Before filing a personal injury compensation suit, it is necessary to learn of the different laws that govern cyclists and motorists on the road. The regulations act as the reference point in any subsequent case, so it is essential to understand what is expected of you and the defendant, for proper case articulation.
Many Las Vegas residents and visitors prefer cycling to work or as a leisure activity. With many people using bicycles, road accidents are common. Undoubtedly, cyclists sustain severe injuries because they are more exposed to the impact than the motorists.
You need an attorney’s help to determine whether the case should be settled in or out of court. You also need a personal injury attorney to enhance your ability to gather sufficient information. At the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we have worked with many Las Vegas, Nevada clients to guide and support them in their injury compensation suits.
Regulations Guiding Bicyclists
The Nevada Revised Statutes provide a wide range of regulations that require all road users to follow specific guidelines. Road users include motorists in vehicles, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. Therefore, if you are a bicyclist, you will be subject to the different provisions you need to follow to avoid causing accidents or minor road mishaps.
Regarding traffic rules, a bicycle does not qualify as a vehicle based on the statutory provision in NRS 484A.025, where a car is any locomotive powered by a motor engine. Since a bicycle requires human power for it to move, it falls out of the vehicle category.
Nevertheless, bicyclists should follow the available traffic regulations to avoid arrest or payment of penalties. Under NRS 484B.763, a cyclist is expected to uphold a high standard of care and observe traffic rules, as he/she is subject to the consequences of a traffic violation like other motorists. Other specific regulations that aim at preventing personal injury for cyclists include:
A Cyclist Should Keep to the Far Right on the Road
In Nevada, cyclists should always ride on the right-hand side of the road to ensure that they move along with the traffic. The regulation is necessary to remember, especially if you are cycling on a busy street to keep you out of danger. Moreover, keeping to the far right will prevent you from having to estimate the distance between you and other vehicles, as the responsibility shifts to the motorists on the road. The rationale behind the change in responsibility is that a car driver can see you from multiple angles, while you will only see vehicles moving in front of you.
While the rule should apply at all times, there are exceptions to allow you to move safely or avert danger. Thus, you can shift from the right side of the road to detect that it would be unsafe to remain there. For example, if you hear a large truck coming behind you at high speed, it would be safer to shift lanes and avoid the risk of having the truck move too close to you.
You can also move from the right side of the road when you intend to make a left turn. Naturally, the turning point will require you to shift lanes, meaning that you should strategize on making the shift, especially if you are on multiple laned roads. Lastly, you can keep to the left instead of the right side of the road as long as you maintain the legal biking speed to avoid creating safety hazards for you and other road users.
A Maximum of Two Cyclists are Allowed to Ride Beside Each Other
The regulation that prohibits multiple bicyclists from riding beside each other aims at preventing side-sweeping accidents on the road. Such accidents would mostly occur when there is not enough room on the highway lanes, based on the vast spaces occupied by cyclists riding beside each other. The NRS 484B.777 limits the number of cyclists to two, meaning that violating these laws may attract some consequences despite you sustaining some injuries.
You Should Keep Your Hands on the Handlebars
A handlebar is equivalent to a steering wheel in a vehicle because it uses the structure to steer the bicycle. Thus, you have to retain your arms on the handlebars unless you indicate a change of movement to prevent the risk of losing balance or control over the bike. For example, you may release the handlebars to pick a phone call, leading to distractions that result in severe accidents. Moreover, you may put other road users in danger, especially if the collision ensures it is inevitable for them.
Regulations on Moving Off the Highway
Sometimes, you will be obliged to move off the road and allow vehicles behind you to proceed. Under NRS 484B.630, you should move off the highway when at least five cars are behind you and are notably unable to proceed because of your road position.
For example, if you are cycling uphill and getting tired, you may move slower, leading to other cars reducing their paces. In such a circumstance, we recommend moving out of the way and returning to the road after vehicles have moved to minimize traffic buildup.
Regulations for Cycling at Night
Using your bicycle at night requires additional care on the road, primarily because of the reduced vision and reaction time in case of danger. Therefore, it is necessary for you as a cyclist to ensure that you follow the requirements. It will be easier to make a personal injury claim without any defendants' rebuttals if you uphold your responsibilities. You will not be guilty of negligence. The principal regulations to uphold when cycling at night include:
Have a Red Reflector on Your Bicycle Rear
Every bicycle must have a red reflector at the back, as it warns approaching motorists of your presence and movement on the road. Since the reflective red light is visible from a distance, it also acts as a safety feature for you as the cyclist, because you will not have to worry about going undetected by oncoming vehicles. Therefore, the reflective part should sit at a prominent position, often at the back of the bicycle seat.
The specific distance of visibility required for your red rear reflector is fifty to three hundred feet. Upon reflecting the light from a vehicle's headlights, the red reflective piece should also specifically be visible to the car's lower beams to attract the driver's attention on time. A low beam refers to the dullest level of light shone by the vehicle's headlights. Thus, a motorist will have to explain his/her actions that led to a bicycle accident with injuries if your red reflector was visible within the distance range.
Your Bicycle Should Have Reflective Material on the Sides
Apart from the mandatory red rear reflector, it is necessary to ensure that your bicycle is also visible from the side, to prevent cases of T-bone bicycle collisions when a motorist fails to notice you on time. The side reflective material installed should be visual within six hundred feet from the bike when a vehicle shines light from a low headlight beam. Suppose the reflectors do not become visible under such light. In that case, you could have a limited chance to claim compensation for personal injuries sustained after an accident. The defective materials will be the primary cause of the collision.
Your Bicycle Should Have a Front Light Lamp
Moreover, riding at night also requires you to have a light lamp that emits white light at the front. Most bicycles have a dynamo system that converts your kinetic energy into electrical power supplied to light the lamp. Thus, the lamp should power up any time you cycle, to ensure that your light is visible within five hundred feet of vehicles approaching from the front.
Cycling Under the Influence
When you are involved in an accident arising from cycling when drunk or high, you will be responsible for the emerging consequences of jail sentences and fine payment. Like DUIs, cycling under the influence is a major contributing factor in road accidents involving cyclists and other road users. In Nevada, the offense of riding when intoxicated falls under Reckless endangerment, following NRS 202.595.
While traffic officers are not as vigilant in flagging down drunk cyclists by erecting checkpoints, once an officer suspects you of being intoxicated, he/she will issue several alcohol tests to determine whether the suspicion is accurate. If found guilty of the offense, you will be liable for gross misdemeanor charges about penalties. Therefore, you could face up to one year in jail or pay a fine of up to $2,000.
However, if you are guilty of causing personal injury amounting to substantial bodily harm to other road users, you will be liable for a Category C felony. Consequently, you could face a sentence of one to five years in state prison or up to $10,000 fine payments.
While cycling under the influence is treated as a criminal offense, the aggrieved party may raise a compensatory civil suit alongside the criminal case to recover for the personal injury and other damages. In this case, you, as the cyclist who caused the collision, will most likely be answerable to instances of gross negligence. Nevertheless, your injury attorney will support you through the civil trial and prepare arguments that can significantly reduce the penalties you may face for the victim's losses and harm.
Nevada Laws on Negligence in Personal Injury Claims
Once you decide to sue the guilty party you find liable for personal injuries after a bicycle accident, you will choose the claims to bring forth. Commonly, most defendants in personal injury cases are responsible for negligence, whereby the defendant fails to uphold the expected duty of care to you and other road users. In Nevada, the laws applicable in negligence cases direct courts to involve modified comparative negligence.
The mode of calculating liability requires the presiding judge to determine fault by analyzing all possible parties liable for the claimant's injury. On top of this, the claimant's liability is analyzed to ensure that it does not exceed 50% of the collision's responsibility. Therefore, as the claimant, you will only be entitled to receive compensation if your liability in your case is below the stated percentage to prevent an unfair award of damages.
You must understand how claims in negligence work to help you prepare for your case adequately. Usually, negligence is a tort committed by persons who owed you a duty of care to act reasonably. Hence, there are four elements to prove in your case for a proper establishment of the claim. Since the burden of proof is on the claimant to prove the defendant's liability on a balance of probabilities, your injury lawyer must provide sufficient evidence to support each negligent claim element.
Proving the Four Elements of Negligence
Once you and your attorney settle on suing the defendant for his/her negligent operations, you must gather sufficient evidence that proves the defendant's liability. Therefore, you will need to consult various statutes, traffic officers, witnesses, and other evidence sources to help you make proper preparations for your case. The elements required in your suit are:
The Existence of a Duty of Care
Usually, the defendant, in your case, should be an individual or entity that owed you a duty of care on the road to avoid putting you in danger. Your lawyer should show the obligations conferred to the defendant, requiring him/her to maintain responsibility on the road you used as a cyclist. The imposition of a duty of care may arise from a reasonable person's judgment, whereby the court will hold the defendant answerable for failing to act reasonably in the situation that led to the bicycle accident.
For example, suppose the defendant is a car driver who refused to leave adequate space between his/her vehicle and your bicycle, leading to an avoidable collision. In that case, your lawyer can prove that he/she defied the duty of care expected of all motorists to prevent foreseeable collisions.
Moreover, statutory provisions can also impose an express duty of care by directing motorists and cyclists to behave on the road. For example, a motorist always carries the responsibility to promote safe passing, moving past a bicyclist. Safe passing requires the motorist to provide sufficient space between the car and your bicycle by moving to the next available lane.
If shifting lanes is not possible, the driver should ensure that at least three feet exist between the car and the bike. As a result, a car driver will be answerable for any situation that arises contrary to the expected duty of care. He/she will be the primary cause of the incident.
The Breach of Responsibility to Take Adequate Care
The defendant must have also breached the duty of care by acting recklessly or aggressively on the road. If you are the victim of a bicycle accident, you should prove that the motorist involved in the accident disregarded established regulations that ultimately led to a collision. One of the critical rules that drivers should observe is yielding to a bicyclist at an intersection.
Hence, if the defendant, in your case, did not give way, he/she is liable for breaching the duty of care. Other common breaches include using extreme speeds on highways, distracted driving by using phones, eating, performing different tasks when driving, and indicating accordingly.
A breach may also involve the body conferred with responsibilities to maintain roads in your area by marking them accordingly, providing secluded pavements for cyclists, and repairing potholes. If the road accident you were involved in arises from improper road maintenance, you can also sue the maintenance authority for lack of proper care when performing their maintenance duties.
It is also vital to prove that your injury occurred because of the defendant's actions. Typically, proving causation requires your attorney to engage additional evidence that shows a direct link between the defendant's breach of duty and the accident's occurrence. Most cases apply a 'but for' test, indicating a connection between the breach of duty and your injuries. Moreover, the primary supporting evidence to prove causation involves the actual case facts, which your lawyer will analyze further to prove the defendant's direct causation.
Lastly, the judge requires sufficient proof of the damages and harm you sustained, including personal injury. It is relatively easy to prove the kind of liability you suffered, especially after seeking medical attention and receiving different health facility receipts. Therefore, you can provide original copies of all necessary documents to show that you incurred medical costs. With such sources of proof, the judge will also have an easy time determining the appropriate amount to award in damages.
Moreover, you need to provide medical documents like X-Ray images, MRI scans, blood tests, and surgical procedure appointment notes to prove severe bicycle accidents. The common injuries sustained from a bicycle accident include:
- Bone fractures
- Brain injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Tissue cuts
You are entitled to present your claims based on the bicycle accident and estimated losses incurred in costs and physical trauma. Thus, you can sue the defendant for:
- Damage to property(your bicycle)
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Loss of wages
When providing evidence of damages and other losses from personal injury, your lawyer will also advise you to seek reports from professionals who can appear as witnesses or produce written documents to support your claims. For example, suppose you include a request for the pain and suffering you experienced after the accident.
In that case, it helps to produce a doctor's report that provides additional information on the kind of procedures you underwent and the pain management prescriptions you received. With the supporting evidence, it will be difficult for the defendant to downplay your claims.
Statute of Limitations on Filing a Bicycle Accident Personal Injury Suit
Like other states, Nevada operates under strict time limits that regulate the period allowed for aggrieved parties to file their claims. For cases involving bicycle accidents that caused personal injury, you have two years from the time of the incident to file your injury claim. The rationale behind setting a stringent time limit for the suits is to prevent claimants from bringing up matters from the past, which may include a lot of fabricated evidence that leads to unfair proceedings.
Moreover, the time limits also assist the courts in regulating their case backlogs, as those who file their claims late will not have a chance to be heard. A failure to observe the set time limit may compromise on your right to sue the liable parties. Therefore, you want to reach out to your attorney as soon as possible to avoid the inconvenience brought by delayed access to justice.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
After sustaining severe injuries from a bicycle accident, it is advisable to file a compensatory suit to recover damages and harm done to you. However, it would help if you learned about the various laws governing bicyclists concerning personal injury to prepare your case. Therefore, a personal injury lawyer who is conversant with the different regulations and compensatory suits is essential to provide the best presentation.
At the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney, we work hard to provide the best services to our clients in Las Vegas, Nevada. With our highly trained team of attorneys who offer personalized assistance, you can count on us to deliver to fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 702-996-1224 to discus your case and receive guidance.