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Attorney Jared Pursley
Carlsbad Personal Injury LawyerBlogBicycle AccidentPossible Defenses in Bicycle Crash Claims

Possible Defenses in Bicycle Crash Claims


Bicycle-vehicle collisions have a much higher serious injury rate than vehicle-vehicle collisions. Bicyclists account for about 1 percent of the traffic on California roads. But bicycle riders account for about 2 percent of roadway fatalities in the Golden STate. Bicyclists, unlike vehicle occupants, have no safety restraint systems to protect them.

Compensation in serious injury cases is usually very high, which is why most insurance companies strongly contest these claims. So, only a very good Carlsbad bicycle accident lawyer can obtain maximum compensation in these cases. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Comparative Fault

A disaster like a bicycle crash often has more than one cause. If the cyclist’s negligence substantially caused the crash, a San Marcos personal injury lawyer may be unable to obtain maximum compensation.

Significantly, there’s a difference between a substantial cause and a contributing cause. Weather-related wrecks might be the best example.

Wet roads, foggy skies, and other adverse weather conditions sometimes contribute to car crashes. Driver negligence, usually aggressive driving or driver impairment, substantially causes these wrecks. Many people drive during bad weather, but only negligent drivers crash during bad weather.

If, after a pretrial hearing, a judge rules that the victim’s negligence, such as coating through a stop sign, substantially contributed to the wreck, the comparative fault defense usually applies. Based on the evidence, jurors must divide fault on a percentage basis.

In some states, victims are ineligible for compensation if their negligence substantially caused a wreck. But California is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for a bicycle crash, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is legally responsible for a proportionate share of damages.

Helmet Defense

The bicycle helmet defense, like the comparative fault defense, varies in different states. California’s version of this defense is particularly complex.

California law only requires bicycle riders under 17 to wear helmets. However, in civil court, all victims have a duty to look out for their own safety. This duty could include wearing a bicycle helmet, even if the law doesn’t require it.

The bicycle helmet defense is equally complex. The victim’s failure to wear a bicycle helmet is relevant to the amount of compensation. For example, if 16-year-old Tom wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time of a bicycle wreck, he may still be entitled to compensation, even though he broke a safety law.

However, insurance company lawyers must do more than cite safety statistics. They must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Tom’s failure to wear a helmet, as opposed to the tortfeasor’s negligent driving, substantially caused his injuries.

That point is difficult to prove in court. Scientifically, the connection between bicycle helmet use and head injury reduction is rather shaky. Furthermore, many bicycle helmets aren’t much thicker than a few sheets of tinfoil. They obviously provide little or no protection in high-speed wrecks.

Reach Out to a Hard-Working San Diego County Lawyer

Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in San Marcos, contact the Pursley Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.



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