Colorado Motorcycle Laws
Under Colorado state law, all motorcyclists must abide by the same rules as other motorists. While riders aged 18 and older can choose not to wear a helmet, all drivers under 18 must wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet. It is recommended that all motorcyclists wear a helmet at all times since helmets can help protect motorcyclists and passengers against life-changing traumatic brain injuries.
Passengers must have their own footrests and ride on the seat behind the driver. No passengers are allowed to ride in front of the person operating the bike. Lastly, lane splitting—that is, the practice of riding in between lanes of traffic—is against the law in Colorado. However, it is legal for two motorcyclists to share a single lane of traffic, riding side by side.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Many motorcycle accidents in Colorado are due to:
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving occurs when a driver takes their hands off the wheel, their eyes off the road, or their focus off the task of driving. It is one of the most common causes of accidents. Common driving distractions include texting, talking on the phone, eating and drinking, personal grooming, talking to passengers, reaching for an item, and daydreaming.
- Drunk driving – Drugs and alcohol limit a driver’s ability to concentrate on the road, impair their judgment, and reduce their reaction time. Drunk drivers put themselves and everyone on the road at risk – particularly motorcyclists, who lack many of the safety protections afforded to occupants in passenger vehicles.
- Fatigue – Tired drivers suffer many of the same symptoms as impaired drivers, including reduced ability to judge traffic situations and slowed reaction time. Fatigued drivers may fail to notice motorcyclists with whom they are sharing the road.
- Reckless driving – Aggressive driving, road rage, following too closely, speeding, and driving too fast for conditions are all dangerous to motorcyclists.
For most motorcycle accident claims, a thorough investigation is necessary to determine the precise cause of a given motorcycle accident and establish fault.
Types of Motorcycle Accidents
There are numerous types of motorcycle accidents, including:
- Left-hand turn accidents – Left-hand turn accidents can occur in various scenarios, such as when a motorcyclist is traveling straight through an intersection and a motor vehicle fails to yield the right-of-way before attempting to turn, or when a motorist attempts to turn as a motorcyclist is overtaking them.
- Head-on collisions – Head-on collisions occur when a motorcycle and another vehicle crash into one another while approaching from opposite directions. Head-on collisions effectively double the force of impact, resulting in catastrophic injuries.
- Lane-splitting accidents – Lane-splitting accidents can occur when motorcyclists weave between lanes of traffic. If a vehicle suddenly changes lanes, a motorcyclist may not have time to react before they cause a collision.
- Road hazards – Road hazards including potholes, uneven lanes, and slick asphalt can cause motorcyclists to lose control of their vehicles and crash.
Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists often sustain severe injuries simply because they have little protection from the force of an impact. While occupants of passenger vehicles have airbags, seat belts, anti-lock brakes, and the metal frame of their car to shield them from a collision, motorcyclists have only their clothes and helmets.
Some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries – Often known by the abbreviation TBIs, traumatic brain injuries can occur when a motorcyclist sustains a violent blow to the head, such as when they are struck by a car or when they hit the pavement. TBIs can range from relatively minor concussions to severe brain swelling and bleeding, which is life-threatening. TBIs often require emergency medical care. They can also cause psychological issues, including memory loss, personality changes, and trouble with logic and reasoning.
- Back and spine injuries – Back and spine injuries can range from minor or moderate injuries—such as pinched nerves, slipped discs, and back sprains—to serious injuries like fractured vertebrae and serious spinal cord injuries. Back and spinal injuries may require surgery and rehabilitative care.
- Paralysis – Injuries to a motorcyclist’s spine can lead to paralysis. Depending on where the injury occurs on the spinal cord, paralysis may affect the lower limbs (paraplegia) or all four limbs (quadriplegia). Paralysis is an often permanent and life-altering condition that can impact every area of a person’s day-to-day life.
- Burns – Contact with fire or hazardous chemicals can burn the skin. Depending on the severity of the burns and the resulting treatment, burns can cause significant, permanent disfigurement.
- Road rash – If a motorcyclist is thrown from their bike upon impact, they may slide across the pavement, which can cause severe skin abrasions known as “road rash.” Road rash can become infected and must be treated expeditiously.
- Internal injuries – Internal injuries are those in which the body’s internal organs are damaged. Common internal injuries stemming from motorcycle accidents include ruptured kidneys, ruptured liver, ruptured diaphragm, ruptured spleen, and punctured lungs.
- Broken/fractured bones – The extreme forces of a motorcycle collision can also break bones. Motorcyclists are exposed to the elements and have little in the way of safety features, which means they usually bear the brunt of any crash they’re involved in. Furthermore, the automatic reaction to try to block a fall with one’s hands could cause a motorcyclist’s arms and wrists to break.
If you have suffered these or other injuries due to a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, you could be owed compensation. A Colorado motorcycle accident lawyer can help you pursue the money you deserve from the negligent driver and their insurance company.
Compensation Available in Colorado Motorcycle Accident Claims
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you might be eligible to claim compensation from the motorist who caused the crash. Compensation is meant to help motorcycle accident victims cover expenses and losses stemming from the accident. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could potentially pursue motorcycle accident compensation for:
- Medical expenses – Medical costs can quickly pile up after an accident, adding to your financial burden. You could recover compensation for hospital bills, doctor’s visits, surgeries, physical therapy, prescription medications, and more.
- Lost wages – You may not be able to support yourself if you cannot return to work while recovering from your injuries. If accident-related injuries keep you off the job, you could pursue compensation for this lost income.
- Lost earning capacity – If you are temporarily or permanently disabled after a crash, you may no longer be able to perform the full scope of your job duties, reducing the amount of money you can make in the future. You could be compensated for this lost earning capacity.
- Property damage – You could recover money for repairs to or replacement of your damaged motorcycle from the driver who caused the crash.
- Pain and suffering – Unlike medical expenses and lost wages, pain and suffering caused by the accident can be more complicated to quantify. “Pain and suffering” includes non-monetary losses like physical pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, PTSD, and more.
A seasoned Colorado motorcycle accident lawyer can calculate all of the expenses related to the accident and quantify losses like pain and suffering so that your claim for compensation reflects the totality of what you have lost.
Determining Fault in a Colorado Motorcycle Crash
Establishing who was at fault for a motorcycle accident can be challenging, which is why it’s vital to consult with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
Generally speaking, everyone on the road has an obligation to follow traffic laws and operate their vehicles conscientiously. When someone violates this obligation, they have acted negligently, and they can be held at fault for a collision that results from this negligence.
For example, suppose a motorist was texting while driving and consequently did not see a motorcyclist in front of their vehicle before striking them. That motorcyclist’s attorney could use cell phone records to show that the driver was sending a text at the time of the accident, which would serve as evidence of negligence on the driver’s part. Then, the attorney would need to show how the driver’s phone use led directly to the accident that caused their client’s injuries.
Finally, the attorney would need to demonstrate that the motorcyclist suffered compensable losses due to the accident. Examples of compensable losses include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Contact Our Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in Denver, CO
Were you injured in a motorcycle accident in Denver? Was someone else to blame? If so, contact the Colorado motorcycle accident attorneys at Geiger Legal Group, LLC. We have the knowledge and resources to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Reach out today for a free, no-risk consultation.