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Who is Responsible in a Bicycle Accident?

March 22, 2024Articles

Bicycle accidents sometimes occur when a rider makes a careless mistake or experiences a mechanical malfunction with their bicycle, but serious injuries are far more common when a bicycle accident occurs due to a collision between a vulnerable cyclist and a motor vehicle weighing an average of 4,000 pounds—or a large commercial truck that could weigh as much as 18,000 pounds. When a cyclist suffers serious injuries with medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering, they can recover compensation for those damages through a personal injury claim, but first, they have to identify the responsible party, prove the negligent action, and demonstrate the responsible party meets the legal definition of liability for damages to the victim.

Common Responsible Parties in Bicycle Accidents

Cyclists make errors at times, and no one can control the weather which can cause slippery roadways and dangerous debris. But in the majority of bicycle accidents that result in serious injuries, the liable party is an at-fault driver. The most frequent cause of bicycle accidents is driver negligence including the following careless, reckless, or wrongful actions:

  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Aggressive driving
  • Intoxicated driving
  • Left turn accidents
  • Tailgating
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Sideswiping a cyclist while passing too closely
  • Car door accidents

Driver error, negligent driving, reckless driving, and drunk driving are the most common causes of bicycle accidents; however, in some cases, the responsible party is the manufacturer of a defective bicycle part or auto part. Also named in many bicycle accident claims are negligent road maintenance agencies that failed to promptly address a significant hazard or left a broken traffic light unrepaired. Negligent construction companies sometimes bear responsibility for bicycle accidents when they leave construction debris where it impacts the safety of bicyclists.

Proving Liability for Bicycle Accidents

When a driver, manufacturer, road maintenance agency, or other negligent party causes injuries to others, they are responsible for providing compensation for the damages—typically through an insurance policy. Before an injury victim can recover compensation, they have the responsibility to prove the responsible party’s negligence through a preponderance of the evidence. Proving negligence and liability requires documenting evidence showing the following:


  • The at-fault party owed a duty of care to others on the road to take all reasonable measures to prevent causing injuries
  • They breached their duty through an act of negligence
  • The negligent breach of duty directly caused injury to a bicyclist
  • The injury victim suffered economic and non-economic damages

Damages in bicycle accident claims are typically substantial, including medical expenses, lost wages, diminished future earning capacity, and compensation for pain and suffering and PTSD. Insurance companies often protect their profits by disputing a cyclist’s accident claim or attempting to assign the cyclist an unfair portion of blame to reduce the amount of compensation they have to pay.

Under Connecticut’s Sec. 52-572o, comparative responsibility and contributory negligence the law states the following:

“The judgment shall also specify the proportionate amount of damages allocated against each party liable, according to the percentage of responsibility established for such party.”

Unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes take advantage of this law to reduce the amount they must pay on claims when their client is the responsible party in a bicycle accident. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer defends their client against these and other common insurance company tactics.