You wouldn't expect a bicycle accident to be deadly. But they can be. Just consider San Francisco, where two people have been killed by a bicyclist in the last year.
In the latest of these incidents, the bicyclist, Chris Bucchere, went careening down a steep hill and crashed into a crowded crosswalk. He hit 71-year-old Sutchi Hui, who died four days later.
Even if prosecutors decide not to charge Bucchere with vehicular manslaughter, he'll likely be saddled with a bicycle accident lawsuit.
These sorts of suits are based in negligence law and often rely on the rules of the road. Though they might think otherwise, bicyclists must follow the law. This means traffic signals and signs. It also means respecting the right-of-way of others.
Traffic laws are often said to define the minimum standard of care a motorist or bicyclist must exercise while on the road. When broken, there is a legal presumption that the individual acted negligently.
If a traffic violation were to lead to a bicycle accident lawsuit, that presumption would be difficult to overcome. A bicyclist would need to prove that, under the circumstances, he had no choice but to break the law. He'll also need to prove that his own actions did not put him in such a dire position.
These arguments probably won't be very easy for Chris Bucchere to make. Evidence suggests that he did not try to stop once the light turned red, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Instead, he just tried to plow through the least crowded area. Bicycle accident lawsuit waiting to happen? This blogger thinks so.
- Bicycle Accidents (FindLaw)
- Child Bicycle Accident Liability (FindLaw)
- Bicycle Accidents: Cyclists Must Obey Traffic Laws (FindLaw's Injured)