As the fourth largest city in Colorado, Fort Collins is home to around 161,000 residents. Like many cities in Colorado, its population over the last couple of decades has increased quickly, and people are moving into to the city every day. Colorado State University is one of the main cultural hubs of the city and the top employer within the municipality. The community has ample access to the Rocky Mountains, which are located directly west of the city, and there are many parks additionally located within city limits. Rather uniquely, Fort Collins is Colorado’s largest producer of craft beer and is home to dozens of microbreweries such as the famous New Belgium Brewing Company. There is much to attract people to move to the city, although some safety concerns in the area should be acknowledged.
Courts in Fort Collins
Fort Collins has two main judicial buildings in which most litigation takes place on the local level. The Fort Collins Municipal Court is located on the second floor of the Fort Collins administrative building at 215 N Mason Ave. This court handles violations of city ordinances, such as traffic violations, misdemeanors, and civil infractions. There are actually two other municipal courts in Larimer County as well, located in the municipalities of Loveland and Berthoud. The second judicial building in Fort Collins, where most legal proceedings occur, is the downtown Larimer County Justice Center, at 201 Laporte Ave. The Larimer county Justice Center houses the Small Claims Court, the County Court, and the Eighth Judicial District Court of Colorado.
Small Claims Court
If you are filing a civil claim for less that $7,500, you have the option of using the small claims court, which is a division of the County Court. The small claims court will allow you to streamline the process of your claim and will not involve a jury. Cases in small claims court are heard and decided by a magistrate.
The Larimer County Court can hear civil claims cases involving amounts up to $15,000. While most cases in the county court do not involve trials by jury, in some cases, plaintiffs may successfully request this process. Cases from the county court may sometimes be appealed to the district court.
This court handles claims of any amount, along with a wide variety of other kinds of cases, such as divorce and family disputes, estates, mental health rulings, and criminal cases. Because this court requires a more extensive process and may necessitate a trial, there are many steps to take in order to file in the district court.
As Fort Collins expands, traffic continues to frustrate those within the city. Thousands of car accidents occur every year, and traffic deaths are soaring, according to some statistics. For instance, the newspaper, The Coloradoan reported that in the first half of 2015 alone, there were 36 traffic fatalities in Larimer County. This far exceeds the total 24 deaths that occurred in 2012 and 2013. Experts blame this rise in fatalities on a number of causes, including heavy usage of roadways, an increase in distracted driving associated with cell phone usage, road rage, and speeding.
Often, winter weather can contribute to dangerous road conditions in Colorado. Ice storms and heavy snow take new drivers by surprise and can even endanger veterans of Colorado highways.
Moreover, some people choose to live in Fort Collins even though they work in Denver, due to family concerns or personal preference. While Fort Collins is in the process of expanding public commuter transportation between the two cities, most people today still drive passenger vehicles on their commute in and out of Denver. The commute is over an hour, and people who make this trip daily can become trapped by weather or frustrated by slow drivers, increasing the risk of an accident.
Adding to the problem, the Colorado State Highway Patrol has consistently ranked highways around Fort Collins as some of the most dangerous and accident prone in the state. For instance, the 17 mile stretch of Interstate 25 between Johnstown and Fort Collins was ranked second most dangerous in Colorado for its high speeds, high traffic, and high number of deaths that have occurred on the road.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
Another issue within the city is the frequency of accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists. Many people in the city use bicycle transport as either a means of commuting to and from work or school or as a form of recreation. In 2013, a local Denver CBS station reported that “approximately 1,000 people in Fort Collins have been injured in bicycle versus vehicle crashes” over the course of a couple of years. As more and more people get on their bikes, more accidents are likely to occur, especially in areas on and around the campus of Colorado State University, where bicycle transportation is particularly high. The city is trying to address the problem by adding new bike lanes and educating the public about how to keep cyclists safe while driving.
One factor that contributes to accidents involving pedestrians is narrow sidewalks which can keep pedestrians close to the flow of traffic. Currently, 7.5 miles of sidewalks in the city are less than 3.5 feet wide with no significant buffer between the sidewalk and the road. Advocates for pedestrians say that sidewalks need to be expanded and that Bike Fort Collins, the bike safety group, should have a position dedicated to pedestrian safety.
One rather unique hazard of Fort Collins is injuries associated with trains. While some train injuries may be associated with dangerous behavior and/or the intent to self-harm, heavy train traffic in the area increase the risk for this kind of injury, and deaths by train are common in the area. In fact, train traffic in the city had become so unbearable, that in early 2016, the city rerouted 55% of trains to pass through the nearby city of Greeley instead of through the city of Fort Collins.
Outside of physical injury, the noise from trains in Fort Collins has produced hundreds, if not thousands, of citizen complaints, who say they cannot sleep due to the constant horns, especially during night hours. They also argue that train noise makes the area less attractive, discouraging business growth and lowering property values in the area. The city of Fort Collins has written a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration requesting a review of the policy that requires trains to blow their horns loudly and frequently as they approach crossings.
Fort Collins residents are often active participators in outdoor recreation. While access to wilderness areas within the county can be seen as a huge benefit to the community, it also poses some dangers which must be considered before striking out. For example, one well-known danger in the Fort Collins area that has gotten substantial attention is tubing on the Poudre River. Multiple deaths have occurred at the site, including 15 between the years of 1997 and 2014. Many of these rafts are operating by rafting guide companies. While participants must sign waivers to participate in the activity, certain safety protocols must be met by guide groups, and restrictions by police services in the area must be adhered to.
These deaths contribute to the dozens of injuries and deaths that happen every year in the Colorado wilderness. Most hiking deaths in the area are caused by falls from ledges on mountains and canyon edges. Multiple deaths and injuries, for example, have occurred in Horsetooth Mountain Park, just west of the city of Fort Collins. Larimer County Search and Rescue along with local police forces and Poudre Fire Authority will often the extraction and immediate treatment of hiking accident victims.
Representation for Fort Collins Personal Injury Victims
While injuries may occur from a variety of sources, necessary precautions by businesses, the government, and individuals should be taken to prevent injuries whenever possible. If someone neglects their duty or does not demonstrate a reasonable standard of care that could be expected from their position, they may be liable for your injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in Fort Collins, you may be suffering from the emotional and physical fallout and feel overwhelmed by the idea of beginning litigation.
An attorney experienced in the personal injury process can manage your case while allowing you the space to heal from your accident. A local lawyer will be more familiar with the processes of the municipality and can work within the system efficiently to increase your chances of fair and successful compensation. For a free case evaluation, call the Law Offices of Jeremy Rosenthal today at (303) 825-2223 or contact us online.