Imagine that you leave for work one morning and a burglar decides to break into your house. After scouting the property, he determines that the easiest way to enter the house is to drop in through the kitchen skylight onto the countertop. (Those of us without kitchen skylights should imagine, for the purposes of this anecdote, that we do.) The stealthy burglar scales a tree, crawls across the roof, pries the skylight open, and hastily drops into the kitchen. Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and cat burglars often go awry; he lands directly on a sharp steak knife that you left point-up in a bowl by the sink. Common sense dictates that the burglar is the perpetrator and you are the intended victim in this case, however, the burglar proceeds to sue you for the injuries he received in your home. A seemingly obvious relationship of criminal and victim is turned on its head. However, this does not mean that you lose your rights to file charges against the criminal for his unlawful break in, attempted burglary, and destruction of property.
The same logical principle can be applied to other situations in which a victim finds him or herself accused of some related wrongdoing. Just because you may find yourself facing a ticket or charge does not mean you lose the right to pursue a case and recover damages for an injury you may have suffered. This situation often arises in accidents involving a bicycle and a motor vehicle. If a bicyclist is hit by a car, one may think that the driver ought to be considered at fault while the cyclist ought to be considered the victim due to the obvious advantage of a V8 engine over a collection of gears and pedals. In the battle of car vs. bike, the car is probably going to win.
However, even if you are a bicyclist and get hit by a car, don’t be surprised if the situation is not as black and white as you think. As most regular cyclists are aware, there are traffic laws that pertain to bikes just as much as they pertain to cars. Cyclists on the street must ride with the flow of traffic, signal turns, and abide by all traffic signs and stop lights. In some cities, like Tempe, AZ, it is even against the law for a cyclist to ride against the flow of traffic on a sidewalk, or to ride on the sidewalk at all if there is a bike lane on the street. Just as in car crash cases, where a motorist may get a ticket for not having a valid inspection or emissions sticker, these citations may have nothing to do with the cause of the accident. The injured victim may still bring an lawsuit if the infraction was not "a cause" of the crash. In other words, just because you were issued a ticket, it does not mean that you cannot bring a claim for your damages if the other driver’s actions were the cause of the crash and your injuries.
If you are ever injured in a bicycle accident, it is wise to consult a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling car and bike crash cases to find out what your rights are. You may be able to get restitution that will help you cover medical expenses and other unforeseen complications from your injuries. Remember that just because a burglar sues a homeowner for his injuries does not excuse him from the laws he broke.