A bicycle rider was severely injured in an accident on a rainy day in California. A car pulling into a parking lot was struck broadside by the Los Angeles bicyclist. The police charged the cyclist because:
- 1. the bike rider was not riding in the marked bike lane
- 2. the bike rider was riding on the sidewalk
- 3. the bike rider was going the wrong way (against traffic)
- 4. the bike rider did not have lights, reflectors or even a helmet
However, the driver contacted Virginia bike injury lawyer Doug Landau of the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. because of the possibility of a future liability lawsuit. While people sue for all sorts of reasons, and filing a personal injury lawsuit is not prohibited in many cases, the real question is would the plaintiff prevail in a court of law. Landau assured the worried motorist that this case would be dismissed in Virginia, and probably not even be filed because of the doctrines of Assumption of the Risk, Contributory Negligence, and because the cyclist would be found to be "at fault."
In states where the plaintiff must be found to be less than 50% responsible for an accident, the injured cyclist could try to proceed. However, even if successful, the judge would reduce the verdict by the percentage responsibility, as is the case in matters Doug Landau has successfully concluded in New Jersey (i.e., if the verdict is for $100,000, and the jury finds the injured plaintiff 35% to blame, the judgment is reduced to $65,000). These states, unlike the Commonwealth of Virginia (where the fault of the parties are NOT compared) are referred to as "comparative fault" jurisdictions. Lastly, in jurisdictions like California and New York, the cyclist can bring a lawsuit, and potentially win a verdict even if the defendant driver was only 30% "at fault" for causing the crash, and cold collect 30% of the verdict. So, in this case, the injured biker could bring a lawsuit but the chances of winning are slim, and the resultant verdict would likely be reduced by the trial court. If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of a car, truck, bicycle or motorcycle crash and there are questions about what laws apply, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once.