Cycling is a growing sport and means of transportation in major California cities. Besides saving gas costs, bicyclists also contribute to efforts to reduce the effect of greenhouse gasses. Also, it’s easier to find a place to park a bike than a car in congested cities.

However, there is usually a constant threat to bikers by reckless drivers in California cities due to many drivers not seeing bicyclists. Some of these negligent behaviors by drivers lead to devastating accidents. But does this mean that it’s always the car driver in the wrong when there is a collision with a bicycle and a car? Can bicyclists be responsible for causing a car accident? Working with a personal injury lawyer, like those at Setareh Law, can help you figure out if you may have been liable. We will also protect your rights every step of the way. 

What Are the Cycling Laws in California?

In most instances, cyclists have to follow the same traffic rules as motorists. It’s expected that riders, just like drivers, obey these rules to prevent accidents. This is called duty of care. Additionally, side-of-road laws are put in place to reduce the likelihood of a collision. These laws include:

  • Cyclists moving slower than the traffic must ride on the right side of the road as much as possible
  • Bikers must ride in the matching direction as the traffic
  • If there is a bike lane, the bicyclist should use it

Although there are clear rules, bicycle accidents continue to occur. Part of this reason is due to driver negligence, but sometimes, bicyclists are not always aware of where they should be riding. Figuring out liability in these types of collisions is often confusing, which is why partnering with a lawyer can greatly help you figure out the circumstances of your case. 

When Is a Bicyclist at Fault in a Car Accident?

The general belief is the car driver is almost always liable for a car crash that involves a bicyclist. However, this is not always the case. Riders carry the same duty of reasonable care when biking, just like other motorists on the road. Therefore, there are some scenarios in which the bicyclist can be held responsible for a car accident and be unable to collect compensation for their injuries from the driver’s insurance. Some of the circumstances may include when:

  • The biker was under the influence of alcohol or another drug at the time of the accident
  • The rider ignored using the designated bicycle lanes
  • The biker refused to ride on the right-most side of the road, though they were moving slower than the traffic
  • The bicyclist ignored a red light or stop sign before crashing into a car
  • The bicycler never gave any signal before turning
  • The biker made a reckless and unsafe lane change
  • They were riding against the direction of the traffic flow
  • They declined to yield to the right-of-way, though the car clearly had the right to pass

Although the law holds drivers at a higher duty of care than cyclists for obvious reasons, when cyclists ignore their own duty of reasonable care or breach the traffic laws, they are liable for the accident.

The Implication of a Car Accident Where the Bicyclist is Responsible

Many people are familiar with situations where the car driver is liable for a car accident. But what happens when the biker is the one at fault?

California’s pure negligence law in personal injury claims dictates that each party carries their own share of fault. Therefore, if a biker is found to be liable for a car accident, they’ll then be accountable for their fault. In most cases, this means a decrease in compensation the bicyclist gets. In a few instances, the rider may be prevented from collecting any reimbursement from the driver’s insurance if they are found unequivocally responsible for their injuries.

An example of this is when a car accident occurs because both a driver and a rider ignored a stop sign. 70% of the liability may be charged to the driver, while 30% is charged to the biker for violating a stop sign. The implication of this is that the biker will only be able to collect 70% of the total compensation against the other party for their injuries.

Contact Setareh Law’s Personal Injury Lawyers Today

Getting involved in an accident while driving or riding is often overwhelming and can come with many injuries. The disruption in your day-to-day routine because of the accident cannot be understated. At Setareh Law, we help accident victims handle personal injury cases straightforwardly and cost-effectively.

Our bicycle and car accident lawyers will thoroughly investigate your case and ensure the other party carries all the share for their responsibility in the accident. We handle every case with compassion, care, and professionalism. Call us at (310) 659-1826 or fill out our contact form online. Our lawyers also speak Spanish for our clients’ convenience.