A cyclist’s worth nightmare: getting hit by a car. If you or a loved one is unfortunate enough to have this nightmare become a reality, please do not hesitate to contact one of our qualified attorneys at King Law. At King Law, our skilled Personal Injury attorneys understand how stressful this situation is and will work tirelessly to get you the compensation that you deserve. We take a personalized approach to every case to ensure every client gets the best representation possible for the charges they face.
Negligence Cause of Action
Negligence is defined as a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. To successfully bring a negligence cause of action against someone else, the Plaintiff in a lawsuit must allege and prove five elements:
3. Actual Cause
4. Proximate Cause
5. Actual Harm
For instance, if you are hit by a car while riding your bike, you would have to prove the following things. First, the driver of the car had a duty to operate their vehicle in a way reasonable and prudent person would to avoid hitting you in the same or similar circumstances. Second, the risk of harm to the biker was foreseeable, and a reasonable and prudent driver would have acted to avoid that risk. Third and fourth, the accident would not have happened if it were not for the driver’s actions, and that the harm fell within the scope of the risk of the driver’s actions. Finally, the harm that resulted from the accident needs to be actual, which in the case of a bicycle accident is almost certainly going to be the case.
That said, even if you can prove all of that, it does not mean that you are necessarily going to recover all of the monetary damages from the accident as compensation. In response, the Defendant may be able to raise the defense of contributory negligence. A Plaintiff is liable for being contributorily negligent when their actions contribute to the accident, such that they are partially at fault for their harm.
Today, most states operate on a system called “comparative fault” where a jury is tasked with apportioning fault to each party in the instance that they both contributed to an accident. So, for instance, in the bike-car accident scenario, a jury could determine that the driver was 70 percent at fault while the biker was 30 percent at fault if it was the case that the biker was partially at fault for the accident that harmed them.
With that said, North Carolina is one of the few remaining states that maintains the traditional contributory negligence standard whereby if a cyclist is partially at fault for the accident, then they are completely barred from recovering. This means that if the cyclist is even only 1 percent responsible for the accident, they would not be able to recover any compensation in damages if the opposing party raised the defense of contributory negligence.
The Importance of Bike Lights
As a result, North Carolina’s traditional contributory negligence rule makes it of the utmost importance that all cyclists have lights on their bikes, especially when riding at night. Otherwise, even if the lack of bike lights only contributed 1 or 5 percent fault to the cyclist in an accident with a car, because of the North Carolina traditional contributory negligence rule, they would be completely barred from recovering any compensation for the accident from the driver, assuming of course that the opposing party has an attorney that is familiar with the North Carolina rule.
So, while it is unlikely that a set of bike lights is going to protect you from a distracted driver, they will save you later on in court when it comes time to get the compensation that you deserve. For this reason alone, a set of cheap bike lights is well worth the minor expense to avoid being completely prevented from recovering any amount of money to help pay for medical expenses, physical rehabilitation, or emotional distress.
King Law is here to help. If you or a loved one has been a victim of an accident, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of your next steps. The experienced Personal Injury attorneys at King Law understand your stress and are dedicated to supporting you through this challenging ordeal. Our attorneys are proud to serve their clients in North Carolina and South Carolina and help them achieve favorable outcomes for their cases. Our award-winning team has a proven track record of success and is committed to protecting your rights and delivering the best possible results. To learn more about how our legal experts can help you, give us a call at (888)748-5464 (KING) or fill out our contact form today.