We have been contacted by bikers who have been injured in car crashes and given tickets for equipment infractions. Some cyclists think that if they get a ticket, they cannot bring a claim for their injuries or destroyed bicycles. This is simply not the case.
It is true that some states also have specific requirements for equipment, in addition to bicycle operation. In Virginia, for example, every bike must have a visible lamp if ridden at night, a reflector, and a taillight if it is ridden on roads with a speed of 35 miles per hour or more. Many counties, including Fairfax, also mandate the use of helmets.
Because these laws are in place to protect the safety of both cyclists and the drivers who must avoid colliding with them, police do not dismiss a cyclist’s failure to follow the law. That is why, after an accident, a cyclist who fails to operate or equip the bicycle according to local ordinances may receive a ticket, regardless of whether he or she is injured. However, it is important to realize that receiving a ticket as a cyclist does not automatically exonerate other parties in the accident. A driver may still be culpable for his or her failure to follow traffic laws. If, for example, a driver runs a red light and hits you broadside while you were riding without a rear reflector and you get a ticket, you still have the right to file a suit against the driver and recover damages from an accident. If the evidence shows that it was the car or truck driver’s negligence that caused the crash and NOT your failure to have a rear reflector then you were “T-boned” then you should prevail in court.
If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle accident, it is wise to consult a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling car, truck and bike crash cases to find out what your rights are. The driver of the car or truck may be ordered to pay for your medical expenses, wage loss, permanent scars and other unforeseen complications from your injuries.