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Right Hook Bike Accidents

New Hampshire Bicycle Accidents: “Right Hook” Accidents (Failure to Observe a Bicyclist Alongside Vehicle When Making Right Turn)

As bicycling becomes increasingly popular across the United States, the number of bike accidents has increased significantly. It is estimated that over nine million bike trips are taken in the United States every day and that, every year, there will be approximately half a million people who will need medical treatment for injuries received in a biking-related accident.

One of the more common scenarios where a biking accident can occur is when a driver of a motor vehicle makes a right turn and fails to notice a bicyclist on the right side of his/her vehicle (a/k/a a “right hook”).

New Hampshire’s Laws Protecting Bicyclists From Right Hook Accidents

New Hampshire Revised Statute (NHRS) 265:143 gives bicyclists the same rights as any other operator a vehicle on the roadway: “Every person propelling a vehicle by human power or riding a bicycle shall have all of the rights and be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under the rules of the road…”. NHRS 265:143-a further provides that “[e]very driver of a vehicle, when approaching a bicyclist, shall insure the safety and protection of the bicyclist and shall exercise due care by leaving a reasonable and prudent distance between the vehicle and the bicycle.”

Proving Fault of the Driver After a Right Hook Accident

When a motorist makes a right hand turn and simply cuts off a bicyclist, fault on the part of the motorist is almost always clear. Things become a bit more murky if the motorist claims that the bicyclist was passing the motorist’s vehicle (because, for example, the motorist was slowed or stopped for traffic). A case we handled a few years ago illustrates how complicated the issue of fault becomes when there is a dispute whether the motorist exercised due care before making the right turn. Our client in that case had been passed by the vehicle that ultimately hit her about 200 yards before the location where the accident occurred. The motorist then slowed down for traffic, allowing our client to catch up to her. As our client was passing the vehicle on the right—which is permitted by New Hampshire law—the motorist suddenly and unexpectedly turned right, hitting and running over our client. The motorist claimed that she had her turn signal on prior to making the turn which, if true, would have been big problem for our case. Unfortunately, due to the severity of her injuries, our client was unable to remember whether she observed a turn signal blinking on the defendant’s vehicle as she approached and started to pass the vehicle on the right. As a very experienced bicyclist, she was very certain that, had she seen a turn signal on, she would not have tried to pass the vehicle. Our private investigator went around to neighboring businesses to see if they had any video surveillance and, fortunately, one business had a camera facing its parking lot that also showed the area where the accident occurred. We were initially told that the business only kept footage from that camera for one day, but the owner allowed our IT investigator to look at the recording device to see if the recording was backed up. Unbeknownst to the business owner, the video recorder did have a back up that kept recordings for 30 days. Our IT expert was able to locate stored footage of the accident which showed that the motorist did put on her turn signal, but at the last moment and only after our client started to pass on the right. Fortunately our client contacted us immediately after the accident, so we were able to start investigating the case and locate that video footage before it was permanently lost. As you would expect, that footage turned out to be a crucial piece of evidence in a hotly disputed case.

Peter Thompson & Associates: Protecting the Rights and Interests of Injured Cyclists Across the State of New Hampshire

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycling accident, our attorneys will dedicate themselves to making sure your rights and interests are protected and that you receive the compensation you need and deserve. Call us today at 800.804.2004 to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our award-winning and experienced New Hampshire bike accident attorneys or contact us online.