Motorcycle accidents and fatalities have reached an all-time high in Denver. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, 2022 has the highest rate of motorcycle fatalities ever recorded. These numbers will continue to rise during the summer months when more motorcyclists are out riding.
Read on to find out about recent Denver motorcycle accident statistics and when it’s time to call a lawyer after an accident.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
With motorcycle fatality rates climbing higher than ever, the Colorado Department of Transportation urges drivers to practice safe driving habits. Here are some statistics to reflect the severity of motorcycle accidents in 2022 and recent years:
- 149 motorcyclists died on Colorado roads
- Motorcycle fatalities made up 20% of the state’s local traffic fatalities.
- So far this year, 21 people have died in fatal motorcycle accidents, compared to 27 at the same time last year.
- Nationwide, motorcyclists represent 15% of all traffic fatalities but only 3% of registered vehicles.
- A total of 82,528 motorcycle riders sustained injuries in 2020
- Most motorcycle accidents and injuries occur in August, when about 14% of all motorcycle accidents occur. The warmer weather is the most feasible explanation for the highest accident rates in August.
- In contrast, January is the safest month, when just 3% of all fatal motorcycle crashes occur.
- Failure to wear a helmet, alcohol, and speeding are the greatest risk factors for motorcycle accidents.
- Most accidents occur between the hours of 3 pm to 6 pm on weekdays.
What Causes Denver Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries?
Motorcyclists lack the added layer of security that cars have. They don’t have the metal barrier to brace their fall or protect their bodies. Therefore, motorcycle accidents almost always result in more fatal outcomes than accidents involving other motor vehicles.
Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Failure to yield to motorcyclists who have the right of way
- Lane splitting or lane filtering
- Following too closely, not allowing adequate distance between other vehicles
- Failure to see motorcyclists in a car’s blind spot
- Failure to use turn signals for turns or lane changes
Denver Motorcycle Accidents Result in Severe Injuries
The most common injuries that result from motorcycle accidents include:
- Mild or severe head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injury which can cause partial or complete paralysis
- Limb amputation
- Burn injuries
- Broken collarbone, chest bones, rib bones, leg bones, arm bones, wrist bones
- Scarring and disfigurement
Determining Liability in a Denver Motorcycle Accident
Colorado is an at-fault state. That means the driver or motorist who is at fault for hitting a motorcycle can be held liable (or the at-fault party’s insurance). Liability also means they are financially responsible for covering the victim’s damages.
A Denver motorcycle accident lawyer can launch an intensive investigation to uncover all the details and firmly establish liability. Potentially liable parties include:
- Another driver – many accidents occur due to driver error. This can endanger the lives of everyone on the road, including vehicle occupants and motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are prone to sustain much greater injury than vehicle occupants in the event of a crash.
- The motorcyclists – in some cases, the motorcyclist can be partially responsible
- A manufacturer – if the accident was caused by a defective car or motorcycle manufacturer, they could be held liable. In such a case, the injury victim might have grounds for a defective product or product liability claim.
- If the government or other entity was responsible for keeping the roads safe but failed to do so, they could be held liable. For example, if a pothole or uneven shoulder causes a motorcyclist to crash, the government entity responsible for maintaining that road could be found liable.
Liability is also not limited to just one party. It’s possible for several parties to be liable in a Denver motorcycle accident case. This is why you need an attorney to investigate your accident and identify all potentially liable parties. Then your attorney can help collect the supporting evidence to prove negligence.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Denver Motorcycle Accident?
Since Colorado is an at-fault state, the at-fault party’s insurance must pay for the accident. However, the injured party bears the burden of proof – meaning they must prove fault in order to establish the negligence of the at-fault party. They will need to provide evidence that clearly shows the other party’s negligence caused the accident and led to their injuries.
Since the plaintiff has the burden of proof, they are responsible for the preponderance of the evidence. Your attorney will assist you in gathering all the evidence you need to present it in a clear and convincing manner. There are a few key elements to proving negligence:
- First, you have to show that the other party had a duty of care owed to you (or an obligation not to cause harm)
- Then you must prove they breached that duty of care and caused the motorcycle accident. This could be through reckless driving, speeding, tailgating, careless mistake, drunk driving, or any other type of negligence.
- Finally, you must show that in breaching their duty of care, the at-fault party directly caused your injuries.
- Examples of evidence to support your claim include police reports, accident reconstruction data, videos, photographs, witness testimonies, medical records, and expert testimonies.
Comparative Negligence in a Denver Motorcycle Accident
It’s possible to encounter the comparative negligence defense from the defendant. If so, they are basically saying that you contributed to the accident. Denver follows modified comparative negligence laws. That means as long as you are less than 51% a fault, you can still seek partial damage compensation. Your award would simply get reduced by the percentage of fault you contributed to the accident.
However, if you are more than 50% at fault, you may not seek damage reparations. Using the comparative negligence claim is a common defense tactic insurance companies use to pay injury victims less. But with a skilled Denver motorcycle accident attorney on your side, they can help you combat any false or exaggerated allegations of comparative negligence. More importantly, you’ll be able to protect your right to a full and fair financial recovery.
Motorcycle Accident Cases Are Not Quite the Same as Car Accident Cases
The basis for any motor accident claim is proving negligence. This holds true for car accidents and motorcycle accidents. However, motorcycle accident cases are car accident cases that require different claims processes and therefore require unique attention. There are several issues motorcyclists face that are unique to motorcycle accidents.
For instance, motorcyclists often deal with a perceived assumption of risk just because they are riding a motorcycle. This is somewhat of a bias against motorcyclists that they are “risky” and always speedy. This results in reduced insurance settlement offer and liability disputes, and allegations that the motorcyclist was engaging in dangerous driving behaviors.
Another key issue is that motorcycle accidents usually end in more severe injuries. They are usually life-threatening or catastrophic. While a car accident victim can walk away with a sore neck and a few bruises, a motorcycle accident yields much more serious outcomes. Hiring an attorney for a motorcycle accident case can make a huge difference in the compensation you get, as more severe injuries generally mean higher value settlements for injuries and medical costs.
Lastly, sometimes, the jury members don’t understand how motorcycles operate or what it’s like to operate one. This could affect their judgment when it comes time to make a decision for fault and come up with a settlement verdict.
Working with an experienced attorney can help you tackle the unique challenges that motorcycle accident cases present.
Are Colorado Motorcyclists Required to Carry Insurance?
Motorcyclists, just like all other vehicle operators in Denver, must carry insurance. Motorcyclists must have at least the minimum amount of insurance as follows:
- $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person
- $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident
- $15,000 in property damage
In case the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you may need to use your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Unless you specifically opt for UM/UIM insurance coverage in writing, you most likely have it as part of your policy. You may have even purchased more coverage when you bought your policy. If so, your collision and comprehensive coverage would cover your losses, regardless of who is at fault.
However, liability insurance in Colorado is required since the state follows “at-fault” insurance laws. The at-fault party’s liability insurance is meant to cover the medical bills and property damage of the injury victims. Likewise, if a motorcyclist causes an accident, their liability insurance would be liable for covering the injury victims’ losses.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Claim in a Denver Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle accidents do much more than just physical harm. They can leave lasting mental, emotional, and psychological harm. Many motorcycle accident victims suffer permanent impairments and require ongoing physical therapy, rehabilitation, and sometimes in-home care. Such medical care can become very costly and take an immense financial toll on the injury victim and their families. On top of that, the injured victim may be unable to work, further exacerbating their financial hardships.
While no amount of money can make up for the devastation of getting injured in a motorcycle accident, it can help the victim and their families recover financially. The award money will also help provide a sense of closure and justice by holding the at-fault party accountable.
Every case is unique and will be worth a different amount. However, motorcycle accident victims are usually entitled to compensation for the following damages:
- Medical bills, including future medical bills related to the accident
- Lost income
- Property damage
- Reduced earning potential
- Physical therapy
- Assistive care
- Long-term medical treatment
- Assistive devices or in-home care
- Psychological treatment (counseling, therapy, etc.)
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional damages
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
What Factors Affect the Amount of Compensation I Can Seek?
Every motorcycle accident case is different and will have unique circumstances. As such, you need an attorney who can assess your case based on its individual merits and devise a tailored plan that best suits your needs. Some factors that will affect how much compensation you get include:
- The nature and extent of your injuries
- The financial impact you’ve suffered due to the accident and related losses
- The effect of the accident and injuries on your life
- The impact the accident had on the other driver
- Who was at fault, or if you contributed to any fault
With the help of an experienced Denver motorcycle accident lawyer, you can evaluate and assess all of these factors to come up with a fair claim value. Be sure to consult with an attorney before you accept any settlement offer from the insurance company or give them any recorded statements.
Denver’s Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accident Claims
Denver law allows motorcycle accident victims three years from the date of the accident to file a claim. If you discover you are injured later or have a delayed onset of symptoms, your deadline will start when you discover the injuries. If you need to take legal action against a government entity, you have less time. Since it can be tricky to make sure you meet the specific deadline for your case, it’s best to work with an attorney who is familiar with the law and can ensure you file a claim on time. Missing the deadline will mean you forfeit your right to seek any financial recovery for this particular accident. Another reason why you shouldn’t wait too long is that evidence can deteriorate quickly, and you may lose critical evidence needed for your claim.
Contact a Denver Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you or your loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident in Denver, Colorado, you should speak with a legal professional as soon as you can. Gearing up with strong legal counsel is your best chance at getting full and fair financial compensation. We want to help you and will handle all of the legal proceedings on your behalf so you can focus on healing.
Call or text us today for a free initial consultation.