Riding a bicycle is a great way to commute for people looking to save money on car expenses and get a little exercise too. However, it can be more dangerous for the rider. If a traffic accident happens, the cyclist is more vulnerable to being seriously injured. When these accidents happen, who may be liable? Is it always the driver? Learn more about collisions involving bicycles and cars in Maryland, including who may be liable if a crash occurs.
At Goldberg Finnegan, our bicycle accident lawyers in Silver Spring are always prepared to help if you or a loved one have been harmed because of another person’s negligence. Contact us to find out if you may be eligible to seek compensation to help you recover from your injuries and other losses. Our law offices are available to take your call 24/7, and your initial case review is completely free.
Determining Liability for a Car Versus Bicycle Crash
Most people assume that the liable party is always the driver. The main reason for this is because cyclists are less visible, and bicycles inherently provide little protection in an accident.
State law requires drivers to exercise due care around bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcycles. There are specific rules about passing bicycles and when bicyclists have the right of way.
These are some of the most common situations where a driver is likely to be held liable for damages caused by a crash with a bicyclist.
- Cars making a left turn at an intersection – “left-cross” crash: A left-cross crash typically happens when motorists and cyclists approach an intersection from opposite directions. If the driver is going too fast, misjudges the cyclist’s speed or does not see or even check for cyclists, a crash may occur.
- Cars turning right through an intersection – “right-hook” crash: Passing a car on the right at an intersection is dangerous for cyclists, as it places them in the driver’s blind spot. Despite that, motorists are usually liable for turning right and hitting a cyclist. There are various ways this can happen, but the result is the motorist plowing into a cyclist while turning. Drivers are required to use more caution than cyclists who may be in their blind spot. Drivers can slow down, use their turn signal, and make sure they are well clear of any cyclists they passed before starting to turn.
- Car has stop sign and cyclist has right of way: Unless the bicyclist is riding against traffic – which is illegal in Maryland – the driver is likely liable.
Cyclists have their own rules of the road they must follow, such as not riding against traffic. If a bicyclist does not abide by these rules, he or she could be at least partially liable for the crash.
In Maryland, a cyclist seeking compensation for crash damages cannot recover any compensation if he or she is assessed even one percent fault. The state’s contributory negligence law bars any recovery if the victim bears any amount of fault.
Here are some examples of situations when a bicyclist could be assessed partial liability:
- Accidents involving the “Idaho Stop”: Cyclists cannot treat stop signs as if they are yield signs. The Idaho Stop is illegal in this state. Cyclists who do not fully stop at a red light or stop sign may share fault if a crash occurs.
- Bicycle has stop sign and driver has right of way: This type of crash, without other contributing factors, such as a driver speeding, would likely result in the cyclist being fully at fault.
- Crashes caused by riding against traffic: Many bicycle vs. car crashes happen because bicyclists are riding against traffic. While drivers are required to look for cyclists, they do not expect to see them riding toward them. Cyclists who illegally ride against traffic also create an unexpected hazard for cyclists riding with the flow of traffic.
Why Liability Matters
Because of Maryland’s strict contributory negligence law, insurance companies will be searching for any reason to find the cyclist partly responsible for the crash. While victims are sometimes at fault, the insurance company may say you are at fault based on an innocent comment you made soon after the crash. That is why it is important not to discuss fault with anyone at the accident scene or with the insurance company. Speak to a qualified attorney first to seek legal guidance about protecting your potential claim.
Injured in a Crash? Call Our Trusted Law Firm for Legal Help
If you have been injured in a car versus bicycle crash, we recommend that you contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible. It is important to act quickly to help preserve evidence that could help prove the other party’s liability.
At Goldberg Finnegan, our team of legal professionals is ready to manage your claim and guide you through the legal process. Call our law offices today to find out whether you may have a claim. We are available to take your call 24/7. If we represent you, there is also nothing to pay up front or while we work on your case.
Get started with your FREE case review today. (888) 213-8140