Virginia drivers who cause injury to bicyclists usually try to claim that the bicyclist committed contributory negligence. In other words, they try to say that the accident and injuries were the fault (or at least partial fault) of the cyclist in order to reduce the likelihood that driver will be liable for the bicyclist’s injuries and other financial damages. With children and bicycle accidents, though, the issue of contributory negligence is slightly different than with adult bicyclists.
Generally, drivers are held to a higher standard of care when it comes to sharing the road with child pedestrians and bicyclists. Drivers have a legal obligation to operate their vehicles more cautiously in the presence of children, or in areas where children are likely to be present. This is because children do not have the same capacity to avoid a car crash as adults do, and therefore, drivers need to be more careful around them.
A child might suddenly dart out into traffic on a bicycle, make a turn in front of an automobile or simply lose control of his bicycle. Since children are more likely to engage in this kind of unpredictable behavior, drivers need to be on high alert and they have a legal obligation to do so.
For these reasons, when drivers try to claim contributory negligence as a defense in a child bicycle crash, the defense has a much higher likelihood of falling flat. With appropriate legal arguments, an in-depth understanding of the law and the facts of the case at hand, it may be possible to undermine such a defense when an injured child is involved.
Source: FindLaw, “Child bicycle accident liability,” accessed Sep. 18, 2015