A dark blue bicycle knocked off a suburban road after a collision with a white vehicle.

Utah is home to many gorgeous bike trails and opportunities for cycling adventures. Bicyclists may also ride in the city for exercise, convenience, or a desire to spend less time driving. Unfortunately, a negligent driver can cut your trip short if they strike your bicycle, causing injuries.

Bicyclists hurt in a collision with a car often have severe injuries, while the car’s occupants may have no or only minor injuries. On a bicycle, you don’t have access to the safety features offered by a car, such as seatbelts and airbags. However, there is one important step you can take to protect yourself if you’re ever hit by a car – wear a well-fitting bike helmet every time you ride (even for short trips). Studies show that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head and brain injuries by 63 to 88 percent.

Here are some other tips to stay safe on your bicycle:

  • Visibility is key. Make yourself as visible as possible by wearing bright or reflective clothing and adding reflective discs to your bike – sporting goods stores should have a good selection of these items. Salt Lake City law requires headlamps, rear reflectors, and taillights on bicycles for night riding. Often drivers hit bicycle riders not because they’re breaking any traffic laws but because they simply don’t see the bike until it’s too late.
  • Keep your bike in good shape. Regular maintenance can help prevent issues that may cause problems when you’re riding. Always check your tires, brakes, and lights before taking off.
  • Pay attention to local ordinances regarding bicycles. In Salt Lake City, bicyclists may ride on sidewalks designated downtown areas where sidewalks are kept clear for pedestrian traffic. In other areas, you can use the sidewalks but should pay attention to your surroundings. If there is heavy pedestrian traffic, it may be safer to ride elsewhere.
  • Make sure your bicycle is adjusted for your body size. Using a bike that’s too large or small can increase the risk of accidents and injuries. If you have kids who ride, check the fit on their bikes every few months.
  • Always keep your hands on the handlebars. If you need to carry items, put them in the bike basket or a backpack to keep your hands free so you can maneuver effectively in an emergency.
  • Avoid distractions the same as you would when driving a car. Don’t text, look at your phone, listen to music, or do anything that takes your focus away from where you’re going. Keep an eye on people, cars, or other cyclists around you, and always be aware of potential hazards in your path.
  • Check that your shoelaces are securely tied and tuck in your pant legs before riding, so they can’t get tangled in the bike chain.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic if you’re on or next to a road.

How Can a Salt Lake City Bicycle Accident Attorney Help You?

Being hit by a car while riding your bicycle can be very disorienting. Many people tell us they honestly don’t know what happened because it was very fast – one minute, they were on the bike, and the next, they were on the ground and in a lot of pain. Even if you do have a clear understanding of how the accident occurred, the driver may have a different opinion. If there aren’t any witnesses, it could be your word against theirs.

Then you have to consider the driver’s car insurance company. Even if the driver admits fault in the accident, their insurance adjuster could still try to blame the accident on you using Utah’s modified comparative negligence laws. Modified comparative negligence provides a framework for sharing fault between two parties in an accident or personal injury situation. Here’s a quick explanation:

  • The party that is at least 50 percent at fault cannot recover damages from the party that is less than 50 percent at fault. 
  • The lesser-responsible party can pursue damages from the party that is at least 50 percent responsible.
  • Any percentage of fault assigned to the lesser-responsible party is deducted from their damages. So if you were 15 percent at fault, you would lose 15 percent.

Now you can probably see why attempting to shift blame onto you would benefit the insurance company, even if their client admits fault. They can claim that you also made a mistake and reduce what they owe you – in some cases, significantly. In some situations, the insurance adjuster may even try to argue you were more than 50 percent at fault so they can avoid paying the claim altogether.

This is only one of several strategies an insurance company may use to avoid paying the compensation you deserve for your injuries. An experienced bicycle accident attorney can help you navigate the insurance company’s efforts to keep your money. We will immediately begin gathering evidence in your case and work tirelessly to show that you had no or minimal fault and that the driver’s insurance company is obligated to pay your claim.

When Should You Contact a Salt Lake City Bicycle Accident Attorney?

Ideally, the same day as your accident or as soon as possible. After a bike accident, you should call 911, report the accident, give your statement to the police, and get medical attention for your injuries. (Even seemingly minor injuries should be examined by a healthcare professional to ensure they aren’t more serious.) Once you’ve taken care of these steps, call an attorney about your accident right away. The sooner we start working on your case, the more likely we are to find crucial evidence that can help prove what really happened.

What If the Accident Was Your Fault?

As we discussed earlier, fault can be shared in Utah bicycle accidents, so even if you were at fault, it’s still possible the car driver was more at fault. Never assume you can’t collect damages because you know or suspect you made a mistake. Instead, contact an personal injury attorney in Salt Lake City to learn more about your options.

We also advise our clients to remember that they may only know some of the facts of their accident. We’ve met many bicyclists who believed they were in the wrong because they didn’t have other perspectives on the crash. When we investigate further, we sometimes find that the bicyclist had little or no fault in the matter despite thinking they did. Never admit to fault at the scene of an accident – you should answer the responding officer’s questions about what happened honestly, but it’s not necessary to speculate on fault.

You should also remember that a police report on your accident contains the officer’s opinion of how the accident happened and who was at fault. Frequently the officer has limited information and/or conflicting reports of what occurred, and they make an educated guess based on what they do know. It would be unfair to expect these guesses would always be correct. For this reason, we carefully review the police report (usually available within a week of the collision) with the injured person. If you disagree with the officer’s opinion or feel some of the facts are wrong, we can seek out more evidence and work to refute parts of the report.

What If the Driver Who Hit You Did a Hit-and-Run?

We understand how frustrating these situations can be, especially if the police cannot locate the driver. The more information you can give the officers about the car, the better, but sometimes it simply isn’t possible to see the driver’s license plate number or get more than a cursory description of the vehicle. In these situations, the case is often a dead end – the police simply don’t have enough to go on.

However, we encourage you to write down anything you do remember about the car and driver and contact a bicycle accident lawyer. Sometimes, our investigators can track down a driver the police could not find. If not, we will look for other ways to help you deal with the financial ramifications of your accident. For example, if you have car insurance that covers uninsured motorists, you may be able to use it for your damages in a bicycle accident. If there is a way to recover some or all of your damages, we’ll help you find it.

What If the Insurance Company Already Made You an Offer?

This is a sign that you have a strong case, and the insurance company adjuster wants to reduce their liability by offering you less than your claim is really worth. Never accept an insurance company offer until you’ve consulted with a bicycle accident attorney. In many situations, we find the offer substantially undervalues the injured person’s damages. If this is the case, we can negotiate with the insurance company for a better settlement to cover all your damages.

Let Our Salt Lake City Bicycle Accident Law Firm Help You

Please contact Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers at 801-810-9999 for a free consultation about your bicycle accident. We’ll review the accident report and ask about your recollection of what happened. If necessary, we can continue to investigate and gather evidence to use when negotiating with the insurance company. Our goal is always to help our clients get the compensation they need to recover and move forward with their lives.

Questions you might have in your mind

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Additional Questions?

We have helped many clients recover from injuries resulting from car accidents in West Valley, Salt Lake City, and the greater Utah area. We are here to help you recover after an accident. If you've been injured, don't hesitate to call Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. We have recovered millions for our clients and we are ready to fight for you.

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