Pedestrian Hit by a Bicycle: Who is at fault?
For pedestrian-cyclist accidents, fault may lay with the pedestrian hit by a bicycle, the bicyclist, or both, depending on the circumstances. Insurers and courts assign fault to whichever party was in breach of his duty of care, i.e., when he acted negligently.
Who is at fault for a pedestrian-cyclist accident?When a pedestrian is hit by a bicycle, one of the first things the insurance company will investigate is fault. Determining fault in these accidents is much like that for other types of traffic accidents. The adjuster will review the facts of the case and any evidence provided, and then determine which party is at fault and therefore liable for damages.
Like all other road users, pedestrians and cyclists must know and obey the rules of the road so as not to cause harm to others. When they violate rules and travel carelessly, it not only puts themselves and others at risk of harm, it also makes them financially liable for any damages they cause as a result of their negligence.
What are some examples of negligence in a pedestrian-cyclist accident?An investigation may find a cyclist or pedestrian who violates traffic law or does not exercise care at fault for an accident. For example, Tex. Transp. Code § 552.006 prohibits pedestrians from walking on the roadway when there is a sidewalk accessible. If a pedestrian was walking on the road despite a readily available sidewalk and a cyclist struck her, she will likely be at least partly responsible for the accident because she was in violation of the law.
Similarly, Sec. 551.104 mandates that cyclists must have good working brakes on their bikes. If a cyclist was speeding down a hill on an old bike with shoddy brakes and could not stop in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian, an insurer or court may find him negligent.
Other forms of negligence common in pedestrian-bicycle accidents include:
- Being under the influence
- Distraction (e.g., cell phones, earbuds with loud music, etc.)
- Traveling in undesignated areas (e.g., crossing at a non-intersection, riding on pedestrian path, etc.)
What if both parties are to blame for the collision?There are many cases in which both parties may be partly responsible for the accident. Let us say a cyclist was speeding along the curb in stopped traffic, and a pedestrian crossed without warning in the middle of the roadway. If both parties were acting negligently when the accident occurred, the insurer or courts will assign both of them with a degree of fault.
Recovery of damages in this case would hinge on Texas's comparative fault rule. The rule states that an insurer can reduce the damage award by the other party's degree of fault. So in the above example, if the both parties were assigned with 50 percent fault for the wreck, they can recover 50 percent of their damages. And if either party was more than 50 percent liable for the accident, that party would be unable to recover any compensation. (Tx. Civ. Prac. & Rem. § 33.001)