Who Is At Fault?
Identifying what factors caused your bike accident can prove pivotal to your case, and sometimes, more than one party may be liable for your injuries. For example, the motorist who struck you may share fault with a particular city, which failed to properly maintain the roadway. Or perhaps, a stop sign was hidden by foliage, and could have contributed to the accident. A defective part on the bike may mean the manufacturer or bike shop shares the blame. But most bicycle-car collisions are caused by the inattention of the driver. If he or she:
- Failed to obey traffic laws
- Was distracted by a cellphone
- Moved into an intersection unlawfully
- Backed out of a driveway or parking space without looking
- Didn’t check blind spots before merging or turning
- Was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Was making aggressive maneuvers or speeding
Such behavior was negligent, and you have a strong claim for compensation. A major case we handled involved a cyclist who was stuck by a truck approaching from behind, causing a spinal fracture and significant rehabilitation time. We settled for the defendant’s policy limits of $1,150,000.
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Need To Know Biking Laws In California
Part of the claim process involves figuring out who was at fault for the accident. California has a comparative negligence law, meaning that so long as you are found to be less than 51% responsible for the accident you can claim damages. But if you are more than half responsible, you will not receive compensation. In order to protect yourself from being accused of being at fault, it is important to know California laws around biking.
- Always ride with traffic. Bikes are supposed to go in the same direction as cars on the road normally would. The exceptions to this are when riding down a one-way street, taking a left turn, when roadways are too narrow, or when the right side of the road is sectioned off for construction.
- Be sure to use the bike lane. Many roads in California include a bike lane. When one is present it must be used unless you are making a left turn, or the bike lane is too hazardous to travel on safely.
- You may “take the lane”, as in drive in the middle of it as a car would, if you are moving slower than traffic and the lane is too narrow to share with a vehicle safely. This is an important law to know, because many drivers, and sometimes even police officers, don’t understand your right to take the lane and may assign you fault where there is none.
- You are not allowed to ride your bike on a freeway or highway. They are deemed to be too fast and too dangerous for conventional bikes.
- Hitching a ride with a car – meaning you grab on to the back of a car as it moves – is never permitted.
- Whether you are allowed to ride your bike on the sidewalk or not is determined by your county or your city. The state of California has no specific laws around riding bikes on sidewalks.
Most drivers assume they know the rules of the road and how to behave around bike riders, but that isn’t always the case. Biking laws can vary a great amount state by state or even county by county. Be sure you know the rules and regulations in your area in order to keep yourself safe physically and legally.
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If You Have Questions, Don’t Hesitate to Reach Out
If you have suffered an injury in a bicycle accident in Costa Mesa or elsewhere in Orange County, there are certain steps you should take to maximize your chances of receiving compensation. Firstly, you should contact us as soon as possible, as there is a “statute of limitations” on personal injury claims in California, cutting off your ability to file a claim after two years, except in certain circumstances. At the scene of the accident, if possible, you should:
- Contact the police as soon as possible
- Obtain medical treatment immediately
- Obtain the driver’s name, telephone number, address, vehicle information, and the name of his or her insurance company (if you were struck by an automobile driver)
- Obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Use your cell phone to take pictures of the scene, damage to your bike, and of your injuries
If you’re missing one of these elements, or if you’re afraid you’re partially at fault for the accident, don’t worry.
Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie has won hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients over the past 40 years. We understand what to do because we’ve handled hundreds of bicycle accidents in Orange County. California has a doctrine called “comparative fault” wherein your amount of fault will diminish your verdict, proportionally. If the jury thinks you were 10% at fault after awarding you $200,000, you would take home $180,000. We always examine a claim for its strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how to get the optimal results. For a free consultation, please call (949) 752-7474 today.
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