Bike accidents in Ohio often result in serious injury or even death. Find out what laws impact bicyclists and how fault is determined in a bike accident.
The popularity of cycling is rising rapidly in the Buckeye State. As of 2019, Ohio is now considered the 18th most bike-friendly state in the country, according to the League of American Bicyclists.
The state has 7 bicycle-friendly universities that have spent time and money advocating for cycling over the last few years. One of those universities, Ohio State University, established Pelotonia, an annual bike race that has raised more than $184 million for cancer research over the last decade.
As more and more Buckeyes trade in 4-wheels for 2-wheels, it becomes even more important that you understand Ohio’s laws governing the relationship between bicycles and motor vehicles.
Accidents Can Be Confusing and an Experienced Columbus, OH Bicycle Accident Lawyer Can Help
A bicycle accident in Ohio can be difficult for a variety of reasons. Sometimes drivers claim the bicycle has been the reason for the accident such as you were not paying attention or being careless. In most cases, drivers claim they did not see you walking, and that is not an acceptable defense. The bicycle accident lawyers at Babin Law, LLC, will do thorough research to investigate your accident to find out what took place. In the event it is needed and necessary, we will meet with witnesses and use outside experts to help prove your case and get you the justice you deserve.
A bicycle accident can create a great deal of chaos and confusion in your life; you need someone on your side to help you understand the claims process and be there to assist you if you need to take legal action. Insurance companies do not want to have to pay your claim and will do everything in their power to pay you as little as possible. A bicycle accident lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies to make sure you receive the best possible compensation package for you and your family. At Babin Law, LLC, our attorneys are here to help you through this difficult process, and we care about your well-being. A skilled bicycle accident lawyer will work on your behalf to make sure the party responsible for your injuries pays you for your injuries and damages.
What to Do After A Bike Crash in Columbus, Ohio
After a bike accident, try to remain calm and keep these 5 steps in mind:
- Call the police. Notifying the police right away will help keep you safe in the event of road rage, which is a serious issue among bikers and drivers. Moreover, the police will investigate and draft a police report, which will help if you decide to file an insurance claim or lawsuit down the road.
- Seek medical attention. Your health and safety should be a priority. Even if you do not think you have been injured, it is important to see a doctor immediately after an accident. The symptoms of some injuries, including serious internal injuries, may not appear for hours or days after an accident.
- Collect the driver’s information. Be sure to write down or take a picture of the driver’s name, contact information, insurance information, and car information including license plate number.
- Collect witness information. Witnesses are notoriously difficult to track down after an accident. The best time to collect their contact information is immediately after the crash. Though police will often collect this information as well, they may miss witnesses or fail to add their contact information to the police report.
- Preserve evidence. Take pictures of the scene and any damages (including physical injuries). In addition, if your clothes or helmets were bloodied or your bike or helmet was damaged, preserve those objects.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Common examples of bicyclist and driver negligence include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Failing to stop at a stop sign or red light
- Riding against traffic
In rare cases, the bike accident is caused by an obstruction or bad road condition. For example, a bike might crash because it runs over a pothole or it hits a piece of debris left in the road.
In these instances, premises liability law generally comes into play. Premises liability law requires owners to ensure that their property is free of dangerous conditions. Generally, if you run over a hole that the property owner failed to repair, you may be able to sue the property owner for negligence.
Keep in mind that the obstruction or bad road condition might exist on property owned by the government (such as a public road or bike trail). When suing the government, there are a host of strict laws that you must comply with. If you think the government might be responsible for your accident reach out to Babin Law, LLC, to aid you in your sovereign immunity law claim.
Bicycle Accident Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 849 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2019.
In Ohio, 23 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2019. The year before, 22 bicyclists were killed. Given that Ohio is the 7th most-populated state in the country, these numbers are quite low comparatively. Nevertheless, any fatal crash is 1 too many.
Ohio Bike Laws
Like all other states, Ohio requires bicyclists to follow the same rules and regulations as motor vehicles. This means, for example, that you must stop at a stop sign whether you are in a car or on a bike.
Additionally, there are several bike-specific laws that impact cyclists. Most of these laws can be found in Chapter 4511 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Here are some of the most relevant laws:
- Bicyclists must ride as near to the right side of the road as possible when it is safe to do so.
- Bicyclists must not ride more than 2 abreast.
- When turning left, bicyclists must extend their left hand and arm horizontally. When turning right, bicyclists must extend their right hand and arm horizontally. In both cases, turn signals must be given continuously more than 100 feet before the turn.
- Every bike in use between sunset and sunrise must be equipped with the following: a front lamp that emits a white light visible from at least 500 feet to the front and 300 feet to the sides, a red reflector on the rear that is visible from all distances from 100-600 feet, and a lamp emitting a flashing or steady red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear (if the red lamp performs as a reflector, a separate reflector isn’t required).
- Bicyclists are not allowed on freeways unless directed by a police officer.
Bicyclists who violate any of the laws found in the Ohio Revised Code will be ticketed but will NOT have “points” assessed against their driver’s license.
What about bike helmets?
Ohio does NOT have a statewide law requiring bicyclists to wear helmets UNLESS you are under the age of 18 and/or hold a novice license.
However, certain local communities have passed safety ordinances requiring bicyclists under a certain age to wear helmets. For example, Columbus, Ohio requires all individuals under the age of 18 to wear a helmet while riding bicycles, scooters, or skateboards in the city of Columbus.
Other communities in Ohio that have passed similar bike helmet ordinances include Akron, Beachwood, Bexley, Blue Ash, Brecksville, Brooklyn, Centerville, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, East Cleveland, Enon, Euclid, Glendale, Kettering, Lakewood, Madeira, Marietta, Orange Village, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, Strongsville, and Waynesville.
Regardless of whether an ordinance exists where you live, Babin Law, LLC, strongly encourages all cyclists to wear a helmet, regardless of your age. Helmet use has been shown to reduce the odds of suffering a head injury by 50%. During the past few years, less than 17% of fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets.
Who’s Liable for A Bike Accident?
The vast majority of bicycle accidents are caused by the careless actions of a motor vehicle driver or a bicyclist. As a result, bike accident lawsuits generally require the motor vehicle driver or the bicyclist to prove that the other was negligent.
If you’re a bicyclist seeking to recover damages through a negligence lawsuit against a motor vehicle driver, you’ll have to prove that:
- The driver owed you a duty. All drivers owe all bicyclists (and everyone else on the road) a duty to drive with a “reasonable degree of care, unless the bicyclist was NOT riding carefully on the road.”
- The driver breached their duty. To prove this, you will have to show that the driver failed to drive with a reasonable degree of care. For example, the driver was distracted, speeding, or driving under the influence of alcohol.
- You were injured as a result of the driver’s breach. You must show that the driver’s actions (such as texting, speeding, or driving under the influence) caused the accident. In other words, but for the driver’s actions, the accident would not have occurred, and you would not have been injured.
If you are a motor vehicle driver seeking to recover damages through a negligence lawsuit against a bicyclist, you will have to prove that:
- The bicyclists owed you a duty. All bicyclists owe all others on the road a duty to ride with a reasonable degree of care.
- The bicyclists breached their duty. To prove this, you will have to show that the bicyclist failed to drive with a reasonable degree of care. For example, was the cyclist distracted or did they violate a rule of the road?
- You were injured as a result of the bicyclist’s breach. You must show that the bicyclist’s action (such as running a red light) caused the accident. In other words, but for the bicyclist’s actions, the accident would not have occurred, and you would not have been injured.
Comparative Fault Law in Ohio
Sometimes, both the plaintiff and the defendant are partially at fault for an accident.
Ohio is a modified comparative fault state. This means a Claimant can still pursue compensation for their damages if they are less than 51% at fault for the accident. Moreover, if that degree of fault is more than 50%, the bicyclist is prohibited from recovering any damages.
Let’s look at a hypothetical:
A group of bicyclists are riding 3 abreast (in violation of Ohio law). A driver passing the cyclists is texting while driving and clips one of the riders. The bicyclist crashes and suffers serious injuries. She sues the driver for $500,000.
A court finds that the driver was 70% at fault (for texting and driving) and the bicyclist was 30% at fault (for riding 3 abreast).
In the above hypothetical, the bicyclist would only be permitted to recover a maximum of $350,000 (70% of $500,000). If the bicyclist had been found to be 51% at fault, she would not have been able to recover any damages.
Contact the Experienced Bicycle Accident Lawyers Babin Law, LLC
After an accident, you only need to concern yourself with recovering. When we work for you as your attorneys, it is our job to investigate the accident, collect the pertinent information, compile the information, your claim, and work to get a favorable settlement with your help. Our bicycle accident attorneys will be by your side for the duration and will see your case through until the end. We will protect your rights and your interests and make sure you have everything you need to get your life back on track.
If you or someone you love is suffering from injuries after a bicycle accident, the experienced bicycle accident lawyers at the Babin Law, LLC, is here to provide you the assistance you need. We have locations throughout the state of Ohio and 30+ years of legal experience helping accident victims receive the compensation you deserve. Our bicycle accident lawyers will work hard to make sure your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering receive careful consideration. We are available to answer any questions you may have and want to make sure you and your family receive justice.
We are here to help you receive the compensation you need to continue with your life. Call the experienced bicycle accident lawyers at the Babin Law, LLC, today for a no-obligation consultation so we can discuss your case further.