Denver Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Motorcycles are a popular transportation method in the United States. People use motorcycles for all kinds of reasons from recreation to sport to simply getting to and from work. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were “about 8.4 million motorcycles on the road in 2014.” Motorcycle riders face some of the toughest challenges on the road as their size in comparison to other vehicles leave them at a disadvantage.
Motorcycles offer very little protection to their riders and, unfortunately, a motorcyclist who gets into a crash may face serious injuries or even death. If you or a loved on has suffered serious injuries or wrongful death due to a motorcycle accident in Colorado, contact a Denver accident attorney from the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal and receive the compensation you deserve.
Colorado and Denver Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Motorcycle accidents are generally more devastating and cause more serious injuries than car accidents, because motorcycles lack the essential protections that cars provide. Motorcycles also lack airbags and seat belts, simply because they wouldn’t help in the event of a Denver crash. Motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in fatalities than car accidents. In fact, the Colorado Department of Transportation reports 48 fatal accidents and 50 fatalities in Denver alone in 2018.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle deaths in the state of Colorado recently reached an all-time high. There was a 24% increase in traffic fatalities in 2015, with over 35,000 people losing their lives on the roads and highways of America. Increasing population and traffic density are partially to blame, but several preventable factors, such as driver inattention, are also at play.
Motorcyclists are at a particularly high risk. In 2016, 125 motorcyclists died throughout the state, and most of the victims were not wearing helmets. Simple measures like this can help save lives, but motorcyclists are still vulnerable to the actions of others on the road.
Most Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents in Denver, CO
Motorcycle accidents that result in physical harm can be caused in numerous ways, including some that are unique to or especially danger for this vehicle type. For example:
- A car driver opening a door in the path of an oncoming motorcycle
- Car driver impacting a motorcyclist either stopped at a light or stop sign, or while making a turn in an intersection
- A car driver making a lane change and failing to see a motorcycle
- A motorcyclist driving between lanes (“lane splitting”)
- Unsafe left turns
- Road hazards – debris, potholes, missing signage
- Sudden stops
- Drivers who are intoxicated or texting
- Defects in the design or manufacture of the motorcycle
Within any of these scenarios, each crash is unique. Only a skilled and experienced lawyer with Denver motorcycle accidents will be able to outline and execute a strategy that will make your claim as strong as it needs to be.
Colorado Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
The state of Colorado sets certain requirements regarding motorcycle coverage and insurance. As a traditional fault state, an injured motorcyclist will file a claim with an at-fault driver’s insurance company; however, comprehensive coverage is necessary if a motorcyclist is partially at fault for a crash.
The best way to show financial responsibility for a motorcycle is to obtain a liability insurance policy from an insurer that is both familiar with motorcycle insurance policies and licensed in the state of Colorado. Generally, this state requires all drivers to have car insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum coverage threshold, as follows:
- A minimum of $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability coverage
- A minimum of $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage
- A minimum of $15,000 in property damage liability coverage
Under state law, a motorist may opt out of uninsured/underinsured coverage; however, keeping underinsured and uninsured coverage is highly recommended to provide comprehensive protection in the event of a crash. It may also be advisable to seek coverage in excess of the minimum coverage limits. An insurance agent can help determine the appropriate coverage for each household.
Colorado Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Despite the fact that helmets can save lives, only some states require all riders and passengers to wear helmets when riding a motorcycle. Laws that require motorcyclists to wear helmets are called, “universal helmet laws.” Presently, only 19 states, as well as the District of Columbia, require all riders to wear helmets. Colorado is not one of the states with a universal helmet law. It is among the 28 states that have laws that require just some riders to wear helmets. For example, those 17 and younger must wear helmets. In addition, there are three states –New Hampshire, Illinois, and Iowa—that have no laws on the books about helmet use.
If you or someone you know received a head injury from a motorcycle accident, contact a Denver motorcycle accident attorney for a free consultation. Head injuries can be particularly devastating because a traumatic brain damage can leave a person with permanent brain damage and in need of life-long care. Helmet use helps to reduce the risk of a motorcycle rider dying by 37% and reduces the chance of a head trauma by 69%. The NHTSA estimated that in 2013 and 2014, helmets saved over 1600 lives each year.
Compensation For A Motorcycle Crash in Denver, CO
A victim of a motorcycle accident can recover several different types of damages.
- Economic damages seek to compensate the victim for the quantifiable consequences of the crash. For example, a motorcycle accident claim will include compensation for medical bills, lost wages from missed work, projected costs of ongoing medical care, and more. If a motorcycle crash leads to permanent disabilities or death, a claim may address loss in earning capacity or income.
- General damages provide reimbursement for intangible or immaterial losses. Examples include physical pain, suffering, or loss in life quality. In the case of a wrongful death, the surviving family members may be able to collect damages resulting from loss of partnership, consortium, or guidance.
- In some cases, a plaintiff may be able to collect punitive damages from a defendant. These apply to cases of gross negligence, intentional conduct, or extreme recklessness. An example might be a death or serious personal damages resulting from a DUI.
A motorcycle accident in Denver can be devastating and lead to extensive damages. In the event of a crash, it’s essential to speak to a Denver personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A claim can help compensate for both the material and immaterial losses that result from the motorcycle accident.
Proving Negligence For Motorcycle Accident Injuries in Denver, CO
When pursuing a lawsuit against a driver who’s careless or reckless driving has left you or a loved one injured, the legal theory that you are likely going to be seeking to hold the driver liable under is that of negligence. Negligence is “the failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1135 (9th ed. 2009). If you can show that the defendant was negligent, that is that the defendant did not exercise the proper standard of care, then you may be able to hold the defendant liable for the injuries you sustained as a result of the defendant’s careless actions.
In order to prove that the defendant did not meet the proper standard of care and was negligent, the plaintiff has to show “first, the defendant owed a legal duty of care; second, the defendant breached that duty; third, the plaintiff was injured; and fourth, the defendant’s breach caused that injury.” Vigil v. Franklin, 103 P.3d 322, 324 (Colo. 2004). If the plaintiff can prove all of these elements through evidence and witness testimony at or before trial, then the plaintiff may be able to seek just compensation from the defendant.
Special Considerations in a Denver Motorcycle Injury Case
Motorcycles are very different from passenger cars in many respects, and there are factors in play that can make it more difficult to establish that the negligence or reckless behavior of another is responsible for your injuries. This is another reason you should hire a Denver motorcycle crash lawyer is to ensure that your future well-being is secured. The factors that come into play include:
- Vulnerability: Other than your helmet, you are completely unprotected while riding a motorcycle. This, combined with factors such as the fact that it is substantially more difficult for car drivers to see motorcycles in their vicinity, can change the dynamic regarding what you could reasonably be expected to do to prevent a crash.
- Driving skill: A much greater degree of skill is required to drive a motorcycle than a car, and small errors in judgment or operation that would have almost no effect on the behavior of a car can cause accidents. This extends to awareness of road conditions; a pothole that would not seriously affect an automobile can cause a motorcycle to crash.
- Manufacturing or design flaws: Because the margins of error in regard to motorcycle safety are so small, the tolerance for flaws in the design or manufacture of motorcycles is much less. This is an issue that an experienced attorney will know how to address, when applicable.
Comparative Negligence in Colorado Motorcycle Accidents
In a personal injury case, the defendant can raise a number of defenses in order to reduce or negate liability. One of these defenses is comparative negligence. Comparative negligence can be used if the plaintiff is partially liable for his or her injuries. Under comparative negligence, if a plaintiff is partly responsible for the injuries that he or she sustained in the crash, then the plaintiff’s damages are reduced based on the amount of his or her fault.
Traditionally, if the plaintiff was even a little at fault for his or her injuries then the plaintiff could not recover any damages at all. Some states and the District of Columbia still follow this doctrine, which is called contributory negligence. Most states, have moved away from contributory negligence because it is such a harsh doctrine.
Under state law, if a plaintiff is less negligent than the defendant, the plaintiff can recover damages for his or her injuries. C.R.S. 13-21-111 (2016). If the plaintiff is found to be equally at fault or more at fault for his or her injuries, than the plaintiff may be barred from recovering any compensation from the defendant.
FAQs About Colorado Motorcycle Accident Laws
What is the Law for a Colorado Motorcycle Accident?
The statute of limitation for Colorado motorcycle accidents is 3 years. During this period, you are able to file a lawsuit for compensation for injuries and damages. If you’re planning on filing a lawsuit for a motorcycle accident, it’s best to do it immediately as the court process can take weeks or even months. You can learn more about all the Colorado motorcycle laws and safety tactics at the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
How Much Money Will I Get From My Motorcycle Accident Settlement?
How much compensation you receive from a motorcycle accident depends on a few factors. First, you have to look at liability. If you can prove the other party was liable for the accident, the settlement will be more than if neither party is found liable. Second, courts will need to determine the damages involved. The more serious the injuries and damages in the case, the higher payout. Damages are determined as pain and suffering, as well as precisely calculated property damage.
How Much is My Motorcycle Accident Settlement Worth?
A motorcycle accident’s worth mainly depends on whether there were injuries involved, and if so, the seriousness of them. Also, how much property damage there was. Other factors like pain and suffering and missed work can also factor in the settlement.
What is the Average Payout for a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle accident payouts can range from a few thousand dollars for minor accidents. To much higher payouts for major accidents. Payout amounts mainly factor in: recovery of injury costs, damaged property, as well as pain and suffering.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Motorcycle Accident?
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident, and you, or someone else suffered injuries, then you should highly consider immediate legal representation. Injury expenses from motorcycle accidents can add up fast. Dealing with insurance companies can get complicated. Having a professional on your side helps make sure you’re getting everything you deserve in the case.
Why You Need a Denver Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
Having a Denver motorcycle lawyer for legal representation can make a critical difference in your accident case. Legal professionals know the Colorado laws and what your legal rights are after a motorcycle accident. Dealing with insurance companies, lawyers and courts alone can leave you vulnerable to not receiving the top compensation deserved.
Can I Sue If I Was Hit While Not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet?
Colorado doesn’t have a universal state law for people over 18 years old that requires you to wear a helmet on a motorcycle. That said, if you’re injured in an accident – is it your fault for not wearing a helmet OR theirs for hitting you? Colorado courts have said, it’s the person who caused the accident’s fault, regardless if a helmet was worn or not. One case, Dare v. Sobule, reached the Colorado Supreme Court where it was found that a person couldn’t be found negligent for not wearing a helmet, when the law doesn’t require wearing one.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Denver Motorcycle Accidents?
The most common causes of Denver motorcycle accidents are alcohol, speeding and left turn collisions. A combination of these factors is also not uncommon. Accidents tend to occur most often when drivers are distracted, under the influence or just driving recklessly. Practicing safe driving and using better driver awareness can help reduce these preventable accidents.
Contact a Denver Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
Any crash with a motor vehicle is frightening, disorienting, and confusing. In motorcycle accidents, the situation can be extremely grim, as a serious physical harm such as paralysis is much more likely. The operating basis for any insurance company is to take up each case as quickly as possible, resolve it in terms most favorable to them and get the case off its books. In the time period soon after your crash, it may take most of your energy and focus just to try to regain physical health.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Denver motorcycle accident, connect with the a motorcycle accident lawyer at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal for a free case consultation. Jeremy Rosenthal has been practicing law in Colorado for over a decade. He has extensive experience in personal injury cases and is dedicated to helping his clients through the legal process so that they can move on with their lives. Contact his office today for a free consultation or fill out the online form here.