When the weather is warm and daylight lasts well into the evening, some St. Louis residents may choose to use their bicycles for their daily commutes. Instead of getting caught in busy highway traffic, bike riders can maneuver through city streets and avoid the backups that often plague the city’s rush hour. Bicycles provide a healthy outlet for individuals who want to get some exercise while getting to where they need to go, but bike riding is not without risks. Every year, many Missouri residents get hurt in collisions with vehicles while riding their bikes, and some of those collisions result in fatalities.
Negligence as a cause of bike-vehicle collisions
One of the more common reasons that vehicles and bikes collide is driver negligence. Negligence is a legal theory that compares the actions of an allegedly negligent person to that of a reasonable person in a similar situation. If, during the comparison, it is found that a reasonable person would not have acted as the allegedly negligent person acted, then the person may be deemed to have exhibited negligence. Personal injury claims based on negligence generally must include evidence of duty between the parties, causation, and damages sustained by the victim.
For example, consider a driver who is sending text messages while behind the wheel of their car. As they approach a right turn, the look at their smart phone instead of the road, and collide with a bicyclist in a bike lane when they maneuver their vehicle without signaling. A court may evaluate if the driver was negligent and how they caused the victim to suffer injuries and losses.
Comparative negligence may impact a victim’s damages
During a negligence trial, a driver may offer evidence that a bicyclist-victim was also negligent when their collision occurred. Consider the example above. If the driver was texting and not paying attention to the road, then they carry some of the burden for causing the accident. But if the bicyclist-victim also was negligent at that time, then their recovery of damages may be reduced. A victim who is also a partial cause of their own harm cannot recover the proportion of their losses that can be attributed to their own negligence. In the discussed scenario, if the driver was 80% negligent for the crash and the bicyclist was 20% negligent, the bicyclist-victim could recover 80% of their accident-related damages.
It is not always easy for a personal injury victim to prepare and plead their own legal claims. Victims of bicycle accidents can seek help from lawyers to ensure that their cases are effectively prepared. No legal advice is offered in this post, and individual counsel from personal injury lawyers is suggested for readers with case-specific legal claims.