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Who is at fault in a cyclist/pedestrian accident?

If you are a cyclist, you know that colliding with a motor vehicle can lead to severe injuries and even death. The possibility of such an accident is at the forefront of any rider’s mind.

But you may not have considered colliding with someone walking. Who is at fault in these situations? And how do such accidents occur?

Both cyclists and pedestrians owe a duty of care

Both riders and people on foot owe each other a “duty of care.” FindLaw’s definition states that both parties must “use due care toward others in order to protect them from unnecessary risk of harm.” In plain terms, pay attention, and think about the consequences before you act, no matter who you are.

If you are biking and hit a pedestrian because he or she walked out in front of you suddenly, that person may have breached the duty of care owed to you. If you sustain an injury, it is up to you to prove it was a result of that person’s negligence.

Common causes of cyclist/pedestrian accidents

In some instances, a person on foot may walk in a bike lane or choose not to use designated crosswalks. Other times, a pedestrian is simply distracted. Talking on the phone, texting or attempting to control an unruly dog may put the pedestrian in more danger.

Distracted riders put pedestrians at risk, too. However, cyclists can also cause accidents by riding on the sidewalk or another pedestrian-only area. Bicyclists endanger others when they do not signal their presence to the person on foot or ride at night without adequate lighting gear.