Understanding Bicycle Accident Liability in Honolulu, Hawaii
Everyone on the road in Hawaii has a responsibility to keep others safe, and that includes bicyclists and motorists. Bicyclists and drivers who violate traffic laws, such as not obeying traffic signs and signals, can be held liable when their actions cause an accident that results in injuries.
Negligent cyclists and motorists can be held liable for paying damages such as medical expenses, lost income, and other losses accident victims incur.
If you have been hurt in a crash, call our bicycle accident lawyer in Honolulu, HI at Recovery Law Center today for a free legal review of your case.
Can Cyclists Be at Fault for Accidents with Cars?
The relationship between bicyclists and motorists is not always a friendly one. Motorists are sometimes irritated by cyclists on the road, particularly when they do not follow the appropriate traffic laws. On the other hand, bicyclists also sometimes think motorists do not provide them with the room they need, or give them the same respect as they do other drivers.
Regardless of how cyclists and drivers feel about each other though, it is true that both can be held liable if they are at fault for an accident.
Bicyclists are often at a disadvantage when they are on the road. They must use their own energy to operate their vehicle, and they do not have the same type of protection as drivers. Even with a helmet and some protective gear, cyclists are at risk for being seriously injured when they share the road with motorists.
Still, bicyclists are governed by many of the same laws as motorist. Cyclists cannot make unsafe lane changes, and they must obey all traffic laws, including stopping at red lights and yielding to pedestrians.
Any time a cyclist violates traffic laws, they are considered negligent. If that negligence causes an accident that results in injuries, the bicyclist can be held liable for injuries and other losses incurred by accident victims.
How to Prove Liability for Bicycle Accidents
Injured individuals must prove their case when they file a bicycle accident claim. The four elements of proof in most personal injury claims are:
- Duty – You must prove that the person who caused your injuries owed you a duty of care. That is to say, they must act in a reasonable manner to keep everyone around them safe.
- Breach – The second element of your claim you must prove is that the person who caused your injuries breached their duty of care. A breach of duty of care is a negligent act that is unreasonable and that does not keep everyone on the road safe.
- Causation – A negligent act is not enough to claim damages if it did not result in injuries. You must prove the direct link between the negligent act and the accident that resulted in your injuries.
- Damages – Bicycle accident claims are intended to compensate accident victims for the damages, or losses, they sustained during a crash. When there are no damages, there is nothing to compensate for, and so there is not a valid claim.
Evidence is critical when proving liability after a bicycle accident. The most important pieces of evidence to collect after an accident include:
- Police report – All injured individuals should contact the police after a bicycle accident, even if the other parties ask them not to. Law enforcement should come to the scene and prepare a report that may indicate negligence. A copy of this report can provide important information for your insurance claim.
- Photographs – Photos are some of the best evidence used in any accident case, and that includes crashes that involve bicycles. Take pictures of your injuries, any property damage to the bike, and any other relevant information at the scene.
- Video footage – Many vehicles today have dash cams that can provide valuable video footage showing how the accident happened. Nearby businesses may also have video surveillance set up outside that may have captured the accident.
- Medical bills – You do not only have to prove the other party was negligent, but you also must prove the extent of your injuries. The best way to do this is with medical bills and receipts outlining what treatments you have received, and the cost of that treatment.
Collecting evidence after a bicycle accident is very difficult when you are trying to recover from your injuries. A bicycle accident lawyer will know how to find and gather the most important pieces of evidence to build the strongest case possible.
What Happens If a Pedestrian Is Hit by a Cyclist?
Biking and walking are two activities that people in Hawaii can enjoy all year round. The climate is gorgeous, and nothing beats the scenery in the Aloha State. These outings, unfortunately, do not always go smoothly. Cyclists and pedestrians are often involved in accidents. When they occur, it is not always clear who was at fault or how injured individuals can claim damages from the negligent party.
After an accident between a bicyclist and a pedestrian, accident victims must prove the same four elements of their claim. Pedestrians and cyclists can both be held liable for acting carelessly, the same way motorists can.
Cyclists are expected to act reasonably in a manner that keeps everyone safe. When they fail to do this, they are negligent. Some of the most common negligent actions made by bikers include:
- Riding a bike that is not properly maintained
- Running a stop sign or a red light
- Biking while distracted, such as using a cell phone
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Failing to obey directional or traffic control road markings
- Biking under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Bicyclists are not the only ones who can act negligently. Pedestrians can also act carelessly in a number of ways. Some of the most common of these include:
- Ignoring traffic signals at intersections
- Failing to use marked crossroads
- Failing to walk in designated areas, such as sidewalks
- Darting out into the road in front of bicyclists
- Walking while intoxicated
The insurance company and the courts will examine the facts of the accident and determine who was liable. In some instances, a pedestrian and bicyclist may both be liable for an accident. For example, a cyclist may be distracted while riding their bike and a pedestrian may enter a bike lane.
When both parties are at fault, Hawaii’s comparative negligence laws will apply. Under this law, injured individuals can claim compensation if they are found to be less than 51 percent at fault for the crash. Each party will be assigned a certain degree of fault. The injured party who was less than 51 percent at fault can still claim damages but the compensation will be reduced by the same percentage of fault they carried in the accident.
What Damages Could Be Recovered in a Bicycle Accident in Hawaii?
Under Hawaii law, bicyclists who are injured by a negligent driver are entitled to up to $10,000 to pay for their medical bills regardless of which party was at fault. When a motorist is at fault, the cyclist can file a claim against the driver for compensation and likewise, when a pedestrian is injured by a negligent biker, they can file a claim against the cyclist.
The damages available after a bicycle accident, regardless of who was at fault include:
- Medical costs – Accident victims can recover all medical costs, including emergency room visits, doctors’ appointments, prescriptions, hospital stays, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and more.
- Lost wages – Bicycle accidents are often so severe injured individuals cannot return to work afterwards. Damages in a bicycle accident claim can include not only lost wages, but also lost benefits, bonuses, vacation time, and sick pay. When accident victims are so injured they can never return to the same type of work, damages for loss of earning capacity can also be included.
- Property damage – Any time a bike, parts of a vehicle, or any other personal property is damaged, accident victims can include those losses in their claim.
- Pain and suffering – Damages for pain and suffering include not only the physical pain and suffering you experience after an accident, but also the emotional distress the accident caused. The law recognizes that while these damages may include more than physical losses, accident victims deserve to be compensated for them.
While no one can determine how much exactly accident victims can receive in damages without looking at the facts of the case, a Honolulu bicycle accident lawyer can advise on the types of damages you deserve.
Contact a Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Honolulu If You Have Been Injured
If you have been hurt in a crash, our bicycle accident lawyer in Honolulu is here to help. At Recovery Law Center, we have the necessary experience to determine who was liable for an accident, and we will seek to hold them accountable for paying the maximum damages you need to recover.
Call us today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable attorney.