Establishing fault in any traffic accident is a tricky matter—the more so in the case of a bicycle accident, where it has to be taken into account that motor vehicles and bicycles are not on an equal footing, so to speak.  While it may seem that the size of the car in the accident gives a bicyclist a distinct advantage in such a dispute, the fact is that bicyclists have the same responsibilities as any other driver.  Like anyone, a bicyclist can make mistakes that damage their credibility when they make a claim following an injurious accident.  To avoid an indiscretion that could not only cause injury, but lose any chance of compensation, read and learn:

1. Caravan laterally

No one likes those crowds of people who form a line across the entire aisle or hallway as they walk along as if they owned the place…and on the road, this principle stands.  In fact, it is against the law to ride two abreast if to do so would interfere with the other vehicles on the road (and riding three abreast is forbidden under any circumstances).  If you are hurt in a lateral caravan, the argument will probably made that you were legally asking for trouble.

2. Don’t signal

As a bicyclist, you are under a special obligation to let others know what you are doing.  Since a bicycle doesn’t have brake lights or blinkers, you will have to announce your intentions with hand signals.  To indicate a left turn, simply extend your left arm outward.  An acceptable right-hand turn signal is made by making a right angle with the elbow of either arm (pointing up with your hand).  To demonstrate when you are slowing down, simply extend your left arm downward, making an acute angle between your arm and your body.  Making sure to apprise other drivers of your goal is much safer than forcing them to anticipate your next move.

3. Skimp on reflectors

Assuming we can ignore malice and psychopathy, a seen bicyclist is a safe bicyclist.  The vast majority of motorists will make every effort to avoid hitting a bicyclist they can see.  It’s only logical, then, that bicyclists would want to be seen.  This is why Utah code requires bicyclists to have “a white headlight, red taillight or reflector, and side reflectors…visible for at least 500 feet” for rides 30 minutes prior to sunrise or following sunset.  This measure is as much a safeguard for the bicyclist as it is a courtesy to motorists.

4. Neglect your brakes

If you don’t have brakes that can go from 10 miles per hour to a complete stop in 25 feet (barring poor weather and other riding impediments), they are not up to the legal standard.  Don’t contribute to an accident because your bicycle is not in working order—take care of your ride and yourself.

5. Don’t watch for pedestrians

Although bicyclists are not responsible for some things that turn up on their commute—logs, gravel, etc.—they are obliged to watch for pedestrians, just like motorists.  While it is possible for a vigilant bicyclist to be injured in a collision with a pedestrian barreling into their path, it’s generally easier to avoid that situation altogether than to try explaining it.

6. Ride in places where bicycles are not allowed

You can’t expect pity if you break your hand punching someone in the face.  Likewise, you take your safety into your own hands when you ride a bicycle in zones not meant for bicycles.  If bicycles are not permitted in a given area, there’s probably a reason for it.

7. Transport an obstructive object/person by bicycle

It will damage your case if a major contributor to the accident was draped over/stacked on/sitting on your handlebars.  If there was anything on or otherwise attached to the bicycle that would have made it unduly difficult to maneuver, it will be a lot more difficult to establish full or partial fault on the part of the other driver involved in the bicycle accident.  Taking these sorts of risks can only hurt your case if there is a collision.

If you have taken all reasonable precautions, but failed to avert a bicycle accident, there is help…even if you may have been explicitly told otherwise.  The best way to determine whether your injury qualifies for substantial compensation is to talk to a bicycle accident attorney familiar with the weights and balances of a personal injury claim.  To talk to the best legal professionals in Utah, call Christensen & Hymas for a free consultation at (801) 506-0800.