Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 11-19-13, 01:10 PM   #1
dajjorg
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Bikes:
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Biking laws (and lawyers) in the US

Hello, first post here on the forum...

So i am a biker who primarily bikes for transportation needs. About 2 months ago I was involved in an accident with a car. Being ignorant of biking laws, I was convinced by the driver that I was at fault and, fearing liability for the small amount damage to their car (some small scratches and a dent), agreed with the driver that it would be mutually beneficial not to have a police report filed. Miraculously I was not injured despite completely flipping over the hood of the car, but things could have been much different (note: was riding on the street, not sidewalk).

Rather than describe my specific situation, I'd like to throw some questions out there on the forum to educate myself more generally on biking laws in the US.

1) Most generally, where can I find detailed information on biking laws in the US? (hopefully in plain language if possible...)

2) To what degree do laws regarding biking on roadways differ (by state, by county, by municipality/city)? For example, do I have to worry about different biking laws when traveling between towns, etc?

3) What kind of lawyer does one seek in the case of a bike accident where the car is at fault and causes injury/damage? One who specializes in car accidents? Or are there specialized bike-accident lawyers?

4) Where could I search for such lawyers in the case of such an accident? (sorry, never had to hire a lawyer before...)

Thanks in advance for any insight/answers you can provide here. Answers similarly enumerated according to question would be appreciated as well....
dajjorg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 01:19 PM   #2
CommuteCommando
Senior Member
 
CommuteCommando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Southern CaliFORNIA.
Bikes: KHS Alite 500, Trek 7.2 FX , Masi Partenza, Masi Fixed Special, Masi Cran Criterium
Posts: 3,010
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Google "[your state] vehicle code" Once you get there do a site search for "bicycles" (in CA it is CVC 21202 and 21208)

Also, never admit fault in an accident. You should have got his insurance info, then gone home and done some research. It may not have been your fault. Of course, if there were no injuries, or significant property damage, an agreement to call it "no-fault" is often the best course.

Laws in most states are very similar. The biggest differences are regarding bikes on sidewalks. In CA this issue is left up to local jurisdictions.
CommuteCommando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 01:32 PM   #3
prathmann
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Bay Area, Calif.
Bikes:
Posts: 6,096
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 82 Post(s)
Vehicle and bicycle laws vary by state, so as stated above you need to specify the state and look up the vehicle code for that state. Many states also publish pamphlets which summarize the vehicle laws pertaining to bicycles and are in plainer language. But note that such pamphlet information is not always complete or totally correct and the actual vehicle code wording is what carries weight in court. States also vary with regard to how much towns, cities, and counties can add regulations beyond what's in the state vehicle code.

There are lawyers who specialize in bicycling cases. One is Bob Mionske who writes a legal column for Bicycling! magazine. You'd need to find one who practices law in your area - possibly Mionske could help you locate one. Or give a bit more information as to your location here and someone may know of a local lawyer. But note that lawyers do want to get paid - in cases where there's the possibility of a large settlement because of long-term disability or similar injury they may work on a commission basis, but that's unlikely if there's only limited property damage. Do you have the driver's information (name, DL and/or insurance info, address) so that you'd be able to file a claim if you become convinced that he was at fault?
prathmann is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 02:03 PM   #4
njkayaker
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Bikes:
Posts: 9,515
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 85 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dajjorg View Post
Hello, first post here on the forum...

So i am a biker who primarily bikes for transportation needs. About 2 months ago I was involved in an accident with a car. Being ignorant of biking laws, I was convinced by the driver that I was at fault and, fearing liability for the small amount damage to their car (some small scratches and a dent), agreed with the driver that it would be mutually beneficial not to have a police report filed. Miraculously I was not injured despite completely flipping over the hood of the car, but things could have been much different (note: was riding on the street, not sidewalk).
In a basic way, you riding a bike on the road are equivalent to a driver. That is, if you would be at-fault (or not) if you were driving, the you'd be at-fault (or not) while riding a bicycle.

Car drivers tend to assume that it's always the cyclist that is at-fault.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dajjorg View Post
2) To what degree do laws regarding biking on roadways differ (by state, by county, by municipality/city)? For example, do I have to worry about different biking laws when traveling between towns, etc?
Basically, the traffic laws and the bicycle-specific laws are largely the same in all states. There can be differences in whether you are supposed to be "as far right as practicable" by default or only if there's other faster traffic. Another difference is whether you are required to use a bicycle path (if one exists) or if it's optional.

If there's any differences locally (by city), it appears that typically it's a "must ride single file" requirement (that is, you can't ride two abreast). There are often signs to that effect but it's not clear that there is any local law behind the signs.

Last edited by njkayaker; 11-19-13 at 02:12 PM.
njkayaker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 02:04 PM   #5
dajjorg
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Bikes:
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
No, I did not collect license/contact information. Even if later convinced that she was at fault, since no injury/property damage happened, I saw no reason to.

I hail from New Bunswick, NJ. There must be some lawyers in the immediate area specializing in biking accidents since there is heavy bike traffic in my city (lot of it being college students), and since it is also the county seat and hence littered with courthouses.

I will look into this. Thanks for the info...
dajjorg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 02:10 PM   #6
njkayaker
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Bikes:
Posts: 9,515
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 85 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
Google "[your state] vehicle code" Once you get there do a site search for "bicycles" (in CA it is CVC 21202 and 21208)
While one needs to look at the bicycle-specific code, one also needs to realize that the other traffic laws (like speeding, etc) apply to bicyclists as well as drivers.
njkayaker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 02:18 PM   #7
no1mad
Thunder Whisperer
 
no1mad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: NE OK
Bikes: '06 Kona Smoke
Posts: 8,708
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 102 Post(s)
Welcome to A & S from General Cycling.
__________________
Community guidelines
no1mad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 04:06 PM   #8
jerseyJim
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Hawthorne NJ
Bikes: Surly LHT, Wabi Special, All City Big Block, 1933 Iver Johnson Mobicycle, Giant TCR Advanced
Posts: 377
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dajjorg View Post
No, I did not collect license/contact information. Even if later convinced that she was at fault, since no injury/property damage happened, I saw no reason to.

I hail from New Bunswick, NJ. There must be some lawyers in the immediate area specializing in biking accidents since there is heavy bike traffic in my city (lot of it being college students), and since it is also the county seat and hence littered with courthouses.

I will look into this. Thanks for the info...
http://www.state.nj.us/transportatio...lingmanual.pdf NJ DOT Cycling manual.
jerseyJim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 07:13 PM   #9
jhazel
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Fort Worth TX
Bikes: Trek Madone4.5, Fuji Newest, DaVinci Joint Venture, Pacific Dually, Kuota K Factor Thruster
Posts: 135
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
As you educate yourself on bicycle laws, remember that not all law enforcement officers and few non-cyclists actually understand the legal place of bicycles on the roads. It is also true that many people who are involved in an accident are convinced that it is the other persons fault and will not budge from that position. I was hit (in my car) at a traffic light and we were both sure we had a green light. It took a year for the insurance companies to sort it out.
As has been said, never admit fault at the scene and always get information.
jhazel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 07:34 PM   #10
FBinNY 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Bikes: too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter
Posts: 29,690
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 234 Post(s)
There are many personal injuries that specialize (at least partly) in bicycle related cases. One way to find these is to find a local, or within the state bicycle advocacy group, because many "bicycle" lawyers advertise on their sites or publications.

One bit of evidence that cycling has reached mainstream status is that one major PI law firm (Jacoby & Meyers) now runs TV ads referencing bicycle/car accidents.
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

“Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.
FBinNY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 07:36 PM   #11
look566 rider
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Central Ohio
Bikes: Bianchi Infinito w/Chorus 2011 Look 566 (deceased May 28, 2016), '04 Cannondale Optimo 800, '87 d'Arienzo-Basso w/full Campy & '51 Rudge Sports, '72 Raliegh Superbe and '62 Raliegh Gran Sport (currently under restoration).
Posts: 550
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
http://www.lependorf.com/bicycle-accident.shtml

One of several I found googling "new jersey bicycle lawyer"
look566 rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 10:39 PM   #12
CB HI
Cycle Year Round
 
CB HI's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Bikes:
Posts: 11,965
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 197 Post(s)
This link is good for learning how to cycle safely:
http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/
__________________
Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.
CB HI is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-13, 10:46 PM   #13
B. Carfree
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Bikes:
Posts: 6,275
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 75 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
In a basic way, you riding a bike on the road are equivalent to a driver. That is, if you would be at-fault (or not) if you were driving, the you'd be at-fault (or not) while riding a bicycle.

Car drivers tend to assume that it's always the cyclist that is at-fault.

Nicely said.
B. Carfree is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-20-13, 12:01 AM   #14
NoviceJohn
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Orlando, FL
Bikes:
Posts: 184
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Most states see bicycles as vehicle; therefore, you must obey all traffic laws when riding on a road. When the accident occurred, think about what you did and what the other driver did, just like you would when you are in a car accident. IMO, you're still a "vehicle" on the road. The only difference is you're not operating a 2,000 lbs machine.
NoviceJohn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-20-13, 09:19 AM   #15
CommuteCommando
Senior Member
 
CommuteCommando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Southern CaliFORNIA.
Bikes: KHS Alite 500, Trek 7.2 FX , Masi Partenza, Masi Fixed Special, Masi Cran Criterium
Posts: 3,010
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by look566 rider View Post
http://www.lependorf.com/bicycle-accident.shtml

One of several I found googling "new jersey bicycle lawyer"
I've actually met two of them at cycling events. http://www.bicyclelawyer.com/ http://www.911law.com/ I liked the first one, the second comes off as a typical lawyer.
CommuteCommando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-13, 01:12 AM   #16
dougmc
Senior Member
 
dougmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Bikes: Giant OCR2, Bridgestone RB-T, Bike-E, Vision R-40, Novara Safari
Posts: 3,029
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Car drivers tend to assume that it's always the cyclist that is at-fault.
Really, this would be better stated as: People tend to assume that the other party is at fault in a collision, whatever the types of vehicles involved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dajjorg View Post
No, I did not collect license/contact information. Even if later convinced that she was at fault, since no injury/property damage happened, I saw no reason to.
Then I would have to ask ... why are you talking lawyers now? Educating yourself on the laws is wise, but why would you be asking about lawyers? If the person is pursuing legal action against you, you should have their contact information by now. And if not, and there's no damage or injuries ... what do you hope to gain?

As for educating yourself on the laws, unless you're familiar with reading laws and have a lot of time, you might do better to just find a summary of the laws that are relevant to cyclists in your city/state. Local cycling advocacy groups tend to have such summaries on their web sites. Now, if there's a specific question about what exactly the law says, there's no substitute for reading the actual law itself, but for most purposes the summaries are accurate and all you need.

You certainly don't need to talk to a lawyer to learn the laws -- you can do that yourself.
dougmc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-13, 01:23 AM   #17
scott967
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Oahu, HI
Bikes: 89 Paramount OS 84 Fuji Touring Series III New! 2013 Focus Izalco Ergoride
Posts: 570
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11 Post(s)
IANAL and all that, but keep in mind that aside from specific duties that may be imposed on roadway users in the statutes (including responsibilities in the event of an "accident"), there also are theories derived from the common law in particular negligence torts which may have applicability.

scott s.
.
scott967 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-13, 06:49 AM   #18
njkayaker
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Bikes:
Posts: 9,515
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 85 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
Really, this would be better stated as: People tend to assume that the other party is at fault in a collision, whatever the types of vehicles involved.
True. Still, people tend to assume cyclists are at fault at a higher rate. Indeed, they often assume cyclists are at fault even before any accidents occur (cyclists are "accidents waiting to happen").

Anyway, my point was that the driver's statement about who was at fault is not very useful because it is what they will tend to assume regardless of the facts.

Last edited by njkayaker; 11-21-13 at 07:02 AM.
njkayaker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-13, 01:23 PM   #19
dajjorg
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Bikes:
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
Then I would have to ask ... why are you talking lawyers now?

........

And if not, and there's no damage or injuries ... what do you hope to gain?

.......
I never said I was talking to lawyers now, nor trying to talk to lawyers now. I am simply trying to educate myself on what the best way to quickly seek/find a lawyer in the case of a future accident, or potentially ask them for help interpretting the NJ State Vehicle code if I don't understand it.
dajjorg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-13, 01:44 PM   #20
ItsJustMe
Señior Member
 
ItsJustMe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Michigan
Bikes: Windsor Fens, Giant Seek 0 (2014, Alfine 8 + discs)
Posts: 13,063
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 59 Post(s)
Always get info if you took any kind of a significant impact to your body or your bike. Injuries sometimes take days to become apparent. People who have just been in an accident are not qualified to decide whether they've been injured or not - it's not uncommon to feel fine for hours or even days after an accident, then have significant pain come up.

My brother is a paramedic and he says it's not uncommon for people to be walking around saying they're fine, when he can see that they have broken bones. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug.
__________________
Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.
ItsJustMe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-13, 01:58 PM   #21
phoebeisis
New Orleans
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Bikes:
Posts: 2,592
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
OP
Not exchanging info-probably was the smart move in this case.
His damages-at worst a bike-$50-$500 maybe
$500- isn't even a SCRATCH on a car.
Considering the circumstances-and time pressure-smart play.
The car driver-maybe was scared that the OP would claim injury later on-no witnesses-so strictly he/she said He/she said.
So the driver was happy to eat his car repair cost.
phoebeisis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-13, 03:03 PM   #22
cafzali
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Rockland County, NY
Bikes: Giant TCR SL3 and Trek 1.5
Posts: 1,282
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dajjorg View Post
No, I did not collect license/contact information. Even if later convinced that she was at fault, since no injury/property damage happened, I saw no reason to.

I hail from New Bunswick, NJ. There must be some lawyers in the immediate area specializing in biking accidents since there is heavy bike traffic in my city (lot of it being college students), and since it is also the county seat and hence littered with courthouses.

I will look into this. Thanks for the info...
Check out Gary Brustin. He's based in California, but has associate attorney relationships in most every state in the country, which allows him to practice nationwide. His Web site is at http://www.bicyclelawyer.com.

Aside from that, most traffic lawyers will also handle bike-related cases, as the law that governs vehicles will apply to bikes as well.
cafzali is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-13, 03:12 PM   #23
dougmc
Senior Member
 
dougmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Bikes: Giant OCR2, Bridgestone RB-T, Bike-E, Vision R-40, Novara Safari
Posts: 3,029
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dajjorg View Post
I never said I was talking to lawyers now, nor trying to talk to lawyers now. I am simply trying to educate myself on what the best way to quickly seek/find a lawyer in the case of a future accident, or potentially ask them for help interpretting the NJ State Vehicle code if I don't understand it.
I didn't say talking to lawyers, just talking lawyers. You mentioned lawyer five times in a post that was seemed to be about a fender bender -- that's unusual. I'm glad to hear that you don't actually need one now.

You don't need a lawyer to explain the laws to you -- as I said, summaries are available. Lawyers will want lots of money to explain the law to you, which you can spend if you want, but considering that you can get what you need for free, it's best to save the lawyers for when you have a specific situation that you need an experienced legal eye on. (For example, there's not much point in paying a lawyer to analyse your incident, as it's not likely to happen again. But you should work on knowing the general laws for your area.)

And really, finding a lawyer is extremely easy. Most traffic lawyers can handle a bicycle case just fine (same laws), but if you want one that specializes in bicycle cases, just google for "bicycle lawyer [your city or state]". Asking the local cycling advocacy groups for who they suggest would be even better. But there's no need to work this stuff out beforehand -- the odds are, you'll never need it, and even if you do, it's only a phone call or two away.

In general for most things you'll want a lawyer local to your city (if that's where the incident happened) -- somebody who knows the local legal system, knows the people involved, their personalities, etc. He may even know them on a first name basis. If somebody comes in from outside, they may be able to do a good job too, but a local guy is likely to have a big head start on the out of area guy.
dougmc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-13, 05:42 PM   #24
dajjorg
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Bikes:
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dougmc View Post


Asking the local cycling advocacy groups for who they suggest would be even better........
You've alluded to these local cycling advocacy groups twice now. Where can I find a list of them, or find which one is closest/most prominent in my area (New Brunswick, NJ 08901)?

Thanks.
dajjorg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-13, 05:46 PM   #25
zonatandem
Senior Member
 
zonatandem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Tucson, AZ
Bikes: Custom Zona c/f tandem + Scott Plasma single
Posts: 10,858
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
Start with a police report . . .
zonatandem is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:25 AM.