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You were walking down the sidewalk when -- whoosh! boom! -- a cyclist zooms around the corner and into you. You fall, you are injured, and you want to sue. Can you?
Yes, you can sue a cyclist for negligence if you are injured and sustain damages. Negligence is generally a valid claim if you are injured by another, although whether a suit will succeed depends on whether you can prove all four elements of negligence.
There are four elements of negligence that work together to make a claim. For a suit to succeed, the plaintiff must prove duty, breach causation, and compensable harm (sometimes called damages).
In your case, you would have to first show that a cyclist owed you a duty of care and breached that duty. When we use public spaces, like streets or sidewalks, we all owe each other the standard of care of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances.
Arguably, the cyclist riding wildly on the sidewalk, unable to stop for a pedestrian, breaches that duty of care. Two elements of negligence are now accounted for, duty and breach.
Next you must show the cyclist caused your injury and that there was no unforeseeable intervening cause. Say the cyclist claims to have been on the sidewalk because cars were driving wildly -- fast cars on the streets are foreseeable and probably would not break the chain of causation.
But there is a question about damages, the final element of negligence. Even if you can prove that your injury resulted in compensable harm -- say, medical bills, time lost from work -- the cyclist may not make a great defendant.
Your claim may succeed and you may be awarded damages. But collecting a damages award from an individual can be much more difficult than from a business or another institution. Maybe your cyclist has deep pockets or great liability insurance. Maybe not.
If you or someone you know has been injured by a cyclist, or in any other context, consult with a lawyer. Many personal injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your claim.
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