Posted on May 20, 2020 in Traffic Violations
Bicycling continues to increase in popularity as a recreational activity and an inexpensive form of travel for commuting through town. More bicyclists mean more bicycles on the road, which means motorists must share the road with bicycles. Bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities on the road as motorists.
If you hit a cyclist with your car, you need to treat the accident as you would any other traffic accident. That means you need to follow the rules for stopping after an accident and reporting a traffic accident. Leaving the scene of a bicycle accident could result in criminal charges, in addition to the civil liability you may have for causing a bicycle accident.
Drivers must remain at the scene of an accident to exchange information. If the accident involves an injury, drivers are expected to offer reasonable help and notify law enforcement. If a driver hits a parked car, the driver is expected to stop and attempt to locate the owner or leave a note with the driver’s information.
If a driver fails to follow the traffic laws for an accident in Arizona, the driver may be charged with a crime. When a traffic accident involves an injury, leaving the scene of the accident can result in a felony charge.
Some of the relevant hit and run laws in Arizona include:
If an accident involves vehicle damage only, the drivers must stop their vehicle as close to the crash as possible or return to the accident scene as soon as possible. Drivers must exchange the required information and offer assistance if necessary. Hit and run involving vehicle damage only is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Drivers must also stop if they hit a parked vehicle or damage other property, such as a fence or mailbox. The driver must attempt to locate the owner to provide the required information.
If the owner cannot be located, the driver must leave a note with his or her contact information. Violations of this statute are a Class 3 misdemeanor.
If a driver leaves the scene of an accident, including hitting a cyclist with a car, the driver could face felony charges if the accident resulted in injuries or death. The severity of the injury dictates the criminal charge.
Accidents involving a fatality or serious injury are a Class 2 felony. If a driver did not cause the accident but fled the scene, the charge is a Class 3 felony. If the accident resulted in a non-serious injury, the charge is generally a Class 5 felony.
Drivers may also be charged with a crime if they remain at the scene of an accident, but fail to offer reasonable assistance or refuse to exchange the required information.
Also, mitigating circumstances could increase the criminal charge. For example, if the driver was under the influence of alcohol when the driver hit a cyclist with his car, the driver could be charged with DUI hit and run.
If you are involved in a bicycle accident, stop your vehicle and remain at the accident scene. Offer reasonable assistance and contact law enforcement for assistance. In most cases, bicycle accidents result in injury to the cyclist because riders have no protection from the impact with the car.
As soon as possible, contact a traffic violations lawyer to discuss potential defenses to fault for the accident. Motorists are often blamed for causing an accident when a cyclist is hit by a car, but that is not always true.
Depending on the facts in your case, there could be several defenses you could claim to avoid liability for the accident. For example, city infrastructure can make bike lanes unsafe for cyclists and motorists. You could claim that the design of the bike lanes contributed to the cause of the accident.
If a cyclist was not obeying traffic laws at the time of the accident, you might not be responsible for the accident. For example, a rider who fails to signal a turn or runs a red light might have caused the accident. Bicyclists who are distracted while riding may also be at fault for a crash.
In some cases, a bicyclist may be in the wrong lane, or the bicyclist may not be visible to the driver. Bicyclists who are speeding can also contribute to the fault of a crash.
The important thing to remember is to remain at the scene of the accident, provide aid, and wait for law enforcement officers to arrive. You can fight any charges for causing the accident after you speak with a lawyer. Leaving the scene of the accident creates another criminal charge that could result in fines and jail time.