Anyone who rides a bicycle on the road knows that encounters with motorized vehicles can be dangerous. Hundreds of cyclists are killed and injured on Connecticut roadways every year.
Under Connecticut law, cyclists have the same right to travel on roadways as cars and trucks. However, despite this, some motor vehicle drivers fail to yield the right of way and others seem not to recognize that there are cyclists on the roads. When a bicycle versus motor vehicle crash occurs, it’s important to understand what steps to take.
Just like in any collision, the first step is figuring out who was at fault for the crash. Connecticut is a “comparative fault” state, which means more than one individual or entity may be partially responsible for causing the collision. For example, if a bicycle and car collide at an intersection, it may be determined by a judge or jury that the bicyclist was 40% at fault because he failed to pay attention to the cars around him and the vehicle driver was 60% at fault because he turned right on red without looking. As long as the party suing for injuries (plaintiff) is less at fault than another party, the plaintiff can collect damages for his injuries, which would be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to him. In the event that the jury awarded the bicyclist $100,000, for example, and he was found to be 40% at fault, he would only receive $60,000 of that $100,000 total.
Rules of the road for cyclists
Bicyclists must adhere to the rules of the road and there are specific laws that they must also follow when riding on the roadways:
- Cyclists must ride close to the curb or edge if moving slower than motorized traffic.
- If cyclists move at the legally posted speed limit, they can ride in the middle of the travel lane.
- Cyclists can use the entire travel lane when the road is too narrow to share.
- Cyclists are not required to use special bike lanes.
- Cyclists can only ride on parkways or highways if there are paths for bicycles.
- Cyclists can ride on sidewalks or crosswalks but must yield to pedestrians and warn them when passing.
Rules of the road for drivers
Drivers must follow specific rules when sharing the roads with cyclists. Signed into law in 2014, the Vulnerable Road User Law includes certain provisions to protect cyclists and others.
- A fine results when a motor vehicle driver causes severe injury to or death of a vulnerable person.
- A driver cannot make a right turn if it impedes the safety and travel of a bicyclist going straight.
- Drivers must give bicyclists a three-foot buffer when passing them on the road.
Injuries to bicyclists when struck by motor vehicles can be severe
If the driver of a motor vehicle appears to be the cause of a collision with a cyclist, the injured cyclist or family members can discuss the details of the incident with a qualified and experienced attorney. The family or cyclist may have the right to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.