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An Interstate Bike Trip and Liability

By DiBella Law Offices on September 16, 2018

red, yellow, and orange leaves falling along a country road

Cycling is great way to get around in Massachusetts. Bicycles are much cheaper to maintain than cars, and riding a bike is a much cleaner option for the environment.

But those who choose to take interstate bike rides, from Massachusetts down to Connecticut or up to Vermont, should be aware of bicycle laws in those other states. While Massachusetts has bike-friendly laws, other states may not.

This could affect how you can receive compensation in the unfortunate event of a crash.

Bicycle Liability in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is one of a handful of states that have tried to make the roads safer for bicyclists. Along with Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, Michigan, and Rhode Island, Massachusetts largely holds the motor vehicle involved in a collision with a bicycle responsible for the crash. While the exact laws differ from state to state, in Massachusetts, drivers are generally held to strict liability. The driver will be held responsible for paying compensation to the cyclist for things like medical bills, time lost from work, and replacement of the bike, if necessary.

Strict liability does allow liability to lie with the cyclist in certain cases, such as if a cyclist was reckless or grossly negligent while on his bike.

The law has been enacted in Massachusetts as a way to protect bicyclists. Since cyclists are far more likely to sustain severe injuries in an accident with a motor vehicle, lawmakers put the responsibility for road safety mainly on drivers.

Bicycle Liability in Other States

New York and New Hampshire, unfortunately, are not as lenient towards cyclists as Massachusetts is. In these states, either or both parties can be found liable in the case of an accident. They follow the rule of comparative negligence.

Under comparative negligence, the bicyclist can file a lawsuit against a driver, but if a jury decides the driver was less than 51% responsible for the accident, the bicyclist cannot claim compensation at all. Also, the amount of “fault” a jury awards to the bicyclist would cut into his verdict. If a jury decides the cyclist is 10% at fault, he’ll only get $90,000 of a $100,000 judgment. On the flipside, if the driver sustained serious injury, and the cyclist was found to be mostly fault, he would have to pay compensation to the driver.

Additionally, New York is a no-fault insurance state. No-fault law states that when a person is injured in an accident, he must go through his own insurance to claim accident benefits. No-fault law can make filing a lawsuit against an at-fault party more difficult.

Need to File a Lawsuit Out of State?

If you get into an accident outside of Massachusetts and wish to file a lawsuit, the laws of the state in which the accident occurred will apply. And while almost any attorney can help determine what those laws are, he or she may need to be licensed to practice in that state to represent you.

If you were injured in a bike collision, a Burlington bicycle accident attorney may be able to help you recover compensation. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we handle cases throughout Massachusetts and over the border in New Hampshire. Call (781) 262-3338 for a free consultation.

Posted in: Car Accidents