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Comparative negligence and distracting cycling

In our last post, we briefly looked at the issue of distracted driving, and the way in which comparative negligence might be considered in personal injury cases involving pedestrians who are partially at fault for their own injuries. The issue of comparative negligence can come up in a number of situations involving car accidents, including accidents involving bicyclists.

Just as the issue of comparative negligence can impact distracted or negligent pedestrians, it can also impact distracted or negligent cyclists. Most of our readers have, at some point, probably witnessed a cyclist failing to abide by traffic regulations. While cyclists do have as much of a right to be on the road as motorists, they must also abide by the rules that apply to them.

Like pedestrians, bicyclists who become involved in an accident in West Virginia and who wish to recover for injuries they sustained in the crash may find that they face the possibility of having their damages reduced or altogether barred if they are deemed to have been at fault. As we said last time, the extent to which a pedestrian—and for that matter, a bicyclist—is at fault for his or her injuries is the extent to which his or her damages award may be reduced. If a bicyclist is 50 percent or more at fault, he or she is barred from recovery under state law.

We don’t want to give the impression with this and the last post that we are picking on pedestrians and cyclists. We understand that pedestrians and cyclists often become injured through no fault of their own, and that they have the right to recover appropriate damages for their injuries. The possibility of comparative negligence coming into the picture is always there, though, and plaintiffs who may have been partially at fault for an accident need to be aware of it.

Source: Claims Journal, “Understanding Comparative Fault, Contributory Negligence and Joint & Several Liability,” Gary Wickert, Sep. 2013. 

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