Utah is known as a bike-friendly state. We have a statewide network of bike lanes, paths, and trails connecting our communities and improving the health, safety, and quality of life of our residents and visitors. While Utah continues to lead the country in bicycle safety, accidents happen every day. When you’re seriously harmed in a bike crash caused by another’s negligence or reckless conduct, you deserve compensation for your injuries.
Utah Bike Laws: The Basics
Utah law defines a bicycle as a device propelled by human power by feet or hands acting upon pedals or cranks, with a seat for the operator and wheels 14 inches or greater in diameter. This definition includes an electric-assisted bicycle (e-bike) but excludes mopeds and scooters.
Bicycles enjoy the same rights and must comply with the same restrictions as motor vehicles, including obeying traffic signals and signs, yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, and stopping for school buses with flashing red lights.
Alarming Statistics About Bike Crashes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 130,000 bicyclists are injured in the U.S. annually, and 1,000 of those accidents end in the rider’s death.
Other data from the CDC shows:
- Adults 55-69 account for the highest number of bicycle-related deaths.
- Male bike riders are killed at a rate six times higher than females and are injured five times as often as females.
- Roughly two-thirds of all bicycle accident deaths occur away from intersections where bikes and motor vehicles travel at higher speeds (27% of bicycle fatalities occur at or in intersections).
- Approximately one-third of fatal bike accidents involve impaired motor vehicle drivers, bike riders, or both.
Closer to home, 2022 has seen 15 fatalities in Utah, up from six in 2021, including these deaths reported in the news:
- A 55-year-old man struck by a car on Wasatch Street in Midvale.
- Two brothers, ages 48 and 49, hit by an allegedly drugged driver while they stopped by the side of the road during the Spring Tour of St. George bike race.
- A 13-year-old West Jordan boy struck by a pickup truck while riding his bike in a crosswalk.
- A 49-year-old man run over by a semi-truck in Spanish Fork.
- A 21-year-old electric bicycle rider hit by a truck near Park City.
- A 53-year-old father and his teenage daughter struck by a drugged driver while riding in a designated bike lane in West Bountiful.
- A 38-year-old man hit by a car in Murray.
- A 15-year-old boy struck and killed on his bike in Hurricane.
Utah’s bicycle laws protect cyclists and encourage safer riding and driving, but people can be injured and even killed when bicyclists or drivers fail to follow the rules of the road. If you or someone you care about has been seriously injured in a bicycle accident, you may be entitled to bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
While even fatal bicycle accidents can occur without fault, negligence—especially by car, truck, and other motor vehicle operators—frequently plays a role. Some of the most common causes of bike crashes include:
- Distracted drivers: It’s no surprise that distracted driving has increased since the advent of smartphones. While distracted driving is dangerous for everyone, it is particularly hazardous for bicyclists who are less visible to drivers than other motor vehicles.
- Speeding: When a bicyclist or pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, they are much more likely to be killed if the driver uses excessive speed.
- Drivers who make unsafe lane changes or turn without looking: When drivers merge into cyclists’ lanes without first checking that they’re clear or turn at intersections without checking for bicyclists, severe injury and death may occur.
- Drivers who fail to yield: Drivers must yield to oncoming traffic in roundabouts, intersections, and merging lanes. This includes yielding to bike traffic.
- Driver fatigue: Although bicyclists riding early or late in the day are most at risk of a collision with a fatigued driver, collisions related to driver fatigue can occur at any time of day.
- Impaired drivers: Alcohol and drug use dramatically reduce a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. CDC statistics indicate one-third of bike accident fatalities involve an impaired driver, rider, or both.
How to Avoid Bicycle Accidents in Utah
Riding bikes is a wonderful way to stay fit and healthy, connect with friends and other community members, and care for the environment. And if you bike to and from work, it’s great for your wallet. Cycling is not without risks, but you can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a bicycle accident by following the tips below.
- Make sure your bike is in good working order and the right fit for your height and size. Riding a bike that’s too big or too small limits your ability to control it properly. Also, check to ensure your brakes work well and properly inflate your tires.
- Don’t ride after dark. If you must, make sure your bike has a headlight, a rear-facing red reflector, and a rear-facing red lamp, as state law requires. It’s also a good idea to install daytime running lights on your bike.
- Always, always, always wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet reduces your risk of serious head injury by 50%. It also reduces the risk of facial injury by 33%. We think that’s worth the helmet hair!
- Don’t ride with headphones. Although you might enjoy riding to your favorite tunes, doing so can be extremely dangerous. Even with the volume kept at a relatively low level, using headphones or earbuds can prevent you from hearing approaching cars, car horns, sirens, and people yelling. Riding a bicycle already makes you more vulnerable to roadway risks. Don’t increase those risks by impairing your ability to hear warning signs.
- Never ride distracted. We’ve discussed the dangers of driver distraction, but cyclists can be distracted too. Never use or check your phone while riding and keep your ears clear at all times.
- Follow the rules of the road. It’s essential to understand and follow the rules of the road, such as riding in the same direction as traffic and using proper hand signals.
- Ride defensively. Remember, no matter how responsible and safe you are, you are no match for a drunk or distracted driver if you don’t see them coming. By keeping your eyes on the road, your ears clear, and both hands on the handlebars, you can dramatically reduce your risk of injury.
- Educate yourself on bike safety tips and how to be a responsible rider. Take advantage of the safety programs that educate children and adults on bike safety.
Wrongful Death From a Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Crash
When a bicyclist is killed because the driver of a motor vehicle is speeding, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving recklessly, the victim’s family has a legal right to seek compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Although financial compensation can never make up for the devastation and grief of losing a loved one, it may provide the time and space you need to heal. With compensation, the family of a wrongful death victim can cover outstanding medical bills, lost wages, funeral expenses, and the loss of the deceased’s financial support.
There is a strict timeline for filing a wrongful death claim in Utah, and failure to file a timely claim will likely result in an outright dismissal of the claim. This window of time, known as the statute of limitations, is two years from the date of death or one year from the date of death if the at-fault party was a government agency.
Damages in a Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in a bicycle accident due to the negligent, careless, or reckless actions of another, you may be able to obtain compensation by filing a claim against the at-fault party. Damages are intended to compensate for injuries and may include:
- Medical bills related to the injury.
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity.
- Emotional pain and suffering.
- Punitive damages if the at-fault party’s actions were particularly egregious.
In a wrongful death action, the deceased person’s estate may also be entitled to compensation for funeral and burial expenses, lost financial support, and loss of consortium.
Speak With a Utah Bike Accident Attorney
When you hire the Injury Smart Law team, we’ll treat your case as if we were representing one of our own. And you will pay no fees until we win for you.
Research shows having an attorney on your side increases the amount of damages you’ll recover. To maximize your settlement or verdict award, never initiate a legal claim without talking to an experienced lawyer.
To learn more about how we can help you, please contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Do If I ‘m Hurt in a Bike Crash?
Utah is a great place to live, hike and ride your bike. Unfortunately, sometimes cyclists are hit by cars. If you have been hit by a car, you should understand how the law works when it comes to bicycles. Unfortunately, when a cyclist is hit by a car, the injuries are usually more severe and commonly include fractured bones, cuts that need stitches, road rash, or head/neck injuries. Cyclists are more vulnerable as they are more exposed; always wear a helmet and other protective gear.
If you have been hit you have three insurance claims to consider. They are:
- How do I get my bike fixed or replaced;
- Can I get any immediate help for medical expenses; and
- If the crash was not my fault, do I have a claim that can be presented to the insurance of the person at fault.
How do I get my bike fixed?
If you were not at fault for the crash, then the insurance company for the at fault driver with either fix or pay you the fair market value for your bike. You can take your bike to a local shop and get a repair estimate to fix the bike. If the value of the repairs are less than about 70% of the value of the bike the insurance company will pay for the repairs.
If the damage to the bike is extensive and the cost of repair approaches the value of the bike, the insurance company will most likely total your bike. The insurance company will have to pay you the fair market value for your bike. The more expensive your bike the harder it is to value. There are only a few sources to value bicycles. It is a good ides to go to your local shop and get a valuation. Let the insurance company make the first offer. If you are dis-satisfied with the offer the burden shifts to you to prove the value of the bicycle. Importantly, you are only owed the value of the bike in its used but pre-crash condition, not the cost of a new replacement bike.
Do bicyclists qualify for No Fault Benefits, and if so, what are they?
Yes, if you were hit on a bicycle, you qualify for No Fault benefits. Bicyclists are considered pedestrians in terms of no-fault law. What that means is that if you are hit by a car there are certain benefits that are available to an injured cyclist, regardless of how the accident happened (even if it was your own fault). Generally, Utah has no-fault benefits — or personal injury protection benefits — that apply. Generally, they include:
- $3,000 of medical expenses (minimum);
$250 a week of lost wages for up to 52 weeks from the time first claimed;
$20 a day for essential services.
These benefits will come from the insurance policy for the car that hit you without regard to fault. Additionally, if you own a car or truck, your own auto policy may also apply to provide additional medical coverages.
Call us at 866.934.1237, and we will be happy to explain your rights to you.
Is there any further compensation if the accident was not my fault?
If you are hit on your bicycle and the accident was not your fault, the law treats your claim the same as if you were in a car. There are four elements that you must prove in order to be successful against the at-fault motorist in presenting your insurance claim. The elements are:
- You must show who caused the accident.
- You must show that you were hurt in the accident.
- You must show that the injuries claimed are related to the automobile/bicycle crash.
- You must show what amount of money will fairly compensate you for your overall damages?
If you are hit by a car, truck or motorcycle, please give us a call at 866.934.1237 we will be happy to explain your rights to you.
If you’ve been Hurt, Don’t go far . . .Call Brad Harr!
While on the road, what are my rights and duties as a bicyclist?
The State of Utah has specifically provided a section on the laws for bicycles. It is found in Utah Code Ann. §41-6a-1102 et sec. Generally speaking, the law provides that:
A vehicle or device propelled by human power, or a moped has all the rights and is subject to the provisions of this chapter applicable to the operator of any other vehicle.
In real people language, this means that you are allowed to drive on the road way and are required to travel the same direction as a car or motorcycle. Further, you must obey all traffic laws and traffic control devices. In other words, you must stop for stop signs, use appropriate signals to indicate you are turning etc.
The law provides the following guidelines when operating in the lane of travel. Utah Code Ann. §41-6a-1105 states in part:
A person operating a bicycle. . . at less than the normal speed of traffic. . . shall ride as near as practicable to the right-hand edge of the roadway except when:
- Overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- Preparing to make a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
- Traveling straight through an intersection that has a right-turn only lane that is in conflict with the straight through movement; or
- Reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand edge of the roadway including:
- Fixed or moving objects;
- Parked or moving vehicles;
- Surface hazards; or
- A lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
Really, all that the law is saying is you should travel the same direction as traffic and use common sense when riding.
If you are riding at night, use a light. Many cyclists don’t have lights or find it inconvenient to use a light. The law says lights must be used “at any time from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise” and that they are to be visible to other traffic for 500 feet. Utah Code Ann. §41-6a-1114 and Utah Code Ann. §41-6a-1605. It is hard to see bicycles at night so remember to use headlight and taillights.
Unfortunately, a lot of motorists who do not believe cyclists should ride their bikes on the road at all. The argument is made that they should ride on bike paths and other rural roads which do not have heavy traffic on them. Be careful, just because the law provides that you can use roadways does not mean that motorists will always be courteous nor careful; therefore, we encourage you to ride aware at all times. If you are driving a car, please pass cyclists with safety allowing them at least three feet of a safety zone as you pass them.
Cycling is a great sport and a beautiful way to see Utah and your local community. We encourage you to get out and enjoy the roads and be safe in your travels.
If you are hit by a car, truck or motorcycle, please give us a call at 866.934.1237 we will be happy to explain your rights to you.