Motorcycle Accidents Can Be Deadly
A motorcycle accident is different than a typical car crash. Injuries are generally more serious, and the determination of fault can turn on adherence to laws that are unique to motorcycles. There are specific laws pertaining to motorcycle operation in Colorado that all motorcyclists should know.
COLORADO LAWS FOR MOTORCYCLE OPERATION:
- It is illegal for a motorcyclist to share a lane with a car.
- It is illegal for a motorcyclist to ride between rows of stopped cars.
- Motorcycle passengers must ride behind the motorcycle operator and use footrests.
- Motorcyclists under the age of 18 must wear helmets.
- Motorcyclists must use approved eye protection.
- Motorcyclists must have a regular driver’s license that specifically authorizes the driver to operate a motorcycle. This special authorization is obtained by passing a motorcycle written test, a motorcycle driving test, and the payment of required fees.
- Low power scooters do not qualify as motorcycles but do require a basic driver’s license for operation.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
As previously mentioned, injuries from motorcycle accidents tend to be more severe than injuries suffered in a typical car crash. Due to the lack of a protective car frame and a seatbelt, injuries often include:
- Head and neck injuries
- Road rash
- Blunt force trauma
These injuries are more likely to be serious and permanent. Permanency means that the injured’s body will be different in some way after the crash than it was before, and can include scarring. From the perspective of recovering damages, there is no limit in Colorado for permanency.
What Does At-Fault Mean?
Colorado is an at-fault state, meaning that the party determined to have caused the accident is the party who pays the damages. Despite popular belief, motorcyclists are generally found to be at fault in about half (not all!) of crashes involving a motorcycle and car. Crashes can happen for many and multiple reasons. When a motorcyclist is found to be at fault, it is often due speeding, carelessness, fatigue, or illegal lane sharing. When a driver of a car is found to be at fault, it is almost always because (due to inattention, distraction, or speeding) the driver did not see the motorcyclist. Among riders and drivers alike, intoxication is a factor in approximately one third of Colorado crashes. Minimize your risk by following the law.
Tips for Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents
Many motorcycle accidents occur when a car turns left into the path of a motorcycle and the motorcycle does not have time to stop. When you are behind the wheel, remember to check your blind spots before merging, especially when turning left. When you ride, do not ride in the blind spot of a car. Pay attention to the road conditions, too. Potholes, for example, pose a threat to motorcyclists that simply does not exist for drivers of cars.
The Importance of Wearing a Helmet
Although persons age 18 and above may legally ride without a helmet in Colorado, helmets really can mean the difference between life and death in a crash. According to CDOT, there were 103 motorcyclist fatalities in Colorado in 2018. More than half of the motorcyclists who died were not wearing a helmet. Some riders believe helmets are dangerous because they reduce peripheral vision, but in a study of more than 900 motorcycle crashes, where 40% of riders wore helmets, there was not even one case in which a helmet kept a rider from spotting danger (Colorado Motorcycle Handbook). Riders who wear helmets are more likely to survive a crash.
Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?
CALL A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you should know that the police report is not always the final word in determining liability. Due to the nature of accidents involving motorcycles, fault can sometimes be shared and the less guilty party can still collect damages. Fault can also involve parties that seem irrelevant at first, like the municipality in charge of road design and repair, or a motorcycle maintenance shop.
Even if you don’t think you have a “case,” talk to a Denver personal injury attorney and let them make that call. At Shafner Law, we have successfully recovered compensation for injured motorcyclists and their passengers. Even when, at first glance, compensation was severely in doubt.
For a free consultation, call Shafner Law at (303) 796-0555 or fill out the Case Form below.
Additional Motorcycle Accident Resources