Motor vehicle accidents involving bicycles are all too common. I recently gave up road cycling after being in a series of accidents involving mechanical failure. But when I replaced my street bike, which I managed to destroy, I purchased a hybrid bike in order to focus my riding on bike trails. My concern with street cycling is just too great after reading many stories about bicyclist injuries from collisions with cars. Add to the mix people who text and drive, drunk drivers, inexperienced drivers, distracted drivers and the dangers of large trucks, and I will now stick to bike-only trails.
Personal injury cases arising out of motor vehicle-bicycle accidents are often severe or result in wrongful death. The rules of the road for cycling are well-known. The State of Ohio has summarized those rules in the following handbook: http://www.dot.state.oh.us/Divisions/Planning/SPR/bicycle/Documents/ODOTCyclingSmarterGuide.pdf. In addition to the State statutes applicable to bicycling, municipalities and townships can enact local ordinances that regulate the operation of bikes, so long as they do not ban the operation of bikes on their roadways altogether.
In general, bicyclists who ride on a paved road are subject to the same traffic rules and rights as motor vehicles. They also have the right-of-way compared with oncoming traffic when traveling through an intersection. These rights pertain when riding on “any paved area directly adjacent to the outer white edge line …” A cyclist may not have the right-of-way when riding on an unpaved berm or sidewalk.
Despite these clear rules, public opinion about biking can be as negative as it is with motorcycling, a fact that a skilled personal injury attorney must be aware of and prepare for in cases involving motor vehicle accidents. For example, the comments in a recent story about a dump truck that made a left-hand turn in front of an oncoming cyclist were equally divided between who was at fault. In fact, the law is quite clear that the cyclist had the right-of-way. Advanced trial techniques can be used to remove potential jurors who will tend to ignore the law and educate the remaining jurors on the applicable rules of the road.