There can be shared fault in an accident involving a bicycle and a passenger vehicle. If you or your loved one was injured in such an accident in Indianapolis, you might want to know how laws regarding shared fault may apply to your case.
Both Parties May Be At Fault for the Accident
Bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles can be devastating. The bicyclist may suffer severe injuries, including broken bones, head trauma, and more. However, the vehicle occupants may also sustain serious injuries in a bicycle and vehicle accident.
It is sometimes assumed that the driver of the motor vehicle is solely at fault for a bicycle and vehicle collision. While this is often the case, not every bicycle and vehicle accident is the fault of the driver. Sometimes, the bicyclist’s actions cause or contribute to the accident.
Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities to follow traffic laws as those driving motor vehicles. When a bicyclist acts negligently or unlawfully and causes an accident, he or she may be liable for the losses that result.
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Indiana Law Regarding Bicyclists
Bicyclists do not have free reign of the roads and sidewalks. According to Indiana law, bicyclists must follow certain rules. Indiana Code § 9-21-11 states that bicyclists may only ride on a seat attached to the bicycle. Riding on handlebars or the back wheel is not permitted. The bicycle must only carry the number of riders that it is designed to carry. More than one rider is permitted only if the bicycle is a double bike or is otherwise designed to carry more than one person.
Just as distracted driving is an issue for motor vehicle drivers, it is also a problem for bicyclists. By law, bicyclists must ensure that their hands are on the handlebars at all times. A bicyclist should not ride one-handed so that they can use a cell phone or carry other objects.
Bicycles should be fitted with some type of bell, siren, or other audible signal. If a bicyclist wishes to ride at night, their bicycle must be equipped with a light on the front and the back.
State law also prohibits motorized bicycles from being driven on the interstate, sidewalks, or at a speed of greater than 25 miles per hour.
Contributory Fault in a Bicycle Accident
In Indiana, more than one party can contribute to a bicycle accident.
If a bicyclist is acting negligently or violating a state or local law during an accident, it is possible that the bicyclist will be considered partially at fault for the accident. Bicyclists are expected to take reasonable steps to avoid a collision. This includes being watchful for other bicycles or vehicles around them and not riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“Contributory fault” refers to the contributions that a party made to an injury or accident. Injury claims involving contributory fault are often complicated. If contributory fault applies to your case, working with an attorney familiar with the state laws regarding shared fault can be helpful.
Modified Comparative Negligence
States each handle accidents involving shared fault differently. Indiana follows a legal doctrine called modified comparative negligence in situations involving shared fault for injury-causing accidents. If both the driver’s actions and the bicyclist’s actions contributed to an accident, any personal injury claim that is filed would be subject to comparative negligence laws.
According to Indiana Code § 34-51-2-5, injured claimants who are partially responsible for their own injuries may still be entitled to financial compensation for their losses. However, the amount of compensation they may receive is reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a party is found to be 20 percent at fault for an accident, the compensation they may be entitled to through an injury claim is reduced by 20 percent. If the party sustained $10,000 in losses, they might only be able to recover $8,000.
Recovery through an injury claim is barred in Indiana if the claimant’s fault is found to be 51 percent or more. Put another way, an injured person must be less than 51 percent at fault for an accident in order to recover compensation for their losses.
Shared Fault in a Bicycle Accident Involving a Vehicle
If you or a loved one was hurt in an accident, you might want to know who might be liable for your losses and injuries. You should know that there can be shared fault in a bicycle accident involving a vehicle.
Contact Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. to learn how we can help you move forward with a claim or a lawsuit. Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. only takes personal injury cases such as car accidents, bicycle accidents, and other cases involving injury. Our team understands Indiana personal injury laws and how these laws will apply to your case.
Call our office at (317) 636-7777 and set up your free consultation today.