If you ask bicyclists and drivers who causes the most accidents, you’ll probably get two different answers. Bikers lament the angry drivers who veer into bike lanes or turn in front of them, while drivers often see cyclists as risk-takers who can dart in front of their car at any moment. However, it is the cyclists who are most likely to sustain serious injury in a crash, giving drivers an increased duty of care when traveling near them.
Driver Actions That Commonly Cause Bicycle Accidents
All injury cases are based on negligence and the “duty of care” standard. Proving negligence involves identifying who owed whom a greater duty of care, which person breached the duty of care, and what effects that breach caused. Simply put, if a victim is injured because a person was not being reasonably careful or acting as an average person would in a similar situation, the victim can hold the person responsible for any losses suffered.
Some common negligent actions of drivers include:
- Breaking the law. Any illegal activity on the part of the driver can be seen as negligence in an injury case. The most common illegal activities include speeding, drinking and driving, texting while operating a vehicle, and engaging in reckless or aggressive driving.
- Driving while distracted. A driver who is engaging in non-driving activities is not giving the proper attention to the road and other road users. Using a cellphone, eating, drinking, or adjusting a radio or GPS device before the collision may constitute a breach of duty of care.
- Passing or following too closely. Tailgating can happen to any vehicle, including bicycles. Cars must leave a wide following distance behind bicycles, since bikes do not have taillights to signal a sudden stop. In addition, cars overtaking cyclists should have at least three feet of clearance to the side.
- Failure to prevent dooring accidents. Parked drivers and passengers may not check their mirrors for oncoming bicycle traffic, causing “dooring” accidents that are completely preventable.
- Failure to yield. Drivers are required to yield to whichever vehicle has the right of way. Bicyclists may be owed compensation if cars around them did not yield as they turned, crossed the road, or had the right of way through an intersection.
- Blocking bike lanes. Bike lanes are for exclusive use of cyclists, and cars are never permitted to drive or park in them. They must also drive in a way that allows cyclists to stay as far to the left of the bike lane as possible to avoid road hazards (such as leaf piles and sewer grates).
- Failure to share the road. Tennessee state laws protect bicyclists by giving them the same right to the road as other vehicles. Unfortunately, many motorists do not give bicyclists the same consideration. Many drivers defend their actions by claiming they “didn’t see” a cyclist on the road, when the truth is they are unaware of the rules for cyclists or simply aren’t paying attention.
Drivers and Bikers May Share Fault for a Bicycle Crash
In Tennessee, it is possible for bicyclists to collect compensation even if they were partially to blame for a crash. For example, a biker may have failed to signal a turn or been riding at night without a front light and rear deflector. In these cases, the amount of damages awarded will be based on the victim’s portion of fault. Under Tennessee’s modified comparative negligence system, a bicyclist who is more than 50% at fault for the crash is not owed any damages through an injury claim. If the bicyclist is less than 50% at fault, the amount awarded will be reduced by the percentage of fault.
If you have been injured in a bike accident, we can help you collect evidence of your injury costs, loss of income, property damage, and pain and suffering. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to have the attorneys at GriffithLaw explain your rights in your free case evaluation, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.