Accidents involving a vehicle and bicycle can result in devastating injuries. Some people assume that a bike accident involving a car is automatically the driver’s fault. However, that is not always the case. There are incidents where the bicyclist is at fault for the accident. You may be searching online for the answer to, Can I sue if a bicycle hits my car? If so, contact the California car accident attorneys at Silva Injury Law to get the full answer for your specific circumstances.
California Bicycle Laws
California law says that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers. Riders also have a duty to pay attention to signals and traffic signs to reduce the chance of a collision. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, over 100 bicycle riders are killed each year, and over 10,000 riders suffer injuries.
Deciphering bicycle laws in California can be a bit confusing. That’s why it’s crucial to speak with a skilled California bicycle lawyer who can explain the applicable laws in your case. For example, each city or county has the right to determine whether local cyclists can ride on sidewalks.
You might assume that a bicycle rider must always ride in the bike lane or as far right as possible, but that isn’t always absolute. A bicyclist may legally be in your lane when passing, making a left turn, avoiding a hazardous condition, or approaching a spot where a right turn is permitted. Rules also differ for high-speed electric bikes and gas-powered bicycles. These types of bikes are prohibited on trails and bike paths or lanes unless local authorities allow them.
Proving Fault in a California Bike Accident
You would have legal rights if you suffered injuries after a bicycle struck your vehicle. However, you must prove negligence before you can successfully collect compensation in an accident involving a bicycle rider. To establish negligence, you must prove four things.
First, you must show that the bicyclist owed you a duty of care—but that’s easy because all motorists and bicyclists have a duty of care to follow traffic rules and regulations. Second, you need to show that the rider breached their duty of care, thereby causing the accident. Third, you must prove that the accident caused you to be injured. Lastly, you must have suffered verifiable losses, such as medical expenses or time off from work due to your injuries. If you can prove these four things, then you’ll likely be able to recover compensation.
But keep in mind that California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means that if you bear any responsibility for the accident, any award would be reduced by your own percentage of fault. For example, if a jury determines you are 20% at fault for the collision, you will receive 80% of your damages. That also means the bicyclist could receive 20% of their damages from your insurance company.
Because of this, you can expect the defendant or their insurance company to try to place as much blame on you as possible. The more fault they can put on you, the less legal exposure they have. If you cannot reach a liability agreement, filing a lawsuit may be the next step.
Determining Who Will Pay for Your Damages
Car accident claims can be complicated, especially when the liable party is a non-motor vehicle. Bike accident claims differ because riders don’t have specific bicycle insurance. A bicyclist might have coverage through their homeowners, renters, or other insurance policy.
If the bicyclist doesn’t have any coverage, your only option may be to file a lawsuit directly against them. You could try to open an uninsured motorist (UM) claim through your own policy if you have purchased coverage. However, most auto insurance companies require the uninsured person to be driving a vehicle. It’s doubtful your UM coverage would extend to a claim where the liable party is a bicyclist.
Contact Our Lawyers
After a crash, you may wonder, Can I sue if a bicycle hits my car? To get the full answer, speak with an attorney at Silva Injury Law. We have years of experience representing injured clients in all types of personal injury claims, including a bike accident where the bicyclist was at fault. We will review all the facts of your case and help you determine all potential avenues of recovery.
Contact one of our conveniently located offices to schedule a consultation.