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How are bicycle accidents different when children are involved?

When a vehicle strikes a bicyclist, there's a high chance of a catastrophic injury -- particularly if the car is traveling quickly. Furthermore, if the cyclist was obeying the rules of the road, there's also a chance that the cyclist can hold the vehicle driver financially responsible for his or her injuries.

But what if the cyclist was not obeying the rules of the road? What if the cyclist darts into traffic unexpectedly? In most cases, this fact could serve to diminish the liability of the vehicle driver or remove all liability from the vehicle driver. But that's not necessarily the case when the bike accident involves a child cyclist.

The driver's "duty of care" is higher in a child bicycle crash

Every driver has a legal obligation to follow the rules of the road and take reasonable precautions to prevent unnecessary harm to the people around them. This "duty of care" is even higher when children are present. That's because children lack the mental faculties, reasoning and decision-making skills to avoid getting hit by a car.

The lack of ability to avoid a crash on the part of children means that -- under state civil laws -- a reasonable motorist must take extra care to slow down and be more cautious and attentive whenever children are around. This applies in the cases of child pedestrians, children at play and child cyclists. Also, wherever children could be, motorists have the obligation to be careful.

Contributory negligence arguments don't hold as much weight against kids

Thus, when an adult breaks the law or rides a bike negligently or recklessly -- and gets into a crash with a motorist -- the legal defense of "contributory negligence" could apply. However, these defenses are less effective when a motorist strikes a child.

Did a motorist hit your child and cause a serious injury?

If your child suffered an injury in a bike versus vehicle crash, hopefully, he or she receives the best medical care available and will experience a full recovery. For help with the costs related to your child's medical care, you might want to investigate whether the driver who struck your child is liable to pay for damages.

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