Bicycle Accidents With Automobiles


With the rise of gas prices, more and more people have taken to the use of bicycles as a primary method of transportation. The increase in the use of bicycles has in turn resulted in an increase in the number of accidents in which a bicyclist is hit by an automobile. Bicycle accidents involving automobiles have become increasingly prevalent especially in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles. This article sets forth an overview of a motorist’s liability for injuries sustained by a bicyclist when hit by an automobile.

As in any negligence action, a bicyclist seeking to recover for injuries sustained in a collision with a motor vehicle must prove a breach of the duty of care. A showing must be made that the motorist failed to use that degree of care in driving that is required to avoid collision with and injury to the bicyclist. No bright line rule exists with regard to what would constitute a breach of a motorist’s duty of care. Factors such as the place, circumstances, and conditions are considered in determining the level of reasonable care required. However, at a minimum, a motorist is expected to drive at a reasonable speed, maintain an adequate lookout, and have adequate control of his vehicle. Knowledge of objects on the thoroughfare that are in plain view is imputed to the motorist--i.e. it is deemed that the motorist saw what he could have seen had he been a prudent driver maintaining a proper lookout.

Intersections are a common place at which failing to maintain a proper lookout occurs, resulting in a motorist striking a bicyclist. At an intersection, a motorist’s liability may arise in cases where the motorist made an improper turn, entered the intersection at an excessive rate of speed, ran a red light or stop sign, or where the bicyclist had right of way.

Bicyclists riding in crosswalks have been deemed to have right of way at intersections. A bicyclist riding in a crosswalk is not subject to the requirements applicable to motor vehicles. A motorist approaching a crosswalk is held to the same degree of care to a bicyclist as the motorist would have to a pedestrian. Accordingly, a bicyclist riding in a crosswalk will be deemed to have the same rights of a pedestrian. If liability would attach to a motorist in the case of an automobile versus pedestrian accident, then liability would generally attach on the motorist in a similar case involving an automobile and bicyclist.

It is important to note that establishing negligence on the part of the motorist is only the first step in recovering damages. If negligence is established, the next step is establishing that such negligence actually and proximately caused the injuries that were suffered. Furthermore, the contributory negligence of the bicyclist, i.e. whether the bicyclist himself acted with the requisite degree of care, may come into play in the amount of damages that is recoverable. Accordingly, if you were involved in an accident under similar circumstances such as those described hereinabove, it is advised to consult with an experienced attorney to get maximum recovery.

Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, P.C. This article is not a solicitation.

Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes was President of the Philippine American Bar Association for 2005. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration. He has extensive former CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail; visit at

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