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New York Bicycle Accident Frequently Asked Questions

A defect in the road caused me to crash on my bike. Can I sue the government?

Yes. You can sue the governmental body that was in charge of maintaining the road. That is provided that the accident occurred because of poor maintenance, defective construction, poor signage, etc. It is important to note that you only have 6 months from the time of your accident to initially provide a written notice of your claim to the governmental entity. You will then have to wait 6 months after filing this to allow them to attempt to settle your claim.

Do bikes have the right of way on the road?

No. Bike riders must follow the same rules as motor vehicles, including to adhering to all traffic lights, road signs, and yielding to pedestrians. There are special vehicle code sections just for bicycles.

If I violate traffic laws and end up getting hurt in an accident can I still be compensated?

Under comparative negligence you can still recover, though your recovery will be offset by your degree of fault.

Who can I recover from in a bicycle accident?
  • Negligent drivers;
  • Negligent manufacturers;
  • The city, county or state that maintains the road;
  • Negligent bike repair shop; and
  • Owners of public or private property where a dangerous condition exists.
The person that caused my bicycle accident doesn’t have insurance. What can I do?

Every case is unique, so the answer will depend on the circumstances of your case. There are certain insurance policies that can provide recovery. Or, perhaps the driver working at the time of the accident. If this is the case, a claim could be filed against their employer. Another possibility is to determine if the negligent party has substantial assets that could provide compensation for your injuries. It is important to speak with a lawyer without delay to ensure your legal rights are protected.

I was hit on my bike by a hit and run driver. What can I do?

Unfortunately, this is all too common. It is important to report the accident to the police immediately. Record any information you may have such as the color/make of the car or the license number. If the motorist can’t be identified, it is possible that you could make a claim under the uninsured motorist provision of your policy. It is important to not delay. Many insurance policies will require that you report the accident to the police within 24 hours as well as to the insurance company.

What are some common causes of bicycle accidents?

Vehicles making right-hand turns;

Sideswiping a bicyclist;

Inattentive drivers;

Running traffic lights;

Cars negligently backing out of parking spaces and driveways;

Drunk driving;

Driving too fast for road conditions; and

Failing to yield.

Can I bring a lawsuit if I was doing something wrong such as not wearing a helmet or riding on the wrong side of the street?

You can file a claim as long as you can prove that the driver was at fault. The bicyclist has the same responsibilities on the road as the driver. There are some additional requirements for bicyclists as well. While you may have been negligent on your part, this will not preclude you from recovering compensation. Your percentage of fault will simply offset what you would otherwise recover.

My child was hit on her bicycle and killed. What rights do we have?

You children aren’t held to the same standard of care for their own safety that adults are. Drivers must be extra careful when children are riding bikes in the area. Even if your child was negligent, you would be able to recover against the responsible party.

I had my bike repaired shortly before my accident. I believe the brakes were not fixed properly. This caused me to lose control and crash. Do I have a claim against the repair shop?

Yes. This is provided that the repair shop was negligent in fixing your brakes, and that the brake failure was the cause of your accident.

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