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 injury 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 Motorcycle Accident Resources:
- Motorcycle Accident Statistics
- What are the most common type of motorcycle accidents?
- What are the Colorado motorcycle insurance requirements?
- What are the motorcycle helmet laws in Colorado?
- What type of compensation can I receive in a Colorado motorcycle accident claim?
- How do I prove negligence in a motorcycle accident claim?
- What is comparative negligence in a Colorado motorcycle accident claim?
- When should I contact a Denver motorcycle accident lawyer?
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 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
Motorcycle accidents that result in injury 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 accident is unique. Only a skilled and experienced Denver motorcycle accident attorney 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, the state of Colorado 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 Colorado 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 an accident. 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, in Colorado, 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 our Denver motorcycle accident attorneys for a free consultation. Head injuries can be particularly devastating because a traumatic brain injury 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 injury by 69%. The NHTSA estimated that in 2013 and 2014, helmets saved over 1600 lives each year.
Type of Compensation You Can Recover in a Motorcycle Accident
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 accident leads to permanent injury 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 injury resulting from a DUI.
Motorcycle accidents can be devastating and lead to extensive damages. In the event of an accident, 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 crash
Proving Negligence in a Denver Motorcycle Accident
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 in Colorado, 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 Motorcycle Cases
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 injury. This is another reason you should hire a Denver motorcycle accident attorney is to ensure that your future wellbeing 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 an accident.
- 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 accident, 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, including Colorado, have moved away from contributory negligence because it is such a harsh doctrine.
Under Colorado 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.
Contact a Denver Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
Any accident in a motor vehicle is frightening, disorienting, and confusing. In motorcycle accidents, the situation can be extremely grim, as a serious injury 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 accident, 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 motorcycle accident, connect with the Denver motorcycle accident attorneys 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.