Liability for a Bicycle Accident in California
Before you jump on your bicycle and go for a ride, it is important to understand the rules of the roadway. Under California law, bicyclists have the same rights and obligations as a motorist when riding on the roadways (Vehicle Code §21200(a)). This means that a bicyclist is subject to California’s laws governing driving under the influence, obeying traffic signals and giving pedestrians the right-of-way.
There are more specific laws that you should be aware of as well. For example, if the roadway has a marked lane for bicyclists, you should ride in the lane in the same direction as the vehicle traffic. Below are the circumstances set forth in Vehicle Code §21208(a), when a cyclist is permitted to move outside the bike lane:
- If the bicyclist is passing another bicyclist or pedestrian in the lane
- If the bicyclist is turning left at an intersection or into a private driveway
- If it is necessary to avoid debris in the lane or other hazardous conditions
- If the bicyclist is approaching an authorized right turn
Regardless of the reason, if a bicyclist must leave the bicycle lane, the bicyclist must do it with reasonable safety after providing the proper signal.
If you are injured in a bicycle accident, who is liable? The answer depends upon the specific facts surrounding the accident. A negligent driver may be cited with anything from a minor infraction to being cited with a felony offense. While criminal charges serve the interests of justice, it doesn’t help the injured bicyclist who is facing expensive medical bills.
If you have a personal injury claim from a bicycle accident, you can file a civil lawsuit against the negligent driver to recover damages for the injuries you incurred. If you can prove that the driver of the vehicle acted negligently, you may be able to recover medical expenses, wages lost due to missing work, and other compensation for the losses you have incurred.
If the driver that injured you received a traffic ticket or was charged with a criminal offense at the time of the accident, this is crucial proof of his/her negligence. In fact, California law provides that you do not have to prove the driver was negligent because a violation of a public safety law means the driver is automatically considered to be negligent. Thus, it is much easier to establish legal fault for your damages suffered in your civil lawsuit.
If you are the victim of a bicycle accident resulting in a personal injury, we can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn how we can assist you in recovering compensation for the damages you have suffered.