Denver Motorcycle Accidents Lawyer
Motorcycle injuries often range from extremely serious to catastrophic: without the benefit of the protective frame of a car, and without a seatbelt, motorcycle riders often take a direct strike during a crash. Specifically, motorcycle riders may suffer from the following injuries after a crash:
- Concussion and traumatic brain injury.
- Neck, back and spine injuries.
- Broken bones and fractures.
- Road rash.
- Blunt force trauma.
- Internal injuries.
These injuries can be painful, stressful, and expensive. Some can lead to permanent disabilities and some may even be fatal. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a motorcycle accident in Colorado, and someone else was at fault, you may be owed compensation for damages, including:
- Past and future related medical expenses.
- Lost wages and lost future earnings.
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of quality of life.
At Zaner Harden Law our team of Colorado motorcycle accident attorneys is committed to making certain that the victims of motorcycle accidents and their families get what they need and deserve in the wake of a wreck. We understand that these accidents can have serious consequences that can change lives and endanger dreams. We also understand which legal steps families need to take to make sure that justice is served.
Understanding the Colorado Motorcycle Community
In January 2016, a deadly brawl broke out between two motorcycle clubs in Denver, the Iron Order and the Mongols Motorcycle Club. During the melee, one man was shot and killed, while seven others were injured by gunshot wounds or knife wounds.
But while these biker gang stories make the front page of our papers, the stereotype of the grizzled and troubled biker is just that: a stereotype. In reality, there are 157,000 registered motorcycles in Colorado (as of 2007) and the vast majority of these riders are regular, law-abiding citizens who simply love to ride bikes. Most were males over the age of 44 who had well-paying jobs and who just like riding as a hobby. While some are involving in motorcycle clubs, most clubs engage in safe, peaceful, and community-minded activities.
Colorado and Denver Motorcycle Accident Facts and Statistics
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), 2015 was the deadliest year for Colorado motorcyclists on record: 106 riders died on highways, interstates, and roads across the state. Denver County, along with Jefferson County and El Paso County, made up 40 percent of the fatalities.
U.S. Motorcyclist Fatalities: 1975-2015
Here are some other recent motorcycle accident statistics from Colorado:
- Motorcycle accident fatalities increased by 11.7 percent between 2014 and 2015. They increased a full 20 percent between 2013 and 2015.
- Riders between the ages of 16 and 55 accounted for 78 percent of the fatal crashes.
- A vast majority of motorcycle accident victims–94 percent–were men.
- Alcohol was involved in 35 percent of fatal crashes.
- About 95 percent of regular motorcycle riders held a motorcycle license.
- 80 percent of fatal accidents involved riders who were not wearing helmets.
- More than half of all riders regularly wear a helmet.
State authorities are unsure of why this steep increase in fatal motorcycle accidents is taking place. To combat the rise in crashes, they are promoting helmet safety as well as encouraging both seasoned and new bikers to take a motorcycle riding training course.
Who Is At Fault For Your Motorcycle Accident in Colorado?
After a motorcycle accident and injury, it is vital to find out who or what caused the accident–keeping in mind that more than one party could be responsible for the collision.
- The driver of the other vehicle. The driver of another vehicle is at fault in about half of all car-motorcycle collisions. The most common reasons include not seeing the motorcycle, distracted driving, speeding, reckless driving, fatigued driving, or driving under the influence.
- The motorcycle driver. Motorcycle drivers are also at fault in about half of crashes. They have have been speeding, violated a traffic law, riding under the influence, riding recklessly, or riding tired.
- A municipality. Some motorcycle wrecks take place because of poor road design or poor road conditions (potholes, road construction, etc.). In these cases, the party responsible for maintaining the road may be responsible for your injuries and property damage.
- An auto manufacturer. If your motorcycle accident was caused by a defective motorcycle part, such as a bad tire, the manufacturer of the part may be at fault–and may already be facing lawsuits from other riders.
- A mechanic. If a mechanic worked on your bike in a negligent manner, he or she may be responsible for the resulting crash, along with its monetary consequences.
Keep in mind that Colorado is a comparative fault state. That means that even if you were partially at fault for the motorcycle accident, you can still collect a percentage of the compensation, based proportionally on how responsible you were for the crash and how responsible other parties were for the crash.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
It’s a big misconception that the vast majority of motorcycle accidents are the fault of reckless motorcyclists who don’t ride by the rules. In fact, motorcycle riders are only at fault in about 50 percent of motorcycle-car collisions. What are the most common causes of motorcycle wrecks?
- Left turns. One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents is cars turning left in front of motorcycle at intersections–either because they don’t see the oncoming bike or because they are distracted. These crashes can be extremely devastating to motorcycle riders, who usually have little time to break before slamming into the car.
- Lane changes. Motorcycles are much smaller than cars and can disappear into blind spots easily. For uncareful drivers, it’s all too common to merge or switch lanes directly into the path or a motorcycle.
- Following too closely. When two cars are involved in a rear end accident, the outcome is usually a minor fender-bender. But for crashes where the back vehicle is a motorcycle, the results can include head, neck, and spine injuries–including fatal injuries.
- Reckless driving. Reckless driving by both those on motorcycles and those in other vehicles can lead to motorcycle accidents. When motorcycle riders speed or drive recklessly, it can be easy to lose control of the bike, causing an accident.
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving can cause any kind of traffic accident, but it is especially common when a distracted driver of a car fails to see a motorcycle on the road. Keeping both your eyes and mind on the road is vital to preventing motorcycle accidents.
- Fatigued driving. Driving while tired can mean not being able to concentrate on the road or worse, falling asleep while operating a vehicle. Fatigued driving, along with drunk driving, is the reason that a large percentage of wrecks take place in the early morning and late at night.
- Driving under the influence. About 35 percent of motorcycle accidents involve alcohol or drugs–that’s about the same amount of all traffic accidents in general. Riding a motorbike requires a significant amount of hand-eye coordination and concentration, and even a beer or two can affect your ability to ride safely.
- Road conditions. Because motorcycles have two wheels instead of four or more, they are much less stable than other vehicles. Poor road conditions, including wet roads, icy roads, poorly maintained roads, or road construction, can all cause a biker to lose control and crash. In some cases, the fault of these crashes lies with the party responsible for maintaining the roads.
Colorado Motorcycle Laws
In order to minimize your chances of a motorcycle accident or motorcycle accident injury, as well as to avoid traffic violations, it is important to follow all Colorado laws regarding motorcycle riding. While motorcycle riders are generally asked to follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles, there are a few specific laws that pertain only to them:
- Helmet law: Motorcycle riders are not required to wear a helmet if they are over the age of 18. If they are under the age of 18, they are required to wear a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
- Eye protection law: Motorcycle riders are required to wear some form of eye protection, not including a motorcycle windshield. Eye protection could include: a helmet visor, visor, goggles, or glasses made of safety glass or plastic.
- Passing and lane-sharing laws: It is illegal for a motorcycle to share a lane with a car or truck, or to pass a car or truck in the same lane. It is also illegal for a motorcycle to ride between two lanes of traffic. However, two motorcycles may ride abreast of each other in the same lane.
- Motorcycle passenger laws: Passengers may ride behind the motorcycle driver or in a seat beside them, but not in front of them. Passengers must use footrests.
- Clinging laws: Motorcycles cannot be towed by or tied to other vehicles.
Choosing A Colorado Attorney With Experience With Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, or if your loved one has been killed in a motorcycle accident, it is imperative to know why the crash occurred and who is responsible for its consequences. It’s also important to understand that the at-fault parties may not be who it may seem.
Motorcycle accident and injury cases are different than other traffic accident cases: motorcycle collisions have different common causes, different common injuries, and different liable parties. It is important that your attorney is intimate with these differences.
At Zaner Harden Law, our team of attorneys has specific experience with motorcycle accident and injury cases as well as motorcycle wrongful death cases. To schedule a private, free consultation with one of our attorneys today, please contact our office.