My car was turned off and parked with the door opened (driver side). I did not get out of the car as I was still doing something inside. Moments later a cyclist crashed into the door.
There was no police report and as far as I can tell no witnesses. I was with victim 100% of the time until she left the scene unassisted. I asked her if she needed medical assistance and she said no. We did exchange phone numbers, but no insurance information.
How would a determination of fault be made, if she later comes back and tries to claim damages, if there was no police involved and/or witnesses? Would I have any liability in this situation? What is the driver’s duty vs. the bicyclist’s duty? Thank you for any information you can give.
Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, each year in California, more than 100 people are killed and hundreds of thousands more are injured in bicycle collisions. Some bicycle related crashes are connected to the bicyclist’s behavior, while others are due to the motorist’s lack of attention.
Refer to the California Driver Handbook to become familiar with these rules.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles: “A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle…” California Vehicle Code Section 21200 (a)
Drivers are legally obligated to look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes, and opening doors next to moving traffic.
If, when you opened the car door, your door encroached on another lane of traffic, or encroached into the bicycle lane (if there was a legally authorized bicycle lane), then you may be liable for the bicyclist’s injuries and damage to her bicycle.
In the alternative, if the bicyclist was attempting to pass you in the same lane of traffic, or you didn’t encroach into a bicycle lane, the the bicyclist may have been negligent.
Finally, California is a Pure Comparative Fault state. This means when there is an accident, both drivers (including bicyclists) can share equally in the accident and in the resulting liability for damages. So if the insurance companies become involved, or a court were to review the facts of the case, it is possible you both may share some liability.
Learn more here: Building a Bike Accident Claim
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.
Best of luck with your claim,
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