When people hear about an accident involving a vehicle and a bicycle, they typically assume the driver of the car was at fault. However, cyclists are sometimes at fault too. So what happens if a cyclist causes an accident? If you sustained injuries in a bike accident, don’t hesitate to contact the California car accident lawyers at Silva Injury Law. We can answer your questions and help you get the relief you need.
How Bike Accident Claims Differ from Auto Accidents
Bicycle accident claims can be very different from car accident claims when the cyclist is at fault. Someone’s auto insurance policy isn’t going to extend coverage to a bicycle. However, cyclists may have coverage through their own homeowners or renters insurance policy. If there is no applicable coverage, you may be forced to file a lawsuit directly against the cyclist.
Depending on your auto policy and the coverage you’ve purchased, you might also have the option to file an uninsured motorist claim. However, it’s doubtful that your insurance policy will extend coverage as a bicycle is not a motor vehicle. Rather than figure out your options independently, speak with an experienced lawyer at Silva Injury Law. We will review the facts of your case and help you pursue all avenues of recovery.
Determining Fault in a Bicycle Accident
Before you can successfully collect any compensation for your injuries, you must prove the cyclist was at fault. Proving cyclist liability is challenging, but it’s not impossible. California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means that you have the right to collect a portion of your damages, even if you are partially to blame for the accident. However, the law will reduce your compensation by your percentage of liability. For example, if a jury determines you are 15% at fault for the collision, you will only collect 85% of your damages.
To prove liability, you must provide evidence proving these four elements:
- The cyclist owed you a duty of care—but this is easy because all motorists and cyclists have a duty of care to drive carefully and follow all traffic rules;
- The cyclist breached their duty of care;
- The breach of duty caused the accident and your injuries; and
- You suffered financial losses due to these injuries, such as medical expenses or time off from work.
Preparing a convincing case is crucial to proving liability in these types of accidents.
The insurance adjuster will do their best to place as much blame on you as possible. The more liability they can attribute to you, the less financial exposure they have. Your attorney knows exactly how to help you avoid falling prey to insurance adjuster tactics designed to get you to inadvertently admit liability. An experienced attorney can also help you build a compelling case placing fault where it rightfully belongs.
What Happens if the Cyclist Is a Child?
Accidents involving children are different from bike accidents involving adults. Obviously, a minor is in no financial position to compensate you for any injury they cause. But in some instances of willful misconduct, a parent or guardian could be financially responsible. California Civil Code 1714.1 states that liability for a minor’s willful misconduct that results in injury or death to someone else, or causes injury to another person’s property, will be imputed to the parent or guardian for the purpose of civil damages.
Compensation for willful misconduct in California is limited to a maximum of $25,000 for each wrongful act. This total is adjusted every few years for the cost of living and other relevant factors. The $25,000 can include compensation for direct economic losses such as medical treatment. However, you cannot collect money for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Unless the minor intentionally hit your vehicle or caused the accident, you likely won’t prove any liability against the parent. California Civil Code 1714.1 doesn’t cover compensation for negligence or carelessness.
Contact Our Lawyers Today
If you wonder what happens if a cyclist causes an accident, the skilled legal team at Silva Injury Law is here to help. We have years of experience assisting injured victims as you fight for the compensation they deserve. A bicycle accident where the cyclist is at fault is complicated to resolve, so don’t try to do it alone. We believe in promoting healing through compassionate advocacy, so let us put our skills to work for you. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.