If a Bike and a Car Collide, Who is at Fault?

Accidents between vehicles and bicycles often result in devastating personal injuries. Unfortunately, bicyclists are considered vulnerable roadway users, and even riders wearing a helmet can face catastrophic damage. It is important to determine fault in the aftermath of a bike versus vehicle collision in Washington. Here, we want to discuss how fault is determined in these situations as well as the importance of working with a bicycle accident attorney if you have sustained an injury in a bicycle versus vehicle collision.

Fault Can be Difficult to Determine

In the aftermath of a bicycle versus vehicle accident, it will be crucial to determine liability. However, determining fault following a collision can be challenging. There are various types of evidence that need to be gathered at the scene of the crash and in the days and weeks that follow in order to properly determine liability. Even though many individuals may automatically assume that a vehicle driver will be at fault in these situations, that is not always the case. 

Some of the main types of evidence that are used to prove liability after a Washington bicycle accident include the following:

  • Statements from drivers and passengers at the scene
  • Statement from the bicyclist
  • Statements from eyewitnesses 
  • Photographs taken at the scene of the crash
  • Video surveillance from any cameras nearby
  • Mobile device data
  • Vehicle “black box” data
  • The police report

Insurance carriers will look at the totality of the evidence and make a determination as to what happened. However, you should not simply rely on the determination made by the insurance carrier. Bicycle accident victims and any other injury victims involved should work with their own attorney who can conduct an investigation and come to their own conclusion about what happened. In some cases, it may be necessary to work with accident reconstruction experts who can use the evidence gathered and construct complex computer and 3D models to show what likely happened in the incident.

What About Partial Fault in a Bike Crash?

It is not uncommon for there to be more than one party responsible for causing an accident. Yes, bicyclists can share fault in these situations. In Washington, bicycles are considered to be vehicles for the purposes of roadway rights and responsibilities. Bicyclists do have right of way on the roadway, and other drivers must respect the bicyclists’ right to be there. However, bicyclists also have to obey all traffic laws, just like any other vehicle driver. 

Washington operates under a “pure comparative negligence” system. This means that individuals can recover compensation even if they are 99% at fault for an incident. However, this also means that a person partially responsible for an accident will receive reduced compensation based on their percentage of fault. For example, if an individual is 25% at fault for a bicycle accident claim and suffered $10,000 in damages, they would only be able to collect $7,500 in total compensation to account for their percentage of fault.

If you or somebody you love has been injured in a bicycle accident caused by the actions of another driver, we encourage you to work with an attorney as soon as possible. A Seattle bicycle accident lawyer will investigate the incident and push back against any allegations of fault to help recover maximum compensation for your losses.