It can be easy to assume that the car’s driver is at fault in a cyclist vs. car accident. Though drivers do have a responsibility to share the road with cyclists, cyclists also have a responsibility to obey the road rules.
If you were injured in a cycling accident in Washington, you need to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Even if you were deemed at fault for the accident, you might still be able to recover some damages for the injuries you sustained.
Learn more about laws regarding a cyclist at fault car accident below.
Washington State Bicycling Laws
Bicycling continues to gain popularity in Seattle and across Washington. It is a healthy, environmentally-friendly way to get around the city. Every state in the United States has seen an increase in auto vs. bicyclists accidents, and the assumption is that distracted driving is the primary cause of the increase.
Seattle has enacted many laws for motorists and cyclists designed to enable them to share the roadways safely. The Seattle Traffic Code specifies that:
- Bicyclists are never to ride more than two abreast
- Motor vehicles cannot drive in a bicycle lane except when executing a turn but must yield to bicycles in the lane at all times.
- Bicyclists must use appropriate hand signals to execute right turns, left turns, and a warning for an upcoming stop
- A rider must keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times
- Riding at night requires adequate lamps and reflectors on the bicycle
The consequences of failing to follow the rules of the road can be dire for a cyclist. There is no statewide mandate to wear a helmet, but many cities do have ordinances requiring cyclists to wear helmets. Whether it is the law or not, a helmet can help reduce the chances of severe injury or death in an accident.
Washington’s Comparative Negligence Laws
A civil lawsuit or insurance claim will come down to whether the cyclist or the driver violated the law when the accident happened. Often, there was not one act of negligence that resulted in the accident. For instance, a cyclist may have failed to signal a turn, but the car’s driver was driving over the posted speed limit.
Comparative negligence laws assign a portion of responsibility to each party that committed wrong-doing in an accident. In some instances, either the cyclist or the driver of the car may be 100% responsible for the accident. However, there are many cases in which both parties acted negligently, resulting in the accident.
Washington has a pure comparative negligence rule defined in the Revised Code of Washington, Section 4.22.005. Many other states only allow an injured party to seek recovery if they are less than 50% at fault for an accident. In Washington, you can seek compensation for damages you sustain in an accident, reduced by your level of fault in the accident.
If you were a cyclist hit by a car and you have $20,000 worth of damages, and your negligence is deemed to have contributed 75% to the accident, you could only recover 25% ($5,000). Cyclists need to understand Washington’s comparative negligence laws because, in a car vs. bike accident, the car driver usually has minimal or no damages. The cyclists, however, can sustain severe injuries.
Talk to a Washington State Attorney if You are Injured in a Bicycle Accident
At Will & Will law firm, you will find skilled personal injury attorneys willing to work hard to help you recover the damages you deserve. Court Will is a long time biking enthusiast who understands the love of cycling and cyclists’ rights and responsibilities. If you have been injured, you need a personal injury attorney experienced in helping cyclists, allowing you to focus on the most important task of healing.
Bicycle accidents, especially if the cyclist was at fault or partially at fault, require skill and expertise to make sure that insurance companies do not try to blame the rider in an attempt to get away with paying nothing. Contact Will & Will for a consultation about your legal options to recover the compensation you deserve.