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NY Comparative Fault Rule for Cyclists

March 4, 2021

NY Vehicle and Traffic Laws require cyclists to follow many of the same “rules of the road” as cars and trucks. Cyclists must obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings. They must ride with traffic and should give hand signals before making turns. Of course, in reality, just as not all drivers observe all road requirements, not all bicyclists follow all the rules all of the time either. So if a cyclist gets hurt in a crash with a car, and the cyclist didn’t obey a traffic law and that led to the crash, is the cyclist completely and hopeless out of luck when it comes to obtaining compensation for damages? Not necessarily. Depending on the specific facts of the case, a cyclist may still be able to recover an award of damages. If you’ve been hurt in a bike crash, even if you think the crash may have been partly your fault and you violated a rule of the road, you need to have a New York bicycle injury attorney on your side.

In NY, being partially at fault for a crash is not an automatic bar from recovery. NY has a comparative fault rule, which means that if the crash was caused by a combination of factors, and another person’s actions or inactions helped to cause the crash, the cyclist is still entitled to recover at least part of his or her damages.

For example, if a cyclist rolls through a stop sign and is hit by a car, it might seem that the cyclist is entitled to nothing. But what if the driver of the car could clearly see, in plenty of time to stop, that the cyclist was going to go through the intersection without stopping and the driver of the car just ran into the cyclist anyway? NY’s comparative fault rule comes into play. A judge or jury would decide what percentage of fault each party had, and the cyclist would be awarded the damages accordingly. For example, NY Vehicle and Traffic laws requires all drivers to be aware of the surrounding traffic, see what is to be seen, and operate their cars with control. If the driver of the car saw that the cyclist was not going to stop and drove through the intersection anyway, thus running into the cyclist, that driver would be at least partially responsible for the crash, and therefore party responsible for the damages done to the cyclist. In short, the cyclist may not have been the sole cause of the crash.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you need someone who understands the specific and unique needs of an injured bicyclist. The experienced bicycle lawyers at the Rabin Law Firm are here to help you. Put our in-depth knowledge of bicycle injury issues to work in your case. To set up an initial consultation, contact us at (315) 448-2453 or through our website.