When Is a Bicyclist Liable for an Accident?

image of bicycle lane with the painted sign for bicycle

Bicyclist Liability in a Collision

A bicyclist is often involved in traffic accidents. While many people may think the motorist is almost always at fault, this isn’t true. Those who ride bicycles are also expected to follow the rules of the road and avoid negligent actions that might lead to a collision. In other words, their responsibilities and rights are the same as a driver of a passenger vehicle. 

Injured by a Negligent Bicyclist? Contact Roeser Law

We provide compassionate service to our clients at Roeser Law and strive to ensure they receive fair compensation. To learn more about what we can do for you, call (202) 660-4070 today.

What Are Some of the Common Types of Bicyclist Negligence?

In some ways, a bicycle rider can cause an accident with a pedestrian, another rider, or a motorist for the same reasons as others. For example:

  • Distractions: A bicyclist who is listening to music on their earphones, using a cell phone to talk or text while riding or other types of distractions can cause a collision.
  • Being intoxicated: Bicyclists who are intoxicated are no safer than motorists who have been drinking. Because being drunk or drugged can affect the rider’s ability to be safe and influences their judgment, vision and reflexes, it can easily lead to a collision.
  • Fatigue: Riding a bicycle when fatigued can lead to an accident. Although the rider is less likely to fall asleep, they may not be alert enough to pay sufficient attention to the surrounding traffic and end up colliding with a vehicle.

According to Bikelaw.com, a bicyclist in Washington, D.C. is expected to operate their vehicle in a safe manner, ride with the traffic flow unless it is a contra-flow bike lane and yield to pedestrians. 

Cycling Behaviors That Are Negligent

Bicycles do not qualify as motor vehicles, so some people believe that obeying the rules of the road does not apply to them. However, bicyclists are also responsible for adhering to traffic laws. In Washington, D.C., the Department of Motor Vehicles offers a handy online booklet on traffic laws for bicyclists. When an accident occurs, a cyclist may be at fault for a variety of negligent behaviors, including:

  • Neglecting to stop at a traffic light or rolling through without halting
  • Riding outside the bike lane when there is one available
  • Not yielding to a pedestrian in the crosswalk or on the sidewalk
  • Unsafe lane splitting
  • Riding on the sidewalk inside the business district
  • Riding more than two abreast except in certain instances
  • Failure to yield the right of way to others in a circle

When a cyclist is at fault for an accident injury, consulting with a lawyer can be a good idea. Personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation in which you can ask questions, get your case reviewed and find out if you can place a claim to recover compensation. In a personal injury claim, the injured party can recover the cost of all their medical expenses associated with their accident, lost wages if they could not work and for their pain and suffering. 

Roeser Law Firm 

Our team at the Roeser Law Firm is ready to assist you after an injury suffered in a traffic accident. If you have any questions, you can reach us at (202) 660-4070 or online through our website. We can help you avoid having to pay for your accident injuries yourself or having to settle for less than you deserve.

Zeke Roeser


3000 Connecticut Avenue NW
Suite 140
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 660-4070