- Assumption of risk. Over the years defendants in cases involving cyclist injuries have had some success arguing that the cyclist assumed the risk of injury by choosing to ride a bike in a dangerous circumstance. Assumption of risk is predicated upon the idea that the rider knew about the risk of being doored and continued to ride anyway. The argument may go that the rider had the option of taking the entire lane but was unsafely hugging the edge of the roadway, where the risk of being doored was greater.
- Comparative negligence. Another common defense in auto accidents is the argument that the plaintiff bears at least some of the responsibility for the accident. Under Nevada’s modified comparative negligence rule, if the defendant can show that the plaintiff’s negligence was at least 50% at fault, the plaintiff will not be able to recover anything. For example, the cyclist might have been riding in a negligent manner if he or she was trying to send a text message on a cell phone at the time of the accident.
- Time and circumstances. Any auto accident case needs to be evaluated in light of all the facts surrounding the accident. Was the accident during the day or at night? Was the cyclist using a light or other safety equipment that the driver might have seen and ignored? What traffic conditions were present at the time of the accident? Questions like these may shape how the case proceeds.
Riding along side parked cars is one of the riskier circumstances a cyclist can encounter on the road. “Dooring” happens when a driver or driver-side passenger swings open his or her door in front of an unsuspecting cyclist. The cyclist faced with a sudden obstruction may have no ability to stop or change course before hitting the door. The results can be catastrophic for the cyclist, who can be thrown over the top of the bicycle and land hard on his or her head or shoulders. Mitigating the risk of dooring has become a focus for members of the cycling community in recent years. New cyclists are often counseled by more experienced riders to watch for people sitting in parked cars, and if possible to allow plenty of room for parked cars even if no one appears to be sitting in them. Driver education programs are also underway. For example, the Dutch Reach Project is working to train drivers to open their doors with their right hands. This simple change forces the body to turn, allowing for an oncoming cyclist to enter the driver’s peripheral vision. The practice is taught as a matter of course in the Netherlands. For the cyclist who has been injured in a dooring accident, a lawsuit to recover compensation for medical bills and other costs associated with the injuries may be warranted. Cycling accidents raise a number of specific legal issues that attorneys may examine as part of their initial review of the case. These issues can include: