When bicycles are riding on the city streets among the cars or in an unprotected bike lane, they are at risk for a “right hook” by a motorist. A right hook happens when a vehicle takes a right-hand turn from one street on to another right in the path of a cyclist.
These are especially dangerous because many times the cyclist is traveling at a fair speed and has almost no time to react and takes the full force of the impact. Then, as in just about all bicycle crashes—the cyclist hits the pavement suffering a second serious impact.
These happen in two common ways: First a cyclist is simply in the blind spot of a car that moves from the left and up to the right side of the lane and turns right at the intersection right in front of the cyclist.
The second usually happens with big rig trucks. Bigger vehicles need more room to make a turn to avoid hitting the curb or a light pole with their back tires so they will swing out to the left before turning right. An unsuspecting cyclists will move up into the newly opened space only to be run over by the truck taking a right-hand turn.
Pennsylvania Bicycling Law
Under Pennsylvania law, when a cyclist is riding in traffic, he or she is treated as a vehicle for purposes of obeying the rules of the road and traffic code. A cyclist is also directed to ride in the right side of a traffic lane in most situations, but there are some exceptions: (PA Vehicle Code Section 3301)
Bikes may move from the right lane:
- When overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
- When preparing to make a left turn.
- When an obstruction exists that makes it necessary to change lanes or cross the center line with due care.
Why is this important for a right hook? The reason the cyclist gets hit is that the turning vehicle doesn’t see the rider. This is because vehicles—especially large trucks—have blind spots. The law allows for someone to move to the left of a right turning vehicle to either go around it or just to stay out of its blind spot.
Liability for Right Hook Crashes
After a right hook injury, the insurance company might tell you that it’s your fault for riding in a blind spot or that a vehicle has the right-of-way. These statements are not true, but sometimes cyclists will feel some responsibility for the accident and won’t press their claim for compensation.
The law requires a motorist to operate their vehicle so that others may procced in safety. This means that when someone anticipates a turn, it’s their duty to make sure no one is in their blind spot—including cyclists. If you are in a blind spot and hit by car or a victim of a right hook, then the motorist is usually at fault.
Contact a Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyer
If you were injured as a bicyclist in a right turn accident with a motor vehicle, contact our offices right away to arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation. We’ll listen carefully and then we’ll advise you on your rights under the law.
Don’t suffer alone and leave it to an insurance agent to determine what compensation you deserve for your injuries. They don’t owe you anything but they do work for a company whose profits rely on paying you as little as they can.