Statistics about bicycle crashes often claim that bikers are to blame the majority of the time. But if you dig past the numbers, you may find that the official record can be deceptive.
An interesting opinion piece in Bicycling Magazine suggests that police bias sometimes skews the narrative of who was to blame after a motorist collides with a bicycle. The police report carries a great deal of weight after a crash. Not only is the officers’ version of events likely to determine who gets charged with a crime, if anyone, it can be one of the most important pieces of evidence in a personal injury lawsuit.
Thus, if the officer who responds to the scene only talks to the motorist, or does not understand his or her state’s traffic laws, an injured cyclist may have a difficult time proving the driver’s negligence caused the wreck.
The piece does not have statistics about the prevalence of police anti-biker bias, but riders across the country have shared stories of their own experiences. In one case, a rider says a car passed him and pulled into the bike lane, cutting off the rider and forcing him to rear-end the car.
Sounds pretty obvious who is at fault, right? But the responding officer blamed the rider, claiming that the driver had the right to move into the bike lane, because it is considered the “shoulder” and a “break-down lane” in their state.
Except that is not true. Purposely or not, the officer misstated the law to benefit the motorist who seems to have caused the crash and broke the cyclist’s fingers.
A biased investigation can hamper your ability to get the compensation you deserve, but an experienced personal injury attorney will know how to investigate the incident independently and get at the truth.