02

Blog

Law and Cycling 101

North Carolina Bike Accident Lawyer

I (Ann in North Carolina) was going to post a specific topic for today and started writing it but realized that we’d be best served with a little foundational knowledge about cycling and the law. So you’ll have to wait until next week to learn about cars approaching from behind.  If the temperature at start time is less than 40, I’m heading to the trails anyway!

Law, laws, everywhere: First of all, every state has different laws.  And within each state, some laws may vary from county to county, although the rules of the road are mostly state-wide and the county laws deal normally with other things that may affect cyclists – like loose dogs and where you can use a gun. Sidewalk cycling is a big topic of local ordinances; did you know Charlotte bans cycling on sidewalks only in very few areas, mostly in center city?

Bicycles are vehicles: North Carolina has very few laws related to cycling.  The few that do exist mostly deal with equipment – lights and helmets, for example.  Surprised?  The Department of Transportation book for cyclists and pedestrians cites tons of North Carolina cycling laws.  Right?  Go to the actual statutes cited; they are motor vehicle statutes.  In almost every instance, in this State, we have to look at the motor vehicle laws and figure out how they apply to us.  South Carolina is similar but has a great anti-harassment law, which we in North Carolina desperately covet.

Is it a crime? If you’re involved in a crash or some unpleasant interaction with another vehicle on the road, it is possible you may get to experience the criminal and the civil legal system.  If a police officer issues the at-fault driver (or cyclist) a ticket, that ticket is handled through the criminal system.  If the driver is charged with a crime, you could find yourself headed to a courtroom as a witness.  Since the State (or Prosecution) is bringing the charges and you would be a witness, at most, you do not necessarily need a lawyer for this proceeding.  However the prosecutor is representing the State, not you, so it is really helpful to talk with an attorney and, if the charges are serious enough, have an attorney (preferably a cycling attorney) in your corner.

It’s a crash, not an accident: If you or your bicycle is injured in this incident, you may also become involved in the civil legal system.  In other words, you may bring a claim against the driver who hit you.  You should always talk with a cycling attorney BEFORE talking with an at-fault driver or insurance company.  It may turn out you don’t need an attorney, for example, if your injuries are very minor.  But why not call or email one?  We’re really nice and sometimes we give you some nuggets you may not think of on your own.  Worst case scenario, we’ll have a nice conversation about cycling and make the world a better place.

If you have an attorney, the attorney will help you try to negotiate with the driver’s insurance company AND will help make sure all available insurance to cover your damages is discovered.  While the large majority of claims are resolved by “pre-lawsuit” negotiation, sometimes it is necessary to resort to the civil court system and if it is, you’d better make sure you have an attorney who knows how to find the courthouse!

Keep this civil/criminal difference in mind when we get to the more specific topics.  It’s important to know that the fact that police don’t issue the at-fault driver a ticket does not mean you don’t have a civil claim against the driver for your injuries.  In fact, police often won’t issue a ticket unless the officer him/herself has seen the rule violation. Or, for a very serious crash with serious injuries, law enforcement may perform an investigation with reconstruction to determine who is at fault.

That’s it for your first edition of the Winter Educational Series.  For more info, call, email or Facebook us. We’ll talk with your group and answer questions for free.  Why?  Because we want the world to be a better place for cyclists too.  Be safe and enjoy the ride!

Comments

Cycling Law Podcast
Arleigh Jenkins May 23, 2017

Ann Groninger of Bike Law NC & Jeff Viscount of Weekly Rides have become regulars on the TotalCyclist Podcast. Click through to give a listen to their episodes!

Read More
biking on highway laws in texas
Arleigh Jenkins May 17, 2017

Charlie answers a frequently asked question whether one may legally ride a bicycle on highway Interstate 10 and other freeways in Texas.

Read More
2017 Ride of Silence
Arleigh Jenkins May 15, 2017

A guest post from Chris Phelan, founder of Ride for Silence. This ride can be found in 450+ cities across the world on May 17th to honor those who have been injured or killed, to raise awareness that we are here and to ask that we all share the road.

Read More
Charlotte Law Enforcement Bicycle Ride to DC
Ann Groninger May 10, 2017

Yesterday, Bike Law Cycle Club members Julia Engle and Garet Johnson joined the first leg of CMPD’s Annual Law Enforcement Bicycle Ride to Washington D.C.

Read More
Maine Traffic Safety Education Bill
Lauri Boxer-Macomber May 03, 2017

In Maine, proposed legislation on traffic safety education in schools for students in grades 2-12 could have tremendous long-term effects on making Maine’s roads safer.

Read More
NY Five Boro Bike Ride
Daniel Flanzig May 03, 2017

Bike Law New York is entering its 4th year of supporting the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, the world’s largest charity ride with over 32,000 riders. Riding? Stop by to say hello.

Read More
Michigan Needs Better Cycling Laws
Bryan Waldman May 02, 2017

I am outraged when I see motorists that kill bicyclists charged with only minor crimes. It is time we stopped looking to blame others for this lack of accountability and look for solutions.

Read More
2017 BIKE! Charlotte Mayor's Ride
Ann Groninger Apr 28, 2017

A celebrated annual event in Charlotte is the Mayor’s Ride that kicks off a week of bicycling events around Charlotte, NC. This morning Bike Law North Carolina helped kick off the ride in style.

Read More
Atlanta Highway Collapse Help Bicycle Commuting
Bruce Hagen Apr 26, 2017

The recent Atlanta highway collapse emphasizes the need for public transit and increases the likely hood you’ll encounter distracted drivers on your bike rides.

Read More
2017 Bike LUCK Ride
Ann Groninger Apr 19, 2017

4 years ago, Julia Engel founded Bike LUCK, a charity road event in Charlotte, to raise money for a 501c3 non-profit, Camp LUCK. Learn more about Camp LUCK and join the ride April 29th!

Read More
Share the Road Sign
Kurt Holzer Apr 17, 2017

Most road fatalities are preventable. Read our 20 tips on how drivers and bicyclists can share the road safely to prevent road fatalities and injuries.

Read More
2017 30 Days of Biking Charlotte
Arleigh Jenkins Apr 14, 2017

Our network has been riding our way into April for 30 Days of Biking. We’ve ridden to court, for Bike to Work Day, a bike tour up the C&O canal, mountain bike rides, rides with kids, Kidical Mass, and the list goes on.

Read More
Load More