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Cyclists and car accidents: 3 things to know

It is not surprising that an accident involving a bicycle and car can result in tragedy for the cyclist. Steel, metal, plastic, seat belts, and airbags all work to protect the people inside the vehicle. Though the person on the bike may have a helmet, he or she is otherwise fully exposed to the force of the crash. This can lead to serious and even fatal injuries. Those who are involved in these accidents have rights. Three things to know when looking to protect these rights and hold the responsible driver accountable for the crash include:

#1: The NHTSA tells drivers to share the road

The United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that drivers are required to share the road. They should yield to bicycles just as they would other motorists and look for bikes before opening a car door, parking, or making turns. As a result, the driver claiming that they did not see the bicyclist is not a good excuse for the accident.

#2: Bicyclists can hold drivers liable through a civil lawsuit

In most situations, an accident claim like this would move forward under the legal theory of negligence. To build the case, the victim will first need to show that the driver had a duty to operate the vehicle safely. This step is relatively easy, as state laws across the nation expect drivers to drive with care. Next, the victim will need to show that the driver failed to drive with the requisite care. Evidence that the driver was driving dangerously or otherwise failing to follow traffic regulations can help. Next, the victim will need to prove the driver’s failure caused the accident. This can be a bit more difficult and may require expert testimony such as that by an accident reconstruction expert.

#3: There is a time limit

Unfortunately, state laws put a time limit on when bikers can file a civil lawsuit against the driver. This is known as a statute of limitations and is different based on the state and type of claim. A victim generally has two years from the date of the injury to move forward with this type of lawsuit in California.