Proving Fault in New Orleans Bicycle Accidents: Key Factors to Consider

Proving Fault in New Orleans Bicycle Accidents: Key Factors to Consider
Bicycle Accidents |April 13th, 2023

Sheng Du was awarded a $20 million settlement after riding his bicycle into an open construction trench on Sorrento Valley Road in 2017. The plaintiff suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down. This injury occurred when Du’s bicycle tire hit an open trench in a poorly designed bike lane on the south side of Sorrento Valley Road. He also claimed that the companies should have put lights, warning signs, or cones in place to alert cyclists to the open trench.

The City of San Diego paid him $1.5 million, and two road construction companies — Harris & Associates, Inc. and KTA Construction, Inc. paid $18.5 million. The settlement from both companies includes $4.25 million from KTA Construction, Inc. and $14.25 million from Harris & Associates, Inc.

Due to his injury, Du is incapable of fathering a child. Therefore, Du and his wife, Yun-Hua Chiang, (co-plaintiff) will share the compensation.

According to the National Center for Disease Prevention, about 1,000 cyclists are killed across the U.S., and there are over 460,000 injuries resulting from bike accidents. These accidents lead to lifetime medical costs of over $10 billion. As the number of people taking bicycles has increased in recent years, so have the numbers of those killed or injured in accidents.

A victim of a bicycle accident has to consider several factors when proving fault on the plaintiff’s side. Any of them may influence the settlement of the case in court.

The Traffic Rules

Different roads in New Orleans have varying rules for both drivers and cyclists. Many towns have designated cycling sections and speed limits for car drivers. Violations of these and other laws, such as running a stop sign or failing to yield, may be used to establish fault in a bicycle accident case. If one party violated a traffic law and caused the accident, they may be held liable for damages.

When presenting their case in court, the defendant should emphasize that the party at fault violated specific rules, which may have led to them hitting the victim or causing other problems on the road that led to the accident. 


Negligence refers to the failure of a person to take reasonable care, resulting in harm to another person. Should the plaintiff have taken reasonable care, the accident would not have happened, or the extent of the injury or damage would have been far less than it played out. In a bicycle accident case, negligence may involve actions such as texting while driving, failing to check blind spots before turning, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The plaintiff must show that the other road user had a duty of care, breached that duty, and that the breach caused the accident and resulting injuries to prove negligence.

Road conditions

There may be hazards on the road, such as potholes, loose gravel, or uneven surfaces, which can contribute to bicycle accidents. It is the work of the municipality or local authority to maintain the roads and other infrastructure that is required to ensure smooth riding and road use. If the condition of the road contributed to the accident, the municipality or property owner responsible for maintaining the road might be held liable for damages.

In some cases, the victim of a bicycle accident may sue the municipality along with the party that caused the accident when it is evident that the poor maintenance of the infrastructure or lack of safety features such as road markings and signs may have contributed to the accident. However, this excludes natural disasters like a storm or fallen trees that damage or block the road.

Witness testimony

Witnesses who observed the accident can provide valuable testimony regarding what happened. The court needs to reconstruct the events that led to the accident, and it is the work of the defendant to bring up a vivid visualization of these events. Witness testimony can help establish fault, especially if there are conflicting accounts of the accident. It is crucial to obtain witness contacts if the victim is not severely injured, and request that they support the case against the plaintiff.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence takes into account the degree to which each party contributed to the accident. Louisiana’s negligence law is contained in Civil Code Article 2315, which stipulates that each party shall be obliged to take responsibility for their part of the fault. If both the plaintiff and the defendant were negligent to some degree, the court may apportion fault and reduce the plaintiff’s damages accordingly.

When the defendant proves that the plaintiff owes them a duty to exercise reasonable care, the plaintiff may show that the defendant breached the duty by acting in a given way or not acting at all. In addition, the plaintiff must prove the breach of duty caused by the defendant (the victim in the case of the bicycle accident) is both a factual and legal cause of the accident.

Assumption of Risk

If the plaintiff engaged in an inherently risky activity, such as participating in a high-speed race or riding off-road, they may have assumed the risk of injury and may not be able to recover damages for injuries sustained during the activity. The court may seek to establish the speed at which the rider was biking and any other activities that may have put them at risk and contributed to the accident.

Expert opinion

Bicycle Accident Law

In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain an expert opinion to determine fault in a bicycle accident. Accident reconstruction specialists can analyze the physical evidence at the scene to determine how the accident occurred. They may provide reliable insight into negligence, violations of rules, and wrong decisions that may tip the scales in favor of the plaintiff. Medical experts can provide testimony regarding the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. These medical records may also help determine the likely compensation for the injuries, pain, loss of income, and lifetime care.

Proving fault is vital when seeking compensation for bicycle accidents in New Orleans. The plaintiff must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the other party caused or contributed to the accident. Contact Alvendia Kelly & Demarest today at 504-200-0000 to schedule a free consultation.