As a a cyclist, you know you have to be careful when you ride your bike with cars around. But what about when you're around pedestrians? Do you take the same precautions? Though not as common as colliding with a car, bike-pedestrian accidents do happen and you could be hurt or liable for someone else getting hurt. While the injuries are not usually as severe as bike-car or pedestrian-car accidents, they can be fairly significant. However, just because you are on a bike doesn't mean you're more at fault for the accident or are immediately liable. Here are a few ways either you or the pedestrian could be at fault.
Ways you can be liable as a cyclist:
If you use common sense and are vigilant, you can avoid most accidents with pedestrians. However, if you do have an accident and can be proven to be doing any of the following, then you may be responsible for the pedestrian's injuries:
You were riding on a path designated only for pedestrians
You were going too fast for the conditions or over the designated speed limit
You were on your phone or not paying attention to where you were riding
You failed to keep your equipment (such as brakes) working properly
Situations where the pedestrian may be at fault:
Sometimes, it's tricky riding around pedestrians because they are able to make sudden moves and make it hard for you to respond in time. Here are some ways where a pedestrian may be considered liable:
They pedestrian moved suddenly or stepped out in front of you and you couldn't stop in time
The pedestrian was walking in an area designated just for bikes
The pedestrian was distracted or intoxicated
Shared liability or no liability:
There are instances where both parties contributed to causing an accident. An example of this would be when a pedestrian was walking in a bike lane and the cyclist was also distracted. Also, there may be times when neither party is liable. In rare cases, the city, itself, can be held liable for creating situations that make it hard to avoid collisions or for not fixing hazards. If the city designed bike paths that intersected with walking paths with blocked views and you couldn't see the crossing pedestrians in time to stop, the city could be liable, for instance. Another example is a city failing to fix a buckled or damaged path that causing you to lose control and hit a pedestrian.
If you are diligent and proactive, you can usually avoid most bicycle-pedestrian accidents. However, sometimes accidents happen and just because you're on a bike doesn't mean it's your fault. If you are injured in a cycling accident with a pedestrian and you feel that it was not your fault, then you should talk to a personal injury attorney to see if you can get compensation or to protect your rights.