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Can I Still Recover Compensation if I Was Partly Responsible for a Bicycle Accident in California?

Sometimes, in your bicycle accident, it may be a near certainty that one person was 100% to blame. Other times, the cause may be less clear and there may be more than one person who was responsible, including you. If you made some mistakes that led to your crash — in fact, even if you were the person primarily to blame for the accident — don’t let that convince you cannot recover compensation for the harm you’ve suffered as a result of that accident. Instead, be sure to reach out to an experienced Oakland bicycle accident attorney to find out about the legal options available to you.

Bicycle accidents, including fatal ones, are tragically common. In mid-January, a 54-year-old woman died in Concord after her bicycle collided with a vehicle along Port Chicago Highway, the Mercury News reported. Other than a statement from police that intoxication “did not appear to be a factor,” details about how the accident occurred were few.

Across the country in New York, a Brooklyn bicyclist died in late October after being struck by a minivan, according to the New York Daily News. Police said the minivan had the right of way, but witnesses at the scene said the van ran a red light, according to the report.

So what, you may wonder, should you do if you’re injured in a bicycle accident, especially if it’s one where the facts seem to point some of the blame at you? The answer is that you should proceed with all due speed to pursue your legal case just the same as if those negative facts didn’t exist.

‘Comparative negligence’ and what it means to your California injury case

There are lots of reasons why that’s true. One of the big ones is something called “comparative negligence” and California law. In some places, including Alabama, Washington, D.C., Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia, they do not follow the rules of comparative negligence. They follow a set of rules that say that, if you’re even a tiny bit at fault, then you can recover nothing for the harm you suffered. So, even if you were 1% at fault and the other driver was 99% responsible, you would get $0 for your injuries.

California, on the other hand, follows what’s called “pure comparative negligence.” That means that, even you were negligent — in fact, even if you were the person who was largely to blame for the crash — you can still get some compensation.

For example, say that you were involved in a crash and the police said that you ran a red light. Accident investigators found that the other driver was not speeding but was texting when the crash happened. Even if the court find that you were 80% responsible for the crash (and the other driver was 20% to blame due to driving distracted,) you can get an award equal to 20% of the damages that you prove you suffered.

So, if your evidence demonstrated that your total damages were $500,000, then you would still be entitled to recover 20% of $500,000, or $100,000. While $100,000 may not be $500,000, it is also certainly far more than $0 and can prove you with invaluable help during this trying financial time.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident, the law in California often may provide you more options for obtaining compensation than you would have imagined. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your case cannot be successful. Talk to the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch to get the answers and advice you need. Attorney Fuerch is an experienced Oakland bicycle accident attorney who has helped many Californians get the compensation they need. To learn more, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-2575 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.

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