After a bike accident, it’s important to determine who was at fault. Bike accident liability is more than fault, though. It establishes who is legally responsible for the accident and who will have to pay for damages. Read below to learn more about liability in personal injury situations and what you should do if you were in a bike accident.


If you or a loved one were injured, call Los Angeles Bicycle Law today at (424) 230-3240. We can explain legal concepts to you and help you get the compensation you deserve.


What Is Liability?


Liability is legal responsibility for an accident. The person who is liable for an accident is also financially responsible and will have to pay for the damages they caused. In most situations, their insurance company will cover any losses that were incurred.


Who Is Liable in a Bike vs. Car Accident?


Typically, bike accident liability is allocated to the driver of the motor vehicle in a car vs. bike accident. However, this is not always true. Sometimes a cyclist may be liable or they may both be found to be partially at fault.


Contributory Negligence vs. Comparative Negligence in California


When both parties are partially liable, contributory negligence may be an issue. Contributory negligence is a legal theory that states both parties have contributed to the accident. In this case, if a cyclist is even 1% at fault, they would not be able to recover anything from the driver. However, California does not recognize this all-or-nothing recovery system. Instead, they use a comparative negligence rule.


With comparative negligence, a victim’s compensation will be reduced by the amount that they are at fault. For example, if a cyclist is 20% at fault, and they had $100,000 worth of damages, then their compensation would be reduced by $20,000. They could recover $80,000 from the driver.


California uses a “pure comparative negligence” rule, so if a victim is more than 50% at fault, then they cannot recover anything at all from the other party.


Negligent Behaviors By Cyclists



Cyclists are supposed to follow the same rules of the road as drivers. If they fail to follow laws, they may be found to be negligent.


Although cyclists are rarely found to be at fault in car vs. bicycle accidents, there are actions that can be taken by cyclists that render them negligent. Some of those actions include:


  • Failing to stop at stop signs or traffic lights
  • Failing to ride in bike lanes
  • Riding on the wrong side of the street
  • Riding against traffic
  • Failing to yield to vehicle drivers
  • Making abrupt turns without signals


While most bicycle riders can be found to be negligent, children are often judged less harshly. Courts may employ the “tender years” doctrine, which states children are incapable of contributory or comparative negligence. Drivers should keep a keen eye out for cyclists, especially children.

Call a Bicycle Accident Attorney for Help Today


If you or a loved one are injured in a bicycle accident, call Los Angeles Bicycle Law at (424) 230-3240. We can explain bicycle accident liability and whether you qualify for compensation.