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Who is at Fault in a Car-Bike Accident?

Bicycles and cars collide all the time, especially at intersections. It is tempting to always blame the motorists because they are driving a large vehicle that can cause serious injuries. However, under California law, we need to determine who was negligent, if anybody. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care under the circumstances and can include violating the rules of the road. Depending on the facts, either the car driver or the bicyclist could be at fault for the collision. Or they could share the blame.

Who Was Negligent?

One misconception is that the person who hit the other is always at fault. So if a car struck a bicycle, some people will claim the driver “must” be at fault. That’s simply not the case, however.

Instead, we need to closely examine what the driver and cyclist did in the moments leading up to the crash. A person is at fault for the crash if they did not use reasonable care.

Did either one:

  • Run a red light
  • Fail to yield
  • Cut the other off
  • Go too fast for conditions

These are all negligent acts. If a motorist runs a red light and cuts off a cyclist, leading to a crash, then the driver is at fault for failing to drive carefully. It doesn’t matter if the cyclist crashes into the car.

Other examples of negligence include being fatigued or intoxicated or else distracted by a cell phone. An impaired driver will probably not control their vehicle in a safe manner. Other collisions happen because someone Is not watching where they are going, instead choosing to read a text message. This is true of both motorists and cyclists.

Both Sides Can Share Fault

California law recognizes that both sides are negligent in many accidents. That means both share fault for the crash. For example, a motorist might have cut off a cyclist, but the cyclist was distracted because she was looking at her phone.

California’s law is a “pure” comparative fault system. You can be up to 99% responsible and still seek compensation so long as the other party is at least 1% to blame. In other states, victims are prohibited from suing if they are 50% to blame or greater. But that’s not the law in California.

If you go to trial, a jury will apportion fault based on the testimony and physical evidence. However, most cases settle, which means that lawyers and insurance adjusters hammer out how to allocate fault. At our law firm, we always strive to learn as much about the accident as possible to minimize our client’s share of the blame.

Call Our Personal Injury Lawyer Today

The Law Office of Brian P. Azemika has handled many collisions involving cars and cyclists. Our car accident lawyer will review the facts to determine whether you can legally seek compensation for any injuries suffered in a collision. Please call our law firm today to schedule a consultation with our legal team. There is no risk or cost for doing so.