As people become more environmentally conscious, bicycles are growing in popularity as an alternative to motor vehicles. Bike share services, identified by bright-colored bikes seen throughout major cities in Massachusetts, make it an even easier option for everyone. With the growing use of bikes comes an increased potential for accidents. The information below on bike accidents and determining fault for accidents with motor vehicles will help you better navigate the roads, whether in a car or bike.

Avoiding Bike Accidents

Bikers must use the same roads as drivers (unless there are specially marked bike lanes). Although state laws don’t prohibit riding bikes on sidewalks, many local city/town laws forbid it (for the safety of pedestrians). In sharing the roads, both bikers and motorists are responsible for following laws and general precautions to avoid accidents.

Rules for Bikers:

  • Use a front white light after sunset and before sunrise.
  • Use a rear red light or reflector.
  • Use reflectors on pedals (or worn on bikers’ ankles).
  • Obey all traffic laws including stop lights and stop signs.
  • Use hand signals for turns and stopping.

Motorist Responsibilities:

  • When parked on a street, check for bikes before opening your doors.
  • Keep a reasonable distance from bikes, even when passing. Avoid passing if there is insufficient space.
  • After passing a bike, do not make sudden right turns. You must signal and allow enough time for bikes to recognize that you are turning.
  • Yield to oncoming bikes when making a left turn.

Determining Fault for Motor Vehicle Accidents

Determining fault for motor vehicle accidents with bikes is extremely important. The tendency is the blame the motorist since cars are much bigger than bikes and drivers are insured. Taking blame for an accident has a negative impact on drivers in the form of higher insurance costs and personal liability for damages beyond insurance limits. For bikers, lack of insurance coverage can mean a hefty financial burden if found to be at fault.

Who has the right of way is typically the main factor in bike accidents and determining fault for accidents with motor vehicles. Since most accidents occur at intersections, the presence of a stop sign or stop light, who arrived at the intersection first, and what each party was attempting to do when the accident occurred must be reviewed. Unfortunately, the answer is not always clear. Working with a Massachusetts personal injury attorney is critical to protecting your rights in a court case. Please contact us to discuss your specific case and to learn how we can help.