Bicyclist's Rights in a Motor Vehicle Accident

Bicyclist's Rights in a Motor Vehicle Accident

Posted By Law Offices of Thomas J. Murphy || 12-Mar-2012

A bicyclist has the right of way in a designated bicycle lane. Where there is no designated bicycle travel lane, the bicyclist has the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle operators on streets and roadways. Thus, when a bicyclist is in a travel lane on a city street, motor vehicle operators must yield the right of way to the bicyclist before merging into or crossing the bicyclist's lane of travel, just like they would for any other motor vehicle already in the lane of travel that they want to enter or cross. If the motor vehicle operator fails to yield the right of way and strikes the bicyclist, the motor vehicle operator is negligent and will be responsible for the bicyclist's resulting personal injuries. This cuts both ways, as bicyclists must also yield the right of way to motor vehicles that are already in the travel lane that the bicyclist wants to enter or cross. Bicyclists must also adhere to all traffic laws and traffic control devices, such as traffic lights and stop signs, just like motor vehicle operators are required to do.

The number of bicyclists on the streets of Philadelphia has grown dramatically over the past several years, resulting in an increased number of motor vehicle accidents involving bicyclists. The City of Philadelphia has installed designated bicycle travel lanes on certain streets, including Locust and Spruce Streets in center city. Unfortunately, many motor vehicle operators (often suburbanites) are not use to operating alongside bicyclists and do not pay sufficient attention to them. Most motor vehicle operators are busy looking at or for other motor vehicles, but not for individuals on bicycles. This is particularly true after a motor vehicle is parked on the city streets and occupants of the vehicle look for motor vehicle traffic before opening their vehicle's door into the adjacent travel lane, but fail at an alarming rate to look for people on bicycles before opening their vehicle's door into the adjacent travel lane. The number of bicyclists injured by parked car doors being opened immediately in front of them has risen substantially.

In Pennsylvania if a bicyclist does not own a motor vehicle and does not live with a relative that owns and insures a motor vehicle, then the automobile insurance policy issued to any of the vehicles involved in the motor vehicle accident that injures the bicyclist would be responsible to pay the bicyclist's medical bills. With regard to medical bills, it does not matter who negligently caused the accident (bicyclist or motor vehicle operator). Payment of medical bills is not based on fault.

Furthermore, as with pedestrians, a person who is struck by a motor vehicle while on a bicycle in Pennsylvania has Full Tort rights. This is true even if the bicyclist selected Limited Tort rights on his or her own automobile insurance policy or would ordinarily be bound by another household relatives selection of Limited Tort rights on their policy. A person struck by a motor vehicle while on a bicycle, is an exception to the Limited Tort option and the bicyclist can bring a personal injury claim for the motor vehicle operator's negligence no matter how serious or not serious that bicyclist's injuries turn out to be.

Unfortunately, as with pedestrians, when a person on a bicycle is hit by a motor vehicle, the injuries are often more severe,as there is no air bag deployment, seat belt or steel vehicle frame to lessen the impact. If you are struck by a motor vehicle while on a bicycle or a pedestrian, you should always consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine whether you have the right to pursue a claim for financial compensation against the driver's automobile insurance company for your pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages.