Cyclists have little protection when they get into crashes, and they’re far more likely to be injured than motorists. It stands to reason, then, that cyclists might be punished less harshly – or not at all – for accidents involving cars. However, under Colorado law, cyclists and motorists have the exact same rights and responsibilities, so cyclists can be held both civilly and criminally liable for accidents they cause.
Who’s at Fault?
Although motorists are more likely to include fatalities in a crash, cyclists are just as likely to cause crashes as drivers. One 2009 study, for example, found that 49% of bicycle-car crashes were the cyclist’s fault.
In general, the person who gets the ticket is the person at fault. If you both get a ticket, then you may end up litigating the issue of fault in court or fighting with your insurance company over who caused the accident. An attorney can help you sort through the legal aspects and get a favorable settlement under these circumstances.
Basic Cycling Rules
One of the best ways to avoid getting a ticket for causing an accident is to know and follow cycling laws. Some cyclists mistakenly believe that as long as a maneuver, such as running a red light or stop sign is safe, they can do it. But you’re required to follow the same laws as drivers. Some rules cyclists must follow include:
- Stop at stop signs and stop lights.
- Yield to pedestrians.
- Avoid cutting off cars or rapidly changing lanes.
- Never cycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Distracted cycling is even more dangerous than distracted driving. Put your cell phone away when you’re riding, and keep both hands on your bike.
- Cycle as far to the right side of the road as you can, and avoid weaving in between cars or rapidly changing lanes.
- Before passing other cyclists or pedestrians, alert them verbally. If you hit a pedestrian or another cyclist, you’ll likely face legal consequences.
- Practice basic bicycle safety by wearing a helmet, remain aware of your surroundings, and only cycle on roads and terrain that are appropriate for your skill level.
What About Aggressive Drivers?
Drivers who deliberately intimidate cyclists or who otherwise drive aggressively can be subject to serious legal sanctions. Such aggression, however, does not give a cyclist the right to behave aggressively. If you instigate a confrontation with an aggressive motorist, you’re just as likely to be at fault as he/she is. Instead, report aggressive drivers to the Colorado State Patrol by dialing CSP (277). Provide as much information about the motorist as you can, and avoid getting distracted to make the call.
If you’re a cyclist and have been in an accident with a motorist, gather as much information and evidence as you can. Don’t discuss fault. How the law applies to the particular facts and circumstances can be surprisingly complicated.
A skilled attorney can help defend you, and can offer you the assistance you need to recover. If you are a cyclist and have been injured in an accident, contact one of the experienced Colorado Injury Attorneys at McDivitt Law Firm for a FREE consultation.