What to do if you’re forced to evade a careless or aggressive driver
By Bob Mionske
A reader recently asked an interesting question. If a car causes a cyclist to crash, but doesn’t actually collide with the rider, is the driver still at fault?
In a recent incident, a husband-and-wife tandem team ran into an abutment after a driver violated their right-of-way. Police officers told them, incorrectly, that it was “not legally an accident because there was no collision between bike and car.” The officers refused to take contact information from a witness even though the driver admitted fault at the scene. They also informed the couple that it was their responsibility to control the bike. In another incident, a driver failed to yield before making a right turn and nearly struck a cyclist. The rider crashed, and wonders if his insurance company will pay.
Although neither vehicle touched the cyclists, the drivers operated in a way that caused a crash. In fact, the only reason there was no contact was because the cyclists took evasive action. Here’s how to avoid this kind of situation, and how to handle it if you do hit the pavement.
Be extra vigilant near intersections and driveways, where drivers are more likely to violate your right-of-way.
While you may be able to file a successful claim after a no-contact crash, you will find it harder if you don’t have evidence of the driver’s negligence. Witnesses can provide valuable proof, so make every effort to get contact information from any bystanders who saw what happened.
Record Your Ride
You may have seen the YouTube clip of the Colorado driver who harassed two cyclists by following them and honking. He was eventually ticketed, thanks in part to that video.
Research and assistance by Rick Bernardi, J.D.
This article, The No-Contaact Crash, was originally published on Bicycling on January 2, 2013.
Now read the fine print:
Bob Mionske is a former competitive cyclist who represented the U.S. at the 1988 Olympic games (where he finished fourth in the road race), the 1992 Olympics, as well as winning the 1990 national championship road race.
After retiring from racing in 1993, he coached the Saturn Professional Cycling team for one year before heading off to law school. Mionske’s practice is now split between personal-injury work, representing professional athletes as an agent and other legal issues facing endurance athletes (traffic violations, contract, criminal charges, intellectual property, etc).
Mionske is also the author of Bicycling and the Law, designed to be the primary resource for cyclists to consult when faced with a legal question. It provides readers with the knowledge to avoid many legal problems in the first place, and informs them of their rights, their responsibilities, and what steps they can take if they do encounter a legal problem.
If you have a cycling-related legal question, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org Bob will answer as many of these questions privately as he can. He will also select a few questions each week to answer in this column. General bicycle-accident advice can be found at bicyclelaw2.wpengine.com.
The information provided in the “Road Rights” column is not legal advice. The information provided on this public web site is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors to this web site. The information contained in the column applies to general principles of American jurisprudence and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in the various jurisdictions and therefore should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. Understand that reading the information contained in this column does not mean you have established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Bob Mionske. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained in the web site without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.