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California Court of Appeals Issues a Surprising Ruling Against Injured Bicyclist

June 27, 2017


A California Appeals court recently entered a somewhat routine decision in a car accident case, but the ultimate holding may take some Californians by surprise. In the case, a bicyclist was involved in an accident with a car, which apparently caused injuries (the appellate decision did not discuss the actual claims in the case).

On the day of the accident, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident when his bicycle collided with the vehicle being driven by the defendant. The plaintiff stated that he could not remember what happened on the day of the collision. He could not recall what he saw or what color the light was just before the accident happened. However, the driver of the vehicle and two witnesses at the scene stated that the plaintiff’s bicycle entered the intersection on a red light, and the car had a green light when the driver entered the intersection. Thus, when the plaintiff filed a personal injury action against the car’s driver and its two owners, the trial court granted a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the defendants.

Regarding the evidence in the case, one of the witnesses stated that he had entered the crosswalk before noticing a bicyclist approaching very quickly and then entering the intersection, resulting in the accident. On the basis of this witness’ account, as well as the driver’s statement and the other witness’ statement, the police officer who responded to the accident stated his opinion that the bicyclist was responsible for the accident, and the trial court adopted that conclusion.

The plaintiff appealed the decision, arguing the trial court erred in excluding the declaration of a reconstruction expert. The expert made various claims, including that the plaintiff may have entered the intersection on a yellow light and that the pedestrian’s statement that the bicycle entered the crosswalk as he was about to walk may have been a result of a delay in processing, which could be attributed to a one-second delay in what actually happened. The expert apparently also claimed that in his opinion, the visibility on the street on the day of the accident was such that the driver of the car should have been able to see the bicyclist and could have slowed to avoid colliding.

However, the appeals court ultimately agreed with the trial court in its opinion that the declaration was inadmissible and that it lacked foundation and was based on speculation. The court thus affirmed the granting of summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

The court did not state how the outcome of the case might have differed if the plaintiff did have a memory of what had happened. It is unclear how the disposition may have differed if the plaintiff’s statement corroborated the reconstruction expert’s opinions.

If you've been injured in a biking collision, Carlsbad bicycle accident lawyer Zev Rubinstein can help determine the strength of your case and advise you on a strategy in order to seek the justice you deserve. If you've been in a Carlsbad bicycle accident and would like to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer, contact Zev Rubinstein today for a consultation. The Rubinstein Law Group proudly fights for the rights of accident victims from Oceanside, San Marcos, and Escondido, California.

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