What are the duties of a cyclist and motorist who share the same lane?

In Dupre v. Patterson the cyclist fell after coming into contact with the right rear area of the motorist’s care when the car passed her.  The judge referred to the following rules:

  • Each person has a duty to look out for others and to take reasonable care that their own actions do not cause others foreseeable harm.
  • Each person has a reciprocal duty to take reasonable steps to look out for their own safety.
  • The degree of care the law expects a person to exercise in a given situation is proportionate to the risks the actors knew about or should have known about, considering all of the relevant circumstances. The greater the risks associated with the activities involved, the greater the degree of care required.
  • Where a judge finds the careless actions of more than one actor, including the injured party, were causes of a person’s harm, the judge can apportion responsibility between them on a percentage basis that reflects the relative blameworthiness of the parties.
  • Even if a judge finds a defendant wholly responsible for the accident’s occurring, they may still reduce the plaintiff’s damages because the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable care for his or her own safety by taking steps that would have avoided or reduced his or her injuries, such as having failed to wear a seatbelt or a bicycle helmet.
  • The Motor Vehicle Act lays down specific rules of the road to regulate the use of highways and crosswalks by motor vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. The provisions of the Act reflect older common law rules, modified and expanded to reflect the demands of modern traffic.
  • The standard of care expected of a driver is not perfection, but whether they acted as an ordinarily prudent person would act.

In this case they were sharing the same lane.  The motorist could have waited until it was safe to move into the next lane, but she chose to squeeze by the cyclist instead.  She did not pass at a safe distance, and that caused the collision.  The motorist was 100% at fault.  

Cyclist cases need experienced counsel who can guide the court to the right result.  We can help.  Contact us.

Read the case:  Dupre v. Patterson

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