The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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When cars and bicyles collide there is always the question of whether the bicylist acted according to the rules-of-the-road. In this news report the question was raised about a stop sign. Was the bicycle rider required to stop?
In this case it would seem so. Young Mr. Chris Neve, 10 years of age, was struck and injured (not life threatening) when he attempted to ride his bicycle through an intersection without stopping at the stop sign. The driver of the car that struck him was not ticketed by the police officer. The officer noted extenuating circumstances which included the traffic stop sign.
The investigators noted that Neve's bicycle did not have proper lights required by city ordinance. The report also noted the boy wore dark clothing, rode a dark-colored bicycle, and should have yielded at the intersection, because there is a stop sign on Stutsman and he was riding in the street.
Attorney’s interviewing clients who have been involved in a collision should be asking about the color of clothing, wearing of reflective gear, lights and reflectors on the bicycle being ridden, behavior that shows respect for the rules-of-the-road and if after dark what lighting was in the area.
A search of Iowa cases turns up several cases. Here is a list, not exhaustive by any means so while this is a starting point, you should do your own research.
Fineran v. Pickett, 465 N.W.2d 662 (Iowa 1991) - The plaintiffs, who are the parents and sisters of Lori Fineran Hagerty, appeal from denial of their emotional distress claims against defendant, Eddie Glenn Pickett. Lori Fineran Hagerty was killed when the bicycle she was riding was struck by a car driven by defendant. Her parents and two sisters sought damages including emotional distress from having witnessed the immediate aftermath of the collision. The district court denied the plaintiffs' emotional distress claims on the ground that plaintiffs had not experienced a "sensory and contemporaneous observance of the accident."
Le Mars Mut. Ins. Co. of Iowa v. Bonnecroy, 304 N.W.2d 422 (Iowa 1981)
Dorcas v. Aikman, 126 N.W.2d 298, 300, 256 Iowa 308, (Iowa 1964) - The question in the case of Ryan v. Trenkle, supra, was whether plaintiff's ward riding on a bicycle and hit by an automobile knew the automobile was going to turn. The question in the case was whether or not if the boy on the bicycle had such knowledge, defendant was guilty of contributory negligence in not giving the statutory signals. Brief excerpts from the opinion of the court explain the situation and are analogous to the case at bar: 'There remains, therefore, to consider, plaintiff's allegation of negligence, in that the defendants failed to give any warning signal of their intention to make a turn in the street intersection, * * * It is evident that the boy on the bicycle could see the automobile as plainly as the driver of the car could see the boy. * * * It is elementary that negligence may not be predicated on the failure to give signals when such failure in no wise can be said to be the proximate cause of the injury. * * * Plaintiff's ward was not exposed to injury because of any lack of statutory signal, if one was not given, nor does any rule of common law bring the defendants within the duty claimed by plaintiff. It cannot be said that the alleged failure to give a signal had any causative and proximate relation to the collision and the resulting damages.'
Ryan v. Trenkle, 203 Iowa 443, 212 N.W. 888 (Iowa 1927) - The evidence is not in conflict that the auto was in the intersection and already turning into Ninth street, while the boy on the bicycle was about to round the curb west into Ninth street. The car made the turn at a slow rate of speed. Plaintiff's ward testified that he saw the auto coming up Main street from the south; saw it making the turn around the policeman; and when he saw the car turning he swung up Ninth street "and gave to the southwest to get out of the way of the car, and when he saw the auto turn he swung up Ninth street." The affirmative testimony is all to the effect that the boy was some distance away when the auto started to make the turn, and consequently the matter of "sufficient space" to make the turn in safety has no proximate relation to the cause of the accident.
 There was no legal obligation, under the circumstances, on the part of the driver of the auto to stop. The driver of the auto had no reason to apprehend the danger of collision. See Barnes v. Barnett, 184 Iowa, 936, 169 N. W. 365. When the auto made the turn the boy was in a zone of apparent safety and the driver was not bound to anticipate that the rider of the bicycle would suddenly put himself in a dangerous situation. Borland v. Lenz, 196 Iowa, 1148, 194 N. W. 215.
 The plaintiff alleged specific acts of negligence and the trial court was warranted in submitting only those grounds of negligence which found support in the evidence. There was no general allegation of negligence and the purpose of the amendment herein was either to serve as an amplification of a ground of negligence alleged in the original petition, or it was intended to be a distinct allegation and in no way germane to the issues previously tendered. Under either theory the amendment is unavailing to the plaintiff.
No negligence having been established by the evidence, there is no occasion to discuss the contributory negligence of plaintiff's ward. The defendants' motion to direct a verdict was properly sustained and the ruling of the trial court is affirmed.
Riedesel v. Koch, 45 N.W.2d 225 (Iowa 1950) – Car-bicycle collision resulting in death of the bicycle operator and the case discusses the no-eyewitness rule. The no-eyewitness rule is that in the absence of eyewitnesses, or of any obtainable direct evidence as to what the deceased did or failed to do by way of precaution, at or immediately before the injury, there arises a presumption or inference that he, [241 Iowa 1317] prompted by natural instinct, was in the exercise of due care for his own safety. Edwards v. Perley, 223 Iowa 1119, 274 N.W. 910; Spooner v. Wisecup, 227 Iowa 768, 288 N.W. 894; Golinvaux v. Burlington, C. R. & N. R. Co., 125 Iowa 652, 101 N.W. 465; Carpenter v. Loetsscher-Jaeger Mfg. Co., 178 Iowa 320, 157 N.W. 938; Sohl v. Chicago, R. I. & P. Ry. Co., 183 Iowa 616, 167 N.W. 159; Platter v. Minneapolis & St. Louis R. Co., 162 Iowa 142, 143 N.W. 992; Wilson v. Chicago, M. & St. P. Ry. Co., 161 Iowa 191, 142 N.W. 54; Dalton v. Chicago, R. I. & P. Ry. Co., 104 Iowa 26, 73 N.W. 349; Gray v. Chicago, R. I. & P. R. Co., 143 Iowa 268, 121 N.W. 1097; Lorimer v. Hutchinson Ice Cream Co., 216 Iowa 384, 249 N.W. 220; Azeltine v. Lutterman, 218 Iowa 675, 254 N.W. 854; Ellis v. Republic Oil Co., 133 Iowa 11, 110 N.W. 20; Low v. Ford Hopkins Co., 231 Iowa 251, 1 N.W.2d 95.
Coble v. McChane, 8 N.W.2d 755 (Iowa 1943) – This case involves question of whether the failure to follow the rules of the road amounts to negligence per se. City ordinance required a light; the bicycle rider had in hand and turned on, a flashlight.
Luse v. Nickoley, 3 N.W.2d 503 (Iowa 1941) - Addresses an excessive rate of speed of the vehicle and proximate cause evaluation.
Luse v. Nickoley, 1 N.W.2d 205 (Iowa 1941) - See above.
When case law is involved as always lay persons need to obtain proper legal advice. Lawyers not familiar with this area of the law should do the same and refer earlier, rather than later.