Bicycles are an essential mode of transportation. They are much cheaper than cars and are more environmentally friendly. But bicyclists are in danger on the road just as much as car and truck drivers. In a bicycle accident lawsuit, it is usually the cyclist suing the car driver. But you may wonder, can I sue if a bicycle hits my car in California?
The answer is yes. In California, you can sue if a bicycle hits your car. An accident between a bicycle and a car generally harms the cyclist more than the car driver. This is because of the massive difference in size. The impact of a car can destroy a bicycle and inflict devastating injuries on the cyclist. However, a cyclist can be held responsible for the accident. Just because cyclists have more injuries doesn’t mean they are less negligent.
If a cyclist was negligent, you can file a claim against them for the damages you suffered. Bicycle accidents can be complex. Contacting a bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible can help you recover compensation for your injuries.
How Can a Cyclist Be Liable for an Accident?
You can move forward with a personal injury claim if a bicyclist hits your car. This is the same type of claim the cyclist would file against a car driver if the driver were negligent. The fault is determined based on the law of negligence. Negligence involves the following elements.
You must prove the other party had a duty to you. Cyclists must follow traffic laws, just like car drivers. They are also prohibited from riding under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. There are duties specific to cyclists, such as:
- Helmets. California law mandates that all cyclists under the age of eighteen years old wear a helmet.
- Equipment. California law requires cyclists to have working brakes and handlebars.
- Night cycling. Cyclists out at night must have lights and reflectors to allow other vehicles to see them.
- Bicycle lane. If cyclists are riding below the speed set for the road, then they must use the dedicated bike lane.
Cyclists must ride safely. They cannot be distracted while sharing the road with cars.
Breach of Duty
An individual breaches a duty when they fail to exercise the reasonable care an ordinary person would have exercised given similar circumstances. Common examples of breaches include:
- Failure to follow traffic rules,
- Failure to drive safely,
- Failure to use hand signals for turning,
- Riding a bicycle while distracted, and
- Riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
An experienced personal injury attorney can review the facts of the case and determine the type of breach.
You must prove that the cyclist’s breach was the cause of your injuries. Proving the breach and your damages is not enough. For example, suppose a drunk cyclist swerves into your lane, causing you to turn abruptly and hit a wall, causing neck and head injuries. It’s not enough that you can show the cyclist was intoxicated. You must show that their intoxication was the reason you hit the wall.
Finally, the cyclist must have also caused you damage. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to collect the following:
- Medical expenses, including future medical expenses;
- Loss of income;
- Loss of future earnings;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of consortium; and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Property can also be damaged. In that case, you would file a property claim.
Who Is at Fault If a Bicycle Hits My Car?
California is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that fault may be shared. A party cannot recover compensation for the portion of the accident they were at fault for. The general reason for this division of liability is equity. It is unfair to allow one party to recover full compensation if they were also partly at fault for the accident.
For example, suppose a car was behind a bicycle and suddenly lost control of the wheel because of an icy road. The car driver beeped the horn at the cyclist. The cyclist, wearing earphones in both ears and blasting music, did not hear the car driver’s horn honking. The cyclist was hit and suffered $100,000 in injuries.
California law prohibits cyclists and motorists from having earphones in both ears while driving. The car driver was found 55% at fault. The bicyclist was 45% at fault. Thus, the cyclist will only be able to collect $45,000. Additionally, the driver could potentially collect a portion of their damages from the cyclist.
What Should I Do to Hold a Cyclist Responsible for the Accident?
After a bicycle hits your car, it’s essential to take several steps.
- Call 911. The first step is to call emergency medical services. Health and safety is the priority.
- Contact information. Get the contact details of the cyclist and witnesses to the accident. This will be important when you piece together how the accident happened.
- Gather evidence. Try to take photos and notes about the scene.
After you take these steps, you should hire a lawyer. A lawyer can help you build your case and negotiate with the other party. If necessary, they will take your case to trial.
How Long Do I Have to Bring My Claim Against the Bicyclist?
Every cause of action has a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations refers to the time you have to file your personal injury claim. After the deadline passes, you can no longer recover compensation. California’s statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years. If you file after this time, a judge will likely dismiss your case.
Contact Our Seasoned Attorneys Now
For 40 years, the Frederick Law Firm has been serving residents of California. Our attorneys are committed to being a beacon of light in their client’s difficult road ahead. We will fight to get you justice and the compensation you deserve. Contact the Frederick Law Firm for a free case evaluation.