How is Fault Determined When a Car Hits a Bicyclist?

red-car-lady-on-phone-hit-bike-riderBecause cars are larger and faster than bicycles, the driver of the vehicle is often assumed at fault for any collision involving a bike. However, bicyclists can also be to blame for accidents. They have rules to follow just like drivers and violating rules of the road can lead to accidents.

Duty of Care

Both drivers and bicyclists have a duty of care when traveling on the roads in California. Bicycle riders must follow the same rules as drivers. This means they must stop at red lights, stop signs, yield to oncoming traffic, and yield to pedestrians. Bicyclists must also ride in the same direction vehicles are traveling.

Some other rules of the road that bicyclists must follow include:

  • Riding on the right side of the road, unless making a left turn, passing another bicyclist, or when trying to avoid a hazard
  • Using bike lanes when they are present
  • Wearing a helmet if under 18 years of age
  • Not covering both ears at the same time with a headset or other earplugs
  • Using a white light on the front of the bicycle at night that can be seen up to 300 meters away
  • Using a flashing red light or red reflector at night on the rear of the bicycle
  • Using hand signals to make turns

Motorists must treat bicyclists with the same duty of care as they would other motorists. This means they must treat the bicycle like it is another vehicle. All laws on passing, merging and yielding must be followed when driving alongside a bicyclist. Drivers must give bicyclists at least three feet of space before passing.

Examples of Negligence

Determining negligence in a car versus bicycle accident can be a challenge. Some common examples of motorist negligence in these accidents include:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Failing to look for bicyclists when opening the vehicle’s door while parked on a street
  • Failing to obey right-of-way, speed, signals, or other traffic laws
  • Distracted driving

Common examples of bicyclist negligence include:

  • Improper passing of other bicyclists
  • Not using proper hand signals to indicate turns
  • Biking while intoxicated or using drugs
  • Failing to follow all traffic signals
  • Failing to use reflectors or lights at night
  • Failing to ride in the same direction vehicles are traveling
  • Failing to use the designated bike lane or travel on the right side of the road

Safety Tips for Bicyclists

If you enjoy cycling in California, make sure you follow these safety tips to help prevent a crash that could result in serious injuries:

  • Always wear a helmet that fits your head properly even if you are over 18. Make sure you replace your helmet if you are involved in an accident.
  • Do not wear loose clothing that can get caught in the chain of the bicycle.
  • Never use a mobile device when riding your bicycle.
  • Ride with traffic and stop at all red lights and stop signs.
  • Ride in the bike lane or as far right as safely possible in the lane of travel.

Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Call the Arnold Law Firm Today

Were you or a loved one injured in a bicycle accident with a car? Speak to an experienced car accident attorney about your claim.

Call the Arnold Law Firm at (916) 777-7777 to schedule a free consultation.