As bikes have grown in popularity as day-to-day transportation, accidents involving bicyclists have also become more common. A bicyclist faces a lot of dangers: mechanical problems with the bike, hazards in the roadway, and the other vehicles sharing the road. But a bike can also pose a danger to pedestrians, other cyclists, and even motorists. Bicyclists must be mindful of how Nevada law assigns accident liability.
Bicyclist responsibilities in Nevada
The question of fault for many traffic accidents in Nevada often focuses on whether the individuals involved in the accident were obeying the applicable rules of the road at the time of the incident. Quite often, a bicyclist who causes an accident is breaking one or more state or local rules.
Although Nevada law doesn’t characterize bicycles as “vehicles,” their riders still must obey traffic signals and signs, which includes speed limits. In most places in the state it’s lawful to ride a bike on sidewalks as well as on the road, but local regulations can alter this default rule. Cyclists must pay careful attention to roadway signs. Cyclists are also required to use hand signals to indicate when they are turning.
Ordinarily, cyclists are required to ride as far to the right as possible in the roadway. This rule doesn’t require cyclists to ride on the shoulder, which is often full of hazards. It also doesn’t require cyclists to ride through debris, potholes, or other obstructions. On multilane roads, cyclists are allowed to take an entire lane. On the other hand, if a roadway includes a clearly marked bike lane, cyclists are required to use them.
Riding a bicycle at night can be especially dangerous. Nevada requires cyclists who ride at night to have a front-mounted white light, a red rear reflector, and reflectors on both sides.
Negligence per se
When a cyclist causes an accident while breaking a law or regulation, like running a red light or speeding down a hill in excess of the posted limit, the injured party likely will argue that the cyclist committed negligence per se. In Nevada, negligence per se applies if the defendant has violated a statute that was designed to protect a class of persons to which the plaintiff belongs, and as a consequence of the violation proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury. Barnes v. Delta Lines, 99 Nev. 688, 690 (1983).
If the injured plaintiff can show these elements, the burden of showing why the events of the accident were not negligence per se shifts to the defendant cyclist. The cyclist must show that the actions leading to the accident were excused (for example, the cyclist swerved to avoid hitting a child and instead hit the plaintiff). Alternatively, the defendant can try to prove that the plaintiff isn’t in the class of people the traffic law was designed to protect. Needless to say, these are often challenging standards to meet, requiring careful marshaling of facts.
Get legal advice right away after an accident
Whether you have been in an accident involving a cyclist or you are a cyclist who has potentially caused an accident, consulting with a local attorney who knows Nevada accident law is essential to preserving your legal rights. The personal injury attorneys at GGRM have given personalized legal advice to members of the Las Vegas community for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request on our contact page.