Pedestrian AccidentCyclist vs Pedestrian Accidents: Who’s Liable?

June 6, 20240

Cyclist and pedestrian accidents are an unfortunate reality in many cities. With more people opting to cycle for transport and exercise, and pedestrian traffic remaining steady, interactions between cyclists and pedestrians are increasing. This can lead to accidents, injuries, and the tricky question of who is at fault and liable.

This article will examine cyclist versus pedestrian accidents, look at liability and fault, and provide tips to prevent accidents. We’ll also explain how a personal injury lawyer can help you if you’re unfortunately involved in one of these accidents.

Rules of the Road for Cyclists and Pedestrians

To determine liability in cyclist versus pedestrian accidents, we first need to understand the rules of the road for both groups.

Cyclist Rules

In most states, bicycles are considered vehicles when ridden on public roads. This means cyclists must follow the same traffic laws as motorists, including:

  • Obeying traffic signs and signals
  • Riding in the direction of traffic
  • Yielding right-of-way when required
  • Using hand signals when turning or stopping
  • Having proper lighting at night – white light in front, red reflector or light in back

Additionally, there may be special rules for cyclists:

  • Riding as far to the right as safely possible
  • Using bike lanes or paths when available
  • Allowing pedestrians to have the right-of-way on shared use paths

Pedestrian Rules

Pedestrians also have road rules they need to follow:

  • Crossing at intersections and designated crosswalks
  • Obeying pedestrian crossing signals
  • Yielding to drivers when crossing outside of crosswalks
  • Walking on sidewalks or shoulders facing traffic when no sidewalks are available
  • Avoiding distractions like phones when walking near traffic

Understanding these rules provides a framework for determining fault in accidents so it’s worth making sure you adhere to the rules of the road or sidewalk whenever possible.

Cyclist vs Pedestrian Accident Liability

When a cyclist hits a pedestrian, there are a few factors that determine who is liable:

Cyclist Liability

Cyclists must yield right-of-way to pedestrians in the following situations:

  • When pedestrians are crossing at intersections or crosswalks, either marked or unmarked
  • When pedestrians are crossing residential streets outside of crosswalks
  • When riding on shared use paths and pedestrians are present

If a cyclist hits a pedestrian in these situations, the cyclist is usually liable for any injuries and damages. Cyclists are also liable if they are riding recklessly, distracted, or disobeying other traffic laws.

Pedestrian Liability

Pedestrians can also be held liable if they act negligently and cause an accident with a cyclist. Situations where pedestrians may be liable include:

  • Crossing outside of a crosswalk on a busy street
  • Darting out suddenly into the road
  • Walking on the wrong side of a shared use path
  • Being distracted by a cell phone or headphones

If a cyclist is following the rules of the road and a pedestrian acts negligently, causing an accident, the pedestrian may be liable.

Shared Liability

Sometimes, liability is shared between the cyclist and the pedestrian. For example, if a cyclist is speeding and a pedestrian crosses without looking, they may share fault. The percentage each party is liable for will depend on the specific circumstances leading to the accident.

Preventing Cyclist vs Pedestrian Accidents

While liability often focuses on fault after an accident, the best outcome is preventing accidents in the first place. Here are some tips for cyclists and pedestrians to improve safety:

Tips for Cyclists

  • Ride predictably and follow the rules of the road
  • Be extra vigilant at intersections, crosswalks, and share use paths
  • Announce yourself audibly when passing pedestrians
  • Use eye contact to communicate with pedestrians
  • Slow down and yield to pedestrians when required
  • Use lights and reflectors when riding at night or in low light conditions
  • Keep distractions to a minimum by avoiding headphones and mobile devices while cycling

Tips for Pedestrians

  • Cross at marked crosswalks when available
  • Look both ways and establish eye contact with cyclists before crossing
  • Avoid distracted walking near bicycle traffic by putting phones and headphones away
  • Be predictable; don’t make sudden moves into the road
  • Stay to the right on shared use paths
  • Make yourself visible with bright clothing during the daytime and reflective gear at night
  • Watch for cyclists when stepping onto bike paths and shared use trails

Safety Initiatives and Infrastructure Improvements

In addition to individual precautions, cities can improve cyclist and pedestrian safety through initiatives and infrastructure:

  • Adding more bike lanes, paths, and share use trails to separate cyclists from traffic
  • Installing bike boxes, signals, and turn lanes at busy intersections
  • Improving sidewalk quality and installing pedestrian islands
  • Increasing lighting and crosswalk markings for visibility
  • Running public safety campaigns on sharing the road
  • Adding traffic calming measures like speed bumps and narrower lanes
  • Expanding bike share programs to reduce vehicular traffic
  • Enforcing laws prohibiting distracted walking/cycling

Improved urban design and awareness campaigns create safer conditions for cyclists and pedestrians to reduce accidents.

Seeking Compensation After an Accident

If a cyclist-pedestrian accident occurs due to another party’s negligence, the injured person may be entitled to compensation. A personal injury lawyer can help the injured party pursue a legal claim to recover damages such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Loss of enjoyment and activities

An experienced personal injury lawyer will investigate the accident, determine fault, negotiate a fair settlement or take the case to court if needed. They have a deep understanding of liability laws and transportation regulations in your jurisdiction. An attorney will handle all legal matters so the injured person can focus on recovery.

Cyclist and pedestrian accidents can lead to serious injuries and disputes over liability. Following the rules of the road, being alert, pursuing infrastructure improvements, and seeking legal counsel if necessary can help improve outcomes for all. Staying safe requires a collaborative approach between all road users.

If you’ve been injured in a cyclist vs pedestrian accident that wasn’t your fault, we can help. You can visit our office at 700 Bishop St, Ste 2100, Honolulu, HI, 96813.

Or call us today for a free consultation on (808) 745-1592.

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