When pedestrians are injured by cyclists: Can they sue?

More and more people are embracing bicycles these days -- partially for their health benefits and partially because they're inexpensive to operate and maintain. Unfortunately, that means that cyclists and pedestrians often find themselves sharing the roads and sidewalks -- and accidents sometimes happen as a result.

Is there anything you can do if you're unlikely enough to collide with a cyclist while you're walking somewhere?

Maybe.

Accidents between a cyclist and a pedestrian could be either person's fault. Generally speaking, here are some of the questions you need to consider if you're thinking of suing a cyclist for your injuries after a collision:

1. Was the cyclist operating the bike in a negligent or reckless manner?

There are a number of different things that could be considered reckless or negligent on the cyclist's part, including:

  • Racing down a sidewalk
  • Riding on a sidewalk in violation of city laws
  • Failing to properly maintain a bike, if its poor condition led the accident
  • Distracted driving (like using a cell phone while riding or riding with headphones on and music playing)
  • Failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Not staying in a designated bike lane on the road
  • Not wearing reflective clothing or using lights when riding in the dark

2. Could you have been negligent in some way?

Pedestrians also have a responsibility to exercise a reasonable amount of care when they're walking. If you were preoccupied, looking at your smartphone, jaywalking or otherwise negligent, it won't necessarily bar you from recovering damages for your injuries. It can, however, affect how much you can recover.

Louisiana uses the rule of comparative negligence in its personal injury claims, which means that a percentage of fault for an accident is assigned to each party. Your damages will be reduced according to the amount of fault that you bear for the accident. For example, if you suffered $10,000 in losses due to your injuries, and the jury found you 50 percent at fault for the accident, you'd only be able to recover $5,000.

If you've been injured in any kind of accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand more about the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

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Vincent J. DeSalvo, Attorney at Law
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Baton Rouge, LA 70809

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