A state highway near Marysville became the scene of a tragic bicycle crash when 19-year-old Judith Hansen was struck by a car. Hansen died of her injuries when she was thrown from her bike after allegedly veering into traffic from the shoulder of the road.
The teen was riding north on the side of Route 70 when the California Highway Patrol says that she left the shoulder and veered into traffic. A car traveling about 55 miles per hour struck her and threw her from the bicycle. Authorities say that alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash for either party. The California Highway Patrol continues to investigate the accident.
Liability in Bicycle Accidents
Liability in bicycle accidents can be complicated. While bicyclists have a duty of care to ensure that they do not violate the rules of the road and look after their own safety by using reasonable riding precautions, there is also a presumption that bicyclists should be given the right-of-way in order to keep everyone safe. Many drivers respect this presumption and automatically slow down when they see a bicyclist in the area. Other drivers simply ignore the rights of bicycle riders and do not yield the right-of-way, forcing bicycle riders to be vigilant in watching for traffic. If a car and a bicycle collide, there is not much doubt about which person will sustain the greater injuries.
If a bicycle rider breaks the law and puts himself or herself in danger, the driver who hit the bicyclist may not be charged. However, in civil court, the driver may still be held liable for at least part of the damage sustained by the bicycle rider.
The doctrine of comparative liability upholds the privilege of a jury to award partial damages in a bicycle accident case. If the jury finds that the bicyclist was partially at fault in the crash, they can still award damages to the victim; however, those damages will be reduced by the amount the jury feels the victim was at fault for his or her own injuries.
As an example, if a jury were looking at this case as a wrongful death lawsuit, they might feel that the victim should not have veered into traffic but they might also feel the driver should have slowed down. If they decided the victim was 50 percent to blame for the injuries and the driver 50 percent, they might award the family half of what they would have given them if the accident had been all the driver’s fault.
A personal injury attorney can assist victims of bicycle accidents in determining the best way to recover damages. A personal injury attorney may also assist the families of victims who are killed in bicycle accidents to recover damages under a wrongful death lawsuit, including pain, suffering and loss of love and affection.