Colorado Bicycle Accident Lawyers: Car Door
Colorado, like most states, adheres to what is commonly referred to as “side-of-the-road” rules which essentially mandate that bicyclists ride on the far right side of the road, or if available, a bike lane if they are not moving as fast as car traffic. As a result, the safe, cautious, and responsible rider will adhere to this rule and, as a result, may find themselves crashing into a car door that has just been opened directly in front of them.
Bicycle Accident Rules
Since cyclists are required to ride as far right as possible, this may put them in a position to be very close to parked cars. Colorado requires that no person open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic. In addition, no person shall leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. Colo. Rev. Stat. §42-4-1207.
As a result, the opening of a car door causing a crash should be the fault of the car door opener. Where the gray area usually occurs in these scenarios is the timing of the car door opening and the actual collision with the biker. Many times, the argument from the driver (and subsequently the insurance carrier) is the door had been open for a significant period of time and the cyclist had ample time to avoid the hazard. At least as often is the argument that the door opener had no idea there was a bike coming when they opened the door.
Take Action After a Car Door Bicycle Accident
When a bike crash happens, if you are able, you must take immediate action. This means calling the police immediately. Do not move any vehicles until the police arrive and fully cooperate with the police. Request an ambulance even if you think you are only slightly hurt. Oftentimes, adrenaline and outside factors take over and the body attempts to shield the brain from thinking you are hurt. It is only that evening or the next day that you realize you are injured.
Bicycle cases must be proven. One of the best ways to prove something is by using evidence of what you are trying to prove. The days, weeks and months following an accident can be very traumatic but like many traumatic events, the memory of the trauma fades with time. It is extremely important to document everything, especially in the days and weeks immediately after the traumatic event. Write down and photograph everything possible from the accident. Cuts, abrasions, and bruises fade so they must be documented. Keep a log or diary of all appointments, events missed, wages lost, and even conversations you may have so this information is not lost with time.
Be Cautious with Insurance Companies
Immediately following a car door bicycle accident, you may be contacted by an insurance company or insurance companies. This can be the door opener insurance company or your own insurance company. Speaking with the insurance company can be a crucial mistake. Put simply, do not speak to anyone, either in writing or verbally, about your accident without first consulting with an attorney. Insurance adjusters frequently call potential claimants to try to get information and attempt to settle cases early. They know the claimants probably haven’t retained an attorney yet and this is their opportunity to get rid of the case quickly and cheaply. The insurance company will attempt to record your conversation, get you to make admissions, get you to sign a medical authorization, and may try to trick you into settling your claim before you know the full extent of your damages. Remember, even if it’s your own insurance company, do not speak to them without consulting with an attorney.
The insurance company wants to settle your case as quickly as they can and for as little as they can. Before they can do this, they need your signature. Be extremely careful because you could be giving up a lot more than you had originally thought when you sign on the dotted line. For example, if you give the insurance company a signed medical authorization, you are allowing them access to your entire medical record including things that have nothing to do with your claim. Unless you are prepared to settle your entire claim, do not accept any checks from the insurance company that purport to be a release for your “entire claim”. Even if you think it’s only to get your bike fixed. Remember, insurance companies are very skilled at what they do, you are not. Consult with an attorney before you sign anything.
Contact Us Today
At Zinda Law Group, we have provided counsel to many bicycle accident victims and their loved ones throughout Colorado. We are avid cyclists ourselves and are keenly aware of the legal nuances involved as well as the emotional support necessary to help the biking victims and their loved ones cope with their loss.
We provide a free initial consultation to all of our clients. You can contact us through our website or call us at 303-800-1501. We handle all of our cases on a contingency fee arrangement. There is no charge to our clients unless a recovery is obtained.