How is Fault Determined in a Right Hook Accident?

right hook accident highway

When a bicyclist passes a vehicle on their right side, a “right hook” accident can occur. This type of collision happens if the vehicle makes a right turn, crossing into the oncoming cyclist’s path. In most right hook accident cases, the vehicle’s driver is at fault, but it is possible for bicyclists to also be liable. 

Evidence of Negligence

Georgia is an “at-fault” state, which means the party responsible for causing an accident must pay for damages. Therefore, when a right hook accident is reported to an insurance company, a claims adjuster will investigate to find evidence of negligence to determine who was at fault. Examples of evidence of negligence include:

  • The location of the damage to the vehicle and the extent of damage to the bicycle.
  • Eyewitness testimony, which may be able to confirm that the driver: 
    • Was not paying attention (e.g., texting, looking down, didn’t check blind spot)
    • Failed to signal before turning
    • Cut off the bicyclist who had the right of way
    • Was recklessly swerving
    • Made an illegal or unsafe right turn
  • Video surveillance footage of the accident.
  • Cell phone records of the at-fault driver, if applicable.
  • Food wrappers or receipts that show the driver may have been eating and distracted when they turned. 

If there is proof that the driver could have prevented the right hook accident, they will be found at fault and liable for the bicyclist’s personal and financial losses. 

The Police Report

A police report does not always have the final say, but it can heavily influence an insurance adjuster’s decision on fault. The officer’s opinion is unbiased evidence, and their report will include how they believe the accident was caused and who was responsible. They will also give various details, such as: 

  • The final positioning of the car and bicycle
  • The location and damage to the vehicle and bicycle
  • The extent of injuries
  • Whether the vehicle’s airbags deployed
  • Any skid marks on the road from attempts to brake
  • Statements from the driver and bicyclist
  • Interviews with witnesses 
  • Whether the driver or bicyclist was issued a citation
  • Any videos they viewed of the accident
  • And more. 

If the driver or bicyclist was cited for a traffic violation or charged with a crime (e.g., drunk driving), it could be significant evidence of fault which will be challenging to dispute. 

Shared Fault

Under Georgia’s modified comparative negligence law, each party involved in a right hook accident will be assigned a percentage of fault. As a result, it is possible for a bicyclist to be partially or entirely to blame. Bicyclists must follow the same traffic laws as motorists. Therefore, a negligent action on their part that contributed to the collision can make them liable—for example, riding on the sidewalk, riding while intoxicated, failing to yield the right of way, failing to stop at stop signs or red lights, etc. As a result, for a party to recover compensation for an accident, they must be less than 50% to blame, and their compensation will be reduced accordingly. For instance, if a bicyclist is awarded $100,000 and found 20 percent at fault for a right hook accident, they will recover 80 percent of their total compensation or $80,000. However, if they are found 50% responsible, they cannot recover any compensation. 

Fault for some right hook accidents can be challenging to prove. An Atlanta Bicycle Accident Lawyer has the resources to gather evidence on your behalf and hire experts to prove fault if necessary. For example, an accident reconstruction expert can establish how the right hook accident occurred and who caused it. 

"When I felt all hope was lost, I contacted Graham Scofield to see if he could represent me. He immediately called me back and thoroughly reviewed with me the case. He was the most patient, kind, sympathetic and the upmost professional attorney throughout the entire process. He was also extremely knowledgeable about the law and was creative when the case worked through the twists and turns. He was also a heck of a fighter for me and got me more settlement than I was expecting. I only wish I called him sooner! Thank you so much Graham, you are an amazing lawyer!!"
Read more testimonials