If I’m injured while riding my bicycle, can I sue the driver of the car that hit me?
It depends. If the driver of the automobile that hit you is at fault or broke some motor vehicle law, and that was the cause of him striking you while you were cycling, then that driver is responsible for your injuries and you can bring a law suit against him. Sometimes, two people can be at fault. Both the driver and the bicyclist can bear some responsibility for a crash or a collision. And in those cases, a jury determines who’s at fault and in what percentages. This is again what we call the comparative fault system, which we have here in California.
So, for example, a bicyclist could be riding on the wrong side of the road, but the driver isn’t paying attention, is driving too fast and crashes into the bicyclist. In that case, a jury might determine that the plaintiff was 2% at fault or 5% at fault for riding on the wrong side of the road, but the jury finds that the defendant is mostly responsible for not paying attention or driving too fast, and then would find them 98% or 95% responsible. And in that case, the plaintiff gets to recover their damages minus or subtracted or reduced by their own percentage of fault.
And what damages are recoverable in a crash or a collision case?
That depends on if the plaintiff is injured or if the plaintiff is killed. If the plaintiff is injured in a bicyclist collision, then plaintiff gets to recover his non-economic damages, what we call his pain and suffering for both past and the future. The plaintiff also gets to recover his economic damages, which are things like past medical bills, future medical bills, past wage loses, future wage loses, and in some circumstances, if the injury is severe, the plaintiff might be able to make a loss or an incapacity claim, which is essentially that that person can no longer do the job that he did prior to the injury.
For example, if a doctor is on a bike and he’s injured, and that doctor makes $300,000 a year, and as the result of the crash he can no longer be a doctor and has to find another job that makes far less than $300,000 a year, then that plaintiff is entitled to recover the difference between what he could do before versus what he can do now.