Bicycle accidents are not the most common type of crash that occurs on New Mexico roadways, but they often result in significant injuries for those involved. Bicyclists are incredibly vulnerable roadway users, and if they are harmed due to the negligence of another driver, they should be able to recover compensation for their losses. However, determining fault after a bicycle accident can be challenging. Here, our Albuquerque car accident lawyers want to discuss how these accidents occur and how individuals can go about determining liability for these incidents.
Fault is Not Automatic – Both Bicyclists and Vehicle Drivers Have Rights
Data provided by the New Mexico Department of Transportation indicates that there were 374 total bicycle crashes across the state during the latest year of information on file. There were only 36 crashes out of the total 374 where the bicyclist walked away unharmed.
What most people do not realize is that both drivers and bicyclists share rights on the roadway. Under New Mexico’s laws, we can see that any person riding on a bicycle should be granted the same rights as vehicle drivers, and they shall be subject to all of the same duties applicable to drivers inside vehicles. This means that drivers have to yield to bicycles, and bicyclists have to yield to drivers, following the applicable traffic laws.
Determining Fault Means Gathering Evidence
When a bicycle accident happens in New Mexico, determining fault can be challenging. Just like any other type of vehicle accident, figuring out who is responsible for the crash will involve conducting a complete investigation into the incident and obtaining various types of evidence. Some of the evidence that can be gathered after a bicycle crash to determine liability includes the following:
- Statements from any eyewitnesses to the crash
- Photograph taken after the accident occurred
- Video surveillance captured from nearby cameras
- The police or accident report
- Mobile device data
- Vehicle “black box” data
In some cases, fault for a bicycle crash may be fairly clear. For example, if a vehicle driver was caught on camera rolling through a stop sign and then striking a bicyclist who had the right of way, it would be fairly obvious as to who caused the incident. However, evidence is not always so clear in these situations. It may be necessary for the parties involved to work with accident reconstruction experts who can use the evidence available as well as various scientific and mathematical techniques to put together 3D renderings of what likely happened.
If a Driver is At-Fault
If a vehicle driver in New Mexico is found to be at fault for causing a bicycle accident, their insurance carrier will be responsible for paying compensation to the bicyclist. This will include coverage of medical bills, lost wages if the bicyclist cannot work, property damage expenses, pain and suffering damages, and more. These cases will proceed forward like any other type of vehicle accident claim. If the insurance carrier refuses to offer a fair settlement, it may be necessary for the injured bicyclist to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. A skilled bicycle accident lawyer in New Mexico can handle every aspect of these claims for an injured cyclist. They will use their resources to conduct a complete investigation into the incident and help the cyclist recover maximum compensation for their losses.