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Recent Deadly Bicycle Accident Illustrates the Importance of the Rules of the Road

Jan 22, 2016 - Bicycle Accidents by

According to ABC News, a bicyclist was struck by two cars and killed in September 2015. Both drivers reported that they did not see the bike. Even though relatively few details about the accident are reported, our Charlotte bicycle accident lawyers believe that the accident and tragic death may have been avoided had certain rules of the road been followed.

When All Vehicles Follow the Law, Roadway Experiences Become More Predictable

All too often, bicyclists who suffer injuries in accidents with motor vehicles experience further challenges when individuals — from insurance companies to juries — automatically assume that the cyclist’s own actions fully or partially contributed to their injuries. Still, North Carolina is well-known for its support for bicyclists. It has made significant efforts to create bicycle-friendly programs that encourage riding.

Of course, the state still views bikes as vehicles when it comes to enforcement of the rules of the road. This is necessary to help ensure that everyone sharing the road can predict each other’s likely actions in the interest of maximum safety.

Based on what is known from this report, however, it appears that the bicyclist made two major errors based on the requirements of Chapter 20 of the North Carolina statutes:

  • First, the cyclist was riding on the left side of the road which, with some exceptions, violates subsection 20-146.
  • Less clear is whether or not the rider’s bicycle was properly-equipped with a headlamp and a rear reflex mirror or lamp, as required by subsection 20-129.

The victim’s lack of a helmet did not appear to violate North Carolina law, which generally requires helmet use only for riders younger than age 16. Helmet use can, of course, make a notable difference between life or death of bicyclists. However, it is questionable whether or not a helmet would save the life of a rider hit by two motor vehicles.

Financial Recovery Depends on Proximate Cause

The accident discussed above did not result in any police citations for the two vehicle drivers. Even if both drivers had been ticketed for the accident, however, the lack of a helmet could potentially have prevented the victim’s family from collecting compensation from the other drivers — provided that medical reports and other evidence showed that a helmet would have been a key element in saving her life.

Under NC pure contributory negligence law, victims cannot recover compensation from other liable parties when their own negligence directly caused the injuries (known as the proximate cause). It is important to understand that making this determination is not a simple process. An experienced bicycle accident attorney has the skills and resources to conduct thorough investigations to determine the true causes of injuries. After unraveling the details of an accident, the evidence often shows that one or more other parties proximately caused a bicyclist’s injuries.

Even when an insurance company denies a claim based on the contributory negligence law, victims should seek legal advice. Call us at 844-452-3688 or use our convenient online contact form to discuss all available legal options.