Every year, tragic stories of bike accidents make the news in Utah. These cases involve riders of all ages, including children. Bicycles provide very little protection during crashes. Consequently, severe traumatic brain injuries and death are not unlikely. After a bicycle accident, it is crucial to act quickly to preserve evidence and file a claim.
What Is a Bicycle Accident?
You can refer to any accident involving a bicycle as a bike accident. However, it is worth noting that bicycles have come a long way over the past few years. The most recent development involves electric bikes. As the name implies, they have electric motors that propel them faster than other bikes. Some e-Bikes can reach over 30-plus miles per hour and several are now classified as electric motorbikes.
Modern-day bikes also cost significantly more than their predecessors. This is especially the case for e-Bikes. Some of these can cost more than the vehicles that collide with them. Naturally, in a fair claim, cyclists receive compensation for their bikes and injuries.
Consequently, you will need more than just an experienced attorney to tackle modern-day bicycle cases. You will also need an attorney familiar with local bike laws, including the gray areas that e-Bikes often traverse.
What Are Some Common Causes of Utah Bicycle Accidents?
The most common cause of bike accidents is negligence. This can take many different forms. However, it primarily comes down to whether the responsible party exercised the level of care a reasonable person should have under the circumstances.
For example, if a driver hits a cyclist while making a right turn, it is likely because the driver failed to notice the cyclist. In this case, the driver would be considered negligent. If the driver were speeding, this would also be considered negligence.
Here are some additional causes of bicycle accidents:
- Defective bike parts or bike malfunction
- Drivers deliberately scaring cyclists
- Poor road conditions
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
Any one of these factors can contribute to an accident. Often, it is a combination of several different factors.
What Are the Most Common Injuries in Bicycle Accidents?
The severity of injuries suffered in a bike accident will depend on many factors, including speed and whether the cyclist wore a good helmet. Nevertheless, some injuries are commonly associated with bike injuries.
Head-related injuries are some of the most serious following a bike accident. Risks are exceptionally high in cases where cyclists do not wear helmets. Some cyclists experience no head injuries at all, while others experience severe traumatic brain injuries. Some brain injuries can lead to severe disabilities or even death.
These are also common in bike accidents and often result in paralysis. Paralysis can severely limit a person’s ability to live a normal life or earn an income. For example, a gym instructor, coach, construction worker or waiter would need to change careers. The level of pain and emotional stress might make it difficult to work at all.
Fractures and Broken Bones
The lack of protection makes fractures and broken bones fairly common after bike accidents. The most common broken bones are in the extremities, such as the legs, arms and hands. Depending on the bones broken or fractured, it could take a long time before the person can return to work or resume a regular life. For example, a writer would have difficulty working after breaking the wrist.
A laceration is a deep cut that often requires stitches. Some lacerations can cause permanent scarring. This is a particular concern for facial lacerations. People with bleeding disorders are at the most significant risk from cuts.
Internal bleeding can occur after injury to organs, such as the liver or stomach. This type of injury is severe and can be fatal if not treated immediately. Even worse, there are not always obvious signs of internal bleeding, so it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
People handle accidents differently. Some cyclists get struck by cars in traffic multiple times throughout their lives and keep on riding. Others suffer one catastrophic incident and cannot get back on a bike without emotional distress. Even without riding, it can take some time for that PTSD to wear away. The risk of emotional trauma worsens when faced with severe injuries or long-term disabilities.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Injured in a Bicycle Accident?
There is no one wrong or right approach to bicycle accidents that accounts for every possible instance. Cyclists often lose consciousness and cannot act on their own. In other cases, cyclists have full consciousness but might not be able to move.
Regardless of the situation, the top priority is seeking medical attention. You might think you aren’t injured, but only a doctor can confirm that. After seeking medical care and getting released, you can start to gather evidence and look into your legal options.
If someone else’s negligence caused the accident, your attorney might recommend filing a claim against the responsible party to recover damages. The compensation you receive can help pay for both economic and non-economic damages.
Start gathering evidence as soon as possible to increase the chances of a successful claim. Taking photos of the scene, tracking down the police report and talking to witnesses are just some of the actions you can take. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you throughout the claims process.
How Does Utah’s No-Fault Insurance Policy Affect Claims for Bicycle Accidents?
Utah is a no-fault state when it comes to car insurance. This means drivers generally file claims with their insurance companies after an accident, regardless of who caused the crash. The insurance company then provides compensation for medical bills and lost wages.
However, this does not prevent you from filing a claim against the at-fault driver. You can still file a claim for pain and suffering, but you must meet specific criteria. Specifically, you will need to have suffered a severe injury, such as a broken bone, disfigurement or loss of limb.
The good thing about no-fault insurance is that you can reasonably expect an insurance company to pay for medical bills and other injuries via your auto insurance. There is, however, the possibility of your insurance company denying the claim. That could lead to a bad faith insurance claim. If you do not have auto insurance, you might still have medical coverage under another family member’s insurance policy.
What Happens in Utah Bicycle Accidents Involving Hit-and-Run Drivers?
Unfortunately, hit-and-run drivers are all too common. In Utah, it is a felony to flee the scene of an accident that resulted in injury, death or property damage. Sadly, this does not always stop drivers from running. Fortunately, if you are a hit-and-run victim, you can do a few things.
First, try to get the car’s license plate number if possible ― even if it’s just a partial. Second, call the police and file a report. Third, get medical attention as soon as possible. And finally, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.
Law enforcement and your personal injury attorney will look for all possible sources of evidence to determine what happened. These could include the following:
- Traffic cameras at intersections
- CCTV cameras from nearby businesses
- Dash cameras from passersby
- Testimonies from passersby
If law enforcement officers later determine who the driver is, that person will likely face both civil and criminal penalties for fleeing the scene. In the interim, PIP coverage from a qualifying auto insurance policy may pay for your injuries.
However, covering the cost of property damage might require a collision inclusion on your policy. Your home insurance policy might cover the bike. An experienced attorney can help you review all your options.
What Can a Bicycle Accident Lawyer Do for You?
A bicycle accident lawyer can help you in several ways. First, they can investigate the accident to determine who was at fault and what happened. They will also gather evidence to determine what happened and why.
In addition, a lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. This process includes dealing with the driver’s insurance company and your own insurance company if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Insurance companies often try to lowball victims, but a lawyer can help you get the maximum compensation you deserve.
Finally, a lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf, if necessary. This is usually only done if insurance companies are unwilling to offer a fair settlement. If you go to court, a lawyer will be by your side throughout the process.
Why Should You Choose Siegfried and Jensen?
Siegfried and Jensen has represented victims of bicycle accidents for over 30 years. We have recovered more than $1.2 billion in compensation for our clients and are not afraid to take on insurance companies. We understand the challenges you face as a cyclist. So, our team will do everything in our power to help you get the compensation you deserve.
It all starts with a free case evaluation, so we can help you determine the potential compensation.
We Will Fight For You and Your Family
When you team up with us, you can expect the best:
- We’ll answer your questions and address your concerns throughout the entire process.
- We’ll help you get what you need to recover your old life or adapt to a new one.
- We’ll pull together the information needed to build your case, including medical records, police reports, insurance policies, expert testimony, etc.
- We’ll make sure everyone plays by the rules and treats you fairly.
Contact Siegfried and Jensen today for a free, no-pressure consultation or for more information.