Road Accident: What Happens if You Hit a Cyclist With Your Car

Cycling is a great way to stay in shape and benefits the environment. However, cycling can be dangerous for riders. In the US, about 1,000 cyclists die, and more than 130,000 get hurt in road accidents yearly. 

Motorists can help reduce casualties by learning how to share the road. This guide outlines what you should know and what happens if you hit a bicycle rider with your car.

Key Takeaways
  • Transportation safety data show that US roads remain dangerous for cyclists all over the country.
  • T-junctions, roundabouts, and parking zones are dangerous areas for bike riders. Drivers must be alert when driving in these areas to prevent accidents.
  • You must stop and assist the cyclist if you crash into a bike rider.
  • After an accident, you must talk to your insurance provider and prepare to pay for damages. If the bike rider sustains injuries, they may be eligible for compensation.

A Quick Look at Bicycle Accidents in the US

Hitting a bike with your car can come with serious legal repercussions. The information below provides an overview of the traffic fatality problem in the country.

  • In 2019, 846 bicyclists died from a motor vehicle collision.
  • In 2010, non-motorists represented 16 percent of the total traffic fatalities. The number increased by four percentage points in 2014.
  • In the ten years between 2010 and 2019, total traffic fatalities increased by 9 percent. Meanwhile, non-motorist deaths rose by 44 percent. 
  • Eight percent of fatal bike accidents occurred in dark conditions, most occurring between 6:00 and 9:00 pm.
  • These crashes also have a significant economic impact. Every year, bike injuries and deaths from crashes are over $23 billion. These expenses include lost productivity, health care, and quality of life.
  • Adults in the 55 to 69 age group have the highest bicycle death rates. 
  • The injury and death rates for male bike riders are five and six times higher than for female bicyclists, respectively.. 
  • Adolescents, teens, and young adults have the highest rates of emergency department (ED) visits. 

The increase in fatal accidents proves that the roads are becoming more dangerous, especially for pedestrians and bike riders.

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Most Dangerous Areas for Cyclists

As a car driver, you are responsible for keeping cyclists and pedestrians safe. This section identifies the most dangerous areas on the road for cyclists.

At T-junctions

T-junctions are intersections where one road ends, joining a different one at a 90-degree angle approximately. In 2019, 27 percent of bike-related deaths occurred at intersections.

Crashes with bikes at T-junctions usually occur because of the following reasons:

  • Motorists are turning onto main roads, hitting bikers moving past the junction
  • Drivers do not yield the right of way when they turn across oncoming traffic

Often drivers argue that they crashed because the bike rider did not make themselves visible enough. When this happens, witness evidence can be crucial to establish liability.

Cyclists might be challenging to see in specific scenarios. In these cases, the biker might be:

  • Coming out of junctions
  • Moving from behind cars
  • Using roundabouts
  • Overtaking or filtering

Regardless of where bike lanes are, drivers need to watch out for bike riders near their vehicles at all times. This way, they can prevent any accidents from occurring.

At roundabouts

Unsurprisingly, roundabouts are one of the most common areas for accidents. Big roundabouts with numerous exits can be more dangerous for drivers, including people riding bikes.

Accidents at roundabouts commonly occur because of the following:

  • Motorists drive onto a roundabout without giving way to bike riders
  • Motorists overtake a cyclist and then turn off the roundabout without leaving sufficient space

Negligent driving can lead to accidents at roundabouts. You must yield the right of way to prevent injuring other drivers on the road.

Near parked vehicles

Many drivers in parked cars open their car doors without checking their mirrors. They could hit bikers hard enough to knock them off their bikes. While this may seem like a small matter, the rider could suffer serious injuries if they were moving fast.

Before getting out of your car, check your mirrors to ensure no bikers are approaching the side of your vehicle. Be careful when opening your doors to avoid bikers who pass too close to stationary cars.

When filtering and overtaking

In 2021, 51.4 million people rode bicycles in the US. With so many vehicles on the road, the volume of traffic and driver impatience can be a cause for concern. 

One common accident in busy areas occurs when cyclists overtake or filter through other cars. Lane splitting or lane filtering is illegal in most states but remains a common practice among cyclists. 

Accidents can occur in these circumstances when car drivers suddenly change lanes. They can collide with bikers if they do not check their mirrors or blind spots before changing directions. 

To prevent this accident from occurring, drivers must give bicycle riders as much room as they would when overtaking another car. They must also be mindful that cyclists may suddenly change directions to avoid obstacles like uneven road surfaces or drain covers.

You will need a car accident lawyer if you are at fault in a biking accident. They can help you talk to your insurance company and help pay for damages if the biker needs medical attention.

What To Do if You Hit a Bicycle With Your Car

Driving on the road can be dangerous, especially if the other people around you are not careful. Once you are behind the wheel, you are responsible for keeping other people safe. As a part of this effort, you must know the steps to take if you hit a biker with your vehicle.

Stop driving and check on the victim

If you do not want a hit-and-run charge, stop on the side of the road where your car is out of the way of other vehicles. Get out of your car, check on the bike rider, and see if they have injuries. If they do, refrain from moving them and call for help instead.

Moving the victim without knowing the extent of their bodily injuries might worsen their injuries. Refrain from providing medical treatment if you don’t have the proper training.

Call the police

In the US, it is smart for those involved in motor vehicle accidents to reach out to the local police or sheriff’s office. Most states require drivers to call the cops when an accident causes injuries or property damage over a certain amount. 

You should also call law enforcement when you think the biker is at fault for the accident or might have committed a violation. This way, law enforcers can investigate and establish liability.

In any case, a law enforcement officer can be an invaluable source of information in a stressful and confusing situation. An officer on the scene of the crash can do the following:

  • Protect the scene of the accident
  • Document and investigate the potential cause of the accident
  • Call for emergency medical attention

However, if someone sustains serious injuries and needs immediate medical care, you should call 911 before calling the police. 

In some cases, the cyclist might insist that they feel fine. However, they might be in shock and won’t feel anything immediately after an accident. They might have hit their head quite severely without knowing it.

Moreover, the symptoms of brain injuries after a car accident are not always immediately apparent. Some symptoms can appear a couple of hours after the collision. To be safe, encourage them to submit to a medical examination.

Exchange contact information

After talking to the police, exchange contact information with the other party. Even though cyclists do not need insurance, you should still get their name, address, and phone number. You should also leave your insurance information with them.

Gather evidence

Before leaving the scene, take as much documentation as possible. Talk to the police and request a copy of the official police report. This way, you have documentation of the accident for your insurance provider.

Sometimes, however, the police report does not match your perception of what occurred. In this case, gathering evidence at the scene of the accident is a crucial step. Doing so can help protect yourself if the collision results in a lawsuit.

Take photos of the state of the road, car, and bike. If you sustained an injury from the crash, you should also take photos of them. Prioritize taking pictures of the positions of your car and the bicycle. 

Look around for potential witnesses and take their statements. Most establishments have CCTVs, so find out if you can access footage from the owners.

The details of the car accident scene can help you when proving who was at fault and filing an insurance claim.

What Happens After the Accident

After the accident, you should reach out to your insurance provider to handle potential claims. You should also prepare to pay for damages if you are at fault. This section will discuss these steps to give you an idea of what to do after the accident.

Handle potential claims

You need to take preventative measures against litigation if you are not at fault. These steps include the following:

  • Keep documents relevant to the crash, including photos, police reports, videos, and other crucial information
  • Alert your insurance company to the situation so they can prepare for it
  • Do not speak directly with the injured party, their insurer, or their bicycle accident lawyer 
  • Have a legal representative contact the other party on your behalf
  • Refrain from any behaviors that would implicate you in the collision

Remember these tips to build a solid case against the at-fault party.

Call a car accident attorney to know your legal options if you accidentally hit a bike with your car. Some law firms offer potential clients free case evaluation and free legal consultation. Reach out to a lawyer immediately to know your legal rights after a car accident.

Deal with insurance companies

Getting medical attention for injuries in a biking accident can be emotionally unsettling and taxing. If someone involved in the crash requires medical attention, they need personal injury protection.

Suppose the injured biker is not at fault for the bicycle accident. In that case, the biker can submit a personal injury protection claim to your insurance provider. Your liability insurance should pay for the cyclist’s losses if they did not cause the accident.

For example, you are liable if you run a red light and crash into a biker using the required lighting at night. However, you are not responsible if you hit a biker without lighting gear because you can’t see them in the dark.

Other examples in which a cyclist might be held accountable for a collision include the following:

  • Moving the wrong way on a one-way street
  • Rolling through a stop sign
  • Failing to signal properly
  • Going outside the bike lane

Prepare to pay for damages

The injured cyclist is eligible for compensation if they did not cause the accident. Payment for their injuries and other losses can include compensation for economic damages. These include the following:

  • Rehabilitation services
  • Medical equipment
  • Long-term nursing care
  • Past and future medical bills
  • Mobility aids
  • Home modifications
  • Medications
  • Lost wages
  • Personal property and vehicle damages
  • Household services
  • Medical travel expenses
  • Loss of earning potential if the biker cannot work because of their injuries

The injured party can also seek compensation for non-economic damages, known as pain and suffering. This type of compensation covers the accident’s mental, physical, and emotional consequences. Examples of non-economic damages include the following:

  • Disfigurement
  • Scarring
  • Physical pain
  • Loss of a limb, bodily function, or a body part
  • Mental anguish
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Stress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

If you hit a cyclist and they die because of the accident, the victim’s loved ones can seek compensation. They can get compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral costs
  • Burial costs
  • Lost wages
  • Lost benefits
  • Pain and suffering of the victim and their loved ones
  • Loss of the victim’s care, companionship, and support

How To Keep Cyclists Safe on the Road

One way to address the increased traffic fatalities is to educate drivers on how to share the road with cyclists. This section outlines simple tips to help drivers keep bike riders safe.

Learn how to share the road

If you are getting nervous when a bike sweeps past your car, keep these simple tips in mind.

  • Slow down when you pass bikes

Reduce your speed when you pass a cyclist. Driving next to passing cyclists can be dangerous, especially when the weather is bad and the road is narrow. If you think it is safe to pass them, do it slowly and carefully until your car is well past the bike.

  • Leave enough space between your car and passing cyclists

When driving next to cyclists, leave at least three feet of space between you and the bike. Moreover, if you can overtake a cyclist, ensure there is no oncoming traffic. Then, give the biker plenty of space as you pass, and slow down as you go.

If there is heavy rain, leave more than three feet. The road is slippery and can cause the bike to swerve into your path.

Only try to pass a bike if you think you can do it safely. Do not do it if you need to go fast or get close to a bike to pass.

  • Yield to bikers when making a turn

Yield to cyclists when you make a turn. If you plan to turn right and there is a cyclist behind you, let them pass your vehicle before you turn. Give the bikers the right of way to prevent any accidents.

This is why it is crucial to look for bikes around your car. If you know they are close, you can prepare when there are turns on the road.

  • Check your surroundings before opening your car door

Check for bikes before opening your car door. If you are parked on a busy street, use your side mirror to look behind you before getting out of the vehicle. Opening your door in front of a biker can knock them over or make them turn into traffic.

Know basic cycling rules

If you collide with a bike rider, the cyclist could make personal injury claims and seek compensation for property damage. If the victim dies due to the collision, their loved one can file a wrongful death claim.

To know if the biker is at-fault for the crash, you need to know the basic traffic rules cyclists need to follow. The following are share-the-lane laws for bikers to prevent accidents from occurring:

  • Cyclists can ride on the road
  • They may take up an entire lane of traffic
  • They should follow regular traffic laws
  • They can share a lane with another bicycle at maximum
  • They must use hand signals when switching lanes

For example, suppose a cyclist switched to another lane without a hand signal and a car hit them. In this case, the car driver is not liable for the cyclist’s injuries. They will need a personal injury lawyer who can help establish liability.

Exercise situational awareness

Whether you are driving a bike or a car, you must be constantly aware of what goes on around you. This involves listening to, observing, and anticipating the actions of the vehicles and pedestrians on the road.

It can be tough to predict the intentions of other drivers and cyclists. However, you can make it easier by being aware of their opportunities.

For example, if driving near bike lanes, you should slow down even if you do not see any bikes. A bicycle could appear at the last minute, and your actions could save you both.

Report aggressive driving

Aggressive driving is a combination of unlawful and dangerous actions demonstrating a conscious disregard for safety. As of 2023, 15 states have passed legislation addressing aggressive driving. Meanwhile, 11 states have passed laws outlining the definition of aggressive driving actions.

The states consider the following behaviors as aggressive driving: 

  • Running red lights and stop signs
  • Tailgating or following too closely
  • Changing lanes unsafely
  • Refusing to yield the right of way
  • Improper passing
  • Speeding

Aggressive drivers are dangerous to bikers and other motorists. It is smart to avoid rather than engage them.

Steer clear of aggressive drivers on the road. Stay relaxed, and remember that your goal is to get to your destination safely, not to challenge them. Avoid eye contact and ignore rude gestures.

Once you are out of the road, you can report the aggressive driver. You can also report these behaviors if you are not the one driving. Take note of the following information and report them to law enforcement:

  • The car’s make, model, color, license plate state, and license plate number
  • The driver’s race, gender, age, hair color, height, and weight
  • Location of incident
  • Description of what happened
  • Date and time of the incident

Pro Tip

Yielding to other drivers, including bike riders, can help prevent accidents on the road. Understand how to share the road with cyclists to keep them safe and avoid accidents.

Learn How To Prevent Road Accidents at The Personal Injury Center

A car and bicycle accident is preventable if drivers and cyclists follow share-the-lane laws. Unfortunately, many are reckless on the road, which leads to accidents and serious injuries. If your car collided with a bike, you might need a personal injury attorney to help establish liability.

Lawyers can help you get the evidence you need to prove that you are not at fault for the accident. They can also provide legal representation if the case goes to court.

For more information about personal injury cases, visit The Personal Injury Center today. Our website contains valuable resources to help our readers address their legal challenges.

Crashing into a cyclist on the road can come with serious legal repercussions. Learn how to protect yourself and bikers on the road at The Personal Injury Center.

Have you recently been injured in an accident?

FAQs on Road Accident: What Happens if You Hit a Cyclist With Your Car

If the cyclist acts negligently or is biking under the influence, the car driver is not at fault. They do not have to pay for damages or injuries sustained in the incident.

Penalties for colliding with a cyclist vary depending on various factors. These include the circumstances of the accident and the location in which it occurred. In some jurisdictions, hitting a biker may be considered a criminal offense, while in others, it may only be a traffic violation.

Bike owners do not necessarily need to have insurance. However, it is wise to have one to protect against bike theft or property damage.