Pedestrian and Bicycle Accident – FAQs

Pedestrian and Bicycle Accident FAQ

In most places pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists all travel along the same pathway in fairly close proximity. Mistakes happen and sometimes accidents occur. Pedestrians and bicyclists that get into accidents with motor vehicles can suffer serious injuries because they have far less to protect them when a crash occurs.

Pedestrian and bicycle traffic in Washington has increased significantly over the past few years. Unfortunately, so have fatality and serious injury accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists.

Following are some of the most frequently asked questions by persons injured in pedestrian or bicycle accidents.

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission reports that traffic fatalities involving pedestrians or bicyclists are at the highest levels in more than 30 years. Bicyclists or pedestrians are involved in almost 25% of the traffic fatality accidents and about 20% of the traffic accidents that result in serious injuries.

The biggest risk factor for pedestrian accidents is the inability of motorists to see them. Over 75% of pedestrian accidents occur at night. The second biggest risk factor for pedestrian accidents is crossing a roadway when not at an intersection. Almost 2x as many pedestrians are killed while crossing outside of crosswalks. Time of day is also a factor. More pedestrian (and bicyclist) fatalities occur between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m.

Yes. When bicyclists are riding on the roads they have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. When bicyclists are riding on sidewalks they are considered pedestrians for laws that apply between motor vehicles and pedestrians.

Yes, most of the time. Bicycles are required to abide by the same laws as motor vehicles with few exceptions. One interesting exception is that in Washington it is legal to ride a bicycle while intoxicated.

When a motorist collides with a pedestrian or a bicycle it is usually for one of the following reasons.

  • poor visibility – dark, bad weather
  • the motorist is distracted
  • the motorist is violating traffic laws – speeding, unsafe lane change, ignoring traffic signals
  • the motorist fails to give adequate space to the pedestrian or bicycle
  • the motorist fails to yield to the pedestrian or bicycle

It depends. Motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists all have rights and responsibilities when using the roadways. To the extent any party to the accident was not doing what was legally required, some portion of fault for the accident may be attributed to them.

Generally yes. Cars must yield to pedestrians crossing the street in marked or unmarked crosswalks. When pedestrians cross the roadway outside a crosswalk, a motorist is not legally obligated to yield – though it’s a good idea.

If your injuries or other damages are anything but very minor it is best to contact an attorney in your area that handles the type of accident you were involved in. Your claim will begin with one or more insurance companies seeing you as just another claim trying to collect money they don’t want to pay. You really need a skilled advocate on your side who understands how insurance companies operate and can make sure your rights are protected.

Yes. Washington allows persons injured by others to be compensated for their damage to the extent that other people caused the accident. However, compensation will be reduced by the percentage of contribution attributed to the injured party.

Most often the money you will receive from a pedestrian or bicycle accident will come from an insurance company. You may have coverage through your own insurance company or the insurance company that represents the motorist that hit you – or both.

Unless your injuries are very minor and there is no question as to fault for the accident, it is best to consult with an attorney before you talk to an insurance company. The insurance adjusters are very skilled at doing what is necessary to keep their payouts as low as possible and that is often not with your best interests in mind.

No. In Washington, there is no requirement that a bicyclist ride in a bike lane even if there is one designated.

Yes. You do not need to be physically impacted by a motor vehicle for the driver to be responsible for your injuries. It comes down to your ability to prove that some action or inaction by the motorist caused your accident.

To prove that a motorist caused your pedestrian or bicycle accident you have to show that the driver had a responsibility to do something other than what was done and that their failure to do the other thing caused the accident. The basic duty drivers owe to pedestrians and bicyclists is to be aware they are on the roads and to use care operating their vehicles around them.

It depends. The more issues that need to be resolved and the farther from an agreement the various parties to the accident are, the longer it may take to resolve your claim. The best thing you can do is be as efficient as possible when taking care of your part of the process. Be thoroughly prepared and have the proper documents ready to go for each given deadline. An experienced pedestrian or bicycle accident lawyer knows how to keep your claim moving toward a prompt settlement.

Hi, I’m attorney Joseph Rome. I live and practice law in Kirkland, Washington. I have been serving clients in King County who have been injured in accidents with motor vehicles for more than 15 years.

At the Law Offices of Joseph Rome, we are a voice for those who have been wrongfully injured. We fight to get our clients as much compensation as the law allows so they can get their lives back on track after their accidents.

If you have been injured in a pedestrian or bicycle accident we can advise you what to do next. Call our office at 425-429-1729 or contact us here for a free confidential consultation.