Car vs. Bicycle Accidents: Who Is Responsible?

Car vs. Bicycle Accidents: Who Is Responsible?

California is a great place to be for cycling enthusiasts. But, unfortunately, many car accidents with bicycles still take place.

If you or a loved one has been in a car vs. bicycle accident in California, you could be entitled to receive monetary compensation for your injuries or losses. You must consider several factors to determine who is responsible and to what degree. An attorney at LA Century Law can help with fault determination in a vehicle and bicycle crash.

This article discusses all you need to know to determine responsibility in car and bike accidents.

California Bicycle Laws

According to Vehicle Code, Article 4, cyclists in California must adhere to the following bicycle laws.

  • They have as much right of the road as a motor vehicle has.
  • They must follow all laws and responsibilities required of all drivers, such as stopping at red lights and stop signs.
  • They must ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • If moving at the same speed as vehicles, they can ride in the middle of the traffic lane. If moving slower, they must ride as close to the right edge or curb as possible or on the bike lane if there is one, but if it is a one-way street, they may ride to the far left instead.
  • They may leave the bike lane or side of the road if it is too narrow to share safely with passing cars, to make a left turn, and to avoid road hazards such as debris.
  • They must yield to pedestrians and allow them to use crosswalks.
  • If under 18, they must wear a helmet.
  • They must uncover one ear if using earbuds or headphones.
  • When riding at night, the bike or clothes need to have a white light visible from at least 300 feet, a red reflector visible from 500 feet, and a white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from 200 feet away.
  • Cyclists cannot cycle while intoxicated.

Unfortunately, even abiding by these laws does not completely protect riders from hitting or being hit by a car.

Examples of car and bicycle accidents include hitting an opening door of a vehicle, being sideswiped by a moving car, and being struck by a vehicle turning right.

Duty of Care

Who may be the negligent party in a car vs. bicycle accident? Individuals are considered negligent when they have a duty of care and they breach it by action or inaction leading up to the accident.

Duty of care for California drivers

California drivers have a legal duty to drive and operate their cars reasonably safely to avoid harming other road users or damaging their property. They must stay aware of their surroundings and be on the lookout for cyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles.

Examples of the breach of drivers’ duty of care include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Failing to obey traffic laws
  • Not looking before turning right or opening their doors while parked
  • Falling asleep while driving

If they do not act reasonably safely, leading to a car accident with a bicycle, it can be considered negligent on their part.

Duty of care for California bicyclists

Bicyclists must observe reasonable care and skill towards other road users that their actions or inaction could affect. They must follow all the California bicycle laws, as we discussed.

Examples of the breach of cyclists’ duty of care include:

  • Not signaling on turns
  • Not using designated bike lanes or not staying on the far right of a two-way road when they are not moving at the same speed as traffic
  • Cycling while intoxicated
  • Not following general traffic laws
  • Overtaking improperly

Even if a cyclist may contribute to an accident, they still have the right to pursue compensation, according to California’s doctrine of comparative negligence.

California’s Pure Comparative Negligence Law

Depending on how much they contributed to the accident, more than one party can be considered at-fault. Each party is assigned a percentage of fault, and their compensation is reduced by the percentage.

If a cyclist was partially at-fault, they can still receive part of the financial compensation. For example, suppose the cyclist is awarded $100,000 in damages. If the driver is 100% at fault, the cyclist receives the $100,000. But if the cyclist is found to be 25% to blame, they receive 75% of the award, resulting in a $75,000 settlement.

Request a Free Consultation for Your Car vs. Bicycle Accident Case in California

You must consider several factors and conduct a thorough investigation to know who is responsible for a car accident with a bicycle. Seeking legal representation can help you determine liability before pursuing damages.

LA Century Law’s accident attorneys can help you determine responsibility after a car vs. bicycle accident. We have represented injured people in all types of road accidents and have a proven track record of success. We serve residents of Los Angeles and southern California.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation if you or a loved one has been involved in a bike accident with a car.

FAQs About Car vs. Bicycle Accidents

1. How much space should passing cars give cyclists?

The driver must maintain at least three feet while passing a cyclist.

2. Should I keep an injury journal after a bicycle accident?

Some cyclists are fortunate enough after a collision with a vehicle to get up and walk away. But they shouldn’t say they are OK — injuries can materialize with time. Keep an updated diary of any symptoms you’re feeling after a bike crash with a vehicle.

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