When you are riding your bike in Seattle, drivers must share the road with you. Learn how failures to yield the right of way to bicycles lead to tragic crashes.

How Motorists’ Violations of Right-of-Way Rules Cause Bicyclists to Suffer Devastating Injuries or Death

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right of way accidents with bicyclesMany people in the Seattle area enjoy biking for recreation, exercise, and as a means of transportation. As a result, they must often share the roads with other much larger motor vehicles, trucks, and motorcycles, and pedestrians. Unfortunately, a tragic bicycle accident causing a bike rider to suffer serious fractures, spinal cord and back injuries, traumatic brain injury, or death can result if negligent motorists do not obey right-of-way rules when sharing the road with bicycle riders. Here, we explain some common violations that result in tragic injuries to bike riders.

How Right-of-Way Violations Lead to Bike Accidents

Both motorists and bicycle riders must obey the basic traffic rules of the road and rules governing who has the right of way. In many cases, the negligent driver fails to yield and collides with the bicyclist who has the legal right to procced. Common ways that motorists cause these accidents include:

  • Stop signs. Many crashes occur when a motorist has a stop sign and the bicyclist does not. The driver may stop or then procced into the intersection without looking carefully enough for a bicyclist—directly in the path of the rider who has the right of way.
  • Right turns. Motorists can cause an accident by failing to yield when making a right turn in several ways. The motorist can be waiting at a light to turn, not see the bike next him, and crash into it when making a right turn. Another common scenario is where the vehicle passes a bicycle rider at an intersection and proceeds to turn right into him. In both of these situations, the driver would most likely be the negligent party.
  • Left turns. When turning left at an intersection, a driver must yield the right of way to oncoming cars and bikes. When he fails to see the bicycle rider or misjudges the rider’s speed, he may proceed into the intersection and collide with the cyclist.
  • Crosswalks. Like pedestrians, bike riders have the right of way in a crosswalk. Many tragic collisions occur when an impatient driver fails to yield the right of way.
  • Bike lanes. Drivers are not supposed to drive in bike lanes on Seattle-area roads. When they do, a collision with an unsuspecting rider can happen.
  • Passing. Yielding the right of way is not only important at intersections and stop signs. Motorists must share lanes with bike riders when there is not a bike lane. When the bike rider is on the road or in the bike lane, a driver must maintain a safe distance from him when passing and must refrain from passing when it is not safe to do so.

Sometimes bike riders ride on the sidewalk and must share the space with pedestrians. In this situation, the bicyclist must yield the right of way to the pedestrian under Seattle law. However, this does not mean that the bicyclist is always at fault in a sidewalk accident with a pedestrian. Many people who are talking on their cellphones, texting, reading, eating and drinking, or are engaging in other negligent actions while walking can cause a crash with a bike rider.

Were you or a loved one injured in a bike accident? Our experienced bicycle accident attorneys are here to help. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation to learn about your legal options and the steps we can help you take to obtain the compensation you deserve from the negligent driver or pedestrian.

Category: Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents


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