With high plains, rugged mountains, cozy towns, and exciting cities, Wyoming has something for everyone. Perhaps the best way to explore everything the Cowboy State has to offer is to leave your car behind and head out on your bicycle. If you suffer an injury on your bike, though, you may need the assistance of an experienced bike accident lawyer to help you receive compensation for bodily injuries and property damage.
With most bike trips, you arrive at your destination safely. Even if you always ride carefully, however, you may not be able to avoid a bicycle crash. Nonetheless, by understanding bike accidents and riding laws, you can likely increase your odds of staying safe behind the handlebars of your bicycle.
Bicycle Accidents in Wyoming Are More Common Than You May Think
Between 2010 and 2014, there were 408 bicycle accidents on Wyoming’s roadways. That means, on average, roughly 80 accidents occur each year. Sadly, in the 408 accidents, six cyclists died as a result of their injuries. Four died in urban areas, while the other two passed away in rural parts of Wyoming. Those who received serious injuries or died in a bicycle crash represent individuals from most age groups. Fortunately, no one under age 15 died in a bicycle accident on Wyoming’s roadways, though.
If you have sustained a serious or minor injury in a bicycle collision, you may need legal representation to recover successfully. After all, medical bills can be expensive. Even worse, you may have difficulty working after a bicycle wreck. Whether or not you think you have a case, discussing your situation with a bicycle crash lawyer may help you return to your pre-accident condition.
Wyoming Traffic Rules Protect Cyclists
The Cowboy State uses traffic rules to keep cyclists safe. Generally, state law treats bicycle riders the same way it does motorists. When you are on your bike, you must follow the same rules as when you are driving a car. That is, you must comply with posted signs and lane markers. You must also follow the flow of traffic when riding on a street, road, or highway.
Wyoming law requires cyclist to stay as far to the right side of the road as possible. You must also exercise caution when passing stopped or moving vehicles. As is true when driving a car or truck, you must not allow yourself to become distracted on your bicycle. Sending a text message, fiddling with headphones, or tinkering with your bike’s gears may violate the law.
A 3-Foot Buffer
In response to an increase in the number of cyclist fatalities, Wyoming law requires motorists to give riders a buffer of 3 feet. If drivers respect this safe space, they should not come near you or your bicycle when you are on the road. There are a couple exceptions to this law, however. If you are not riding lawfully, drivers do not have to follow the buffer law. Also, if the roadway does not have sufficient room to allow for the buffer, motorists can pass closer to you.
Most of Wyoming is rural. As such, you likely have to ride on roadways without the assistance of a bike lane. In Cheyenne, Casper, Laramie, Jackson, and a few other places, though, bike lanes are common. Each municipality has laws that determine how riders must behave when bike lanes are present. Before riding in a place with this type of accommodation, you should familiarize yourself with the rules of the road.
Riding While Intoxicated
As mentioned, Wyoming law treats bicycles the same as other vehicles. As you probably know, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in the state. The same is true for riding your bike while intoxicated. If you ride drunk, you could receive significant legal consequences. Therefore, after a night on the town, you should not assume riding your bicycle is a safe alternative to driving your vehicle.
You Must Work Diligently To Stay Safe
As a serious rider, you understand that you must always follow the rules of the road. Even if you abide by Wyoming’s laws, however, you may still find yourself in the middle of an accident. Consulting with a bicycle crash lawyer can help you explore your legal options.
Before you get to that point, however, you may want to rethink your approach to safe riding. After all, you likely decrease your chances of sustaining an injury by riding safely. Wyoming Pathways is a nonprofit organization that encourages safe riding. The organization regularly issues recommendations for staying safe on your bicycle. Here are a few of them:
- Wear the right helmet. Your brain is an important part of you. If you suffer a traumatic brain injury in a bicycle collision, you could have long-term health complications. Therefore, you must always wear a helmet when you ride your bike. You must also make sure your helmet is in good condition and fits your head properly.
- Maintain your bicycle. While you may not be able to control the actions of other riders or motorists, you can ensure your bike is in the best possible shape. Before you leave home, make sure you have sufficient air in your bicycle’s tires. Also, make sure gears, brakes, and other components are functioning perfectly.
- Wear visible clothing. Motorists can only avoid hitting you if they can see you. Therefore, never ride with dark or neutral clothing. Instead, opt for high-visibility garments that make you stand out from the pavement and surrounding scenery. Also, try to avoid riding during nighttime hours or inclement weather. If you must ride when visibility is low, be sure you have reflectors and a bike light.
- Stay alert. Bicycle accidents can occur without much warning. Nonetheless, you may avoid a collision altogether by staying alert. Keep an eye out for approaching vehicles. Also, never ride and text.
- Keep your cool. Bicyclists and motorists do not necessarily have the best relationship. Yet, if you become angry behind the handlebars, your judgment and perception may suffer. As such, try to keep your cool every time you ride. Simply put, you do not want to subject yourself to a road-rage incident.
If you comply with Wyoming’s riding laws and follow some safety best practices, you may decrease your odds of sustaining a serious injury in a bicycle collision. Even with diligence, however, you may get hurt on your bike. If a motorist, pedestrian, or another cyclist caused your injuries, a bicycle crash lawyer may be able to help you seek compensation for your injuries.
Wyoming Law Allows You To Recover for Negligence
If a motorist intentionally runs over you and your bicycle with a vehicle, you can probably easily sue for damages. With most bicycle accidents, however, the conduct is not intentional. If you want to recover for your injuries, you may have to proceed on a theory of negligence.
In Wyoming, the tort of negligence has four elements:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
- Accident causation
If you can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a motorist or another person acted negligently, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries. You should realize, however, that Wyoming has a statute of limitations for these types of cases. If you think a driver’s negligence contributed to your injuries, you must file a claim within four years after the accident.
Comparative Fault and Contributory Negligence
Wyoming law limits the amount you can recover for negligence if you were at fault. The state’s comparative fault and contributory negligence approach has two components.
First, the person who causes the accident only must pay you an amount commensurate with his or her fault. For example, if a judge or jury finds that a motorist was 20 percent responsible for your injuries, the motorist must only pay for 20 percent of your damages.
Also, you can only recover if you were not mostly at fault for the accident. That is, if you were 51 percent or more responsible for the injuries you sustained, you cannot receive any payments for your injuries from other parties.
As you can see, assigning blame for an accident is critically important to receiving compensation for your injuries or damaged property. Deciding who is to blame for a bicycle crash may not be straightforward, however. Often, a bicycle crash lawyer must carefully review accident documentation and other information to decide whether you are entitled to receive payments for your injuries. So if you haven’t spoken to a bicycle crash lawyer yet about your case you should consider reaching out to one.
The Legal Advocate You Choose Matters
When you are on your bicycle exploring Wyoming, you probably think more about the experience than you do your legal rights. If either you or your bicycle sustain an injury, though, asserting your rights becomes singularly important.
You may not have the expertise to fully exercise your rights in Wyoming. By working with a bicycle crash lawyer, you have an advocate who may be able to help you with the following:
- Receiving medical treatment
- Paying ongoing bills
- Investigating your accident
- Reviewing insurance information
- Considering settlement options
- Filing a lawsuit
While recovering from any accident can be difficult, you do not have to go through the process alone. The Wyoming Advocates are available 24/7 to discuss your situation with you. You can contact our office today for answers to your most pressing questions in a free case evaluation by either calling (307) 466-0003 or by chatting with a live bicycle crash lawyer immediately from our homepage. Know that with the Wyoming Advocates, your recovery is always our first priority. You deserve an Advocate!