Although the fall weather has made things cooler in our region, bicyclists still are taking to the road. With many cyclists sharing the road with cars and trucks, it is inevitable that accidents will happen. In fact, as cities become denser, the chances that a bicyclist will be injured increases.
Even as this possibility increases, the chances of an offending driver being prosecuted for a crime does not. According to a recent article produced by the New York Times, law enforcement (and apparently jurors) do not appear sympathetic for bike riders who are hit by cars. The article highlighted several instances where bicyclists were killed, and the driver was charged with some sort of reckless driving offense (as well as a traffic violation) but there was no criminal charge for the loss of human life (i.e. vehicular manslaughter).
The reasoning was that jurors tended to side with drivers in these situations, and may have thought to themselves “this could have happened to me,” and are more likely to cut drivers a break with regard to criminal charges. Even the police may give drivers the benefit of the doubt, given that they spend the majority of their day inside a car.
Suffice it to say, the public sentiment against bicyclists may make civil cases against drivers difficult, even though the stakes are different (e.g. jail time as opposed to monetary compensation). Nevertheless, an injured cyclist should consult an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about their rights and options. After all, drivers have a legal duty to look out for (and avoid) hazards, including pedestrians and cyclists.
Source: NY Times.com, “Is it O.K. to kill cyclists?” Daniel Duane, November 9, 2013