Denver, CO, Bicycle Accidents Lawyers Providing Legal Assistance to Injured Riders
Denver is a wonderful city for bicyclists. According to the online real estate company Redfin’s online rankings, Denver was the fourth most bike-able city in the US in 2018. It’s estimated that around nine percent of Denver’s downtown commuters travel by bike. The network of bike lanes is continuing to expand every year to encourage more people to get out and enjoy the benefits of bicycling.
Unfortunately, with increased bike usage comes an increased risk of bicycle accidents. Accidents involving bikes and cars can be particularly damaging for bicyclists, as they have little to protect them from impacts from vehicles, the roadway, or other objects. Broken bones, road rash, and head injuries are just some of the potential damages. If you’ve been hurt in a bike accident, having a Denver bicycle accident attorney on your side is crucial to protect your rights and ensure that you are getting the full compensation you deserve. Contact Genco Injury Attorneys today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how we can assist you: 303-500-1376.
What Colorado Laws Apply to Bicyclists?
Bicyclists have certain responsibilities when sharing the roads with other vehicles. The laws in place are meant to protect both riders and drivers from harmful accidents. Under Colorado law, cyclists are supposed to use bike lanes or stay as far to the right as possible while riding if designated lanes aren’t available. But as specified in the Bicycle Safety Act passed in 2009, they are not required to ride on the sidewalk or go through hazardous debris to move further to the right. Motor vehicle drivers are supposed to give cyclists the right of way and treat them with the same respect and consideration that they provide to other cars. They should provide bicyclists with at least three feet of room when passing. To stay safe, bicyclists should only ride two abreast if it does not impede the flow of traffic.
Because bicycles are considered vehicles under Colorado law, they must follow many of the same rules of the road as cars. If a bicycle accident occurred when a rider was failing to follow these rules, they might find it more difficult to seek compensation because they will likely be considered at least partially at fault for the crash. Under the laws, bicyclists must:
- Drive in the same direction as traffic.
- Clearly signal their intentions before turning.
- Equip their bikes with a white headlight and a red rear light or reflector to make them visible to traffic and pedestrians alike if driving at night or dusk.
- Follow all traffic signs and signals, including stoplights, stop signs, and yield signs.
- Obey speed limits.
Surprisingly, there are no laws in Colorado regarding wearing helmets. The choice to wear a helmet is left to each rider’s discretion. However, helmet wearing is strongly encouraged, especially for children, because helmets have been shown to provide significant protection to bicycle accident victims from traumatic brain injuries, facial damage, and other head injuries.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents?
Often bicyclists end up sharing the roads directly with trucks, cars, and motorcycles because many areas do not have designated bike lanes to keep bicyclists safe. This places a significant burden of responsibility on both vehicle drivers and bike riders alike to remain aware and avoid crashes. Unfortunately, in accidents involving bicycles and larger vehicles, the bicyclist usually ends up suffering the majority of the damages. Knowing how bike accidents occur can help keep everyone on the road safer by making them aware of the most dangerous crash risks. These risks include:
- Failing to see riders: Drivers often neglect to check for bicyclists when making turns, which can lead to hitting a rider or having a rider run into the side of their vehicle. To help visibility, brightly colored or reflective garments can be worn by riders.
- Not looking before opening car doors: If a rider is hugging the right side of the road to maintain distance from traffic, they can easily be stuck and injured by people who open their car doors without checking first.
- Inattentive driving: Vehicle operators are even less likely to notice bicyclists in all situations if they are texting, calling, changing the radio station, or otherwise distracted from their driving. This can lead to accidents of all kinds, not just involving bikes.
- Tailgating bikes: Some people always seem to be in a hurry, and they may get frustrated or aggressive if they feel a bike is impeding their progress. These drivers may encroach upon a bicyclist’s space in an attempt to push them off the roadway, which can lead to falls and other serious accidents. Bicyclists have the same rights as vehicles on the road, and drivers are required to give them at least three feet of distance at all times.
- Operating a vehicle while fatigued or impaired by drugs or alcohol: Any situation where a driver’s reflexes may be slowed dramatically increases the risk to bicyclists and other drivers.
Who May Be Liable for a Bicycle Accident?
Colorado is a modified comparative fault state when it comes to insurance. What does that mean for your Denver bicycle accident claim? Under the modified comparative fault guidelines in Colorado, if a person injured in a bicycle accident with a single vehicle is less than 50% at fault for the accident, they are eligible for some compensation for their damages. The compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned. A higher percentage of fault equals a lower payout.
But what actions make a driver liable for a bicycle accident? An injured person must prove three things in a lawsuit to show that another party was acting negligently and should be held responsible for the damages:
- The driver had a duty to the bicyclist: Everyone on the road has a duty to drive in a safe manner and not endanger their fellow travelers.
- The driver breached that duty: The driver acted negligently in their actions. This may include speeding, driving erratically, following too closely, or driving while distracted.
- The driver’s breach of duty directly caused the accident and subsequent injuries: If the driver was driving badly but did not hurt anyone, there is no valid lawsuit. However, if the driver was speeding and struck a law-abiding cyclist who suffered a broken arm from the impact, then they are considered liable for that cyclist’s injuries.
Bicycle accident lawyers prove liability through police accident reports, photos of the accident scene, expert opinions and recreations, and witness statements. The insurance company for the negligent driver may try to place more fault onto the injured rider to avoid paying compensation for their personal injury claim. This is why it is critical to have experienced bike accident lawyers on your side to bolster your claim and fight back against the insurance company.
What Types of Injuries Can a Bicycle Accident Inflict?
Bicycle crashes can lead to serious injuries for the victims. The human body is not built to withstand the force of an impact with a car, concrete, or pavement. The most common injuries in bicycle accident cases include:
- Back and spinal cord injuries, possibly leading to paralysis
- Head and skull injuries
- Lacerations and bruising
- Damage to internal organs
- Road rash (the common name for lacerations on the extremities caused by sliding across the pavement at speed)
- Fractured and broken bones
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Strains and sprains
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Fatal injuries
Head and brain injuries are a much more likely outcome of bicycle crashes for riders who do not wear helmets. Depending on their severity, these injuries can cause a lifetime of aftereffects, including mood and personality changes, seizures, memory issues, vision problems, speech difficulties, depression, and more. This is why many groups advocate for helmets to be worn whenever cyclists are out. Regardless of your personal choice to wear a helmet or not, you still deserve to be safe while you are cycling. If a negligent motorist causes a bicycle accident, our Denver bicycle accident attorneys will be there to help you recover the compensation you deserve for your serious injuries.
What Compensation Can You Recover in a Bicycle Accident Case?
If you are injured in a bicycle accident, it can be devastating. Because bicycles do not have the safety features and protections offered by cars, even minor impacts with a vehicle can lead to severe injuries. After the accident, you may find yourself unable to work and experience a financial crisis due to lost wages and high medical bills. Personal injury lawsuits are meant to hold those responsible for your injuries accountable. The types of damages a bicycle accident attorney may secure for you include:
- Economic damages: These are awarded to replace financial losses that occurred as a result of your injury. These damages may cover medical expenses, lost wages, bicycle replacement or repair, and more.
- Non-economic damages: These are non-monetary losses you experienced from the injury. This category includes compensation for potential future medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of a loved one, and other areas.
- Punitive damages: This compensation is meant to punish the defendant and discourage others from repeating the action that caused the injury. These damages may be assessed if the defendant was found to be negligent or willfully malicious in their actions.
Why Consult a Denver Bicycle Accident Attorney?
Biking is supposed to be an enjoyable activity. It’s a great way to get out, see Denver, and enjoy the scenery. However, a bike accident can not only ruin your day, but it may potentially affect you for the rest of your life. If you are struck by a motor vehicle, you could face months of painful recovery from your injuries, and it could prevent you from working, even as your medical bills continue to grow. At Genco Injury Attorneys, our skilled Denver bicycle accident attorneys will help you get the compensation you deserve for your damages. We will negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company on your behalf and fight to recover a full and fair settlement. Contact our law office today for a free consultation with one of our compassionate and knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyers: 303-500-1376.