Every cyclist has a ‘duty of care’ when riding their bike just as every pedestrian has a ‘duty of care’ when crossing roads. Not following this duty of care and resulting in an accident could cause the cyclist or pedestrian to be liable and charged with negligence.
If a cyclist hits a pedestrian, multiple elements are looked at to determine who is liable for the accident. It could be determined that one party is solely at fault, or that both parties played a part that caused the accident.
Pedestrian Duty of Care Violation
According to a Vancouver pedestrian accident attorney at NW Injury Law Center, pedestrians also have a duty of care to others when using sidewalks or crossing roads. Common examples of pedestrians ignoring their duty of care include:
- Ignoring Traffic Signals: Ignoring a red pedestrian light and crossing anyway makes that individual liable if they are hurt. Drivers with a green light will not be expecting a pedestrian to start walking in their paths.
- Jaywalking: When pedestrians don’t use marked crossroads this is considered jaywalking and can be illegal depending on the area that it happens in. Even if it isn’t illegal in that area, pedestrians can still be charged with negligence due to not crossing in designated areas if the jaywalking caused an accident.
- Designated Crosswalks: the designated area for pedestrians is the sidewalk. However, if there isn’t a sidewalk to walk on, then pedestrians would walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic
- Intoxication: Consuming too much of a substance can cause someone to act other than they normally would in a situation. This can include not paying attention when crossing the road and jumping out in front of cars or cyclists.
Cyclist Duty of Care Violations
Just like a pedestrian, cyclists have their own duty of care. Some items that are considered the cyclist’s duty of care include:
- Bike maintenance: Maintaining a bicycle is every cyclist’s duty of care. This can include ensuring the proper tire pressure, chains are properly on and in working condition, and brakes are in good condition
- Running a red light or stop sign: cyclists should make the appropriate stops when coming upon a red light or stop sign.
- Failing to yield the right of way: if a pedestrian, in this case, has the right of way and a cyclist does not yield to them, they will be violating their duty of care.
- Distracted driving: Just like driving, if you’re cycling and looking down at your phone and causing an accident, this is negligence. If something important has snagged your attention, pull over safely and address it. Wearing headphones can cause safety issues if you can’t hear any noises. Not hearing outside noises such as a horn will drastically impact your reaction time trying to warn you of impending danger.
- Riding under the influence: Your reflexes will not be the same if you are under the influence. Not only can you cause harm to yourself, but to others if you are weaving in and out of pull in front of someone while under the influence of a substance.
- Not obeying directions or traffic control road markings: cyclists are meant to ride in the direction of traffic, meaning they will go in the same direction that cars do. If they are not riding on the correct side when an accident happens, they can be considered liable.
- Proper lighting: At night it’s important to have the proper lighting so individuals can see you. It is recommended to have a white light for the front of your ride (whether on your helmet or handlebars) and a red light or reflector for behind your bike.
- Safety equipment: There are no federal laws that require cyclists to wear helmets. Instead, it varies by state law. It’s important to check with your applicable state laws for what safety equipment is required when cycling.
What To Do In The Case Of An Accident
Move To Safety
If you are a pedestrian who was hit by a cyclist or a cyclist who accidentally hit a pedestrian, preventing further injury is the next immediate step. If you can, move to the nearest safe place whether that be a sidewalk or median. If you or the other party involved aren’t able to do that due to being too injured, try to ask others around for help or make yourself known to oncoming drivers.
Call For Help
Always ensure to call for an ambulance and police. Even if someone insists they are fine and don’t need to be seen by a medic, their pain and injuries can be masked by adrenaline. EMS can check out their injuries on the site and give a better accuracy of what condition they are in. The police upon arriving on the scene will write a police report which can be given to your insurance company. Provide as much information as possible and obtain the police officers’ information to check back on the case.
Exchange information with the other person involved in the accident. This information should be captured in the police report, but it can’t hurt to be better safe than sorry. You can both snap a photo of an ID as a way to quickly obtain information.
Get information from witnesses.
If there are witnesses around, it is helpful to get their contact information. They can help your case if you end up having to go to court with statements of what they witnessed.
A video of what happened at the scene can make a difference if you have to go to court. Check with businesses immediately around where the accident happened. Many of them have CCTV that may have captured the accident. Check as soon as possible as some of them may have a short time frame to capture video before re-writing over it. If you are a cyclist, investing in a camera for your helmet can be helpful as well.
If both pedestrians and cyclists follow their duty of care, it will significantly reduce their chances of being involved in an accident and if they are involved in one, it won’t be due to their negligence. Stay alert and have a safe journey.
The shared spaces of roads and sidewalks demand a collective commitment to safety from both cyclists and pedestrians. Recognizing and adhering to the duty of care is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative. Whether on two wheels or two feet, individuals must prioritize responsible practices to mitigate the risk of accidents.
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