Children's bike accidents are most often with motor vehicles, and the drivers sharing the road with children are obligated to exercise extra care. If a driver is traveling around schools, parks, and residential neighborhoods, he should be constantly looking out for children.
Any bicycle accident involving your child can be terrifying, and if your child is hit by a car, there are important first steps to take after the accident. While it’s often chaotic and confusing following any type of crash, knowing these important measures to take will help protect your right to compensation:
- Seek Medical Care. The first and most crucial step after a bicycle accident is to seek prompt medical care for your child. His injuries should be treated immediately, even if they seem minor. This not only ensures the best possible outcome for his injuries, it will provide documentation regarding the extent of his injuries should you need it for a lawsuit or settlement.
- Take photographs, and gather evidence. Take photos of your child’s injuries as soon as possible, as well as the entire accident scene. Leave the bicycle and any other damaged property just as it was after the accident. Write down as much information about the accident as possible.
- Call the police. You should report the accident to the police, even if you don’t believe your child has been injured. The child’s injuries might not be obvious right away, and injuries that appear minor sometimes develop into serious, ongoing problems. The police will document everything in a police report, which can prove very useful later in resolving any disagreements over what happened. If the police ticket the driver, this can also be very helpful in reaching a settlement with the insurance company.
- Ask for driver and witness contact information. Obtain the driver’s name, contact information, driver’s license, and insurance information. Also, try to get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Hire an attorney. Contact an attorney prior to communicating with insurance companies. Anything you say to the insurance companies may be used against you later. These types of cases are often complicated, so it’s wise to consult a personal injury attorney experienced with handling bicycle accident cases. Your attorney can advise you as to how to proceed, negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf, and represent you in a lawsuit.
The extent of the driver’s liability generally depends on whether or not he was negligent and if that negligence caused the accident. In Virginia, if an injured party is found to be even one percent at fault, he cannot recover any compensation for his injuries. This is due to the state’s contributory negligence rules.
However, there is a different standard for cases involving children. Children under the age of seven are considered to be incapable of negligence, as are children between the ages of 7 and 14—although it is possible to challenge the standard for this age group. And children over the age of 14 can be found negligent. To be guilty of contributory negligence, a child must be proven to have had the ability to understand the danger he faced, and his actions must have been similar to those of a reasonable person of the same age, intelligence, and experience.
Defendants in bicycle accident lawsuits frequently argue that the bicyclist’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident. However, children riding bicycles are held to a lower standard of care than adults driving cars. This doesn’t mean that drivers are automatically presumed negligent any time they have a collision with a child on a bicycle. If the driver has taken all of the precautions that could be expected, but he still couldn’t avoid the accident, the driver is unlikely to be found negligent.
You Need an Attorney
If your child has been hit by a vehicle while riding his bicycle, you deserve compensation for his injuries, and you need an attorney experienced with bicycle injury cases. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.