It is unfortunately most common for a bicycle accident to involve a child rather than an adult cyclist. Children are, of course, more physically vulnerable to head injuries and drivers have an increased level of duty when they are driving in close proximity to a child cyclist.
However, at the same time, children are more likely to exercise bad judgment or be cycling dangerously. Therefore, it can be difficult to establish liability in a car accident involving a child cyclist.
Increased duty of care:What does it mean?
If you are the driver of a car, you have a duty to exercise reasonable caution when it comes to everything on the road, including looking out for the safety of other cars, pedestrians and cyclists. In the case of a child, especially a young child cycling, the driver must recognize that additional care must be taken. Drivers should recognize that children can make sudden decisions that are unsafe.
Does this mean that I am liable?
Just because you have a duty to exercise a greater amount of care when it comes to child cyclists, it does not mean that you are automatically guilty of negligence, and therefore, liable if an incident does occur. Your specific situation will be assessed carefully, and sometimes it will be concluded that there was nothing that you could have done as the driver to prevent the incident.
If you have been involved in an accident with a young cyclist, then it is important that you work to gather as many witness statements as possible in order to determine the cause of the accident. Police and medical reports are also helpful when dealing with insurance companies or seeking compensation through the civil court system.
Source: FindLaw, "Child Bicycle Accident Liability," accessed Dec. 22, 2017