What Are Your Legal Options if You Hit a Bike Rider With Your Car
In this blog, The Rodriguez Law Group explains your legal options if you hit a bike rider with your car. Your legal options after hitting a bike rider with your car in Los Angeles are actually fairly limited.
Pursuant to state law, you are required to:
- Stay on scene
- Call 911 or otherwise render aid
- Make an official accident report to the DMV and CHP
The law clearly lays out what you must do if you injure someone while driving. What the law doesn’t explain, however, is the legal risks you are facing in the aftermath of a bike or pedestrian accident.
#1 Stay on Scene and Call 911
When you are involved in an accident while driving in Los Angeles, you have legal duties. Failing to meet all the legal requirements can lead to serious criminal charges, especially when someone was injured.
The most important duty is your duty to stay at the scene of an accident and render aid to the injured party. This means calling 911 at the very least. If injuries are minor, it could mean driving the bicyclist to the ER. You are also required to provide your contact information (including vehicle registration number) to the injured person and police.
If you fail to stay at the scene and provide reasonable aid, you could be charged with the crime of Hit and Run. A Hit and Run is a misdemeanor if there are only very minor injuries, punishable by up to one year in jail. For accidents involving serious injuries, you could face felony Hit and Run charges, punishable by up to four years imprisonment.
#2 Submit a Formal Accident Report
You are also required to formally report all injury-causing accidents to the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Highway Patrol. The CHP must receive your written accident report within 24 hours of the accident.
The report to the DMV can be made on the DMV’s website using the SR-1 Form. Even if you already made a police report, this form is still required. Failing to make this report to the DMV can lead to your driver’s license being suspended.
The SR-1 form does not ask for specifics about what caused the accident or who was at fault. It merely asks for all involved parties’ names and contact information, insurance information, and property damage. The lack of detail in the SR-1 Form largely protects you from incriminating yourself on the form.
Fortunately, California law strengthens your protection against self-incrimination on the SR-1 and California Highway Patrol accident reports. By law, the contents of the SR-1 and CHP Report cannot be used against you in court. The information is available to law enforcement and others in the accident, but it can’t be used at a trial.
To adequately protect yourself from civil and criminal liability, you should retain legal counsel and work with a lawyer to prepare the required written accident reports. Only your lawyer can properly advise you about what to say.
#3 Be Careful Not to Admit Fault & Call A Lawyer
While the SR-1 Form and CHP report cannot be used against you in court in Los Angeles, anything you say to the police or other witnesses can. After an accident involving injury, police will investigate what happened and ask everyone a lot of questions.
Something you need to be worried about is being charged with criminal negligence for your role in the accident or getting sued by the injured bike rider. Criminal negligence is a serious crime. Charges are likely if you injured someone by texting and driving, drinking and driving, or speeding.
While you are required to provide detailed contact information, driver’s license, insurance information, and vehicle information, you are not required to make incriminating statements. You have a right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment.
After calling 911, rendering reasonable aid, and giving all your information to police and the injured party, you can and should invoke your right to remain silent. It can be tempting to try to explain what happened or apologize. DON’T!
You might mistakenly blame yourself when it was clearly the biker’s fault! Likewise, you could accidentally say the wrong thing, leading to criminal charges. For instance, saying you are sorry is a common thing when someone is injured. However, apologizing may be used against you later as an admission of fault!