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Are Bicyclists Ever Liable for Traffic Accidents?

/ Bicycle Accidents /

There are many laws bicyclists must abide by, but what are they? A Manhattan bike accident lawyer at Cellino & Barnes explainsNEW YORK — An increasing amount of environmental awareness coupled with a growing need to save money and stay healthy means more New Yorkers now rely on bicycles to get around. More bicyclists on local streets can also mean more accidents. A Manhattan bike accident lawyer says not all roadways are suitable or prepared for cyclists, and that leaves many wondering what liabilities riders face if they cause an accident.

Fortunately, New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Laws and Regulations (VTL) apply to both drivers and bicycle riders, and there are sections dedicated to bicycle use, condition, and behavior.

New York Bicycle Traffic Laws

While the law presumes that drivers will use reasonable care not to cause a collision with a bicyclist, riders still have the same rights and duty of care when they’re on the road. If a bicyclist has an accident with a motor vehicle, the owner’s car insurance may have to cover the biker’s medical costs, lost wages, and more. New York is a no-fault state with regulations that utilize a comparative guideline to determine if either or both parties contributed to the incident.

Bicyclist Equipment Requirements

Under the VTL, a bicycle must meet certain specifications for a rider to use it legally on designated roadways and paths. These requirements help to protect the rider and other surrounding traffic and create a safer riding experience. Necessary bicycle equipment includes features like:

  • A bicycle lamp for the front and red lamp for the rear if riding after dark
  • Reflective devices on the frame so the cyclist can be seen more easily at night
  • Reflectors on the tire spokes or using reflective tires
  • Functioning brakes
  • An audible warning device like a bell

Pedestrian crashes often happen due to the lack of installing or using a warning bell, and the cyclist may face an injury claim by the person struck by the bike. The same happens in car accidents where drivers don’t see a cyclist at night because required reflectors and lights are not present. This may result in a comparative damage claim that could reduce the driver’s liability for damages.

Cyclists Must Follow the Rules of the Road

While riding on New York’s roads, bicyclists must follow the laws set out by the VTL. From coming to a full stop before entering traffic to not interrupting traffic flow with risky maneuvering, it’s imperative that cyclists operate safely.

In New York City, it’s also illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk unless you’re under the age of 13. Bicyclists using the sidewalk not only increase the likelihood of an accident with a pedestrian, they can also be ticketed.

If you’ve experienced an accident on a New York City street and are unsure what your rights are, it’s critical to contact one of our knowledgeable Manhattan bike accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes as soon as possible.

Sharing a Lane

Bicycle operators should always use a designated lane or path if one is available. Otherwise they would need to demonstrate a solid reason for using a regular traffic lane if there’s an established zone. A Manhattan bike accident lawyer says the court may assign partial responsibility to a biker who didn’t use available bike paths without reasonable cause if a car accident occurs.

Using Traffic Signals

VTL requires bikers to use hand and arm signals when turning, slowing down, or coming to a stop since the bicycle itself doesn’t usually have any signals built into them. Motorists depend on clear communication from bike riders in order to predict and avoid any hazardous situations.

Bicycle Helmets

State law does not mandate that bicyclists wear helmets unless under the age of 14. Minor children from ages 1 to 5 must also ride in a special seat attachment to prevent harm from moving bike parts. This means that negligence is possibly relevant if any injuries sustained may not have happened if the biker had worn a helmet or followed regulations properly.

Unsafe Maneuvering

Just like when you’re driving a motor vehicle, there are numerous examples of unsafe maneuvering that can cause accidents for bicyclists. A significant risk that bicyclists take involves either riding hands-free or carrying an item that prevents them from having at least one hand on the handlebars while biking. Ignoring stops signs, weaving around slow traffic, and using a sidewalk to circumvent traffic lights are just a few more examples of the many ways maneuvering in an unsafe manner puts others at risk.

Reputable Manhattan Bicycle Accident Attorneys

Cyclists must follow most of the same rules as other motorists. Now that you know what most of these rules are, it would be wise to follow them! Unfortunately, even the most knowledgeable cyclists can find themselves injured as a result of an accident. If you or a loved one have injuries or were in a bicycle-related accident, hiring an experienced lawyer with a track record of success will benefit your case immensely. Don’t try to navigate New York’s intricate liability laws on your own and risk your chances at compensation or possibly having all the blame put on your shoulders.

At Cellino & Barnes, our more than 60 years of practice and in-depth knowledge of traffic laws can help you get the best possible outcome for your case. Our Manhattan bike accident lawyers are trial-tested, having aided hundreds of accident victims and obtained over $2 billion in settlements and verdicts for our clients. As recognized Super Lawyers, you can trust that we’ll aggressively fight for your rights and help maximize your award. Contact our offices today to learn more and receive a free case evaluation.

Cellino & Barnes (800) 888-8888

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