When a collision occurs between a bike and a car, it’s difficult to determine who is at fault. Most people assume that the driver of the car is always at fault, but this isn’t always the case. Cyclists and drivers must obey traffic laws, and when either party fails in this duty, they may be liable for an accident.

All bicycle riders and drivers need to understand the rules of the road so they can know their basic liability in an accident.

When is a Driver Responsible for the Bike Collision?

Drivers need to know they have potential liability in a bicycle accident. Some of the most common situations in which a driver can be held accountable include:

  • Driving in the bike lane

If a driver is in the bike lane where there are other bicyclists, they must give at least 3 feet of space between them and their vehicle under Utah law. Failing to do so can make the driver liable for any damages related to their negligence.

  • Distracted driving

Any time a driver is distracted while driving and hits a cyclist, they may be held responsible for any injuries sustained by the rider. Common driver distractions include eating, drinking, or texting on their phone behind the wheel of their car.

  • Hitting a bicyclist

To pass a bicyclist, a driver may legally cross the centerline or the center two-way left turn lane as long as it is safe to do so. If the driver tries to drive around the bicyclist and ends up hitting them, the driver may be liable for damages.

  • Aggressive driving

Driving aggressively on the road, such as speeding or tailgating, can increase the risk of an accident. Some drivers may attempt to force a cyclist off a highway to cause injury and violence. If this happens, it could be ‌ negligent driving according to Utah law that caused harm to another person because they drove unsafely while operating their vehicle. 

When is a Cyclist Responsible for a Collision with a Vehicle?

Cyclists can also be responsible for their own injuries after an accident. The following are common cases where cyclists could be partially at fault for their own injuries:

  • Riding against traffic

All bicyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic. This ensures all drivers can react on time and anticipate the bicyclists’ movements when they drive alongside them. Riding against traffic reduces the driver’s reaction time, increasing the likelihood of an accident with their vehicle.

  • Failing to stop at a stop sign

Utah law considers bicycles to be vehicles sharing the road. Cyclists are required to obey all traffic safety laws like other vehicles, including stop signs at intersections. If the cyclist slows down and sees that no traffic poses a direct hazard at the stop sign, the cyclist may go through.

Bicyclists can be liable for a car accident when they fail to yield before a stop sign or ride into oncoming traffic.

  • Not using reflective lights

On bicycles, white headlights, red taillights, and side reflectors are required. The reflectors must be visible from at least 500 feet early in the morning, before sunrise, or late at night. A bicycle must have reflectors whenever it is difficult to see vehicles from 1,000 feet away. There may be lights on the bike or the cyclist.

If a cyclist is not visible to drivers with the proper reflectors, they may be more likely to be involved in a collision.

Negligence is a Factor in Bicycle-Car Accidents

All drivers and bicycle riders have their own responsibilities for following traffic rules and keeping everyone safe on the road. The police may determine liability in an accident by investigating the level of negligence on both the driver’s and the cyclists’ parts.

Utah follows a modified comparative negligence rule, in which people who are found to be less than 51% at fault can still receive compensation. By reviewing evidence and interviewing witnesses, an experienced lawyer from Great West Law can help you reduce your degree of fault.

For instance, a nearby business’ surveillance cameras can prove the driver failed to take safety precautions before hitting you if you were a bicyclist injured in a car accident.

Hire Utah Lawyers Experienced in Bicycle and Auto Accidents

If you have been involved in a collision involving another driver or bicyclist, hire one of our Utah bicycle and auto collision lawyers at Great West Law to help you get the compensation you deserve.

It is critical to have legal representation on your side, whether you are the rider or the driver. Call our law office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your accident and learn your legal options.