Cyclists and liability in the event of an accident – Legal desire

Even though bicycle accidents seem to be on the decline in some major cities, they are still frequent enough to be a major concern. Indeed, a recent bicycle accident study showed a decline in Oakland, California. It is a common belief that cyclists are never at fault if they are involved in a car accident because they are so much smaller than any motor vehicle. Shouldn’t motorists be held liable for damages when they cause injury to a cyclist or damage their property? The truth is a bit more complicated than that.

The laws are the same

Whether you are cycling or driving, the laws are the same. Yes, cyclists are in a more vulnerable position than motorists, but they still have to follow the same traffic rules as drivers. This means following the flow of traffic, stopping at stop signs and red lights, making turns safely, yielding to pedestrians and staying clear of sidewalks.

If a cyclist violates the rules of the road and this violation results in an accident with a motor vehicle, the cyclist can be held liable for injuries and property damage suffered by the driver or passengers of the vehicle. This also means that the cyclist would be responsible for his own injuries and property damage. This can be substantial, especially because cyclists are not required to have insurance like motorists.

shared fault

As with all motor vehicle accidents, most states have what is called a “shared fault” or “comparative negligence” law. This means that each person involved in an accident is assigned a fault percentage on and up to 100%. For example, if a vehicle turns in front of a cyclist and causes the accident, the driver would likely be assigned 100% of the fault.

However, if a cyclist passes a stop sign and is hit by a speeding driver, the two parts would be at fault to some extent. The cyclist would be at fault for not respecting the stop sign and the driver would be at fault for not respecting the speed limit. If the driver could have stopped safely before hitting the cyclist if he had exceeded the speed limit, he could be considered more at fault than the cyclist. The investigator can assign 60% fault to the driver and 40% fault to the cyclist.

helmet laws

In states where helmet wearing is mandatory for road cyclists, if a cyclist does not wear a helmet and is involved in a car accident, their failure to comply with the law could affect their fault percentage. For example, the motorist could argue that if he had been wearing a helmet, the injuries would not have been as serious. For this reason and the fact that you could save your life, it is crucial that you always wear a helmet when riding your bike, especially if you are riding alongside motor vehicles.

Although no state currently requires helmets for adult drivers, some cities may have their own laws, and nearly half of the states require helmets for drivers under a certain age. Know the laws where you ride to ensure you are always in compliance.


Cycling does not absolve you of your responsibility to obey traffic laws. You could still be held liable for personal injury and property damage if you are at fault in an accident. In a case like this, it is always recommended that you get legal representation immediately to protect your rights.