Many different factors come into play when determining liability in a bicycle accident. Most states refer to the motor vehicle code when trying to determine fault. Violations of the vehicle code may be used to hold one, or various parties responsible for an accident. For example, someone who drives a car and hits a bike rider may be liable for the injuries if he or she made an illegal left turn. This liability may extend to other drivers if they played a part in the accident. Here we’ll look at how multiple parties may be sued by our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys in a bike accident.
Vehicle Code Violations and Negligence
All states have laws that regulate how vehicles should be driven on public roadways. The California Vehicle Code (CVC) covers motor vehicle accidents that occur in Los Angeles. When one of these laws is broken and an accident ensues there is a presumption of negligence. This legal concept is referred to as “negligence per se” or “negligence as a matter of law.” What this means is that when a law is broken the violator is assumed to be at fault unless he or she can provide sufficient evidence to the contrary.
Even in cases where violation of a statute is clear the plaintiff still needs to prove causation. In other words, the plaintiff must show that the driver’s violation of the law was the actual and proximate cause of the injury. The injured party will need to show that “but for” the violation he or she would not have been hurt. The plaintiff must also show that the injury was foreseeable from the driver’s point of view. If causation is shown along with the other elements of negligence the driver (or drivers) may be held at fault.
Accidents With Multiple Defendants
It is possible to sue more than one driver in a bicycle accident. One situation where this may occur is when one driver initially hits a bicyclist and then a subsequent driver hits the bicyclist again. In this scenario both drivers may be in violation of a traffic law, such as speeding. Therefore, it may be possible to sue both parties due to their negligence. Yet, having two drivers in violation of the law (leading up to the accident) is not the only way multiple parties may be sued in a bicycle accident case.
One legal theory that can be used against various defendants is vicarious liability. In this type of lawsuit the plaintiff may sue both the driver and the owner of the vehicle. Such lawsuits are appropriate where the owner of a vehicle lends his or her car to a person who is an irresponsible driver. Liability can be established through the vehicle owner’s knowledge that the driver has a spotty driving history. An example is when a Los Angeles resident lends a car to a person known to have a suspended license. If a collision with a bicyclist occurs both parties may be held liable for the damages or injures.
Respondeat Superior Lawsuits
More than one party may also be sued when the driver is using the vehicle as part of his or her employment. The employee and the employer can be held liable for accidents that occur while using a company car. Generally, the accident must occur during an act of employment such as performing a delivery. If the accident happens outside the scope of employment the employer may not be held liable.
Getting Compensation From Multiple Drivers
When two different drivers are sued both parties can be liable for injuries to the plaintiff. The legal theory that is used in this situation is joint and several liability. This theory is applicable when both parties contributed to the bicyclist’s injury. In this case each party could be responsible for up to 100% of the financial obligation regardless of their share of fault. Joint and several liability can be used to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress and pain and suffering.
Legal Help is Important
Accidents involving vehicles and bicycles are complex. This is especially true when there are multiple defendants who are represented by different attorneys. If you were injured while bicycling it is important to get legal help right away. Contact an attorney immediately to learn what causes of action you may have and who may be sued.