Q: Who is at fault in an accident between a bicyclist and a pedestrian?

Fault in a bicycle-pedestrian accident depends on which party had acted in a careless or reckless manner. It could be that both sides contributed to the collision or that one party was solely negligent.

Determining Fault in a Cyclist-Pedestrian Accident Involving a Pedestrian and Bicyclist

Many people assume that pedestrians always have the right of way. But that’s not necessarily true. Pedestrians, like drivers and bicyclists, must obey the rules of the road and any traffic signals.

For example, just as it’s unsafe to walk into the road without looking for cars, it’s unsafe for a pedestrian to walk into a bicycle path without looking for oncoming bicycles. In this situation, unless traffic signals state otherwise, the right of way would usually belong to the bike. A pedestrian who walks into the bike’s path and causes a collision would likely be liable for the accident and resultant damages.

On the other hand, a bicyclist who fails to obey a stop sign or red light because there are no other vehicles in the area is still expected to obey the traffic control signal. In this case, the bicyclist could be liable for injuries and damages if he or she strikes a pedestrian who had the right of way and was walking through the crosswalk.

To underline this idea, the city of Boulder is now considering implementing an 8-mph speed limit for anyone using a crosswalk, the Denver Channel reports. Based on some studies, they noted that most pedestrian and bicycle accidents happen in crosswalks with bicyclists suffering injury more than three times as often.

Establishing Each Party’s Fault for an Accident

If both parties contributed to the crash, each will be assigned a degree of fault for the accident. The person that is 50 percent or more at fault cannot recover compensation for damages. To recover damages, an individual found partially negligent in a crash must have a degree of fault equal to 49 percent or less.

Of course, even if eligible to recover damages, recovery is diminished by the percentage of responsibility assigned to the person. So if an individual is 49 percent at fault for the accident, compensation for that person’s damages is reduced by 49 percent. So if damages totaled $10,000, that person would only recover $5,100 instead of the full $10,000.

Fault is based on negligence. Statements from both parties will be important in establishing fault and liability, but since it’s oftentimes one person’s word against the other, it’s helpful to have other types of proof to establish fault. For instance, statements from witnesses can help establish what may have caused the accident. Or if a nearby surveillance camera captured the incident, video from the camera could be useful.

Proving fault and defending against accusations of fault can be challenging in cases like this. D.J. Banovitz can discuss establishing liability for an accident involving a bicycle and a pedestrian. Make sure you don’t damage your case by checking out our free eBook, 7 Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Colorado Injury Case.