Smiley & Smiley, LLP

Holding those who injure or kill cyclists accountable

A recent article published in the New York Times boasts the jarring title, “Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?” Of course not, readers likely respond in a knee-jerk fashion. However, the article’s text tells a different story. In essence, the author of the piece argues that quite frequently, motorists and truck drivers who hit and either injure or kill cyclists are either not cited criminally at all or are given meager fines for behavior such as unsafe lane changes.

Especially in cities like New York, where streets and sidewalks are consistently crowded, bicycle accidents happen frequently. NYC officials have made cyclist safety a priority in recent years through such actions as installing more bike lanes and launching cyclist safety educational campaigns. However, when cyclists are hit, those who have harmed them are too-often given either little or no criminal consequences for their actions.

It is important for cyclists who have been harmed by motorist negligence to understand that even when the criminal justice system fails to hold car and truck drivers accountable for injury that a civil claim may ultimately be successful at doing so. Claims may similarly be filed by family members of deceased cyclists harmed by motorists. These claims may result in financial awards designed to compensate those who have been harmed for their losses.

Neither the criminal justice system nor the civil justice system operate perfectly, though they may be well-intentioned in their construction. The fact that car and truck drivers are too-rarely held accountable within the criminal justice system for injuring or killing cyclists is unacceptable. However, injured cyclists and their families may be able to find justice within the civil justice system through filing a personal injury claim with the help of an experienced attorney.

Source: New York Times, "Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?" Daniel Duane, Nov. 9, 2013

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