The Important Differences Between a California Bicycle Injury Lawsuit Against a Private Individual Versus One Against a Public Entity

The Important Differences Between a California Bicycle Injury Lawsuit Against a Private Individual Versus One Against a Public Entity

Bicyclists face a wide array of potential dangers on the roads. In addition to inattentive and/or unsafe drivers behind the wheels of private vehicles, there is also the risk posed by publicly owned vehicles like trucks and buses. If you've been hurt by a city, county, or state-owned vehicle, it's essential to understand that your case likely will be somewhat different than one where all the parties are private individuals. To make sure that you can secure just compensation, you should speak to a knowledgeable California bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible about your situation. 

The Important Differences Between a California Bicycle Injury Lawsuit Against a Private Individual Versus One Against a Public Entity

A public bus, owned by the Ventura County Transportation Commission, was implicated in a serious bicycle crash recently. The bicyclist, a 64-year-old man from Goleta, was pedaling legally down a city street in the mid-morning hours when the crash occurred. The westbound bus, while attempting to overtake the bicycle (which was also headed west,) contacted the bicycle's handlebars, causing the bicyclist to go down. 

The bus's rear wheels ran over the bicyclist, according to the police, causing major injuries to the bicyclist's lower body. 

If you're hurt in a crash, the number of people and entities who may be liable and owe you compensation varies based on certain details. If the driver was behind the wheel of their own car, truck, or SUV, and tending to personal matters, the array of parties who have potential liability may be narrow. Unless the investigation of the crash turns up evidence of defects within the bicycle or the vehicle, your actions will likely focus on the driver and/or their auto insurer. 

If the driver was driving an employer-owned vehicle (or driving their own vehicle but doing work for their employer,) then you may have a claim against the employer via a legal doctrine called "respondeat superior." When that's a private employer, the process for suing is largely the same as suing the driver. If the employer was a public entity, however, things are different. 

The California Tort Claims Act

If your case demands action against a public entity you likely will have to pursue compensation through a process laid out by the California Tort Claims Act. This statute creates some important differences between actions against public entities versus private ones. One crucial difference is that you have a much shorter time to pursue your case. If you were, for example, suing only private parties, you generally have two years to bring that claim. When you sue a public entity -- such as suing a county for injuries caused by a public bus -- the law says you have to "present" your claim to the entity within six months of the date of the accident. 

Ilya D. Frangos, Santa Barbara Bicycle Accident Attorney
Ilya D. Frangos, Santa Barbara Bicycle Accident Lawyer

The statute also lays out numerous other specific procedural requirements, all of which should be followed faithfully to avoid having your claim thrown out.
In other words, any case can be complex and can benefit from skilled legal representation. Knowledgeable counsel is especially vital, though, when your case involves special circumstances, like needing to seek compensation from a public entity. Whatever the specifics of your case, count on the experienced Santa Barbara bicycle accident attorneys at the law firm of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP to be by your side throughout the process and help you to get everything you deserve. Contact us at 805-617-1365 or through our website to get a free case consultation today.


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