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Can a Bicyclist Be Liable for an Accident in Arizona?

Posted on September 16, 2022 in

When a bicycle and a motor vehicle collide, the cyclist will almost always suffer the worst of the injuries. According to crash facts from the Arizona Department of Transportation, 1,027 bicycle accidents were reported in 2021, resulting in 45 cyclist deaths and 1,005 injuries. Yet this does not mean the motor vehicle driver is always or automatically responsible for bicycle accidents. It is also possible for a bicyclist to be held liable in a Phoenix car accident lawsuit, depending on the circumstances.

Bicyclist Responsibilities in Arizona

It is legal for bicycles to ride in traffic lanes alongside motor vehicles in Arizona. Bicyclists are not permitted to ride on sidewalks in some parts of the state, such as in most downtown districts. In these areas, they must ride on the road unless bicycle lanes are available. The right to ride on the road comes with certain responsibilities. Cyclists are required to adhere to the same traffic laws as motorists. This includes speed limits, right-of-way laws, and traffic signs and signals.

If a bicyclist breaks a traffic law, he or she could be held responsible for a related accident. If, for example, a cyclist bikes under the influence of alcohol and rides through a stop sign, he or she could be responsible for crashing into a motor vehicle that had the right-of-way. Even if the cyclist suffered serious injuries and the motorist was uninjured, the party that is guilty of violating a traffic law will be held liable.

Determining Liability for a Bike Accident in Arizona

An investigation may be required to determine who or what caused a bicycle accident. If it is revealed that the bicyclist was breaking the law, such as by riding against traffic, he or she could be found liable through negligence per se. This legal doctrine means that since the cyclist violated a law, he or she is liable for a related accident without needing further proof of his or her negligence or fault.

However, a bicyclist may not be found entirely at fault for the accident. The motor vehicle driver involved in the crash could share fault with the cyclist for contributing to the collision. In this case, both parties would be allocated a percentage of liability by the courts. Then, the injured bicyclist would be eligible for a financial recovery that has been reduced by an amount equivalent to his or her degree of fault.

In Arizona, a victim can be allocated any degree of fault and still be eligible for partial compensation, up to 99 percent. For example, if a biker is given 60 percent of the fault for an accident for breaking a traffic law but a motorist is given the other 40 percent for texting and driving, the injured biker would still be eligible for a partial recovery. Rather than having 100 percent of his or her medical bills paid, the cyclist’s recovery would be diminished by his or her percentage of fault (60 percent, in this example).

What Are Your Recovery Options if You Are at Fault for a Bicycle Accident?

Your own car insurance coverage may pay for your injuries if you have personal injury protection on your policy. If the other driver is uninsured or you are injured in a hit-and-run bicycle accident, your uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance may pay for your losses instead. Otherwise, you may have health insurance to help you pay for your medical care after an at-fault accident. 

If you get injured in a bicycle accident in Arizona, do not admit fault for the crash, even if you believe you are responsible. Be polite to the motorist but don’t apologize for the collision. Call the police to report the accident right away. Get medical care for your injuries. Then, discuss your recovery options with a bicycle accident attorney in Phoenix before speaking to an insurance company. A bicycle accident lawyer can help whether or not you are found to be at fault for the collision.