Liability for accidents between cars and bicycles comes down to the question of who was negligent. In most cases, both parties are at fault to some degree, but fault must be determined based on state and local traffic laws. Both drivers and cyclists have what is called the duty to exercise ordinary care regarding their safety and the safety of others on the road.
Drivers can be negligent in a variety of ways by speeding, ignoring traffic signs or drifting into the bike lane, for example. Drivers can be accused of recklessness if they knowingly disregard the safety of others. While some acts of negligence must be proven through eyewitness testimony or other evidence, traffic violations fall under “negligence per se” and require no other proof to be considered negligence. Drivers are also held to a higher standard when children on bicycles are involved.
Cyclists can act negligently by riding the opposite direction on a one-way street, running a stop sign or turning abruptly into traffic. In such cases, they may be called out for comparative or contributory negligence, which will lower the amount of damages they are eligible for. The cyclists themselves may be held liable for any injuries they cause to others in such cases.
Louisiana operates under a pure comparative fault rule, so bicyclists who incur a personal injury can file a claim even if they are partially at fault for the incident. Victims may want to see a lawyer to determine if an incident is worth filing a claim over. The lawyer might then hire third-party experts to gather proof against the driver, and medical professionals may measure the extent of the injuries. Victims may leave negotiations to their lawyer, and if the auto insurance company refuses to pay out, they might proceed to litigation.