located next to motor vehicle lanes and run in the same traffic direction. A bike lane may run opposite to the traffic direction in areas with low traffic to connect to other bike paths.
Bicyclists can ride through a bike lane at their preferred speeds without interference from other vehicles. They may also leave the bike lane to bypass other bicyclists, make left turns, avoid oncoming obstacles, and navigate around road users like cars.
When Are Bicycle Riders at Fault for a Collision?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends bicyclists obey traffic signs and signals on the road. NHTSA also encourages cyclists to drive defensively and ride with the traffic flow. As odd as it may seem, bicyclists who break traffic laws can also be issued tickets by traffic officers.
Despite the widespread usage of designated bike lanes on urban roads, bicyclists are not legally obligated to use them for travel. Bicyclists can ride in the center of the street if needed, and many states, including Michigan, have laws requiring drivers to give at least 3 feet of space to bicycles until it’s safe to pass them.
However, an accident may be the bicyclist’s fault if they violate one of these traffic laws:
- Failing to stop at stop signs or red lights: A bike rider’s failure to stop at stop signs or red lights can lead to collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists who have the right of way.
- Turning abruptly into traffic: Bicyclists who travel on the wrong side of the street—against traffic flow—are putting themselves and others in danger. They are less visible to drivers, who may not be able to stop in time when they see them.
- Changing lanes without signaling: A cyclist who changes lanes or turns without signaling with their hand or an installed light puts themselves and others at risk. Drivers and pedestrians may not anticipate the bicyclist’s movements, leading to an accident and injuries.
- Distracted riding: Texting or changing music on a cell phone while cycling can lead to a lack of awareness of the rider’s surroundings, increasing the risk of a collision with a vehicle.
Riders who engage in these behaviors may increase their risk of an injury accident. If you are injured when riding your bike, but you broke a traffic law or were distracted immediately before the crash, it can negatively impact your ability to receive compensation from a negligent driver.
Working with an attorney at Fieger Law can help you prove the negligent actions of the driver who hit you caused your bicycle accident. We can review the facts of your case to determine who is at fault and help you seek a settlement to pay for your injuries.
How Does Negligence Factor in a Bicycle Collision?
The operator of any vehicle on the road, whether a bicycle or a car, has a duty of care to others using the road. To recover compensation, all parties need to prove the following factors:
- The road user owed a duty of care to others sharing the road with them
- There was a breach of responsibility, such as violating traffic laws
- An injury resulted from this violation of duty
Depending on where the accident occurred, the type of negligence can determine the compensation you may receive for your accident. Work with an attorney from Fieger Law to help you understand who may be at fault for your bicycle accident and your legal options for compensation.
Comparative negligence considers each party’s role in causing damages in the accident. The degree of fault of each party in an accident determines the reduction of their compensation.
For example, the police may find that the driver was intoxicated and speeding at the time of the accident with the bicycle rider. However, the rider violated a traffic law by not stopping at a red light. At a trial, the jury determines the rider is 20% at fault while the driver is 80% at fault.
Modified comparative negligence, used here in Michigan, restricts recovery for damages if the person’s share of fault in the accident is greater than or equal to 50%. For instance, if the court determines that a cyclist’s actions contributed to 55% of their injuries, they would lose the right to recover compensation.
Talk with a Bicycle Injury Lawyer From Fieger Law
When you may be at fault for an accident while riding your bike, Fieger Law can fight for your rights to compensation by reducing your assigned degree of fault. Our experienced legal team works with bicycle accident cases all over the USA. We can help you to seek a settlement to cover all your medical expenses, rehabilitation, and lost income.
Contact us for a free consultation and discuss your case.