Determining Liability in Orange County Bicycle Accidents

Determining Liability in Orange County Bicycle Accidents

Southern California’s dry weather and breathtaking scenery attract cyclists from the whole state and beyond. While the region is generally safe for cyclists, accidents still happen.

If you’ve been involved in a bike accident in Orange County as a bicyclist, driver, or pedestrian, you may be eligible to seek compensation for personal injuries and property damage from the at-fault or liable party.

Read on to learn how Orange County bicycle accident liability works and whether you may have a valid claim.

Who Is Liable for Bicycle Accidents in Orange County, CA?

Determining liability in bicycle accidents works in much the same way as in other traffic violations. To establish liability or fault, you must show the other driver or cyclist was negligent.

“Negligence” is an umbrella term for any failure to exercise reasonable care that causes injury or loss to another person. For example, drivers and cyclists owe a duty of care to other members of the public using roadways and sidewalks. If they fail to exercise proper care by violating traffic laws, they may be liable for the ensuing harm.

Examples of Driver and Cyclist Negligence

Common examples of negligence by motor vehicle drivers and cyclists that can cause a collision to include:

  • Speeding
  • Running a stop sign
  • Running a red light
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Riding the wrong way on a one-way street
  • Turning abruptly into traffic

Bicycle Traffic Laws in California and Orange County

Many cyclists are unaware they have the same legal rights and must obey the same rules as motor vehicle drivers.

One exception is that, as a bicyclist, you can use a mobile phone while riding. That doesn’t mean you can’t be held liable if you cause an accident because you were using your phone — it just means that you can’t be held liable for phone use as a sole charge.

Here are some other bicycle state laws to keep in mind when riding a bike in Orange County:

  • Riding against the flow of traffic is illegal.
  • You must yield to pedestrians.
  • You must remain in the designated bike lane at all times, if there is one.
  • If there is no designated bike lane, you must ride as close to the right edge or curb as possible.
  • You may enter traffic lanes if you are riding at the speed of traffic, need to pass another cyclist, or seek to prevent harm or avoid hitting a hazard.
  • Your bicycle must be able to make a one-brake wheel skid on a dry, clean, improved, and level surface.
  • If you’re under 18, California law requires that you wear a safety helmet, but there is no such requirement for adults.
  • You may use listening devices such as earbuds or headphones as long as one of your ears is uncovered.
  • Your bike or clothing must have a white light visible from 300 feet in front and a red reflector or light visible from 500 feet in the back.

What Compensation Is Available in Bicycle Accidents?

As in other personal injury cases, the same state laws regulate compensation in bicycle accidents. Depending on the type and extent of your injuries, you may recover damages for:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost income
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Scarring and disability
  • Punitive damages in accidents involving egregious behavior or intentional violation of traffic laws

What If You Are Partly at Fault for Your Accident?

Just because you may be partly at fault for a bike accident doesn’t automatically mean you can’t recover damages for your injuries and medical bills.

California law follows the principle of pure comparative negligence. In pure comparative negligence systems, you can seek damages even if the other cyclist or motor vehicle driver isn’t solely responsible for the accident.

In such cases, the total damages will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. For example, if you are 30% at fault and the total damages for your injuries are $100,000, you may only claim $70,000.

What Is the Deadline To Seek Damages for Bicycle Accident Injuries in California?

In California, you generally have two years from the date of a bicycle collision to file a personal injury claim. Some exceptions exist, such as in accidents involving minors and hidden injuries, but these are rare.

If the at-fault party is a state or local government entity, you must first file an administrative claim within six months of the accident. The at-fault entity then has 45 days to respond.

Keep in mind that these time frames only apply to personal injury claims. The deadlines for filing insurance claims are significantly tighter and vary across insurance companies and policy types.

The Importance of Hiring an Experienced Bike Accident Lawyer

Whether you’re a cyclist, driver, or pedestrian, you should consult with an attorney if you’ve been in an accident involving a bicycle and serious injuries. Don’t try to prove Orange County bicycle accident liability or negligence alone. California personal injury law is complicated, and some rules apply differently to bicycles and motor vehicles. A single mistake could cost you your ability to seek damages.

An experienced Orange County bicycle or car accident lawyer can maximize your chances of success by:

  • Investigating the accident to identify the at-fault party and determine liability
  • Gathering evidence to establish negligence, such as witness statements and the accident police report
  • Preparing and filing all necessary paperwork
  • Negotiating with the other person involved, the insurance company, and other stakeholders
  • Representing you in court if necessary

Speak to an Orange County Bicycle Accidents Lawyer

If you’ve been injured as a bicyclist, driver, or pedestrian in a bicycle accident, our Khalil Law Group team can help. Our experienced bike accident attorneys can investigate the collision, determine fault, and advise whether you can seek damages. If you are eligible to file a claim, we can support you at every step.

Call (714) 617-7870 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with an Orange County bicycle accident liability attorney.