If you’re still on the fence about filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit after a motorcycle accident, understanding the common types of accidents and the legal implications of an accident will inform your decision.
Colorado Motorcycle Accident statistics paint a harrowing picture. Of the 2,206 crashes involving a motorcycle, 522 resulted in a serious injury, and 97 resulted in a fatal injury. As of May 2023, there were 21 motorcycle accident deaths in Colorado this year. The motorcycle operator was at fault in the crash nearly 64% of the time.
Types of Motorcycle Accidents
Prioritizing safety and understanding the risks associated with riding are critical to motorcycle accident prevention. However, accidents still happen even if a rider takes all the necessary precautions. We cannot ignore the other 36% of accidents because the other driver is at fault.
Commonly, there is a tendency to believe that most motorcycle accidents happen due to motorcycle operator intoxication, but 72% of the motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes nationwide were NOT alcohol-impaired. Here are some common motorcycle accidents where the fault could be on the other party.
One of the most common types of motorcycle accidents occurs when a car or other vehicle makes a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle. Due to motorcycles being smaller, drivers often fail to notice them or misjudge their speed, leading to severe collisions. In 42% of these crashes, the other vehicles turned left while the motorcycles were going straight, passing, or overtaking other vehicles.
Lane Change Accidents
Lane change accidents occur when a vehicle changes lanes without properly checking blind spots or signaling, colliding with a motorcycle already occupying the adjacent lane. Lack of visibility and driver negligence are major contributing factors. At a minimum, the rider may suffer scratches, but in many cases, a side swipe results in extensive damage to both the rider and motorcycle.
Motorcycle riders are at a higher risk of being involved in rear-end collisions. A distracted or inattentive driver may fail to notice a motorcycle in front of them, leading to a collision. In such cases, the motorcyclist is particularly vulnerable to serious injuries because they do not see the accident coming and have no time to react.
Intersections are high-risk areas for motorcycle accidents. Many accidents occur when a vehicle violates the motorcyclist’s right of way, such as running a red light or failing to yield at a stop sign. These accidents are no different than vehicle accidents caused by the other driver’s failure to yield, except when a motorcycle accident is involved, the rider’s physical safety is at the biggest risk, rather than the vehicle.
Dooring accidents happen when a driver or passenger of a parked vehicle opens their door without checking for oncoming motorcycles. The motorcyclist may not have enough time to react, resulting in a collision with the open door. Dooring accidents are a less common type of accident, but they are something drivers who spend a lot of time downtown need to be aware of.
Motorcycle vs. Car Accident Statistics
Statewide in 2018, there were approximately 120,000 motor vehicle crashes, and 2,206 (1.8%) of those crashes involved motorcycles. Riding on two wheels rather than four means motorcycles are less stable than other vehicles, making the rider’s skill level important in maintaining control.
When broken down by the rate of fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles nationally, 58% of motorcycles versus 9.4% of cars were involved in fatal collisions. Motorcycle accidents show an astonishing 80% injury or mortality rate, while car accidents are around 20%.
Types of Motorcycle Accident Injuries
An extensive study of accidents and injuries riders suffer found that lower extremity injuries are the most common, occurring in 47% of collisions. Other common injuries include the following:
- Upper extremity injuries (40% of collisions),
- Head injuries (35% of collisions),
- Chest injuries (31% of collisions),
- Spine injuries (20% of collisions),
- Abdomen injuries (15% of collisions), and
- Face injuries (10% of collisions).
On top of the risk of getting into an accident, motorcyclists bear even more risk that they will most likely suffer severe and extensive injuries in a motorcycle versus a car accident. If you suffered any of these injuries after your motorcycle accident, it makes sense to contact an attorney.
Pursuing Legal Action After Your Accident
If you were involved in a Colorado motorcycle accident that was not your fault and are considering pursuing legal action, there are several factors you should consider before making your final decision.
First, Colorado follows the modified comparative negligence rule, which means that the compensation you may receive could be reduced if you are found partially responsible for the accident. If your fault is more than 50%, you may not be eligible to recover any damages. If you cannot recover any damages, it might not be worth pursuing a claim.
Second, be aware of the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time limit within which you must file a lawsuit. In Colorado, you have two years from the date of the accident. If you don’t file within this timeframe, you will likely lose your opportunity to take legal action.
Third, it is important to consult an attorney to determine whether the other driver bears the most legal responsibility. If the other is at fault, then you could be eligible to recover compensation. Several additional factors and potential legal theories could apply to your accident.
The Tenge Law Firm Knows Motorcycle Accidents
Contacting an attorney is crucial after a motorcycle accident because they know the nuanced rules surrounding liability and fault, the part insurance coverage plays, and whether your injuries are severe enough to support your claim.
The Tenge Law Firm has recovered over $50 million for our clients over the past seven years, including for motorcycle accidents. J. Todd Tenge is one of Colorado’s top 10 personal injury attorneys for client satisfaction. Contact our firm today.