Crosswalk Cycling Claims
Cycling in a crosswalk is against the law. That said, for many reasons you may find yourself riding in a crosswalk. If a motorist strikes you that does not mean you are not entitled to benefits or compensation. Regardless of fault, no-fault Accident Benefits pay your medical bills and some lost income [read more here].
You may also still have a civil claim against the motorist that hit you.
Depending on the facts, most claims are reduced by a percentage to account for ‘contributory negligence’. This is because of the application (in the civil law context) of the Highway Traffic Act Reverse Onus provision [read more here]. Section 193 of the HTA imposes a reverse onus on a driver who hits a cyclist (or a pedestrian). A driver is presumed negligent unless proven otherwise. The driver must establish that they acted reasonably and properly in the circumstances, while the cyclist need only prove that the crash occurred and that the crash caused the damages.
It should go without saying that we strongly encourage you to avoid crosswalk cycling. If it’s safer/within your capacity to traverse the crosswalk instead of navigating a left turn at an intersection not designed with vulnerable road users in mind, get off your bike and walk.
In cases where our clients were hit cycling in crosswalks, the motorist simply did not look properly to see them. Many motorists are inattentive or distracted, they aren’t looking for you. By getting off your bike and walking across you are moving slower and so less likely to surprise inattentive drivers. If you are hit walking your bike in the crosswalk, you are considered a pedestrian and not in violation of the HTA.
Yet, even with the application of the reverse onus, insurance lawyers take an aggressive approach in crosswalk cycling cases and drag out litigation. They always attempt to claim cyclists are 100% liability for riding in crosswalks, despite the law. From the outset you will have an uphill battle in negotiating a resolution to your claim.
As cycling injury law specialists, we push back, lean on the law, and hire cycling engineering and crash reconstruction experts to demonstrate overarching fault of motorists in these situations. Nevertheless, it becomes an exercise in proportioning fault. Contributory negligence applies and in crosswalk cycling cases injured people frequently have their damages reduced by a percentage.
The courts have apportioned fault against cyclists for riding in crosswalks.
In Pelletier v. Ontario, a police officer hit a cyclist at night in a crosswalk. Justice Boswell split liability between the defendant police officer and cyclist at 60/40 (reducing the plaintiff’s damages by 40%.) Several findings were made against the defendant officer; that his evidence was contradictory, the intersection was well lit, the cyclist visible prior to the crash, and that the defendant ought to have proceeded more carefully through the crosswalk. But findings were made against the cyclist as well. The judge noted that he was in a crosswalk contrary to the HTA, came into the crosswalk from a dark area, was wearing dark clothing, and was not using bike lights. These factors all contributed to his compensation being reduced.
In White v. Aransibia, Justice Bellegham found the crosswalk cycling plaintiff 50% responsibility for the crash:
I am satisfied from the severity of the impact resulting in the broken window, that the plaintiff was traveling at an excessive rate of speed into the pedestrian crosswalk on his bicycle when he collided with the defendant’s motor vehicle. I take into account as well the fact that he was not wearing any reflective material.
While we disagree that wearing a reflective vest will be the difference in a negligent driver hitting someone or not, cyclists need to be wary of how the courts and insurance companies will view their claims. We will fight. We have been successful in doing so. However, until we have a cultural shift, political will, and widespread infrastructure that keeps vulnerable road users safe, it is important to be mindful of the concept of contributory negligence and how insurance lawyers, police, and juries who simply don’t get cycling will view things differently that those of us on 2 wheels.
If you have been hit and injured while cycling in a crosswalk, contact us immediately for a free consultation and help applying to Accident Benefits.
If you have been injured and ticketed for cycling in a crosswalk, you must go online and dispute the ticket in 10 days. Click the option to speak to a prosecutor. Accepting fault in a HTA/Provincial Offences Act proceeding may have unfortunate impacts on any civil claims you may pursue after the immediacy of the crash has passed. Contact our office for advice: firstname.lastname@example.org x 800-725-0754.