Generally speaking, cyclists and motor vehicle drivers have the same rights and responsibilities when it comes to road use. Unless a particular rule says otherwise, cyclists can ride right in the middle traffic lane and should be provided with the same “rights of way” as drivers of motor vehicles.
Below are relevant traffic rules and laws that courts will look into when trying to determine liability in the event of accidents between motor vehicles and bicycles.
Bikes Lanes and Side of Road Rules
First things first: Seek the aid of a bicycle accident attorney in Los Angeles if you are involved in an accident. It is always prudent to have credible legal advice when dealing with such situations. You can be sure your rights are protected if you do this.
We now go to some essential rules. In the event the cyclist isn’t riding as fast as the current traffic of motor vehicles, he should ride on the farthest right lane of the roadway. But if there’s a bike lane provided, which is typically on the far right portion of the road, a cyclist must stay on that lane.
On the other hand, cyclists have the right to leave a bike lane or right side of the roadway for the following reasons:
- For making a left turn.
- Avoiding debris or other kinds of road hazards.
- For keeping up with traffic.
- If the lane the cyclist is riding on isn’t wide enough to accommodate other passing cars safely.
Car Door-Related Accidents
Because cyclists are required under law to ride near parked vehicles and because negligence liability principles dictate that people should never open vehicle doors unless they really think it’s safe. This means that an accident due to opening the door of a parked vehicle is often the fault of the person that opened the door.
On the other hand, an exception to this rule might exist if the accident occurred while there wasn’t any motor vehicle, so the cyclist doesn’t necessarily have to stay on the right lane. In this case, the driver that opened the door could make the argument that the cyclist could’ve avoided the door and are therefore partially liable for the accident.
Right of Way and Right Turns
Among the most common motor vehicle versus bike accidents are collisions when a car turns right, passing through the cyclist’s path, whether in the bike lane or traffic lane. Usually, accidents like these occur when a driver passes the cyclist and slows the vehicle down, as he turns right, and the moves directly into the cyclist’s path.
Sometimes, drivers simply turn right into a cyclist’s path and fail to see the cyclist. In either case, the court will usually side with the cyclist and hold the driver accountable because one of the most basic road rules is that motorists should only make a turn when it’s safe to do so.
Immediate Actions to Take Following an Accident
This is very crucial – even if you don’t look, think or feel injured, you must call a police officer to check out the accident site. Give the police your statement of what happened and note any injuries you’ve sustained if applicable.
Take as many photos of the accident site as possible, obtain the personal and contact information of the driver, and talk to witnesses if there are any around. You should then consult a bicycle accident lawyer to help you determine what you should do next.