When someone is injured in an accident while riding their motorcycle, they may want to seek damages for that. But they may wonder how Colorado’s helmet and safety gear regulations affect their claims. Here’s what you need to know.
What Safety Gear Does Colorado Require Motorcyclists to Use?
Colorado has specific requirements for anyone riding a motorcycle, whether as a driver or a passenger.
- Helmets. Riders aged 18 and over aren’t required to wear a helmet, although the state strongly recommends that they do. Anyone under 18 must wear a Colorado Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet.
- Eye protection. Everyone on a motorcycle is legally required to have some form of eye protection in Colorado. This can be a visor on a helmet or goggles or eyeglasses made from safety glass or plastic. Note that a windshield on a motorcycle is not considered eye protection.
- Footrests. Motorcycles must have footrests, and passengers are required to use them.
Can I Be Held Liable for My Injury if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?
As long as someone is 18 or older, they’re not legally required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Colorado, which indicates that they can’t be held responsible for it.
That said, it’s not uncommon for the other party in the accident to try to blame the victim for not wearing a helmet and pointing out that their injuries either would have been less severe or not happened at all if they had been wearing a helmet. This is one reason it’s highly advisable to work with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who understands the law and what tactics the other party might take to avoid paying damages.
What if I’m Partly at Fault for the Accident?
It’s not uncommon for more than one party to be at fault in an accident, but that can make for a more complicated case. For example, suppose a motorcyclist was struck by a car driven by a drunk driver, and the motorcyclist was injured. However, the motorcyclist was found to have been speeding. Both parties could be assigned part of the liability.
States around the U.S. handle the division of negligence in accidents differently. In Colorado, the rule of modified comparative law is followed. This is important in cases where more than one person may be at fault for the accident. Modified comparative negligence says that if the injured person is at least 50% at fault for the accident, they’re ineligible to claim damages. If they’re found no more than 49% responsible, they can receive damages, but their percentage of responsibility will reduce the amount of damages. In the example above, if the motorcyclist is found 30% responsible for the accident and awarded $20,000, they’d receive only $14,000 of that award.
This can lead to all parties in the accident trying to push as much blame on others as possible, and it’s another reason why having an attorney on your side is essential.
What Are the Statute of Limitations for Filing Claims After a Motorcycle Accident?
A statute of limitations is a legal period with a hard ending date. Someone who wants to file a personal injury lawsuit or claims for damages must do so by that end date or face the probability that their case will be dismissed. The statute of limitations can vary depending on the type of case and the state in which the accident happened. For a motorcycle accident in Colorado, that statute of limitations is two years from the accident date if the crash involved a defective design or construction of the motorcycle. If the accident involved a collision with another vehicle, the statute of limitations is given an additional year for three years total.
There are also a few exceptions. Minors or people who were declared legally incapacitated may be allowed something known as tolling. That involves extending the statute of limitations until the minor reaches 18 or the incapacitated person regains capacity.
If you’re unsure of the timing of your claim, contact us for more information.
What Should I Do if I Was Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?
Try to get the names and contact information of anyone else involved in the accident, as well as any eyewitnesses. But don’t discuss the accident with anyone (see below for why). Then, call the police to report the accident, which is required in Colorado when there’s property damage or bodily injury, even minor.
You should also see a doctor as soon as possible, even if you think the injury is minor. Some severe injuries present few to no symptoms and can worsen if left untreated.
Then call Genco Injury Attorneys at 303-500-1376 for a free case evaluation. These can be complex cases, especially if the other party tries to claim the fault was with the motorcyclist or that not wearing a helmet was the cause of the injury, not the other driver. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys knows what tactics the other side may use, and we can help you develop a case to pursue the best possible outcomes.
As mentioned before, you shouldn’t discuss the accident with anyone, especially not the other drivers involved, their insurance representatives, or their lawyers. They’ll try to get you to accept more fault for the accident than you should, or they’ll try to have you accept a much lower settlement than you might otherwise receive. Don’t respond; just forward all communications to your attorney.