Indianapolis, IN asked in Car Accidents and Personal Injury for Indiana

Q: If a cyclist on a sidewalk crosses in front of my car as I begin to accelerate from a complete stop and [Cont.]

there is a collision, who is at fault?

3 Lawyer Answers
Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Wyomissing, PA

A: Depends on who is where, but you need to report it to your car insurance if you were the car driver, if you were the cyclist contact a ember of the Indiana Assn for Justice in your county.

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Little Neck, NY

A: There are a number of factors that could determine fault, such as traffic control devices, the bicycle's speed, the nature of the intersection, among others. An Indiana attorney could review additional details and the police report (if one was issued), and provide more meaningful guidance. Good luck

Tim Akpinar

Todd C. Barsumian
Todd C. Barsumian
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Fishers, IN
  • Licensed in Indiana

A: When it comes to a question about fault, unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, the answer is often, "it depends." With certain exceptions, namely governmental actor liability and medical malpractice where contributory negligence applies, Indiana is a modified comparative fault state. If the injured person's fault is found to be 51% or more out of the 100% of available fault by the trier of fact (judge or jury), then they will be unable to recover any damages, as a defense verdict will follow. If fault is determined to be 50/50, then the injured person is still entitled to make a recovery. The amount of damages awarded will then be reduced by the percentage of fault of the injured person. Indiana has a fairly lenient summary judgment standard, which means that its courts are reluctant to decide an issue such as fault as a matter of law absent clear and undisputed evidence. What this means is that nearly all issues involving a fault determination in a comparative fault setting will make it to trial, so long as there is some evidence in favor of the party suing not being at fault.

In determining who is at fault between a cyclist leaving a sidewalk and a motorist accelerating from a stop where the motorist collides with the cyclist, there could be several factors that go into the fault equation that a jury gets to decide. Bicycle laws in Indiana leave plenty of room for confusion when it comes to the respective rights of motorists and bicyclists. A motorist must always exercise due care on the roadway and follow the rules of the road. So too must a cyclist. There is nothing currently on the books in Indiana prohibiting a cyclist from riding on a sidewalk. Some localities have passed a variety of laws about cyclists that could impact this. Was it day or night? If night, was the cycle properly equipped with a lamp as required by law? Did the driver and cyclist make eye contact? Did anyone wave the cyclist across? Did the cyclist have and use a bell? Did the motorist hear it? Was the cyclist or motorist under the influence.

The law is often in a state of flux with new laws coming and old laws going. In 2014, Indiana passed a "dead red" law, allowing motorcycles, motorized bicycles, bicyclists and motor scooters to stop at a red light, but to go again after waiting two minutes, so long as they exercise the due care that is otherwise required of them. This was apparently due to bicycles not being able to trigger automatic lights. Depending on the locality, factual circumstances, credibility of the parties, and biases of the judge or jury, there could be a variety of fault allocations made under your scenario. Very challenging, but good question.

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