In New York, many people ride their bikes in urban areas and rural settings to avoid vehicle traffic, be physically active, and reduce transportation costs. However, bicycle accidents happen often, with 1,046 fatalities occurring in 2020.
While many of these accidents are caused by motor vehicle drivers, there are situations where a bicyclist may be at fault for an accident. Whether you are a bicyclist or a motorist, knowing what happens when a bicyclist is responsible for a collision can help you understand your rights and seek compensation.
Bicyclists in New York have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle operators to ensure their safety and that of others on the road.
- Bicyclists must obey and are protected by New York traffic laws.
- Bicyclists must obey traffic signals and signs.
- Bicyclists must use hand signals when turning on roadways, bike lanes, or shared-use pathways.
- New York does not prohibit riding a bicycle on a sidewalk; however, some local municipalities may enact ordinances preventing this for the safety of pedestrians.
- Bicyclists have a right to ride on most public highways but are prohibited from using interstate highways and expressways.
- The law requires that bicyclists ride with traffic.
- Bicyclists must use a bike lane if available; if not, they must drive on the right shoulder or near the right edge or curb of the roadway.
- Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of a motor vehicle, and motorists are required to exercise due care to avoid colliding with bicyclists.
Bicyclists can be liable for an accident if they engage in negligent behavior. Some examples of negligent behavior include:
- Distracted riding: If bicyclists are texting or using their phone while riding, they may not be paying full attention to their surroundings and may cause an accident.
- Drinking and riding: Bicyclists who ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs put themselves and others at risk, as their judgment and reaction times are impaired.
- Failing to use hand signals: Bicyclists are required to use hand signals to communicate their intentions to other road users. Failing to do so can lead to confusion and accidents.
- Ignoring traffic laws: Running red lights, failing to yield, or riding on the wrong side of the road can all contribute to accidents and hold a bicyclist liable.
- Unsafe lane changes: Bicyclists must ensure that they can safely change lanes without causing a hazard to other road users.
In New York, the concept of pure contributory negligence plays a crucial role in determining fault and compensation in bicycle accidents. Section 1411 allows any party to claim damages, even if they are 99% responsible for the accident. This means that both parties may be partially responsible for the incident and receive compensation.
For example, a bicyclist is found to be 30% at fault for an accident and is awarded $100,000 in damages. They receive $70,000 after their percentage of fault is accounted for.
While it’s crucial to understand the legal aspects of bicycle accidents, taking preventative measures to maximize your safety while biking in New York can help reduce the risk of accidents. Always wear a helmet, maintain your bike in good condition, and practice defensive biking techniques.
Be extra vigilant at intersections and be prepared for the unexpected. Additionally, consider taking a bicycle safety course to learn best practices for sharing the road with motor vehicles, pedestrians, and other cyclists. By prioritizing safety, you can contribute to a safer biking environment for everyone on the road.
Determining fault in a bicycle accident can be a complex and challenging process. At Catalano Law, our team of skilled attorneys understands New York laws and can help you navigate the legal system.
We are dedicated to representing bicycle accident victims and ensuring they receive the compensation they deserve. Contact us today for a free case review to get started on your claim.