Who is at Fault in a Bicycle Accident with a Car in Utah?
While cars have the protection of being heavier, having sturdy walls and windows, and having safety gear like seatbelts and airbags, cyclists often have no protection beyond a helmet. Because of this, you may expect that cars are always responsible for accidents when the crash involves a bike and a car. However, the rules do not always work that way. If you were injured in a bike accident involving a car in Utah, talk to a Salt Lake City bicycle accident attorney. Darwin Overson of Overson Law, PLLC may be able to take your case, and help you fight to get your injuries compensated.
If You Were Hit by a Car on a Bike, who is Responsible?
Just because a car is bigger, heavier, and more dangerous than a bicycle does not automatically mean that the driver of the car is responsible for the accident. Sometimes the biker is actually the one who put themselves in danger, and the car had little control over the accident. Crossing the road without looking, excessive swerving, or even drunk bike riding could all be good justifications to determine that the cyclist is actually responsible for the accident – but the law is often more complex.
In Utah, the law does not require that one person is 100% responsible for an accident, and the victim is 0% responsible. Instead, Utah works on a “modified comparative negligence” system. This means that a victim can be partly responsible for their own injuries, and still recover from the other party. As long as a victim is less than 50% responsible for their own injuries, the other at-fault party can be required to pay compensation. However, the compensation will be reduced by the victim’s own percentage of fault. For instance, if the victim would normally have won $100,000 for their injuries, but the jury finds they were 10% liable for their own injuries, they instead win only 90% of the damages ($90,000).
Determining who is responsible, and what percentage of the fault they share, is a complex question. In deciding who caused an accident, juries look at both sides of the case, and assign blame based on the totality of the circumstances. For instance, while the driver of a car may have been driving in their lane when they hit a cyclist, they are still obviously at-fault if they were speeding. Even if the cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet during the accident, the driver of the car clearly is more responsible, since speeding is illegal.
Utah Bike Accident Laws
If you were injured in a bike accident, the question of fault may ultimately depend on Utah’s bicycle and traffic laws. First, helmets are not legally required. While you should always wear a helmet when riding a bike to prevent traumatic brain injury, it may not always hurt your case to ride without a helmet. Second, bikes are vehicles under Utah law. This means that bikes have an equal right to share the road with cars, and that cars must treat them with the same care they treat another car. It also means that cyclists must obey traffic signals, speed limits, stop signs, and must ride the right direction, ride on the right side of the road, and signal when turning and stopping. Failing to obey these rules could convince a jury you were at least partially responsible for the accident.
Third, cars can only pass bicycles on the road if they give the cyclist 3 feet of space. This prevents excessive pressure in the cyclist, and gives them room to maneuver. Along with this rule and the second rule, since bikes are vehicles, cyclists are allowed to use the entire lane if safe riding demands it. Lastly, however, bicycles should not ride on the sidewalk or in crosswalks. There may or may not be a bike lane or a bike trail where you ride, but adults are never allowed to ride on sidewalks or to use the crosswalk in an intersection. Doing so puts you in a position where you could be hit by a car whose driver is not expecting fast-moving vehicles in the crosswalk.
While breaking a law may convince a jury you are partly at-fault for the accident, it is not the only factor. If the car’s driver was also breaking the law, or was more at-fault, you should still be able to recover compensation for your injuries.
Bicycle Car Accident Insurance Claim
Utah is a no-fault car insurance state, which means you must first file with your own insurance company after a car accident. However, in accidents between a bicycle and a car, the cyclist would have no bicycle insurance. That means you may be able to file a claim against the car driver’s auto insurance, and seek compensation that way. Alternatively, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit in court. This may ultimately mean higher damages and may cover a broader range of damages. Talk to an attorney about your options for a bike accident claim.
Salt Lake City Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Salt Lake City personal injury lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson Law, PLLC may be able to help you seek compensation for your bike accident injuries. If you were in an accident involving a bike and a car, call (801) 895-3143 today for a free consultation on your injury claims.