Motorcycle accidents are sadly a frequent occurrence on roads across the United States, leading to a significant number of injuries and fatalities.
Many motorcycle accidents involve a collision with another vehicle, most commonly an automobile. With minimal physical safeguards in the event of a crash, over 80,000 motorcyclists sustain severe injuries annually in the US, and over 5,000 lose their lives on the road . A whopping 80% of all motorcycle accidents result in harm or fatality to at least one individual . Injury severity may increase with speed, alcohol consumption, and motorcycle size.
Most common injuries involve cuts and bruises or whiplash when the motorcycle driver is not wearing safety clothing (helmet, reinforced jacket, gloves, etc.) Injuries and broken bones of the lower body (legs, knees, ankles) can be severe if the driver is crushed under the motorcycle’s weight and may even lead to amputations. The most serious and potentially deadly injuries are those to the head. Wearing a safety helmet is the most critical factor in preventing head injury.
When such serious injuries occur, the medical bills for treating injuries can reach several thousands of dollars. The cost of motorcycle accident damages includes the financial consequences of long hospital recovery, lost income, and the cost of lifestyle changes when permanent damage (such as a leg amputation) occurs.
Why Are Serious Motorcycle Accidents So Common?
Most motorcycle accidents are attributed to the failure of car drivers to perceive motorcycles in traffic adequately. It is common for car drivers involved in motorcycle accidents to claim that they either didn’t see the motorcycle at all or noticed it too late. In approximately two-thirds of these accidents, the car drivers violated the motorcycle’s right-of-way .
One of the most prevalent collisions between cars and motorcycles is head-on accidents at intersections. Rear-end accidents are also common when car drivers fail to reduce their speed, allow sufficient lane width, or maintain a safe distance from the motorcycle ahead of them.
These statistics highlight that riding a motorcycle comes with certain risks. Moreover, as a car driver, it is crucial to exercise extreme caution to prevent a traffic accident that could potentially result in severe injuries for others.
Who Is Liable for Motorcycle Accidents in Colorado?
In Colorado, liability for traffic accidents is determined based on the concept of negligence. Negligence refers to the failure of a person to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm or injury to another individual.
Colorado follows a comparative negligence system, meaning liability can be shared between the parties involved in the accident. Thus, if a motorcycle accident involves another vehicle driver, either they, the motorcycle driver, or both may be liable for injuries.
As a result, liability in an accident involving a motorcycle and a second vehicle is defined on a case-by-case basis, considering the specific circumstances and evidence surrounding each incident. Consulting a motorcycle accident attorney can provide further guidance regarding liability in a specific situation.
Ross Ziev and the attorneys at Legal Help in Colorado are experienced in handling many motorcycle accident cases. We will discuss your case’s particulars and secure the best possible outcome for you.
That said, there are circumstances under which liability typically lies with one or the other party.
When a Car or Truck Driver Is Liable for an Accident Involving a Motorcycle
A car driver may be held liable for an accident with a motorcycle under the following circumstances:
- Negligence: If the car driver drives recklessly, they are often held liable if they get involved in an accident with a motorcycle. Examples include speeding, driving under the influence, or disobeying traffic lights.
- Failure to yield right-of-way: A driver is typically held liable if they violate the motorcycle’s right-of-way, such as by not yielding at an intersection or changing lanes.
- Unsafe lane changes: If the car driver fails to check blind spots or uses improper signals while changing lanes, leading to a collision with a motorcycle, they may commonly be held liable.
- Distracted driving: If the car driver is engaged in activities that divert their attention from the road, such as texting or talking on the phone, they are often held liable should a crash happen.
When a Motorcycle Driver Is Liable for a Crash with Another Vehicle
Conversely, a motorcycle driver is typically held liable for a crash with another vehicle under these circumstances:
- Negligence: If motorcycle driver fails to exercise reasonable care while riding their motorcycle, they may be held liable should an accident happen. Examples include speeding, weaving through traffic, or disregarding traffic lights and one-way streets.
- Unsafe lane changes: If the motorcycle driver changes lanes without proper signaling or performs unsafe maneuvers that result in a crash with another vehicle, they may be deemed liable.
- Failure to yield right-of-way: Sometimes, motorcycle drivers may ignore the right-of-way of other vehicles. For example, they may fail to yield at an intersection or ignore one-way signs. If this leads to a collision, they may be held liable.
- Distracted driving: If the motorcycle driver is engaged in activities that divert their attention from the road, such as using a phone or texting while driving, they may be liable if an accident results.
Obtaining Compensation for Motorcycle Accidents Can Be Complex
Even if you are a motorcycle driver involved in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence, achieving compensation can still be complex. One reason is that motorcycle accidents are often hit-and-run cases, where the involved vehicle driver abandons the scene without witnesses. With no way to identify the perpetrator, the motorcycle driver may be unable to claim compensation.
In addition, many motorcyclists involved in accidents are found to be partially responsible for their injuries and damages. This happens because many motorcycle drivers may lack proper experience and a license. They may also have had alcohol before getting on their motorbike or may not have used a safety helmet and protective gear when the accident occurred. In such cases, the other driver can claim shared liability for injuries and damages caused during the accident. Accordingly, compensation will be calculated based on each party’s percentage of liability.
Another issue may arise when injuries are sustained while the motorcyclist tries to avoid car collisions by braking, turning, or laying down the bike before impact. Without impacting the involved car, the driver and his insurance company may deny liability for the motorcyclist’s injuries.
Finally, motorcyclists sometimes walk away from the accident scene when they perceive their injuries as unimportant, only to discover later that they are more important than initially assumed.
This is why it is important, when you drive a motorcycle, not only to drive responsibly at all times but also to know in advance what you should do in case of an accident with a car. Doing the right thing at the accident scene right after the collision is crucial to be able to claim compensation.
Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Be Critical
If you experience a severe motorcycle accident, particularly when serious injury or fatality is involved, it is crucial to seek the assistance of a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can provide valuable support throughout the legal process, including managing necessary procedures, obtaining witness statements, and organizing your medical records.
During the challenging period of recovery from a motorcycle accident, or in the unfortunate event of grieving a loss, a lawyer can take the burden of the procedure off your shoulders and provide you with peace of mind during a period where you need to focus on recovery rather than worry about the tactics insurance companies may try to reduce your claim.
Here at Legal Help in Colorado, Ross Ziev and his team have extensive experience handling a wide range of motorcycle accident cases.
Reach out to us today to discuss your case and explore your legal options. Contact our office at (303) 351-2567 or visit us in person at 6795 E. Tennessee Ave. #210, Denver, CO, 80224. During our free consultation, we will evaluate your circumstances and discuss with you how best to aggressively and successfully pursue your claim. We don’t get paid until you get paid, so let us help you recover your rightful compensation!