Both drivers of motor vehicles and bicyclists in California are required to share the road with each other. What comes to issue is that when there’s an accident between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist, other than maybe a helmet, the bicyclist is far more exposed to injury than anybody in a car, SUV or truck. Severe or catastrophic injuries or even death can result when a cyclist in a crash with a motor vehicle, especially if the driver of that vehicle is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two. Fortunately, California law protects the interests of innocent bicyclists who were injured or killed by drunk drivers.
Damages Must be Sought in the Civil Court System
California takes driving under the influence (DUI) seriously. More than 120,000 people were arrested for the offense in the state in 2019. The state criminal courts don’t have the jurisdiction to award personal injury damages though. Those damages must be pursued in a personal injury case in the civil court system. You’ll be needing all of the help that you can get from quality and dedicated bicycle accident lawyers.
Different Burdens of Proof
The good news is that California law allows the victim of a drunk driving bicycle accident to seek compensation for their damages at the same time as a criminal prosecution is taking place. The civil case would be heard in a different courtroom with a different judge than the criminal case. There would be a different burden of proof too. In the criminal case, the allegedly drunk driver must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, a lower burden of proof of a preponderance of the evidence exists. What that means is that the injured bicyclist’s version of events is more likely true than not true. Because of those two different burdens of proof, a person can be found not guilty of a DUI charge but guilty in a civil case for damages.
Accidents involving drunk drivers often happen at higher than normal speeds. Severe injuries or even a death can turn a family’s finances upside down quickly. Here are some of the damages that California law allows victims of drunk driving accidents to pursue:
- Past and future medical bills.
- Past and future lost earnings.
- Any permanent disfigurement or disability.
- Pain and suffering.
- Diminished enjoyment of life.
- Other valuable damages in the event of a wrongful death.
- Punitive damages.
Contact a Los Angeles Bicycle Injury Lawyer
Los Angeles Bicycle Law represents bicyclists because we are bicyclists. We know first-hand how rewarding, yet dangerous, cycling can be in the Los Angeles area. Even though the law treats bicyclists with the responsibilities and rights of a motor vehicle, the road itself offers far fewer protections. That is why we actively fight to protect bicyclists in our community. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in Los Angeles, contact Los Angeles Bicycle Law today.