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Bicycle Accidents - Frequently Asked Questions

Any cyclist knows that their main traffic risks come from three sources: reckless, belligerent or blindsided motorists; swinging car doors; and jaywalking pedestrians. Cyclists must somehow be alert to these dangers while simultaneously keeping a close eye on the pavement for potholes, metal plates and other ground-level hazards.

  1. Can I recover even if the motorist never hit me?
  2. Does my auto insurance cover accidents when I am on my bike?
  3. Who can I recover damages from for my injuries?
  4. What about if I'm attacked or harassed by a dog while riding?
 

Can I recover even if the motorist never hit me?

Yes. Many people are under the misconception that there has to be physical contact between a cyclist and a motor vehicle for the motorist to be liable. This is not true. There are many situations where cyclists are injured when they take evasive action to avoid being hit, and crash as a result. The motorist can still be held liable if their negligence required the cyclist to take the evasive action.

Does my auto insurance cover accidents when I am on my bike?

Most auto policies in Minnesota will cover you if you are injured in a bicycle accident or while on foot. You may also have medical payments coverage available to you under your policy.

Who can I recover damages from for my injuries?

Negligent drivers of automobiles, buses or trucks if the accident was caused by the driver of a vehicle;
Negligent manufacturers or retailers of bicycles, bicycle parts, bicycle accessories and/or vehicles if the accident was caused by a defective product;
The City, County or State who maintains the roads if the accident is caused by a dangerous condition created by an unsafe roadway;
Negligent repair shops or mechanics if the accident was caused by negligent repair of a vehicle or bicycle;
Dangerous condition of public property if the accident happened due to negligent design, maintenance, or upkeep of public property, including construction, tree trimming, etc.;
Dangerous condition of private property if the accident was caused by the negligent maintenance or upkeep of private property.

What about if I'm attacked or harassed by a dog while riding?

Many Minnesota municipalities have "leash laws" which require dogs to remain on leashes or within their own yards. If a dog enters the roadway or a bike path, you may be able to recover if a violation of the leash law has occurred. This is true even if a dog does not make contact with your bicycle. Further, if the dog owner knew or should have known that his dog routinely or previously left its yard or the owners control and ran in front of your bike the roadway then you also may be able to make a recovery.