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Salt Lake City Bicycle Accident Attorney

Biking around Salt Lake City is a favorite pastime and method of commute for hundreds of locals. Bicycling provides fresh air, exercise, and savings in fuel costs. Unfortunately, it also comes with significant risks. The unique infrastructure of Salt Lake City – namely, extremely wide streets – makes it dangerous for bicyclists. Despite the city’s efforts to install bicycle lanes to create “complete streets,” bikers still face significant risks of collisions every time they hit the road. Contact a Salt Lake City personal injury attorney at Fielding Law if you recently suffered injuries in a bicycle accident in Utah.

How Serious Can Bicycle Accidents Be?

Luckily, the majority of bicycle accidents do not result in victim death. This does not mean, however, that they don’t result in serious and catastrophic injuries. Even a “minor” collision can result in broken bones or head injury. To put these traumatic events into perspective, here are a few facts about bicycle accidents in Utah:

  • In 2015, motor vehicles struck 686 bicyclists in Utah. These collisions resulted in 635 reported injuries, including broken bones, lacerations, road rash, and head/brain injuries. The cost of hospitalization for injured bicyclists in Utah is about $2 million per year. Stated differently, at least 92.6% of bicyclists who were struck by a vehicle resulted in injuries to the bicyclist.
  • Five bicyclists died on Utah’s roadways in 2016. Five bicyclists suffered fatal injuries in collisions with motor vehicles throughout the state. Bicyclists represented 1.8% of the total number of crash-related fatalities that year.
  • Bikers ages 15 to 19 represented the greatest age group involved in bike collisions in 2015. The age group “20-24” represented the second greatest. Overall, 63% of bicyclists in collisions in Utah were under the age of 35.
  • More than half (53%) of vehicles that struck bicyclists were turning at the time of the collision. Failure to yield the right-of-way was the number one contributing factor of drivers in Utah collisions, making up 41%.
  • Around the U.S, bicyclists represent 2% of all traffic deaths and crash-related injuries. Men are more at risk of fatal bicycle accidents than women.

Bicycle accidents can result in significant medical costs, missed time at work, and damage to your bicycle – not to mention the personal costs of physical pain and emotional suffering. Many bicyclists find it difficult to overcome the trauma of a collision and are afraid to get back on their bicycles. You may be able to recover for your economic and non-economic damages after a bike accident in Utah through a personal injury claim.

Utah Biking Laws

If bicyclists and motorists obeyed the rules of the road, the number of collisions would drastically decrease. In Salt Lake City, a bicycle is a “vehicle” in the eyes of the law. Utah Code Section 41-6a-1102 states that bicycles have all the rights and responsibilities of operators of other vehicles. Bicycles must obey traffic signals and stop signs and signal their intent to turn using hand signals. They must ride in the same direction as traffic, as close to the right-hand side of the road as possible. Bicyclists may not ride more than two abreast with other bicycles.

For police to consider a bicycle street legal, it must have a white headlight visible for at least 500 feet, as well as a red reflector or taillight visible from the same distance. The bicycle must have a braking system that can stop the bike within 25 feet while traveling at 10 miles per hour. In Salt Lake City, wearing a bicycle helmet is optional. Utah is one of 29 states with no law pertaining to bicycle helmet use. Every biker has a responsibility to obey all applicable roadway rules. Breaking a bicycle law could place at least a portion of liability for a subsequent accident with the bicyclist.

What Are My Options for Financial Recovery After a Bicycle Accident?

If a driver strikes you while riding a bicycle in Salt Lake City, odds are you can recover through the driver’s vehicle insurance company. Insurance minimums in Utah require drivers to carry coverage in the event of such a collision. Filing a claim through the driver’s insurer should result in a settlement offer to cover your medical expenses and property damage. There are some circumstances, however, where an insurance settlement might not be your best option. In the following scenarios, you may want to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit:

  • The insurance company denies your claim. If the driver denies fault or the insurance company denies your claim, a personal injury lawsuit may be your best option for recovery. If the driver was negligent in some way that caused your crash, you likely have grounds for a civil lawsuit.
  • The driver does not have adequate insurance. In this case, you may be able to recover through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance. The same is true if a driver flees the scene. You could also sue the driver if he or she has the means to pay a court-ordered settlement. This might be the case if the driver was the on-duty employee of a company.
  • You suffered catastrophic or disabling injuries. For serious injuries, consider a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury suits almost always result in greater compensation than insurance claims. An attorney can help you decide which option is most appropriate in your particular case.

As the victim of a bicycle accident, you may have more than one option available to you in terms of financial recovery. The driver’s insurance company and/or a third party could be liable for covering your damages. You may need to seek recovery from your own insurance company or through a personal injury lawsuit. A conversation with a personal injury lawyer at Fielding Law in Salt Lake City can help clarify your specific legal opportunities.

How Much Is My Bicycle Accident Case Worth?

It is natural to ask how much you could be eligible for when considering bicycle accident recovery. No two bicycle accident claims will have the same damages or recovery opportunities. Therefore, no universal equation for calculating exact damages exists. While no attorney can guarantee a compensation amount, there are ways to estimate about how much your claim could be worth based on your losses. First, consider your economic, or special, damages. These are losses with exact values, such as your medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. Add these losses up to calculate economic damages.

Next, think about your non-economic, or general, damages. Did the bicycle accident cause you physical pain, emotional suffering, mental anguish, lost earning capacity, or lost quality of life? These damages are more difficult to quantify. What the court deems appropriate will depend on the impact your injuries have on your life. Permanent injuries are worth more, as are injuries to children. The Utah courts may use a few different methods to calculate non-economic damages. A common equation is to multiply the cost of economic damages by a number between one and five, with five representing the most severe damages.

How Do I Know I Need an Attorney After a Bike Accident?

The decision to retain an attorney may not come easily to someone experiencing his or her first personal injury accident. A bicycle accident victim may question the benefits and drawbacks of working with a lawyer, or consider self-representation. At Fielding Law, we are happy to talk with you during a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your options. By experience, however, we can tell you at least five circumstances in which you will definitely want to contact an attorney. They are as follows:

  1. You suffered damages. Bicycle accidents almost always result in personal injuries and/or property damages. These are compensable damages under Utah law and make you eligible for recovery (with the other elements the law requires for a claim). The more serious your injuries, the more you need an attorney to represent you during insurance negotiations or a jury trial.
  2. Someone else was at fault. If you have evidence, or at least a strong suspicion, of someone else’s negligence in causing your bicycle accident, you likely have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. “Negligence” is any action or failure to act that breaches the accepted standards of care for the situation. Broken roadway laws such as drunk or distracted driving typically constitute negligence.
  3. An insurance company denied your claim or offered less than what you lost. Dealing with a driver’s insurance company after a bike accident can be difficult. The insurer may try to offer much less than your claim is worth or deny the claim altogether. In these situations, contact an attorney to take over negotiations with the insurance company. Leaving this task to a lawyer can improve your chances of a fast and fair settlement.
  4. You want to sue the city. At Fielding Law, we’ve seen bicycle accident cases where Salt Lake City serves as a defendant. This might be the case if the cause of the accident was a defective roadway condition, malfunctioning traffic light, or the infrastructure of the roadway. Suing the city is possible, but it’s also difficult. Retaining an experienced attorney may be the only way to get the civil courts to hear your case.
  5. You want to learn your rights and options. After a bicycle accident, several parties may contact you. You might hear from the driver of the vehicle who hit you, his/her insurance company, a third-party claims adjuster, and collectors regarding medical bills. To get a clear, honest professional opinion about where you stand and how to proceed, contact an attorney. A single conversation can give you considerable peace of mind.

At Fielding Law, our attorneys are here to help. We specialize in bicycle accidents as one of our practice areas, and we offer aggressive and detailed legal services tailored for these cases. We have a high client satisfaction guarantee. If you need a lawyer you can trust to always put your best interests first, come to our Salt Lake City firm. We are friendly and honest attorneys who are willing to do everything we can to help you after a bike accident. Schedule a free consultation – call (801) 666-2912 or submit our online client intake form, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.