Attorney Dan Brazil Speaks on Panel About Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety
At The Law Offices of Daniel J Brazil, P.A., we know about bicycle and pedestrian accidents from a legal perspective, but also a personal one. Attorney Dan Brazil is an avid cyclist who, after a long day in court, can often be found on the streets and greenways of south Minneapolis.
Because of his unique perspective, Dan was recently asked to participate in panel discussion about how laws, law enforcement and the court system work together to affect pedestrians and cyclists. Organized by Active Living Hennepin County (ALCH), the discussion was part of the organization’s initiative to make healthy, active living an easy choice for Minnesotans.
When Drivers and Cyclists Fail to Follow the Rules of the Road
Dan talked about his experience as a cyclist and as a civil litigation attorney. As a cyclist, he knows that Minneapolis is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States. But bike accidents still happen here on a daily basis—sometimes because cyclists fail to follow the rules of the road. As an attorney, representing injury victims, he has seen things from the opposite perspective as well; Dan knows that negligent drivers are equally, if not more, responsible for Minneapolis bike accidents.
Dan used two case examples to highlight what the consequences were to his clients when at-fault drivers caused bicycle accidents. In those cases, it was necessary to do something called a “comparative fault analysis.” The parties involved looked at the relative fault of the motor vehicle driver and the bicyclist to help determine what really happened and who should pay.
What is comparative fault? In Minnesota, the law says that injury victims can recover compensation for their injuries as long as they are 50 percent at fault or less. The court assigns each party a percentage, and then calculates the damages by multiplying the damage amount by the percentage at fault. This method of calculation means that injured bicyclists can recover compensation for their injuries, even if they were somewhat at fault for the accident.
What Are the Rules of the Road for Cyclists?
In Minnesota, our laws are written so that bicyclists are legally required to comply with traffic rules, just like cars do. Cyclists must ride in the same direction as the traffic closest to them. They must ride as close as they can to the right-hand shoulder. They must use arm signals to turn. And they must use proper safety equipment, including reflective gear and brakes.
Of course, these aren’t the only rules that cyclists need to follow, and even cyclists who work hard to follow all traffic rules all the time can face difficult choices. For example, what happens when unsafe road conditions make it hazardous to ride on the right? What happens when a hidden hazard makes it necessary for the cyclist to turn too quickly to properly signal? For both cyclists and motor vehicle drivers, our traffic laws still need refinement.
The important thing to know is this: If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, getting an attorney’s opinion on your situation is critical. The law is complex. Drivers and cyclists are often confused about the rules they should follow, and Minnesota’s method of calculating damages in personal injury cases makes it possible to recover compensation even if the rules were not followed 100 percent. If you’d like to speak with a lawyer about your bicycle or pedestrian accident, you’re always welcome to contact us.