In California, as in other states, drivers have what’s called a duty of care to all road users. This duty is even greater when it comes to children, particularly child bicyclists. Unfortunately, in the majority of accidents between cars and bicyclists, the latter are children.
As part of that duty of care, drivers are supposed to be alert and cautious, always expecting that a bicyclist will, for example, suddenly dart into the street. Drivers must also take care not to speed or do anything else that might frighten the bicyclist. If drivers know that a certain area is frequented by children, they must be more attentive and ever ready to brake to a stop. Residential areas, school zones and parks are just a few examples of such areas.
Just as drivers have an increased duty of care near children, kids are held to a lower standard concerning the reasonableness of their behavior. This state holds to the “tender years” doctrine, which means the legal concept of negligence cannot be applied to very young children. This exemption may be extended even to young teens.
Therefore, drivers blamed for a crash with a child bicyclist cannot claim that the child was at fault. If they do, they must show that the child was capable of employing care for their safety.
The parents of a child injured while on their bicycle may file a claim to be reimbursed for losses, such as medical bills and pain and suffering. Bicycle accident cases are not something to handle on one’s own, so it may be a good idea to have a lawyer give advice and guidance at each step. Once the settlement negotiations with the insurance company begin, the lawyer can speak on the parents’ behalf.