Imagine for a moment that you are a bicyclist who has just been injured in a pedestrian accident. If you're like most of our California readers then your first thought might be how you should go about seeking compensation from the at-fault driver. After all, the accident wasn't your fault so why should you have to pay the costs of your injuries?
But what if you were partially at fault in the accident? Perhaps you crossed the street outside of a crosswalk without checking for traffic first. Or maybe you did cross the street in a crosswalk but while the "do not walk" sign was illuminated. In cases such as this, even if the driver of the vehicle was distracted or driving recklessly, you too could be considered negligent as well. This could lead you to a very different question: do semi-at-fault bicyclists get compensation after a crash?
According to our state's negligence laws, the answer is yes provided the legal doctrine of comparative negligence is applied. This doctrine allows an insurance company to pay out compensation to both the driver and the pedestrian based on their level of fault in the bicycle accident. The more at-fault a person is in the accident, the more they will likely have to pay out in damages.
It's worth pointing out that in order to prove negligence, a plaintiff must be able to demonstrate five elements that show the defendant failed to avoid the accident despite knowing the dangers of inaction, that the accident caused the plaintiff's injuries, as well as the damages suffered by the plaintiff (ie: lost wages, medical costs, etc.).
This can be difficult to do effectively without the help of a skilled lawyer which is why legal help is often obtained in cases such as this.
Source: FindLaw, "California Negligence Laws," Accessed Dec. 22, 2014