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If a Cyclist Hits Your Car, Who’s Liable for Damages?

November 22, 2022Firm News

When you hear about a car accident involving a bicycle, it is typically assumed that the driver was at fault. However, bicyclists must follow most of the same traffic laws. Therefore, if a cyclist hits your car, they can be liable for damages. 

Does a Cyclist’s Auto Insurer Pay for Damages?

When a cyclist is at fault, their auto insurance policy will not pay for damages. However, if they carry homeowners or renter’s insurance, their personal liability coverage can pay for your vehicle repairs and any injury expenses up to policy limits. If not, your only option is to file a lawsuit directly against the cyclist unless you have collision insurance. Collision coverage is an optional form of auto insurance that will pay for accident expenses regardless of who was at fault. However, you will have to pay your deductible unless you can recover compensation from the cyclist. As long as you were not to blame, your insurance rates should not increase.

How Comparative Negligence Can Impact Your Claim

Before collecting compensation from a cyclist or their insurance company, you must prove they were at fault. Under California’s pure comparative negligence law, each party is assigned a percentage of the blame, and your compensation can be reduced if you contributed to the collision. For example, if you sue a cyclist and are awarded $25,000 for damages, but the court finds you were 15% at fault, you can only collect 85% of your award or $21,250.

How To Hold a Cyclist Responsible for Hitting Your Car

There are several critical steps to take to ensure you can hold a cyclist responsible after they hit your car.

  1. Call 911 if anyone needs emergency medical care. The cyclist is more likely to be injured than you unless they caused you to swerve and hit another vehicle or object. If no one needs medical care, still notify the police so an accident report can be made. 
  2. Document the scene as much as possible by taking photos and videos of the area, where the vehicle and bicycle came to rest, the damage to your car and the bike, any signs or debris, etc. Refrain from discussing fault with the cyclist. Something you say can unintentionally hurt your claim, even if it is only “sorry.” 
  3. Exchange contact information with the cyclist and ask for their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy information if they have it. If there are any witnesses, ask for their contact information and if they are willing to make a brief recorded statement on your phone. Objective witness statements can heavily influence an insurance adjuster’s decision on fault. 
  4. Notify your auto insurance company, and ask if you have collision coverage if you are unsure. If anyone is injured or the vehicle damage exceeds $750.00, you must report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days.
  5. Call the cyclist’s homeowners or renters insurance company to file a claim. 

Lastly, consult a Fresno Bicycle Accident Attorney for advice on handling your claim. They can ensure you recover the compensation you deserve.