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Car vs. bicycle: determining fault in a collision

Bicycling in Southern California is a wonderful way to ride to work and bypass the infamous traffic conditions. Bikes must follow many of the same road rules as motorized vehicles, which may make determining who is at fault for a collision a challenge.

According to Los Angeles County Public Works, California bicycle statutes address various aspects of bicycle use. They include regulations, such as the following:

  • Use of the roadway
  • Bicycle lane usage
  • Direction of travel

Cyclists must also use appropriate gear, follow the rules for trails and bike lanes a variety of additional guidelines.

Determining Factor

Riders observe the same road rules as drivers. Drivers must follow laws that pertain specifically to bicyclists in addition to the automobile statutes. Requirements pertaining to riders include keeping a safe distance away when passing. Law enforcement typically looks at negligence as a determining factor for fault. The driver and rider involved in a crash must observe the rules and regulations relevant to the situation, including construction zone postings, weather patterns and travel conditions.

Duty of Care

Drivers and riders both owe a duty of care to those traveling around them, regardless of the mode of transportation. In addition to following road rules, riders must have reflectors on the front and back of the bike and indicate turns well in advance. Officers take distractions such as eating or talking on the phone into account when determining duty of care.

The situation can become complex if it appears that both the driver and rider have some degree of fault for the collision. Understanding the bicycle laws in California can help you ride safer. It can also ensure your needs are adequately addressed if you sustain injuries due to a crash with an automobile.