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For exercise enthusiasts, there are few things more exhilarating that morning or an afternoon ride on a bicycle. One of the most appealing features of cycling is that you can take a bicycle just about anywhere, whether it be the countryside or the city and anywhere in between. The problem, sometimes, with cycling is that you must often share the road with motorized vehicles such as cars and trucks. For a number of reasons, the drivers of these motor vehicles can fail to pay close attention to the other people who share the road and accidents occur as a result. When legal action eventually ensues the occurrence of an accident, often the central issue of litigation is whether the driver of the car or truck was fully negligent or whether the cyclist did something to cause or contribute to the cause of the accident.
Bicycle accident cases are usually quite similar to any other accident involving two automobiles. All such cases usually can get boiled down to a few important issues. First, a court must hear all evidence about and decide the issue of liability. Does the evidence support the theory that the driver of the car breached his or her duty of care?
- Was the car driver’s negligence the sole cause of the accident? Did the cyclist also breach his or her duty of care to others on the road and did this form of negligence cause or contribute to the accident?
- Lastly, if the car driver was solely negligent, and if this negligence was the only cause of the accident, what was the extent of the cyclist’s injuries?
Liability and The Duty of Care
Anyone who uses public roads for transportation is under an obligation to obey all traffic laws of the jurisdiction where the roads are located. This rule applies equally to operators of motor vehicles as well as to those people riding bikes on roads. In addition, all people on public roads have a duty to exercise ordinary care to protect their own safety as well as that of others. Everyone must follow these basic rules of the roads. Failure to do so can result in a finding of liability against the violator where an accident has occurred.
Negligence and/or Recklessness of Drivers
Drivers of cars and trucks can commit negligence in countless ways. As previously stated, negligence is defined as the breach of the duty of care owed to other people who are using public roads. A violation of state and local traffic laws can also be interpreted as a form of negligence. It would probably be negligent, for example for a driver to run a red light or stop sign, to drive at a speed that exceeds the speed limit, or to drift between lanes on the highway or even into a designated bicycle lane. It is likely negligence to follow to close, to fail to pay attention or to fail to yield to another vehicle or bicycle on the road where appropriate.
Clearly, every case contains specific facts that will lead a judge or jury to a determination of whether negligence occurred. Cases involving violations of traffic laws are usually easier to decide than other cases where the alleged negligence is a breach of the duty of care only. Where the plaintiff cyclist has presented a convincing case of negligence on the part of the driver, the defendant driver then has the opportunity to show that the cyclist was fully or partially at fault for the accident.
Negligence of Cyclists
If a cyclist has engaged in conduct that is at least partly the cause of the accident, this determination will have a significant influence on the outcome of the case. Because California is a comparative negligence state, the court will determine the extent to which the driver and the cyclist were negligent and then award damages accordingly. This means that if the driver is 60% negligent, he or she would likely be responsible for 60% of the resulting damages.
Cyclists can do many things to contribute to an accident. Examples of such conduct might include swerving the bicycle into traffic, riding the bicycle the wrong way in traffic, or doing something else to make the accident more likely to happen.
- If the person riding the bicycle is a child, the court is likely to hold the driver of the vehicle to a higher standard of care than if the cyclist was an adult at the time of the accident.
Bicycle accident cases can be very complicated from a factual standpoint, involve substantial injuries, and often will be decided by which party committed negligence. This determination will certainly be influenced by the attorneys representing the parties as this is a critical aspect of bicycle accident cases. The El Dabe Law Firm offers legal representation with attorneys who possess years of experience in handling bicycle accident cases. The lawyers at the El Dabe Law Firm know exactly what to do to maximize your compensation at the settlement table or in a courtroom. Contact the El Dabe Law Firm to discuss how they can get you the results you deserve.
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