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Bicyclists and the Doctrine of Comparative Fault

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Bicyclists in California can recover damages when they have suffered injuries in an accident. However, what happens in those cases where the bicyclist is at least partly to blame for the accident?

There are several ways that a bicyclist may contribute partly to his own injuries in an accident. For instance, he may fail to obey traffic laws. If you cross traffic lanes, or otherwise ride unsafely, you could possibly be blamed for the accident when one occurs.

Say for instance, you were riding down the wrong way on a one-way street, and were struck by a speeding car. A judge may determine that you were partly to blame because you were driving in the wrong direction. However, just because you are partly to blame in the accident, does not mean that you are absolutely not eligible for compensation recovery. It does mean that the compensation that you were eligible for will now be reduced by the percentage of your fault in the accident.

Determining whether you are at fault in the accident will fall on the judge. You can expect the insurer for the motorist involved in your accident to claim that damages should be reduced significantly because you were very much to blame for causing your own injuries. However, a judge will determine how much you were to blame in the accident. If the judge believes that you were not at all to blame in the accident, and the fault was that of the motorist, then you will be awarded 100% of the damages. However, if the judge believes that you were 20% negligent, then your damages will be reduced by 20%, and you will only receive 80 percent of the damages you would have been eligible for.

In any case, you must speak to a California bicycle accident lawyer if you have been injured in an accident. Determining fault and assigning percentages is a complicated process which judges will consider only with inputs from lawyers.



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