The driver of any motor vehicle (car, semi-trailer truck, van, motorcycle) must immediately stop if the driver is involved in an accident with a bicycle resulting in immediately demonstrable bodily injury to or death of the bicyclist (Minnesota Stat. 169.09, Subd. 1).
Under the law, the driver must:
Stop at the scene of the accident, or as close to the scene as possible but shall then return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident, until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of this section as to the giving of information. The stop must be made without unnecessarily obstructing traffic. The driver shall render reasonable assistance to any individual injured in the accident.
Violations of traffic laws are criminal offenses and can lead to a finding of negligence or gross negligence in a civil action (a lawsuit seeking compensation for the victim and his or her family). In the case of a hit and run accident, this would mean that there may be grounds for punitive damages, which can be significant and are meant to punish very bad behavior.
Liability if Driver is Not the Owner of Vehicle
If the driver of a vehicle that injured or killed someone riding a bicycle does not own the vehicle, the driver is generally deemed the agent of the owner (Minn. Stat. 169.09, Subd. 5a). This means that the owner’s insurance company will be responsible for paying compensation to the victim. The facts of the case need to be reviewed and evidence needs to be gathered as to consent.
Here are a couple of examples:
- A semi driver hits a bicyclist and flees. The driver is not an employee of the owner of the truck. The owner of the truck may still be held liable (be legally responsible to pay medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.) because, under the law, the driver is the agent of the owner.
- Your best friend, Bob, borrows your car with your knowledge and consent. Bob hits the top of the back wheel of a bicycle, throwing the bicyclist to the ground. As the owner of the car, your insurance company will have to pay medical expenses and other damages to the bicyclist.