One of the most enjoyable American pastimes is getting out on the open road and riding a bicycle. The vast majority of the time, this is done in a safe and enjoyable manner. The rules of the road exist for drivers of motorized vehicles and bicyclists alike. As long as everyone observes them, accidents are infrequent. There are occasions, however, when a bike and car collide. In such an instance, the answer to who is at fault is not always so cut and dry.
It Comes Down to Negligence
In accident cases, negligence is a legal term used to determine who is at fault. In some cases, this is made extremely clear by the facts of the case. In others, however, it involves such more legal investigation to determine whether the car or the bike was at fault in causing the accident. For the most part, bicyclists are able to enjoy the road right alongside cars and trucks. Alone with this privilege comes the expectation that they will observe the same basic traffic rules as motorized vehicles. When this fails to occur and an accident happens, the bicyclist can be found to be at fault. The reverse is also true of cars and trucks. Whoever is found to be negligent will usually be determined to have caused the accident.
Duty of Care
The operators of both cars and bicycles have a duty of care as they navigate the open road. When a collision occurs between the two, it is usually because one party or the other failed to exercise that duty of care. A bicyclist, for example, is required to have adequate light on both the front and rear of the bicycle when riding at night. This is necessary so that drivers can see them from an adequate distance away and made suitable adjustments to avoid a collision. Failing to have these lights is to neglect the duty of the car provision of the law that governs how bicyclists are to operate when riding on an open road.
By the same token, the driver of a car of truck has a duty to maintain a minimum of three feet distance from any bicyclist that he or she chooses to pass. If this three feet cannot be maintained, then the driver must wait to pass until such time that they are able to do so safely. Failing to do this could result in a collision where the driver of the car will likely to be found to have neglected their duty of care towards the bicyclist.
There are certainly occasions where both the bicyclist and driver are considered to be negligent. In such cases, the police will often assign a percentage of the fault to each party and that will be used as a legal basis to negotiate any future settlement. An example of this can be seen when a driver fails to give a bicyclist the necessary room when passing. If the bicyclist is trying to use his or her phone at the time, a collision may occur because there was not enough time to react. Both parties are at fault: The driver failed to give the necessary three feet, and the bicyclist was playing with a telephone in violation of the duty of care provision.
If you have been involved in a person injury accident, it is important to contact a professional and experience attorney for assistance right area. If you are in the Los Angeles area, feel free to call our office for a consultation to go over your case.
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