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Bicyclists in Burlington and throughout North Carolina have the same rights and duties as the operators of any other legally recognized vehicle. But bicyclists are more at risk of injury or death on the road.

A Burlington bicycle accident lawyer can advocate for you. Contact a determined bike attorney who can work diligently to help you recover the damages you deserve.

New North Carolina Bicycle Laws

On Oct. 1, 2016, the state adopted new legal protections to make the roads safer for both bicyclists and motorists. The laws also define a bicycle as a vehicle

  • A vehicle is allowed by law to pass a bicyclist in a no-passing zone, as long as the rider is traveling in the same direction and not turning or putting others on notice of the intent to turn. The operator of the passing vehicle must give the rider at least four feet of space or move into the left lane
  • New penalties are added. A fine of $200 may be imposed on a driver who forces the rider to make an abrupt move out of the lane to avoid a collision. If a crash or a serious injury occurs because of passing a bicyclist too closely, the driver can be fined $500. If more than $5,000 worth of property damage happens, the fine is raised to $750
  • A bicyclist now may signal a right turn with the right hand, not just the left hand. Both are allowed
  • New visibility law requires a bicycle to have a red light attached to the rear, or the rider must wear a reflective vest on night rides. The reflection or light must be visible from 300 feet away

Bicycles as Vehicles

To avoid collisions, motorists need to know that the rules bicyclists must obey are the same as motor vehicles, except that they are still not allowed travel on the interstates. Riders must ride in the middle of other traffic if moving at the same speed, or if the condition of the far right of the road is unsafe for a bicycle. Riders may use left turn lanes and must travel in the same direction as other traffic. A light on the front is required.

Contributory Negligence

A bicyclist who is hit by a vehicle and sustains serious injury, or the families of riders who are killed in a collision, may sue for damages. The applicable law is North Carolina’s contributory negligence doctrine. North Carolina is one of 12 states using this strict version of negligence law. The doctrine forbids anyone who bears any fault in causing an accident to claim any damages.

To prove negligence, the bicyclist must prove that the other person owed a duty of care to refrain from causing harm, and violated that duty. The violation, such as running into the back of the bicycle in spite of the required attached light, is called a breach. The breach must have led to the collision, the collision must have caused the injury or death, and monetary damages must have resulted.

Speaking with a Burlington Bicycle Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a collision, notify an attorney at the earliest possible time so evidence can be preserved and witnesses to the crash can be located. A Burlington bicycle accident lawyer can devote the time and resources necessary to build your case. Contact an attorney who can help hold the responsible parties accountable.