According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, California leads the nation in bicyclist fatalities each year. This makes it essential for you to know what your rights and responsibilities as a bicyclist on the roadway are, in case you are involved in an accident. If you are involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, the liability for the crash can depend on many different variables.
California law states that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. This means that if you are involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, liability for the accident is determined by who failed to abide by the laws governing your vehicles. As a bicyclist, there are certain laws that govern your behavior on the roadway, just as regular motor vehicles must abide by all traffic laws. In most cases, the parties who are found to be guilty of violating one or more laws may be found legally liable for your damages as the injured party. If both you and the other party are guilty of violating one or more traffic laws, you may share liability for the accident, which will affect any reward for damages you may receive.
The California Bicycle Coalition lists many of the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists in California, each of which can affect your liability in an accident. You must wear or have affixed to your bike a red reflector to be visible at all times from the rear. You must also have a white or yellow reflector on each pedal, your ankles or your shoes. Additionally, you must wear or affix to the front of the bike a white headlight to ensure that you are visible from that angle. If you fail to abide by one or more of these responsibilities, it may increase your liability and complicate your claim. It is important to remember that every case is unique, and this information is only intended for educational purposes.