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Who Is at Fault in a Car-Bike Accident?

April 13, 2022Car Accidents

In a car-bike accident, the driver is more likely to be at fault, but it will depend on the circumstances. A bicyclist can also be wholly or partially to blame in some cases. Fault in bicycle accident cases is typically decided based on the degree of each party’s negligence in causing the collision. An individual is negligent when they breach the duty of care they owe to another. For example, drivers must operate their vehicles safely and adhere to traffic laws. Bicyclists must also ride safely and obey traffic laws. When a person’s breach of their duty of care (negligence) is responsible for causing an accident, they can be held legally liable for damages.

When the Driver of the Car is At Fault

Drivers owe bicyclists a higher duty of care and must demonstrate extra caution when driving near a rider, including checking for bicyclists before making a turn. If they fail in their duty and crash into a cyclist, the driver would be considered at fault and responsible for any resulting damages.

  • Failure to yield: Failing to yield the right of way to a bicyclist when appropriate. For example, a driver failing to check for a cyclist before merging into the bike lane to make a right turn.
  • Driver Inattention: Drivers often cause bicycle accidents if they are distracted, such as texting or talking on the phone, speaking to other passengers, changing the music, eating, etc.
  • Speeding: Traveling above the speed limit dramatically reduces a driver’s ability to react quickly and stop to avoid an accident with a bicyclist.
  • Intoxication: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs leads to diminished cognitive abilities that increase the chances of a driver failing to see a bicyclist.
  • Aggressive Driving: Drivers sometimes refuse to share the road with bicyclists and engage in aggressive behaviors that cause accidents, such as tailgating, yelling at or threatening a bicyclist, dangerously passing them, etc.

When a Bicycle Rider is At Fault

In Missouri, bicycle riders must follow the rules and have the same responsibilities as drivers. Therefore, if a bicyclist violates the law and their negligence contributes to or causes an accident, they may be completely or partially at fault for the car-bike collision. Examples of bicycle rider negligence that lead to accidents include rolling through stop signs, riding while not paying attention, swerving into another lane of traffic, etc.

When a Third Party is At Fault

A third party can potentially be liable for a bicycle accident in some cases. For example, a government agency may be responsible if hazardous road conditions, such as a flawed intersection or improper signage, contribute to the crash. A manufacturer may be at fault if a defective vehicle, bicycle, or part caused the collision.

Missouri’s Pure Comparative Negligence Law

Under Missouri law, the theory of pure comparative negligence is applied to bicycle accident cases. As a result, each party involved is assigned a percentage of fault in causing an accident based on their degree of negligence. Their percentage of fault then reduces their compensation. For example, if a bicycle rider is awarded $100,000 and found 20% responsible, the bicyclist will receive 80% of their award or $80,000. As long as you are not 100% to blame, you can recover compensation.

Determining liability after a car-bike accident is a complex process. A St. Louis Bicycle Accident Lawyer will have the resources and experience to help you prove fault and recover the compensation you deserve.

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