Helping Colorado Motorcycle Accident Victims Obtain Compensation
Riding a motorcycle is a practical and fun way to travel. Unfortunately, motorcycles provide almost no protection if you are involved in an accident. To learn more about how to recover compensation after a motorcycle accident, or for help making a claim, contact a Denver motorcycle crash lawyer at Levine Law today.
Colorado Law Allows Our Motorcycle Accident Lawyers to Fight for Your Claim
It is common for motorcycle riders to be thrown from their bikes and to suffer serious injuries or death in a collision. Motorcycle accidents are tragic not only because they cause serious injury or death, but because they often occur due to a driver’s negligence or carelessness. It is especially heartbreaking when a motorcycle accident could have been avoided because a driver simply did not pay attention or navigate the road in a safe manner. Under Colorado law, when a motorcycle crash is caused by driver negligence, the irresponsible driver can be held legally liable and must compensate the accident victims. Your Denver motorcycle crash lawyer will work diligently on behalf of injured motorcyclists to help them seek their due damages.
Our Denver Motorcycle Crash Lawyer Explains Factors That Impact Your Compensation
Traffic Violations are Not Complete Bars to Financial Recovery
Contrary to popular belief, if you are injured while violating a motorcycle safety law or other traffic safety law (i.e. if you were speeding at the time of the accident), this does not serve as a complete bar to financial recovery. While a safety law violation may be considered evidence of negligence, (i) your violation may or may not have contributed to your accident or injuries, and (ii) even if you were negligent, you may still be entitled to a partial recovery.
Colorado Follows the Rule of “Modified Comparative Fault”
This right to a partial recovery exists under Colorado’s law of “modified comparative fault.” In Colorado, as long as you are less than 50 percent at fault in an accident, you can still seek financial compensation for your injuries. However, your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault. So, for example, if you are deemed 25 percent at fault for passing within another vehicle’s lane, you would still be entitled to collect 75 percent of your accident-related losses.
Safety Law Violations are Not Necessarily Evidence of Fault
Let’s say you were riding your motorcycle without proper eye protection at the time of your accident. Let’s also say that you were relatively lucky, and your only injuries were road rash and a broken bone in your leg. In this case, you would likely have a strong argument that your failure to wear eye protection is irrelevant to your claim for compensation.
Colorado’s Motorcycle Safety Laws
We have already mentioned a couple of Colorado’s motorcycle safety laws; but, as a rider, it is important to be aware of all of the laws that govern your use of the public roads. Colorado’s motorcycle safety laws include:
- Helmets – DOT-approved helmets are required for riders under the age of 18.
- Eye protection – All riders must wear eye protection. Options include helmet visors, goggles, and glasses made with safety glass or plastic.
- Passengers – Passengers must always ride on a seat behind the driver and they must use passenger foot pegs at all times.
- Lane sharing – Colorado law does not permit motorcycle riders to pass a vehicle in the same lane (also known as “lane sharing” or “lane splitting”). However, up to two motorcycles may ride side by side in the same lane.
The Dangers of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycles and drivers of passenger cars are expected to share the road in a safe way and obey the same traffic laws. Unfortunately, drivers often do not see motorcycles or do not know how to safely share the road with them, leading to disaster.
Common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Drivers failing to yield to motorcycle riders
- Drivers misjudging the speed that motorcyclists travel
- Drivers coming too close to motorcycle riders and not maintaining a safe following distance
- Distracted, drunk, or drowsy drivers not paying attention to motorcycle riders
- Motorcycle riders splitting lanes or driving too close to passenger vehicles
- Speeding on the part of the motorcycle rider or the driver
While motorcycle riders certainly make mistakes, often it is the inability or unwillingness of passenger car drivers to share the road that leads to an accident. Your Denver motorcycle crash attorney will identify all potential criteria for liability and fight for your compensation.
Our Denver Motorcycle Crash Lawyer Handles a Wide Variety of Claims
Motorcycle collisions come in all shapes and sizes, from relatively minor fender benders at low speeds to fatal freeway crashes involving multiple vehicles.
One common factor in many of these accidents is that other motorists often say they did not even see the motorcycle before the crash. That means that even the most experienced and cautious motorcycle riders can be at risk whenever they hit the road.
At our law firm, our Denver motorcycle accident attorneys have helped people injured in a wide variety of crashes. Some types of collisions are particularly unique to motorcycles, which is important to understand in order to consider your rights and options after an accident.
Lane Splitting Crashes
Lane splitting commonly refers to situations in which a motorcyclist rides between two lanes, with cars and other vehicles on each side traveling in the same direction. It often happens when a motorcyclist rides over the dashed white lines to navigate slow or stand still traffic.
Critics of the practice say it is dangerous and can cause accidents, while supporters see lane splitting as a safe way to improve the flow of traffic.
Although anyone who has driven in Colorado has probably seen lane splitting, the practice is currently illegal, as it is in every other state with the exception of California. Motorcyclists who split lanes are subject to tickets and fines.
Lane splitters may also be considered negligent and legally responsible for any accidents that happen. Even if you did not actually cause the accident, it can be difficult to prove that another driver was in fact negligent without the help of a Denver motorcycle crash lawyer.
Left Turn Motorcycles Accidents in Denver
These crashes commonly involve motorcycles when other motorists fail to see bikes coming. They often happen when motorcycles are traveling at high speed, leading to serious injuries and even death.
Left turn accidents typically occur in one of two scenarios: A vehicle makes a left turn into oncoming traffic; or a vehicle makes a left turn in front of a passing motorcycle. They are regularly caused by negligence on the part of a vehicle driver who does not properly yield at a traffic light, stop at a stop sign or use turn signals to alert others of the turn.
Like other types of accidents, left turn crashes often involve competing versions of how the collision happened depending on who you ask. That is one reason why it is vital to have a seasoned personal injury attorney in your corner. A motorcycle accident lawyer can gather police reports, witness statements and other evidence to detail how the crash happened and identify those responsible.
Crashes with an Open Door
Getting “doored” is an unfortunately common occurrence for motorcyclists. These crashes can cause serious injuries and significant property damage.
As the name suggests, open door accidents happen when a vehicle door opens into a passing motorcycle. In some cases, a motorcyclist may successfully swerve away from the door, only to spin out or collide with other nearby traffic.
Although the person opening a car or other door has a responsibility to check for oncoming pedestrians and vehicles, proving that he or she is legally liable for an open door crash can be complicated. Motorcyclists are expected to remain aware of their surroundings and travel at speeds that allow them to react to opening doors and moving traffic. Still, a driver who parks illegally or pops open a door in a rush may be considered negligent.
Weather-Related Motorcycle Accidents
Colorado’s sometimes harsh weather can also play a role in motorcycle and other accidents, particularly during the winter months when snow falls and roads become slick. Whether it is fog, wind, rain, snow or ice, these conditions pose a particular threat to motorcyclists. Bikes are often easier to lose control of than other vehicles and foul weather can make them harder to spot for other motorists.
That is not to mention falling temperatures. When the weather turns cold, temperature drops can reduce tire pressure and make motorcycles harder to steer.
Motorcyclist Error Crashes in Colorado
Anyone who has been on a motorcycle already knows that it is definitely not just like riding a bike. Inexperienced motorcyclists are prone to making mistakes on the road that can have devastating consequences.
It is important to understand that one person or entity may be to blame in an accident. Under Colorado’s modified comparative negligence system, a person who is partially to blame for a motorcycle or other crash can still seek some compensation for their injuries as long as they are not deemed 50 percent or more responsible for the accident.
Motorcycle Accident Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim After a Motorcycle Crash?
Generally, three years.
Colorado law imposes a three-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims stemming from motor vehicle accidents, including those related to motorcycle crashes. A person injured in a crash typically has three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit seeking money damages in state court.
For claims against a state or local government entity, the deadline shrinks to 180 days.
The statute of limitations can be paused in certain limited situations in which circumstances prevent the claim from going forward.
Often, motorcycle accident cases are resolved without going all the way to trial. Sending a demand letter to those responsible for the collision and filing a lawsuit can help start talks to resolve the matter through a negotiated settlement.
Is There a Limit on the Compensation I Can Get?
Three types of money damages are available to people injured in motorcycle accidents.
Economic damages are meant to make the person whole for any monetary impacts of the crash, while non-economic damages cover less tangible impacts, such as pain, suffering and emotional distress. Additional punitive damages may be awarded in certain cases to punish particularly reckless conduct.
There is no cap on economic damages in Colorado. Damages for pain and suffering are typically capped at $250,000 under state law, but that amount can be lifted to $500,000 in certain situations.
Punitive damages generally may not exceed the amount of the other damages awarded in a case. That is, except in wrongful death cases, where punitive damages can be up to three times the amount of the actual damages award.
What if the Motorcycle Accident Was a Hit and Run?
Hit and run accidents, in which a driver collides with another vehicle and flees the scene, are unfortunately common in Colorado. Some 3,600 of these crashes happen in Denver alone each year. Hit and run collisions most commonly occur between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Fortunately, our Denver motorcycle crash lawyer has significant experience handling these cases. We know how to investigate hit and run crashes to identify and track down those responsible. We have also had success getting clients compensation through their own auto insurance policies for uninsured or underinsured motorist accidents.
How Much is My Case Worth?
The value of any particular motorcycle accident case varies widely based on the circumstances.
Our experienced Denver motorcycle crash lawyer knows that insurers look at a number of factors in determining whether to settle a claim or fight it in court. The same factors help set the total amount of money damages that a person injured in a crash may be able to obtain.
Evidence of fault is at the top of the list. You have to be able to prove that the person or entity from which you are seeking compensation is legally liable for the crash. That means showing that the person or entity failed to live up to a particular “duty of care” and that this caused you to be injured.
You also have to be able to detail the full extent of your injuries and their impact on your ability to work and participate in daily activities. The more extensive the injuries, the higher the amount of money damages that may be available.
Medical costs are commonly a large portion of compensation in motorcycle collision cases. From treatment and medication to surgeries, therapy and rehabilitation, it is important to be able to detail the costs associated with your injuries. That includes the medical bills you have already incurred and those you expect to incur in the future.
Should I Agree to a Settlement?
The choice is ultimately up to you.
The primary benefit of a settlement is that it allows an injured person to get compensation sooner than going to court and avoids the costs and uncertainty that come with litigation. Each side is often willing to give something up in order to resolve the case and move on.
Our attorneys are accomplished negotiators with a track record of successful results through settlement. We will advocate to get you the best possible deal. We will also walk you through your options and fully explain the pros and cons of going to trial. Our lawyers are ready to go to trial to ensure clients are fairly compensated whenever needed.
How Will My Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Be Paid?
It depends. At Levine Law, our Denver motorcycle crash lawyer regularly takes cases on a contingency fee basis. That means that we do not get a fee unless we successfully get compensation for you, either in court or through a negotiated settlement.
A Few Safety Tips to Reduce the Threats of a Denver Motorcycle Accident
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 70 percent of motorcycle crashes stem from automobile drivers failing to watch for and avoid motorcyclists. That being the case, the Colorado State Patrol offers a few suggestions for riders to help them avoid accidents.
- First, even if you don’t think you need one, take a motorcycle education and training class. Whether you’re new to riding or an experienced rider, a course will help you understand the importance of biker safety, as well as proper riding techniques.
- Also, motorcyclists are encouraged not to weave in and out of traffic, as it is often difficult for automobile drivers to see motorcycles and ultimately, bikers end up in drivers’ blind spots — which can lead to horrific accidents.
- Riders are also advised to avoid driving on the shoulder and make sure to signal whenever you are changing lanes. And a top tip for all drivers and riders is to avoid operating a bike, motorcycle, automobile or any other moving vehicle while under the influence of any drugs and/or alcohol.
Safety Information for Motorists
Some automobile drivers may or may not know the rules when it comes to sharing the road with bikes and motorcycles. While it is more difficult to see a bike or motorcycle as opposed to an automobile, it is still imperative for drivers to keep certain information in mind when driving on the road.
- For example, prior to making turns or changing lanes, motorists are advised to especially look out for motorcyclists prior to performing any maneuvers, as they may be in a motorist’s blind spot for a brief period of time.
- Also, drivers should make certain to use their turn signals to alert motorcyclists and others on the road of their intention to change lanes or make turns. Motorist is also encouraged to leave enough room between their vehicle and the motorcycle.
Over the last 10 years, motorcycle fatalities have doubled. We at Levine Law want everyone to stay safe and avoid accidents where possible. If you or someone you love has been involved in a crash while on a motorcycle, bike or in an automobile, do not hesitate to call our office for assistance from an experienced Denver motorcycle crash lawyer.
Take Legal Action: Contact a Denver Motorcycle Crash Lawyer Today
When a motorcycle accident occurs because a driver breaks the rules of the road or acts carelessly, that driver can be held legally liable for his actions. Liable drivers can be made to compensate the accident victim for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other damages. If the motorcycle accident was fatal, then surviving family members can sue for wrongful death damages.
To successfully obtain compensation, the injured motorcyclist must prove negligence and show that the other driver was at fault. An experienced accident lawyer at Levine Law can help you gather the proof you need to build a strong case. Our attorneys have more than 20 years of experience representing injured victims in motorcycle and auto accidents.