If you were injured by a motor vehicle while riding your bicycle, you are probably eager to file a bicycle accident claim against the driver. Before you dive headfirst into your claim, though, you should be aware that your rights and duties as a bicyclist can affect the process and outcome of that claim. Whenever you are on the road, your rights as a bicyclist deserve respect from other motorists, but you also owe a duty of care to everyone around you as well.
The easiest way to get an understanding of your rights and duties as a bicyclist is to call a bicycle accident attorney and tell them what happened. Your lawyer can navigate your personal injury claim in accordance with your rights and duties, which will vary depending on the circumstances of the incident. To get more information right now, our attorneys from McGowan & Cecil, LLC in Laurel, Maryland have provided a helpful rundown.
What is a Bicycle Exactly?
First, it is important to know the definition of a vehicle as it is seen under Maryland law, which is similar, if not identical, to laws in other states.
Under the law, a bicycle is a vehicle that has:
- Been designed to be operated by human power
- Two or three wheels, one of which is more than 14” in diameter
- Rear-drive capabilities
- Two wheels in tandem or three wheels with one front wheel and two rear wheels spaced equidistant from the center of the vehicle.
Additional Requirements for Bicyclists to Follow
A bicycle must also have brakes and a bell capable of giving a signal for at least 100 feet. When there is insufficient light or unfavorable weather, a bicycle must have a front lamp and rear reflector. A bicyclist may not wear earplugs or a headset unless it is a hearing aid.
If you are involved in a collision while riding a bicycle, it is important to communicate to the police officer responding that you had met all of the mentioned requirements. In making this clear, you can help keep your liability low or nonexistent. If you are able, try to take pictures of the lamp and rear reflector to show compliance when making your case.
Rights & Duties Assigned to Bicyclists
When riding your bicycle in a public area, such as a shared public road, you have all of the rights and duties of a driver operating another type of motor vehicle, with some exceptions. That means the laws that apply to vehicles also apply to vehicles absent any statutory limitations. One such statutory limitation is when a bicyclist is riding their bicycle in a crosswalk. In such a case, the bicyclist may be treated as a pedestrian rather than another vehicle.
Importantly, bicycles are not permitted on any roadway where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour or more. The same restriction applies to any expressway or controlled-access highway. A bicyclist may not carry any package, bundle, or another article that either prevents them from keeping both hands on the handlebars or interferes with their view or balance.
Statute Violations Does Not Equal Negligence
Before you decide that you cannot file a bicycle accident claim because you were not following all of your duties as a bicyclist, it is important to remember that violating a bicycle safety statute does not automatically mean you were negligent and liable for the accident. Liability is always assigned on a case-by-case basis. For example, you could have been carrying a parcel that only allowed you to have one hand on the handlebars when a driver rear-ended you. Despite you being in violation of a safety statute, you should not be found liable at all for your accident.
To make sense of your bicycle accident claim and accurately determine liability, you should always work with an experienced attorney, like our team at McGowan & Cecil, LLC. We are proud to stand with injured bicyclists throughout Laurel, pursuing maximized compensation on their behalves.
Contact our firm at (301) 761-2007 to get your case started today.
Referenced Legal Statutes
- Transp. II § 11-104.
- Transp. II § 21-1207
- Transp. II § 21-1210
- Transp. II § 21-1205.1.
- Miles v. State, 174 Md. 292 (1938)