Bicycle accidents can result in serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Lawsuits to recover damages for injuries in bicycle accidents with automobiles involve many of the same issues as any auto accident lawsuit. Liability for bike accident injuries often comes down to negligence whether the car driver’s negligence caused the cyclist’s injuries, and whether any negligence by the cyclist caused or contributed to the accident.
Bicycle Accident Liability Basics
Cyclists and drivers are obligated to obey the rules of the road. These rules include traffic laws, as well as the duty to exercise ordinary care in regards to one’s own safety and that of others on the roadways. Like other vehicle accident lawsuits, bicycle accident lawsuits are governed by state law, and often informed by state and local traffic laws.
Negligence and Bicycle Accidents
When a cyclist sues to recover damages for injuries suffered in an accident with an automobile, the outcome often depends on two questions:
• Did negligence (or recklessness) on the part of the driver cause the accident and resulting injuries to the bicyclist?
• Did any negligence of the bicyclist cause or contribute to the accident?
Driver Negligence or Recklessness
Negligence by a driver can take many forms. For example, speeding, running a stop sign, and drifting into a bike lane all constitute driver negligence, or even recklessness if done with knowing disregard for the safety of others. In a lawsuit alleging negligence by another person, plaintiffs typically must prove that the defendant acted in a way that violated a duty owed to the plaintiff. In auto accident cases, this means violating the basic duty of care owed to everyone else on or near the roadways. Accident lawsuits come down to facts specific to the individual case, and often the ability of the plaintiff to prove negligence through eyewitness testimony or other evidence. In car accident cases, however, behaviors which constitute traffic violations can constitute “negligence per se.” This means that if a driver was cited for a violation such as speeding at the time of the accident, evidence of the speeding violation counts as evidence of negligence. The burden then shifts to the defendant to prove that he or she didn’t cause the plaintiff’s injuries. Whether a cyclist sues a driver, or a cyclist is sued for causing someone else injury, cyclist negligence can determine the outcome of the lawsuit. Examples of biker negligence include riding the wrong way on a one-way street, running a stop sign, and turning abruptly into traffic. Negligent cyclists may be unable to recover damages for injuries they suffer in accidents involving cars.
Such negligence is called contributory or comparative negligence, meaning that the cyclist’s negligence, at least in part, caused the accident to happen, and thus caused at least some of the cyclist’s injuries. If a cyclist rode negligently, and that negligence caused injury to someone else, the cyclist may be held liable for that person’s injuries. In accident cases involving children on bicycles, courts hold drivers to a higher standard.
Get Your Legal Claim Evaluated
Accidents involving automobiles and bicycles can involve serious injuries and large liabilities. Bicycle accident lawsuits often come down to whether the driver or the cyclist negligently caused or contributed to the accident. This negligence determination can be a complex and require in-depth analysis. If you or a loved one has been in a bike accident, you should consult with an attorney to best protect your rights. You can have an experienced law firm evaluate the merits of your claim.
Things To Do If You’re Involved In A Utah Bike Accident
The steps that you take after being injured in a Utah bike accident can significantly impact your rights to receive compensation for your personal injury and damages.
Contact the Police Immediately
After all traffic accidents, including a bicycle accident, you need to contact law enforcement to report the bicycle crash. Calling 911 is typically the quickest and easiest way to report a bike accident in Utah. The 911 operator can quickly dispatch emergency medical services and a police officer from the correct law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the crash scene. When a police officer arrives, provide a short statement regarding the facts that lead to the bicycle accident without accepting any fault for the bike crash. Until an injury attorney investigates the auto accident, it is impossible to know for sure whether you were partially to blame for the cause of the bicycle accident.
Document the Bicycle Accident Scene
While waiting for the police and EMS to arrive at the accident scene, try to document the accident scene, if you can do so safely. Take photographs and record video of the bicycle accident scene immediately after the bike crash. This can provide crucial evidence for proving fault and liability. Try to capture all the details of the accident, including the position of the motor vehicle, your bicycle, and the surrounding area. Also, ask bystanders and eyewitnesses if they are willing to provide a statement. If you can record the statement on your cell phone, that could be helpful. Always make sure that you ask witnesses for their names and contact information. The police officer may not speak with everyone at the accident scene, and some witnesses leave the scene of a vehicle accident before police officers arrive.
Seek Medical Attention As Soon as Possible
Receiving prompt medical attention is important for your health and your personal injury case. Because you cannot be 100 percent sure that you did not sustain serious injuries, it may be best to allow yourself to be transported to the hospital by ambulance. Refusing medical treatment or transportation to the emergency room is typically noted in the police officer’s accident report. If you do not go directly to the hospital after a bicycle accident, see a doctor as soon as possible. To recover compensation for a Utah bicycle accident claim, you must prove that the driver of the motor vehicle was responsible for causing the bike accident. You must also provide medically verifiable proof that you sustained injuries as a result of the bicycle crash with a motor vehicle. Insurance companies like to use your actions against you. If you experience any delay in seeking medical treatment, fail to follow up with doctors, or fail to follow a medical treatment plan, they will use that as an excuse to deny or undervalue your claim. The insurance company will allege that the personal injury case is not valid or strong because a victim would have sought medical treatment if he or she were truly injured in a Utah bike accident. That’s why you should always visit a health care provider immediately after a bike accident. Follow through with your medical treatment until your doctor releases you from care. Failure to follow through with medical care could result in a lower settlement amount for your personal injury claim.
How much is my bicycle accident case worth?
Working with an injury attorney can help you receive the maximum compensation available by law for your personal injury claim. However, the value of insurance claims depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to:
• Whether you are partially at fault for the cause of the accident
• The severity and type of your injuries
• The amount of your financial losses and expenses
• How long it took you to recover from your bicycle injuries
• Whether you sustained permanent impairments or disabilities because of the crash
• The availability of insurance coverage for your accident claim
In most bike crash cases, when the driver of a motor vehicle is at fault for the collision, the bicyclist is entitled to receive compensation for economic losses and noneconomic losses (pain and suffering).
Examples of economic or financial losses include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other out-of-pocket expenses related to the crash or the rider’s injuries. Noneconomic or pain and suffering damages refer to your physical pain, scarring, emotional distress, disabilities, permanent impairments, mental anguish, and loss of quality of life.
What Are My Rights as a Bicyclist in the Event of an Accident?
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle, you might be entitled to compensation under Utah personal injury laws. The same laws that protect accident victims in traffic accidents protect cyclists who are injured by a car, truck, or motorcycle. If the driver of the motor vehicle caused the accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your physical injuries, financial losses, and emotional distress. You are also entitled to compensation for property damage to your bicycle, which could total thousands of dollars for some riders, and any other personal property damaged in the accident. However, you must prove that the driver’s actions, omissions, or other wrongdoing was the cause of the bicycle accident. A Utah bicycle injury attorney takes several steps to protect your legal rights after a bicycle accident including but not limited to:
• Investigating the bicycle accident, including gathering evidence from the accident scene; searching for videos (i.e. traffic cameras, surveillance cameras, etc.) and interviewing eyewitnesses
• Working with your medical providers and doctors to determine the extent of your injuries, including permanent impairments
• Documenting financial and noneconomic damages
• Filing an insurance claim with the driver’s insurance provider
• Researching applicable Utah bicycle laws, personal injury statutes, and traffic laws to prove fault
• Working with experts and accident re-constructionists, when necessary, to prove fault
• Protecting you from insurance tactics used to lower the value of your bicycle accident claim, such as pressuring victims to provide statements, sign medical release forms, and accept settlements that are much lower than the value of your claim.
Drivers owe a duty of care to bicyclists to avoid causing accidents. For example, motorists should avoid dangerous driving behaviors, such as distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding, and drowsy driving, which can increase the risk of a traffic accident. However, bicyclists must obey Utah traffic laws and Utah bicycle laws. A favorite insurance tactic used by many insurance companies is to blame the rider for the accident. If the insurance company can blame the rider for any portion of the bike crash, Utah’s comparative negligence laws allow the bicyclist’s compensation for the accident to be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the cyclist. A personal injury attorney can help you fight these allegations to protect your legal rights after a bicycle accident in Utah.
When Can You Seek Legal Compensation for A Bicycle Accident?
You have the right to seek legal compensation for a bicycle accident whenever you sustain injuries or damages in a bicycle crash caused by another party. A Utah bike accident attorney can provide the legal advice, support, and guidance you need after being injured in a bicycle accident.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bicyclists crashing into automobiles are a common cause of bike accidents. Each year in Utah, on average, nearly a thousand cyclists are injured and seven are killed. Most states with high motor vehicle/bicycle fatality rates are in the Sun Belt – Florida, Arizona, and Nevada are all ranked highly. Utah, with its plenitude of days with sunshine and avid outdoors enthusiasts, is ranked #10. Children and teens make up by far the largest proportion of victims of vehicle/bike crashes – those age 10 to 14 are the most likely to be hit by a large margin. Unfortunately, reported rates of helmet use are particularly low among young bicyclists. In 2003, adults wore helmets at eight times the rate of secondary school students. Certain risk factors make it less likely that a teen will wear a helmet: use is significantly lower among males, in rural areas, and in neighborhoods and at schools with a lower socioeconomic status. However, adult men are more likely to wear a helmet than adult women. Utah has no legislation requiring the use of helmets. Laws and education are significant in promoting proper helmet use.
What Causes Bikers to Crash?
• Bicycle rider using the wrong side of road
• Auto driver making unsafe left or right turn
• Bicyclist riding from driveway or sidewalk into path of car
• Auto driver opening door as bicycle passes
• Bicycle rider weaving, leaving edge of road or bike lane
• Bicyclist making unsafe left turn
• Bicycle without headlight or reflectors
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506