« Women, bikes and harassment | Main | 18th Street Reconstruction Project Between Florida Avenue and Columbia Road »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

It the situation was different and the bike was a car, what would be the verdict if a car hit the tail end of a truck that was turning?

In Denmark, the turning vehicle has total responsibility for an accident regardless of any other circumstances. How do I know this? I was in Denmark and stopped while making a left turn to allow a pedestrian (who had suddenly jumped out into the street) to cross in front of me. Another car coming in the opposite direction plowed into me similar to the cyclist in this story. I was taken to the police station and allowed to call the American embassy. The embassy informed me that I had broken the foremost traffic law in Denmark and strongly advised me to promptly pay the stiff fine. Fortunately for me, the rental car company payed for the damages to the other car.

This is exactly the result you were talking about a few months ago. Juries are likely to be made up of people who think bikers are arrogant and take too many dangerous risks, even when the evidence is otherwise in a particular case, simply because they see some other biker do something stupid.

I would be really curious to know if any 'regular cyclists' ever make it onto a jury in cycling related cases. I would find it hard to believe that they wouldn't be excluded by the other party's lawyer.

I think you give juries in Montgomery County too little credit. When I was doing my duty, Id say 2/3rds of the pool was either doctors, lawyers or other professionals and no one seemed to be bringing a bias into the jury room (the case had nothing to do about cycling). Id like to see the facts----a triathlon trainer was probably doing something well over 20 mph I would bet, and not knowing the road this happened on, the type of corner that the truck was turning into, speed of traffic, etc you have all sorts of variables to ponder.

Secondly and more important....if you rear-end someone you have a HUGE bar to overcome to show it was not your fault, (following to close, failure to exercise caution, etc)

So claim bias where you can show it, but dont be a Sarah Palin and claim bias just because you lost.

The cyclist didn't rear-end the driver, he hit the side of the truck near the back wheel.
I'm not saying there was any bias, I don't know enough to say that. I'm saying the threshold for guilt of 100% responsibility is too high.

While this decision seems wrong, I think cyclists who assume motor vehicles will yield the right of way have a shorter-than-average life span.

But, if a car hit the side of the truck, what would the verdict be?

I don't know.

normally a vehicle going straight has the right of way. A turning car has to yield the right of way to the oncoming car.

So if Vehicle A turns in front of Vehicle B and vehicle B hits A, then the operator of A is normally at fault. There are probably two dozen caveats to that (Vehicle B is speeding, running a light, etc...)

Again the driver in this case never argued they had the right of way.

Thank you. I had been told that if the front of my car hits the back half another vehicle, I would be in responsible for the accident.

This should clear it up because the schmoe that told me this did not have his own blog and could not know as much as you. I really wish, however, you could cite some reference. Then I would feel comfortable straightening out the other schmoe.

Does contributory negligence also apply to motor vehicles?

I'm going to follow up on this. Bike advocates have cited Maryland contributory negligence law as reason to get ride of "seldom enforced" laws like the one requiring you to ride on the shoulder if there is one. So, for example, you're riding in the roadway (not on the shoulder) and a speeding car hits you and by some miracle you aren't dead. You sue and guess what, you're deemed partly negibible and can't collect a thing. But some in Maryland government have retorted that this never really happens. Well, guess what...

@Tom, the front hitting the back rule comes from the safe following distance law, not applicable here. Here is a link to the left turn law: http://www.michie.com/maryland/lpext.dll/mdcode/23207/24a07/24aaf/24aba?fn=document-frame.htm&f=templates&2.0#

@Joe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contributory_negligence
Short version: it's a defense.

What The Human Car said...

@Washcycle can you email details so we can follow up on Jack's post?

Oops, read the original while still sleepy. I still hold that without the trial testimony etc we are too quick to judge here.

Trucks are typically large slower moving vehicles when turning. Bicycles are lightweight and can be stopped in a relative short distance. There is not enough information presented to draw a complete conclusion, but hitting a vehicle the size of a truck behind the rear wheel line shows signs of not paying attention to what is going on in front of you. When riding a bicycle I would not pick a fight with a vehicle that outweighs me by 1000 times regardless of right of way.

Wow, this is just horrible. If this cyclist had been operating a car at the time, the truck driver would have been found guilty. There is clearly a double-standard with the laws that permits for cyclists to be treated as second-class citizens.

a triathlon trainer was probably doing something well over 20 mph I would bet

Holy Cow!!

*Over* TWENTY miles per HOUR!!

Next time you're in your car doing 20 in a 25 mph zone, I sincerely hope that someone in a pick-up truck T-bone's you


This must be going to district court for appeal.

Just unbelievable.

It seems they might be coming from the angle that the cyclist's injuries were not as claimed. They are arguing that the cyclist could still train and race although no time frame is given. Also the idea of hitting the back might be to argue less chance of injury.

Clearly the driver was at fault. The question is if the driver was also charged for the accident.

This is the most common sort of accident I *ALMOST* have, when drivers cut me off because they can't concieve that I might be going faster than 10 mph.

As for the 25mph issue: so, if a cyclist is going too slow, then they are holding up traffic. If they are going too fast, its their fault when they hit cars that cut across their path.

I've been in that situation. In my case, hitting the broadside of the vehicle that cut me off (and then froze in front of me) was the safest option I had. To swerve around the vehicle, into unknown dangers on the other side could have resulted in getting hit head-on by a second vehicle.

Jury ignorance. Nothing more, nothing less. If I ever go to jury trial for something having to do with my bike I'll fight tooth and nail to get some cyclists in the jury so I'll at least partically have a "jury of my peers."

Thank you for the kind wishes! I hope you have a long and productive and healthy life with your hate.

Realistically what I was trying to point out is that the cyclist was probably moving at a high speed, quite possibly was using aero bars and didnt have his hands near the brakes and 2 sets of people possibly mis-judged the situation, the cyclist for not slowing down and the truck driver for thinking that he had time to complete the turn.

Without being in the courtroom and without the trial testimony we simply do not have the evidence to judge.

With anti-lock brakes on cars (and pick-ups) and typical weak road bike brakes and high center of gravity, I bet a car/truck at 20 mph could stop more quickly than a lot of bikes.

- - - -
2whls3spds wrote:
"Trucks are typically large slower moving vehicles when turning. Bicycles are lightweight and can be stopped in a relative short distance."

Yes, cars can stop a lot faster than bikes. Or you could say, they can stop _safely_ much faster than bikes. You can stop a bike almost instantly, but the problem is, the rider will be thrown forward off the bike!

I had the same kind of collision, but I ran into the side of a sedan that had turned across my lane [and across a double yellow line] to get to a valet parker for Black's Restaurant in Bethesda. I was moving 17-19 mph at the time and trying to accelerate, on a road with 30mph speed limit.

Though I expect many stupid maneuvers from drivers, I didn't see this one coming, and could only slow down a little bit and turn towards the right. It was better to hit the car at a slanting angle rather than 90 degrees. My main injury was a dislocated left pinky. [Sounds funny, but hurts a lot, especially the physical therapy.]

Anyway, there was a cop on the scene within a few minutes, and though he didn't give the driver of the car a citation, he did note that the driver was at fault in the police report, and that I was not at fault. I was able to get a satisfactory [to me] settlement from the driver's insurance company.

If I had had really serious injuries, like the cyclist in this story, I don't know if I would have tried to go to court.

hello everybody i have a questions in aug,22,2006 i got hit by a truck...it was a two way street 3 lanes on each side i was heading from east to west..the lanes are in order... there was a right land,bike lane,middle lane,and left lane i was in the bike lane between the right and middle lane and as i was passing a truck that was unloading on the right lane another truck changing lanes from the left to the middle lane came in to bike lane and hit me as i was passing the truck that was being unloaded and pinned me and i was pinned between both trucks for a couple of seconds but i suffered a lot of injuries ...and got spinal fusion and still need 2 more surgerys.....if the truck came in to my lane is'nt he at fault.....please comment

It sounds to me like you had the right of way and the driver of the truck was at fault. I recommending talking to a lawyer.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader