Who Is at Fault in a Bicycle Accident with a Car in NYC?

If you were riding your bike in NYC and you were hit by a car, the issue of who was at fault for the accident will be important.  Although New York uses a no-fault insurance system, bikers might not have insurance, and severe cases could go to court anyway.  Proving fault in court will be essential for getting the damages you need.

In many bike accidents, the driver of the car is at fault.  However, there are sometimes confusing bike laws that could actually make the biker share responsibility for the crash.  In any case, bike riders who were injured in a bicycle accident with a car have the chance of seeking compensation, even if they shared partial fault.

Call the NYC bicycle accident lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm for help with your bike accident case.  For a free case review, call us at (718) 841-0083.

Is the Driver or Bike Rider at Fault for a Bicycle Accident in NYC?

To determine who is at fault in a bike accident case, you need to look at the specific facts of the case and the local traffic laws.  In many cases, fault is not black and white; both the biker and the driver could share fault.  However, it is clear that the biker is usually the one who faces more serious injuries.  If you have any questions about fault in your case, call our Bronx bike accident lawyers for help.

Blaming the Driver

Drivers are often blamed for bike accidents because they have the more dangerous vehicle, and they should take responsibility not to injure other people with their car.  However, the legal issues are often more complex than this.

Drivers have a duty to follow all traffic laws.  This includes speed limits, drunk driving laws, texting and driving laws, and even rules for blinkers and turn signals.  If a driver fails to follow one of these rules, and that violation causes them to crash into your bike, then they should be found at fault for the crash.

Drivers can also be held responsible for bike accidents if they were careless behind the wheel.  Inattention is one of the biggest causes of accidents, and drivers can be held liable for these mistakes.  They can also be held liable if they cause an accident because they simply lack the skill to drive safely.  Your NYC personal injury attorneys can examine the case and determine what arguments to base your case on.

Many drivers are not used to driving around bicycles, especially drivers from outside the city.  However, this does not excuse them from fault if they hit a cyclist.  There are special laws about how to pass a cyclist and such that might apply to your case.

Blaming the Cyclist

As a bike rider, you should be aware of local rules and traffic laws about biking.  Throughout NYC, bikes are treated as vehicles.  This means that cyclists on the roadway have to follow the same rules and traffic laws as drivers of cars and trucks.  However, there are also special rules for bikes that let them drive in bike lanes.  Bikes are also commonly ridden on the sidewalk in spite of these rules, which can complicate the legal issues.

Since bikes on the roadway are treated as vehicles, cyclists have to stop at red lights and stop signs, follow speed limits, signal their turns, and so on.  If an accident happens because you broke a traffic law, it’s possible that the court could blame you for the crash.

However, this fault is often partial.  Serious bike accidents don’t usually happen just because the biker did something wrong.  Often, the driver also did something wrong, and partial fault can be assigned to both parties.  Talk to our Staten Island personal injury lawyers for more details about how this works in your specific case.

How Courts Assign Fault in NYC Bicycle Accident Cases

In every state in the U.S., there is a rule that dictates how the courts will divide blame in an accident case.  Typically, these rules break down into three types:

  • “Pure comparative fault” states assign a percentage of fault to each driver and allow the victim to claim that percent of their damages from the other driver.
  • “Pure contributory negligence” states block compensation if the victim shared fault in any way.
  • “Modified comparative fault” states assign a percentage to each driver and reduce the plaintiff’s damages accordingly, but they block compensation if the victim shares a level of fault equal to or greater than the defendant (depending on the specific state).

New York is a pure comparative fault state.  This means that even if the victim shared fault for causing the crash, they cannot be barred from claiming damages for the harm that someone else contributed.  When you sue for damages and the court finds that you were partially at fault, they will reduce your overall damages by the percentage of fault assigned to you.  For example, in a case where the victim suffered $100,000 in damages and the court finds the biker was 30% at fault, the biker can still claim $70,000 in damages from the driver.

Hypothetically, if you were 99% at fault, you could still sue the other driver for their 1% share of the fault.  However, it is unlikely that that would be “worth it,” and you may want to seek damages through insurance.

In many cases, courts will assign full blame to whichever driver made the most mistakes.  If comparative fault comes into play in your case, it will often reduce your damages by only a portion of the damages you need.  Talk to our Brooklyn personal injury lawyers for help fighting accusations of partial fault in your case.

Call Our NYC Bike Accident Injury Attorneys Today

If you were hit by a car while riding a bike in NYC, call our NYC bicycle accident lawyers today for a free case review.  Our number is (718) 841-0083.