Motorcycles are fun to drive, but they are some of the most inherently dangerous vehicles on the road. They offer virtually no physical protection to riders or passengers, are smaller and more challenging to see than most other passenger vehicles, and unfortunately tempt some users toward reckless driving. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a recent motorcycle accident, a Wheat Ridge motorcycle accident lawyer can be your best asset for recovering compensation for your losses. Motorcycle accidents tend to be damaging and traumatic events, so you should know what to expect if you ever experience such an accident.
At the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal, our team understands how life-changing a motorcycle accident can be, and we can provide the legal counsel you need to successfully navigate the most complex motorcycle accident claims.
Why Should I Hire a Wheat Ridge Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
Technically, it is possible to navigate an insurance claim and a personal injury lawsuit for a motorcycle accident without an attorney. However, doing so is incredibly difficult and risky. You will need to handle all the procedural requirements of your case and do so while dealing with the aftermath of your accident. The average person who has no legal training is likely to make mistakes when dealing with the civil court system, and even small errors or a single missed filing deadline can effectively neutralize a personal injury claim before it ever gets off the ground. Instead of risking your claim on a technicality or mistakenly settling for less than you should, you’ll do better consulting a Wheat Ridge motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after a motorcycle accident.
Your attorney can not only handle your case’s procedural requirements but also provide ongoing support throughout every phase of your case. They can handle correspondence with insurance companies on your behalf, ensuring you receive the most coverage possible before proceeding with further legal action against the party responsible for your motorcycle accident.
When Should You Contact a Lawyer After an Accident?
It is generally best to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident, ideally as soon as you receive appropriate medical treatment for your injuries. Your health should be your primary concern after a motorcycle accident, even if you believe your injuries to be minor. Ask your doctor for a complete medical report that details all your injuries, and then contact an attorney if you believe another driver is responsible for those injuries.
The sooner you contact an attorney and hire legal counsel for your motorcycle accident claim, the easier it will be for you to ensure the freshness of physical evidence and witness testimony to secure your claim. Additionally, Colorado upholds a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims, so you will need to ensure you file your claim before this time limit expires. While two years may seem like a long time, your attorney may need time to fully assess the entirety of your claimable damages before proceeding with your case.
How Does a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Work?
Your Wheat Ridge motorcycle accident lawyer will begin handling your case by reviewing the circumstances of your accident and identifying the party or parties most likely to be liable for your damages. For example, if your motorcycle accident occurred when a drunk driver swerved out of their lane and collided with your bike, your attorney will want to review the police report from the incident and confirm the at-fault driver’s identity.
Your legal team will then move to prove the full scope of your damages. They will want to verify your medical report and assess the extent of your claimable medical expenses. Your attorney will help you ensure you explore every potential avenue of compensation to maximize your recovery.
It is natural to be concerned about the high cost of legal fees, but most personal injury attorneys in Colorado operate on a contingency fee basis. This means the attorney only collects legal fees for winning cases. If you win your motorcycle accident case, your attorney will take a percentage of your case award as their fee. If you lose, your attorney takes nothing. If an attorney offers to take your motorcycle accident case on a contingency fee basis, this is a good indication that you are likely to win your case.
Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Colorado
Motorcycle accidents occur for many reasons, including:
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving continues to be the leading cause of all traffic accidents in the United States. When a driver is not fully paying attention to the road, even for a few seconds, they put all other drivers around them at severe risk.
- Drunk driving. It is illegal and highly dangerous for anyone to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. A driver who causes a motorcycle accident due to impaired driving will face civil liability for the resulting damages and criminal prosecution.
- Poor visibility. Driving at night or during severe weather is risky for any driver. Motorcycles are also smaller and harder to see than standard passenger vehicles, making it more likely for other drivers to notice them too late to avoid collisions.
- Aggressive driving. When a driver engages in risky maneuvers on the road, they put themselves and others around them at grave risk.
- Speeding. Exceeding the posted speed limit is not only illegal but also dangerous. A speeding driver may not be able to slow down or stop in time to avoid an accident.
- Product defects. A motorcycle accident may occur if the bike contains a defect or if the owner unknowingly had a defective part installed on the bike. When a defective product causes a motorcycle accident, the product manufacturer is liable for any resulting damages.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the ways a motorcycle accident can happen. Ultimately, if you or a loved one experienced a motorcycle accident that you believe occurred due to another party’s negligence, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim against them.
Insurance Claims After a Motorcycle Accident
Typically, the first step toward recovery after a vehicle accident is to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. Colorado operates under a fault rule for car accidents, so every driver must carry a certain amount of liability coverage in their auto insurance policy to meet the state’s minimum requirements. In Colorado, a minimum policy must include:
- $25,000 or more in bodily injury liability coverage for a single person in an accident.
- $50,000 or more in total accident liability coverage for a single accident.
- $15,000 or more in property damage liability coverage.
While these minimum coverage amounts may seem generous, they may not be enough to fully cover the damages of a severe motorcycle accident. Additionally, dealing with insurance companies is usually quite difficult. An insurer may push back against a legitimate claim to try and compel the claimant into settling to a lowball offer. Hiring a Wheat Ridge motorcycle accident attorney to assist with your auto insurance claim will significantly reduce the chances of encountering this kind of behavior.
Proving Fault for Your Motorcycle Accident
If insurance is not enough to fully cover your damages from a motorcycle accident, your personal injury attorney can help you take further legal action against the party responsible for the incident. If you intend to file a personal injury claim against them, you must be prepared to prove the four basic components of negligence to succeed with your case:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care. For example, a driver has a duty of care to refrain from operating their vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
- The defendant breached this duty of care. Common examples of breached duties of care include driving drunk, driving while distracted, and engaging in reckless driving.
- You suffered actual harm from the defendant’s negligence. You can only file a personal injury claim if you suffered some kind of measurable loss or physical harm from a defendant’s actions.
- The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused your damages. You and your attorney must prove causation, or that your damages were the direct results of the defendant’s actions.
Your Wheat Ridge motorcycle accident attorney will assist you in gathering the evidence you may need to prove the defendant’s negligence in your case. This may include vehicle computer data, cell phone records, traffic camera footage, and eyewitness testimony.
Damages and Compensation in a Motorcycle Accident Claim
The personal injury laws of Colorado aim to allow a plaintiff to recover as much compensation as they require to become “whole” again after an accident. Typically, this means a plaintiff can claim economic and non-economic damages that reasonably reflect their losses resulting from a defendant’s negligence.
A plaintiff in a motorcycle accident claim can recover their medical expenses, both immediate and future, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering compensation. When it comes to medical expenses, the plaintiff has the right to claim immediate medical costs such as hospital treatment and surgical fees. They can also claim future medical costs resulting from the incident, such as ongoing physical therapy, rehabilitation, and future surgeries they will require. Lost income is similar; the plaintiff can claim wages lost during their initial recovery time, and if they are unable to return to work due to a disability they acquired from the accident in question, they can claim their lost future earning potential, too.
Pain and suffering damages are a bit more complex. Your Wheat Ridge motorcycle accident attorney will typically determine an appropriate amount to claim by multiplying your claimed medical expenses by a factor of two to five to reflect the severity of your injuries. For example, if you suffered multiple broken bones, a skull fracture, and internal organ damage from your motorcycle accident and spent weeks in the hospital, you will likely receive much more in pain and suffering compensation than you would if you only suffered a broken arm that will heal completely within a few months.
Settlement Vs. Litigation in a Motorcycle Accident Claim
The overwhelming majority of personal injury claims settle outside of the courtroom. Settlement negotiations offer the defendant a chance to put the matter behind them and avoid future liability for a claimed incident. At the same time, the plaintiff has the chance to secure compensation as quickly as possible. If settlement negotiations prove fruitless or the defendant contests their liability and demands a trial, the case proceeds to litigation.
In most cases, it is best to avoid litigation and seek an expeditious result from settlement negotiations. However, litigation may be unavoidable in some cases. If you must litigate your motorcycle accident claim, it’s vital to have a reliable Wheat Ridge motorcycle accident attorney assist you with your proceedings. They will help you prepare for each phase of your case and arrange for expert witness testimony on your behalf if necessary.
There are advantages and drawbacks to both settlement and litigation. In settlement, you have the chance to secure compensation as quickly as possible, but you may receive less than a jury would award you. However, in litigation, you could secure a more significant case award at the cost of greater legal fees, and there is ultimately no guarantee that a jury will see the case the same way you do. Ultimately, one of the best things you can do when confronted with a motorcycle accident claim is to consult a trustworthy Wheat Ridge motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Find Your Personal Injury Law Firm Today
Our team has years of experience assisting motorcycle accident victims with their recoveries at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal. We understand how complex many of these cases are and can put our skill, experience, and resources to work in your motorcycle accident claim. If you or a loved one are struggling with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident that you believe happened because of another driver’s negligence, contact the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal and find out how our team can help you.