How Liability is Determined in a Bicycle Accident

Posted on behalf of Henness & Haight on Jan 24, 2017 in Car Accident News

bicycle crash

Approximately 1,300 cyclists are thought to be injured in accidents every day in the U.S. These accidents go largely unreported and only one in ten are likely brought to the attention of law enforcement.

In Nevada, bicycles are not considered vehicles under the law, which affects how liability in a bicycle accident is determined.

However, cyclists must still follow the same traffic laws as drivers, such as Nevada’s move-over-law, which has two exceptions for bicycles:

  • If a cyclist is traveling in the right lane, a driver must move into another lane.
  • When a vehicle passes a cyclist on a single lane road, the driver must provide at least three feet of space between the vehicle and the bicycle.

First Party Bicycle Accident Liability

If a motorist hits a bicyclist, the motorist is presumably liable under the “negligence per se” rule.

In a typical negligence case, plaintiffs must prove the following five elements:

  • The defendant had a duty to ensure the safety of the victim.
  • The defendant breached that duty.
  • The accident would not have occurred if not for the defendant’s actions (cause-in-fact).
  • The defendant’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries (proximate cause).
  • The victim suffered damages because of the accident.

In negligence per se claims, plaintiffs only need to establish:

  • Violation of statute: Referring to the negligent driver’s violation of a traffic safety law.
  • Cause: A distinct connection exists between the violation of a statute and the damages suffered by the victim.
  • Damages: The victim must have sustained personal injury or property damages and is entitled compensation for intangible and non-monetary losses.

If the claim goes to trial, a jury can decide whether the driver acted with conscious indifference toward the cyclist or his or her property, and the bicyclist may be awarded additional punitive damages.

To establish the driver’s liability, the cyclist needs to prove the driver was negligent by providing clear and undeniable evidence to a court in order to be awarded punitive damages.

Third Party Bicycle Accident Liability

A third party may be held liable in the following situations:

  • Respondeat superior: The negligent driver was an employee acting within the terms of his or her employment. Under these terms, the driver’s employer can be held liable for a portion of the damages.
  • Negligent entrustment: The driver’s employer can be held partially liable for any damages because it is the employer’s responsibility to properly monitor and supervise an employee.

If a driver strikes a cyclist while he or she is under the influence of alcohol, the individual who supplied alcohol to the driver cannot be held liable for the accident.

However, if the alcohol supplier promised to ensure the intoxicated individual got home safely, instead of driving, and failed in this obligation, then the supplier can be held partially liable for the accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, filing a claim against the negligent driver may provide compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Contact the Las Vegas bicycle accident attorneys at Henness & Haight for a free review of your claim. Our attorneys will not charge you any legal fees unless we are successful in recovering damages for you.

Call 844.613.6275 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form for a free, no-obligation consultation.