Expert Legal Counsel after a Motorcycle Collision
As motorcycles continue to grow in popularity, the number of accidents involving motorcyclists is rising. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 5,290 fatalities in 2008, and countless more riders seriously injured. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable. They are far more likely than operators of other motor vehicles to suffer from traumatic injuries and even fatalities. Reckless or dangerous drivers are often to blame for these accidents.
Motorcycle accident victims are entitled to recover financial compensation from the party responsible for their injuries. Contact the motorcycle accident attorneys at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, serving Boulder, Fort Collins, Denver, and surrounding Colorado areas, if you have recently been injured in a motorcycle accident. Our legal team has the experience and in-depth knowledge necessary to obtain top dollar for you and your family. Call (303) 502-5587 today.
Motorcycle Accident Case
Motorcycle Accident Case
Motorcycle Accident Causes
Every motorcycle accident is different, but there are several common factors that can influence how your injuries were caused and who you can file a claim against. The first and foremost cause is negligent drivers. Drivers often disregard the safety of motorcyclists and do not know how to drive properly around them. A negligent driver may:
- Drive at unsafe speeds
- Tailgate motorcyclists
- Box a motorcyclist in against other vehicles
- Fail to check blind spots while changing lanes, pushing a driver into safety rails or off the road
- Brake suddenly and cause a motorcycle to collide with the rear bumper
- Commit a DUI
- Drive distracted or drowsy, which makes it harder for them to react to their surroundings
While drivers are the primary cause of accidents, motorcycle crashes can also be attributed to other parties. Motorcycles are complex vehicles that require consistent maintenance and reliable engineering to function properly. Some single-vehicle crashes can be the fault of a mechanical failure, such as a faulty brake system or gears that lock up. In some cases, this can be the fault of the rider for not repairing a bike, but many times accidents have been attributed to either a negligent manufacturer who designed the motorcycle incorrectly or a maintenance crew who improperly repaired the bike.
In addition to negligent drivers, manufacturers, and mechanics, your injuries may be the fault of Denver Public Works. This agency is required to repair and maintain all roadways, including fixing potholes, replacing burned-out streetlamps, replacing damaged signs and traffic lights, and generally ensuring the roads are safe to use. If your bike struck debris or a pothole, leading to a collision, you may be able to file a claim if the agency committed negligence in maintaining the roads.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcyclists lack the protection of a car or truck. Therefore, when they collide with a car or truck, they are at a higher risk of suffering traumatic injury, including:
- Neck and back injury
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Disfiguring injury
- Broken bones
- Severe road rash
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, contact attorney J. Todd Tenge, serving Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins, and surrounding areas, to schedule a free consultation. If the accident was not your fault, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for your loss.
The Costs of Serious Injuries
Because motorcyclists are so vulnerable on the road, they regularly sustain severe or catastrophic injuries. The initial pain and stress of dealing with an injury can be difficult enough, but motorcycle accident victims often experience lasting expenses and effects of their injuries—sometimes, for the rest of their lives. Properly taking action against negligent parties is critical to recovering full compensation for all of a motorcycle accident victim’s past and future losses. The following are some common damages in motorcycle accident cases.
- Medical bills – Motorcyclists often sustain severe traumatic injuries that need immediate medical care. Many motorcyclists are transported via ambulance or even a medical helicopter straight to the hospital due to the severity of their condition. Even if emergency transport is not needed, accident victims may still need to head straight to the emergency room for an evaluation and treatment. Emergency trauma care can be costly, but that is often nothing compared to the medical bills that will pile up. Motorcycle accident victims may need to be hospitalized, may require surgeries, and may need many follow-up appointments, physical therapy, medications, and more.
- Future medical care – Many catastrophic injuries require ongoing medical care long after an insurance claim or lawsuit is resolved. Just because you have not yet incurred these expenses does not mean that you should recover compensation for these losses. However, estimating future medical expenses during the course of your expected lifetime can present a serious challenge. Often, this can require the analysis of a medical expert who fully understands the nature and extent of future treatment you will require. An expert will consider any ongoing therapy, home healthcare, medical equipment replacements, medications, and other treatments that are typically necessary for the type of injury you sustained.
- Lost income – Motorcycle accident victims may have to miss work for several reasons. First, if you are in the hospital or recovering from surgery, you will obviously not be able to go to work each day. You may need to take time off work to attend doctor appointments or physical therapy. Even a few hours of lost income can affect your monthly budget. In addition, some injuries cause physical limitations that make it impossible for you to perform your job. For instance, a back injury can make heavy lifting or other physical work impossible. You may have to stay home from work until you are able to complete your job duties again.
- Future lost earnings – Some catastrophic injuries result in permanent disabilities that can keep you from ever being able to perform your job again. If you work in construction and suffer a spinal cord injury and permanent paralysis, it will likely be impossible for you to perform heavy construction work from a wheelchair. If you work as a physician or researcher, cognitive impairments from a traumatic brain injury may prevent you from returning to the job. Even if you can find a different job, it may pay far less and may require a change from your chosen profession. Some people may never work again and may rely on disability benefits. You deserve compensation for any earning capacity you lost for the rest of your expected working years.
- Pain and suffering – Anyone who has suffered a serious injury knows the physical pain that can come along with traumatic injuries. Pain medication often cannot mask the pain and may have its own serious side effects. For people with lasting injuries, the pain can persist indefinitely. Furthermore, dealing with a sudden, unexpected, life-changing injury can cause emotional suffering, as well. Accidents themselves can be highly traumatic and may result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental conditions. You deserve to recover compensation for all the physical and emotional pain and suffering you experienced.
- Permanent disability – As mentioned, many motorcycle accident injuries can result in permanent disabilities and impairments. Paralysis, brain damage, amputations, and more can affect nearly every aspect of your life. Even a knee or leg injury can prevent you from ever playing sports or engaging in activities you once loved. Dealing with a permanent disability can be difficult and can result in a significant loss of enjoyment of life. It can also keep you from working or even caring for yourself.
- Permanent disfigurement – Many motorcycle injuries can be permanently disfiguring. Limbs may be crushed and may need to be amputated. If a motorcyclist hits the ground with their face, they may suffer severe dental damage, facial injuries, and more that can permanently change the way their face looks. Burns often cause severe disfigurement. Permanent disfigurement can not only change your abilities but may also affect your professional and/or personal life in many ways. If you worked as a model or actor and had your face disfigured, you may not be able to work in that industry anymore. The same may be true for an artist or handy person who has their hand amputated. Disfigurement can also result in social anxiety, changes in relationships, depression, and much more.
Calculating and proving your full damages after a severe motorcycle injury can prove difficult.
At the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, we work to ensure that all of your past and future losses are accounted for, whether they are financial losses or intangible damages. But to do that, we will need to launch an in-depth investigation and account for specific pieces of evidence to support your claim for compensation.
Evidence in Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can be extremely complex, but there are common pieces of evidence that can support your claim. Like car accidents, cases involving motorcycle collisions may require the following evidence to build a strong case:
- Police Reports: When speaking to the police after an accident, it is important to only state the facts. Police officers can be biased against motorcyclists and can indicate liability and fault in their reports. That is why you should avoid admitting any traffic violations or personal opinions and only provide factual details.
- Medical Records: Your initial check-up after an accident and treatment plan will go a long way to proving your injuries. You will also want to be well into recovery before filing a claim so that your attorney can include all related medical expenses and future costs into your claim. Make sure to see a doctor who specializes in treating motorcycle accident victims, as they will have a better understanding of how to treat your injuries.
- Witness Statements: We understand it can be difficult to collect witness statements immediately following an accident but having a friend or family member collect witness information may prove useful down the line. In addition, if your accident was outside a popular business, staff may be able to provide statements afterward.
- Photos of the Accident: Taking photos can also be difficult if you are severely injured, but even photos of the road, damage to your bike, and the other vehicle can prove helpful.
- Surveillance Footage: Local business, traffic lights, and ATM’s may have cameras that captured the collision. Your attorney can work to collect this footage during an in-depth investigation.
- Accident Reconstructionist Reports: Your attorney can also contact an accident reconstructionist who can use witness statements, police reports, photos, and footage to clearly reconstruct the events of the accident and determine who is liable for your injuries.
While these pieces of evidence are relevant in any vehicle collision, motorcycle accidents also have a few ways of supporting a claim, including:
- Damage to Your Bike: Scrapping or repairing your bike after an accident can be a major mistake. Car paint can scrape off onto your bike during a collision, showing where the driver struck you. Damage to the frame and mechanical components can also show how fast the other driver was traveling and how they caused your injuries. It is best to store your bike after an accident until an expert can review it.
- Clothing/Protective Gear: Throwing out or washing your clothing is also a mistake. Clothing and protective gear may also collect car paint and impact damage that shows how a vehicle hit you and the extent of your injuries. Seal your clothing and gear in airtight backs after an accident to keep them preserved.
- Driving Records: Your personal driving records can help show that you have a history of driving safely and obeying the law, which is important when dealing with insurance adjusters who try to pin blame on you.
- GoPro Footage: Some bikers have taken to recording their rides on a GoPro attached to their helmets, allowing them to share footage later. This footage should be collected immediately after an accident and shown to your attorney, who can determine how relevant it is to your case.
Motorcycle Laws in Colorado
Colorado has specific motorcycle laws in place that are intended to keep riders and other motorists safe. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents still happen. However, even if you have violated one of these laws, you are still entitled to compensation, but you will need the aid of a skilled attorney. At the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, our experienced Denver motorcycle accident attorney knows the ins and outs of Colorado motorcycle laws, and he can represent your rights to help you get the compensation to which you may be entitled.
Motorcycle laws vary in every state. If you plan on riding your motorcycle in Colorado, it’s important to be familiar with the Colorado laws. Some of the most important laws to recognize are:
- Protective gear requirements – Riders who are age 18 and older are not required to wear helmets in Colorado, however every rider, whether a driver or passenger and no matter how old, must wear some form of eye protection.
- Passenger protocols – In order to legally carry a passenger on a motorcycle in Colorado, your bike must be equipped with passenger footrests, and they must be utilized. Additionally, passengers can only ride behind the driver or in a side-car. It is illegal for a passenger to sit in front of the driver.
- Traffic laws – As a motorcyclist, you are required to obey all of the same traffic laws as other motorists on Colorado roadways. Specific laws for motorcyclists to consider are those dealing with sharing lanes. Overtaking or passing a vehicle in the same lane is illegal, however motorcyclists can still share lanes and “co-ride” with other motorcycles. Additionally, ‘clinging’ is illegal, which includes grabbing onto another motorcycle or vehicle, especially towing.
Complying with these laws not only keeps you safe on the road but also increases your chances of receiving proper compensation if you are in an accident. Colorado is a comparative negligence state, meaning that multiple parties can be found at-fault for an accident, including the victim. That means, if your case goes to trial, a jury may assign partial blame to you if any of your actions contributed to the accident or your injuries. For example, if you were struck by a car while lane-changing, the jury may assign 30% of the fault to you. This means that the total amount of compensation you receive may be reduced to 70%. If you are found primarily at fault for the accident, meaning you were assigned more than 50% of the blame, you will be barred from pursuing compensation.
Comparative negligence laws may only apply to jury trials, but insurance companies will try to use any traffic violation against you during negotiating. They often do this to intimidate motorcycle accident victims into accepting low-ball settlements because the know juries can be influenced by motorcycle bias.
Motorcycle bias is the concept that motorcycles—and, by association, their riders—are inherently more dangerous and likely to violate the law. While this bias is often used by parents to keep their teenagers from purchasing a motorcycle when they turn 18, it can also have a role in your claim. During settlement negotiations, insurance adjusters may try to use bias to devalue your claim or deny coverage for an accident altogether.
Common ways an insurance adjuster will devalue a claim include:
- Stating that a motorcyclist caused an accident, such as by lane-splitting, speeding, or otherwise driving recklessly
- Stating a motorcyclist suffered the injury in another incident unrelated to the accident
- Claiming that motorcyclist’s medical records are insufficient and asking them to see a specialist who may discredit the injuries
- Citing driving records and a history of violations
Motorcycle bias can also come up before negotiations, even so far back as the accident itself. Police officers may assign blame on riders before an investigation is complete. In turn, medical providers may devalue your claim. That is why it is important to collect the correct evidence during your claim to support your injuries and demonstrate the other driver was at fault. In addition, you will want to see a medical doctor who specializes in motorcycle accident injuries so you can receive a proper treatment plan that takes into account all of your wounds.
Fighting motorcycle bias is not an easy task on your own, but with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney, you will have a better shot at receiving compensation.
Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
It is in a victim’s best interests to seek the legal counsel of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident. At the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, our talented legal team can start an in-depth investigation of the accident and, based on the findings, recover compensation. In addition to shouldering the legal burdens, we can also get you in contact with expert medical professionals, so you can receive the best treatment available for your injuries.
With nearly 20 years of experience handling motorcycle accident claims, our founder J. Todd Tenge is a leading Denver personal injury attorney. You can trust that he and his legal team will thoroughly investigate your accident and build a strong case for compensation. Call us at (303) 502-5587 to schedule a free consultation and learn about your rights after an accident.