Every year, approximately 800 individuals are involved in fatal bicycle accidents. Many states have laws that both bicycle riders and automobile drivers must follow to prevent accidents. Often, this includes specifications on how to share the road, maintaining a safe distance, and basic traffic laws for stopping and passing. Failure to follow these laws often are common causes of bicycle accidents, which can lead to catastrophic injuries and extreme damages that insurance companies may not cover.
The bicycle accident lawyers at the Brown & Crouppen Law Firm represent victims for all types of vehicle accidents. Our attorneys have helped individuals who were injured in an accident recover over $1 Billion in total compensation. At Brown & Crouppen, our bicycle accident attorneys operate on a contingency-basis, meaning there’s no upfront cost to you — if you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid.
Get help by requesting a free case evaluation. Our attorneys will help to answer any legal questions you may have, determine the strength of your case, and determine the next steps for your bicycle accident case.
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During the pandemic lockdowns, bicycle sales in 2020 tripled compared to sales in 2019. An increase in bicycle use does not always mean increased bicycle accidents. While many large cities have increased available designated bicycle lanes for travelers, cyclists are still vulnerable to collisions with drivers who fail to exercise reasonable caution when driving next to or turning across those lanes.
Outlined below are relevant laws that both cyclists and drivers should know before hitting the pavement. Failure to adhere or violations of these laws often result in injured cyclists, and are often an underlying cause of a bicycle accident.
Safe Passing Laws
Safe passing laws are designed to protect both cyclists and drivers from unnecessary collisions and create awareness for how vehicles should share the road. Most states require, at a minimum, that the operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle shall leave at least a “safe distance” when passing the bicycle. However, some states specify that a specific distance, such as no less than three feet, shall be left between the motor vehicle and the bicycle when passing. Below are the relevant safe passing laws for Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas.
- Missouri – Requires that the operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway shall leave a safe distance when passing the bicycle and shall maintain clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle. See Mo. Rev. Stat. §300.411.
- Illinois – Requires that the operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than three feet, when passing the bicycle and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle. See 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. §11-703(d).
- Kansas – Requires that the driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left, thereof, at not less than three feet and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken bicycle. In addition, the driver of a vehicle may pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction in a no-passing zone with the duty to execute the pass only when it is safe to do so. See Kan. Stat. Ann. §8-1516(c).
Not all bicycle helmets are the same. Most bicycle helmets are designed to protect against the impact from just a single fall, such as a bicyclist’s fall onto the pavement. While the foam material in the helmet will crush to absorb the impact energy during a fall or collision, the materials are not designed to protect you against a greater impact, such as the impact of a motorized vehicle. However, statistical evidence suggests that bicycle helmets can lead to fewer serious injuries or even deaths when worn during a crash.
While Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas have no statewide helmet requirement, many municipalities do require the use of a helmet. Many St. Louis municipalities, including St. Louis County, require cyclists under the age of 16 to wear a helmet, the City of Chicago requires all messenger and delivery bicyclists to wear helmets. The Kansas Department of Transportation strongly encourages cyclists to wear American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), or Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell) approved helmets at all times.
Share the Road
In general, “Share the Road” is an awareness campaign that shares the message that cars, trucks, buses, cyclists, and pedestrians all have a right to use the roadways. Some states offer “Share the Road” license plates to bring awareness to this message. Missouri and Illinois offer Share the Road license plates, while Kansas does not.
Vulnerable Road User laws are designed to protect cyclists and pedestrians from large motor vehicles. The laws operate to deter motor vehicle recklessness by providing increased penalties for certain road behaviors that lead to serious injuries or death.
Neither Missouri nor Kansas currently has vulnerable road user laws. There are currently no national standards for laws protecting vulnerable road users, but the League of American Bicyclists has drafted a Model Vulnerable Road User statute.
While Illinois does not define who is a “vulnerable road user,” it protects bicyclists by providing that:
- A person driving a motor vehicle shall not, in a reckless manner, drive the motor vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist, pedestrian, or a person riding a horse or driving an animal-drawn vehicle; and
- If found guilty, shall be punished with:
- A Class A misdemeanor if the violation does not result in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another; or
- A Class 3 felony if the violation results in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to another.
See 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. §11-703(e).
Distracted driving occurs when a motorist is paying attention to something other than the road and their surroundings, such as a hand-held electronic device, the radio, food or beverages, make-up, or other occupants in the vehicle. Collisions are more likely to occur when a driver is distracted while driving. Cyclists are particularly vulnerable to distracted drivers due to their size.
Missouri prohibits drivers 21 years of age or younger from texting while driving to curb distracted driving. See Mo. Rev. Stat. §304.820. Illinois prohibits the following: drivers under 19 years old from using a cell phone while driving, any driver from using a cell phone in a school or work zone, any school bus driver from using a cellular radio telecommunication device, and any commercial motor vehicle operator from using hand-held mobile phones or engaging in texting while driving. See 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§12-610.1; 12-610.2; 12-813.1; Public Act 097-0829. Kansas prohibits drivers from texting and driving along with other restrictions. See Kan. Stat. Ann. §§8-15,111; 8-2,100; 8-296; 8-2,101.
Where to Ride
A cyclist traveling on a roadway is required to ride as near to the right side of the roadway as possible, unless exceptions apply. States do make exceptions including when cyclists make a left turn, travel down a one-way road, or travel on the right side of a road that would otherwise be unsafe or hazardous to the cyclist. See Mo. Rev. Stat. §307.190, 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. §11-1505, Kan. Stat. Ann. §8-1590.
Some states have restrictions on riding bicycles on sidewalks. While Kansas places no such statutory restrictions, Missouri and Illinois both require the cyclist on a sidewalk to yield to a pedestrian and give them the right of way. Additionally, Missouri prohibits cyclists from riding on the sidewalk within business districts and prohibits all motorized bicycles on sidewalks. See Mo. Rev. Stat. §300.347 and 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. §11-1512.
Mandatory Use of Separated Facilities
Neither Missouri nor Illinois requires that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane. Kansas, however, requires that wherever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway. See Kan. Stat. Ann. §8-1590(d).
Stopping at Traffic Controls
In most cases, bicycles are required to take the same precautions as motor vehicles when approaching an intersection that has traffic control, such as a stop sign or traffic lights. Cyclists need to come to a complete stop and wait their turn before continuing forward. See Mo. Rev. Stat. §304.285, 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. §11-306(3.5), and Kan. Stat. Ann. §8-1508(c)(4).
Dooring laws require that a person opening a vehicle door ensures that it is reasonably safe to open the said door, so it will not interfere with traffic, including traffic from cyclists. Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas all have laws prohibiting operators of a vehicle from opening a door on the side near moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so, and will not interfere with the movement of traffic, and not leave the door open for longer than necessary to load and unload passengers. See Mo. Rev. Stat. §300.34, 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. §11-1407, and Kan. Stat. Ann. §8-1577.
Negligence & Fault
Both cyclists and motor vehicle drivers are required to exercise reasonable care on roadways. When a bicycle accident occurs as a result of a collision between a cyclist and driver, fault is determined by whether the parties involved were exercising the appropriate standard of care when operating their vehicle at the time of the crash. For example, if a driver was texting and failed to see a cyclist before making a right turn into them, the driver would be at fault for the collision. Alternatively, if a cyclist fails to stop at an intersection and is hit by a driver with the right of way, who could not stop in time, then the cyclist will be at fault for the collision.
Pursuing A Bicycle Accident Claim
If you are injured in a bicycle accident with another vehicle, you may have a valid claim against the other driver’s insurance. You may have a valid uninsured motorist claim under your own insurance if they are uninsured. A bicycle accident lawyer can help determine if you have a strong personal injury claim, and further help to assist with documentation and the collection of evidence.
Be sure to keep track of your medical treatment, where you sought treatment and on what dates, as well as any receipts for out-of-pocket expenses. Items destroyed or damaged in the collision may be claimed under the property damage provision of the applicable insurance coverage (i.e., bicycle or bicycle parts, phones, helmets, gear, kits/clothing, etc.), but medical devices may be claimed under the injury provision (i.e., hearing aids or glasses, etc.). If you have a valid claim, you can pursue damages for the cost of medical treatment, your lost wages, travel expenses (to and from medical care), and other out-of-pocket medical expenses.
If you’ve suffered injuries due to the negligence of another party, request a free case evaluation from a bicycle accident lawyer at Brown & Crouppen.
Bicycle Accident FAQs
Can a bicyclist be at-fault for an accident?
Yes. Cyclists owe others on the road a duty of care. If the cyclist is distracted or operating their cycle negligently, they may be at fault for the bicycle accident that would be otherwise avoidable.
Who pays for medical expenses?
If a cyclist is injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, then they may claim medical treatment and expenses on the other driver’s liability insurance. If the at-fault driver is uninsured, the cyclist can claim their own uninsured motorist insurance coverage. However, the bodily injury insurance carrier will not pay the medical expenses as they come in and offer a separate settlement for pain and suffering. If you have health insurance that will pay the bills prior to settling the case, make sure that your medical provider bills your applicable health insurance for treatment. Your health insurance carrier may be entitled to reimbursement out of the settlement (referred to as subrogation), but health insurance carriers often get discounts for the cost of treatment and can prevent your unpaid medical bills from going into collections, impacting your credit score.
What are the common causes of bicycle accidents?
Bicycle accidents are often caused by distracted driving, either by the cyclist or a motor vehicle driver. Unfortunately, road rage also contributes to cycling accidents with drivers. Another cause is improper maintenance of equipment that causes tire or gear issues.
Request A Free Case Evaluation For A Catastrophic Injury Case
If you or a loved one has suffered from a bicycle accident in St Louis, Kansas City, or surrounding areas, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. Getting started is easy. Get help from our legal team by calling us at 888-795-0694 for a free consultation, or get in touch with a bicycle accident attorney by requesting a free case evaluation online. And remember, there’s no upfront cost to you — if you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid.