Over the past few years, commuting to work via bicycle has been on the rise in cities across the country. It makes sense: bicycling is eco-friendly, good exercise, and generally cheaper than driving.
Bicyclists often share space with both cars and pedestrians, and with an increased amount of cyclists at high-traffic hours, there’s bound to be an increase in collisions and disputes between them and pedestrians. Such accidents can be legally tricky for both parties, too. Bicycles are considered vehicles but are often not insured the way cars are.
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle-pedestrian collision, the lawyers at Great West Injury Law can help answer your questions and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. In the meantime, read on to learn more about how these types of accidents are handled in Utah.
Determining the At-Fault Party In the Collision
Determining the fault of the parties in a bicyclist-pedestrian collision hinges on the specifics of the accident itself. The process is undertaken by juries, insurance companies, police, and lawyers at different stages, and, like any legal conflict, hinges on evidence. Evidence can range from witness and police statements, to security camera and dashcam footage, to the forensic facts of the accident, in order to determine which party violated their duty of care.
Duty of care refers to the responsibility of individuals to adhere to standards of practice while performing actions that might be able to harm others. It can differ from state to state and person to person, depending on the circumstances.
For pedestrians, duty of care can mean not stepping into bike lanes, being aware of traffic signals, and not being distracted while walking. For bicyclists, this can mean wearing a helmet, staying aware of your surroundings, and properly maintaining your bike for safe riding.
For example, if a pedestrian was texting and stepped into a bike lane without looking in either direction and is then struck by a bicycle, that pedestrian may bear most of the fault for the accident. Conversely, if a bicyclist takes a right turn without looking and crashes into a pedestrian who has right-of-way, the fault will fall on the negligent bicyclist.
How Fault Works in Utah
Utah is a no-fault state. This means that under Utah law, injured parties in an accident seek payment from their own insurance carrier for the first $3,000 of medical expenses regardless of who is considered at fault. If the injured party’s medical expenses go beyond $3,000 or they experience permanent impairment, the law allows them to pursue more damages from the other involved parties.
Crucially, Utah uses a modified comparative (50%) negligence system. This means that drivers can’t collect damages from other parties if they were 50% or more at fault. If they were less than 50% at fault, they can collect damages minus their percentage of fault. For example, if they were 30% at fault, they can collect for 70% of their damages after the first $3,000.
Under Utah law, a bicycle is considered a vehicle. Furthermore, lack of insurance is common in such accidents since one’s car insurance doesn’t come into play. Because of these factors, bicycle-pedestrian collisions often end up in court. This is where the skills of an experienced bicycle accident law firm can make all the difference.
Great West Injury Law Is Here to Help
As we mentioned, proving negligence and liability in bicycle-pedestrian collisions can be tricky. That’s why a great lawyer can make a difference in the amount of compensation you receive. If you’ve been in a bicycle-pedestrian accident and need help, reach out to the bicycle accident lawyers at Great West Injury Law. Contact us today for a no-fee consultation.