Bicycling is a popular sport throughout Washington State. Riders have similar rights and responsibilities when using Washington roads. RCW 46.61. Although we are a rather bicycle friendly state, we see a significant number of bike crashes each year. Crashes happen most usually when a vehicle strikes it, but other causes are poor road conditions and faulty equipment.
In automobile vs. bicycle crashes liability needs to be established in the same framework of other negligence:
1. The driver owed a duty to the cyclist (drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care in the operation of their vehicle to avoid harming others);
2. The driver breached that duty (he or she failed to exercise reasonable care); and
3. The bicyclist’s injuries resulted from the driver’s breach. It’s not enough to show the driver failed to exercise reasonable care, it must be proven that the failure caused the accident and resulting injuries.
A driver and/or his or her insurance company is responsible for damages caused by their negligence.
Dangerous Road Conditions
In poor road condition crashes, premises liability laws will apply. Property owners and occupiers must keep their land free from dangerous conditions, which includes public and private roads. If a bicyclist is injured as a result of a dangerous condition such as a pothole, berm, or obscured stop sign, the owner or government entity can be held liable.
Public roads are owned and maintained by the town, city, or state. Special procedures must be followed when suing governments; strict compliance is required or an injured person’s claim may be forever barred.
If you think your bicycle crash injury involves a town, city, or the state, it’s best to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to understand important time frames and deadlines.
Other causes of bicycle crashes include defective equipment, poor lighting, and failure to maintain sidewalks.
What damages are recoverable after a bike accident?
Economic damages: monetary loss for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, future costs, and property damage
Non-economic damages: losses not associated with financial value or loss such as pain, suffering, disability, disfigurement, loss of consortium, emotional distress, depression and anxiety
Case Example: Bicycle Crash
Our client was an experienced bicyclist in her late 60s. She rode her bike downhill on a Bainbridge Island road and unbeknownst to her, near the bottom of the hill, was a newly installed water berm. The berm had recently been installed by the City of Bainbridge Island. Its design and construction was negligent because it did not conform to appropriate construction codes, nor did it have sufficient warning of its placement. Our client struck the berm and went flying - crashing violently into the pavement face first. She suffered a traumatic brain injury (with loss of consciousness), facial fractures, multiple fractures to her left hand/arm, and other soft tissue injuries. Following the injury she endured multiple surgeries, tissue infections, and permanent facial disfigurement and chronic pain.
Contact Sherrard McGonagle Tizzano & Lind’s Bainbridge Island Office to schedule your free case evaluation. We proudly represent injury victims throughout Washington State.