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What Happens if You Hit a Cyclist With Your Car? 

If you hit a cyclist with your car, it’s a horrible experience for everyone involved. The cyclist could suffer severe injuries, and you may feel guilty. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, it doesn’t mean you’re a horrible person. It doesn’t even mean that you were entirely to blame.

Get in touch with a Sand Law attorney immediately to protect your rights. Schedule a free consultation by contacting us online or calling 651-291-7263.

Legal Consequences of Hitting a Cyclist with Your Car

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, eight bicyclists die on average annually due to collisions with passenger vehicles.

When a car collides with a cyclist, the legal consequences for the driver can be severe, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Some potential legal ramifications include:

Criminal Charges

If the driver’s actions are deemed particularly negligent or reckless, criminal charges, such as vehicular manslaughter or reckless driving, may be filed. Criminal charges can result in fines, probation, community service, or imprisonment.

Civil Liability

The driver may face civil lawsuits from the injured cyclist or their family seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the accident.

Fines and Penalties

In many jurisdictions, drivers found at fault for hitting a cyclist may receive traffic citations and fines, particularly if they violated traffic laws or were engaged in unsafe driving behaviors.

License Suspension or Revocation

In severe cases, the driver’s license may be suspended or revoked if the accident involved gross negligence, multiple traffic violations, or unsafe driving behavior.

Causes of Car-Cyclist Accidents

Car-cyclist accidents can occur due to a variety of reasons. Some common causes include the following:

  • Distracted driving: Drivers using mobile phones, eating, or adjusting the radio may fail to notice cyclists on the road.
  • Dooring: Opening a car door without checking for approaching cyclists can result in cyclists crashing into it.
  • Speeding: Driving above the speed limit reduces a driver’s reaction time and increases the severity of accidents, especially with vulnerable road users like cyclists.
  • Improper passing: Passing cyclists too closely without allowing adequate space can lead to side-swipe collisions.
  • Impaired driving: Driving drunk or high can make it impossible to react to cyclists and other hazards on the road in time.

When is a Cyclist to Blame for an Accident?

While drivers are often at fault in car-cyclist accidents, cyclists cause about 50% of them. These are some of the ways bicycle riders can contribute to accidents:

  • Running red lights or stop signs: Minnesota law requires cyclists to obey all traffic signals and signs, just like vehicle drivers. Disobeying traffic signals can lead to collisions with cars, especially at intersections.
  • Riding against traffic: Cyclists are required to ride in the same direction as traffic flow to maintain visibility and predictability.
  • Darting into traffic: Suddenly entering traffic without proper signaling or observing oncoming vehicles can catch drivers off guard.

Steps to Take if You Hit a Cyclist with Your Car

Being involved in a car-cyclist accident can be a traumatic experience, but taking the right steps immediately after the incident can help ensure the well-being of those involved and protect your legal interests. Here are the essential steps to follow if you hit a cyclist with your car:

Stay at the Scene

Regardless of the extent of the accident, always stop your vehicle and remain at the accident scene. Leaving the scene of an accident, especially one involving injuries, can lead to serious legal consequences.

Check for Injuries

Check on the well-being of the cyclist and provide any necessary first aid if you’re trained to do so. Call for medical assistance immediately if the cyclist appears to be seriously injured.

Report the Accident

Contact the police as soon as possible to report the accident. Provide all relevant details, such as the location of the accident, the number of people involved, and any injuries. Having an official police report is crucial for insurance claims and any potential legal proceedings.

Exchange Information

Share your contact and insurance information with the cyclist and witnesses who may have observed the accident. Obtain the cyclist’s contact and insurance information as well. This information will be necessary for insurance claims and investigations.

Document the Scene

If it is safe, use your phone to take videos or photos of the accident scene. Pay attention to the positions of the vehicles involved, damage to your car and the cyclist’s bicycle, and, if possible, your injury. These photographs can serve as valuable evidence during insurance claims or legal proceedings.

Cooperate with Authorities

When the police arrive at the scene, provide an accurate and honest account of the incident. Stick to the facts and avoid making any speculative or assumptive statements. Cooperating with the authorities is essential for a thorough investigation of the accident.

Can I Recover Damages if I’m Partially At-Fault?

You might have suffered an injury in the accident. For example, you might have hit another car after hitting the bike, and the impact caused a traumatic brain injury or some other serious problem. You’ll have significant medical bills and might lose wages because you won’t be able to work for a long time.

If the cyclist caused or contributed to the accident, you have the right to seek compensation for those and other damages. Minnesota’s modified comparative negligence law allows you to recover compensation if the accident investigation shows you weren’t 51% or more to blame. The court will reduce your compensation depending on your percentage of fault.

For example, if you were found 30% at fault for the accident and the cyclist was found 70% responsible, you would receive 70% of the damages you incurred. If your damages are $100,000, you’ll receive $70,000 instead.

Filing a Lawsuit to Recover Damages From Your No-Fault Insurance

Minnesota is a “no-fault” insurance state, meaning injured parties can seek compensation from their insurance company regardless of who was at fault for the accident. The insurance company covers the damages up to the policy’s limits, regardless of who caused the accident.

However, certain circumstances may allow injured parties to pursue additional compensation through a bicycle accident lawsuit.

For example, if the injuries are severe, the medical expenses exceed the policy’s limits, or there is evidence of gross negligence by the other party, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit for additional damages.

How Can an Accident Lawyer Help if You Hit a Cyclist?

Consulting with an accident lawyer can be beneficial if you hit a cyclist. These are just a few of the ways an attorney can help, whether you’re the driver or the cyclist.

  • Assess your case: Evaluate the circumstances of the accident and help you understand your legal rights and options.
  • Handle insurance claims: Assist with dealing with insurance companies and ensuring you receive fair compensation.
  • Negotiate a settlement: Your attorney will work to negotiate a fair settlement that covers your damages.
  • Represent you in court: If necessary, a lawyer can represent you to pursue a lawsuit and seek appropriate damages.

Car-cyclist accidents can be traumatic and legally complex. Seeking legal counsel can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve while navigating the legal process – even if you were partially to blame. Schedule a free case review with Sand Law by calling us at 651-291-7263 or using our online contact form.