Fort Collins Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
CALL (800) 863-5312 TO DISCUSS YOUR CASE WITH AN EXPERIENCED FORT COLLINS MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT LAWYER TODAY
The benefits of riding a motorcycle are clear: Motorcyclists experience a freer connection to the outdoors when the weather is nice, and they enjoy better gas mileage than owners of most other motor vehicles. However, there are risks to riding motorcycles that make them more dangerous than other vehicles, and a Fort Collins motorcycle accident lawyer can help clients injured in motorcycle accidents pursue fair compensation. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident in or near Fort Collins, call Zinda Law Group.
Colorado motorcycle laws
To understand your rights after you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, it is helpful to understand the laws that govern motorcyclists in Colorado. Whether you were the motorcyclist or someone who was hit by a motorcycle, these laws show you the minimum safety rules by which motorcyclists must abide.
In addition to minimum safety rules, motorcyclists can also break the common law of negligence by failing to maintain their duty of care to other drivers. We will discuss negligence more later.
All motorists must follow all traffic laws, but there are special laws for people who operate motorcycles. These laws relate to things such as passengers, the correct safety attire, and traffic violations.
First, there are laws specifically pertaining to the passengers of motorcycles. Motorcycles must have footrests for passengers, and passengers must use the footrests. This is for the safety of the passengers so that they do not put their legs or feet anywhere that impacts the bike’s steering or stopping.
Additionally, passengers may not ride in front of drivers. Passengers must sit behind drivers on the seat or in a side car adjacent to the driver.
Safety Attire Laws
Next, Colorado’s laws regarding the proper safety attire for motorcyclists might surprise you. Even though helmets are proven to reduce injuries and save lives, Colorado does not require a motorcycle rider to wear a helmet if they are over the age of 18. Many motorcyclists argue that the point of this mode of transport is to feel the breeze through their hair, and Colorado law does not deny them that freedom so long as drivers and passengers are 18 or older. Minors must wear helmets approved by the department of transportation.
While Colorado does not require helmets for motorcyclists, it does legally require eye protection. Windshields on the motorcycles do not count as eye protection. Instead, drivers and passengers must wear either a helmet with a visor or goggles or eyeglasses made with safety glass or plastic.
Finally, people operating motorcycles might be tempted to do certain things while driving through traffic. They are more able than car drivers to do these things due to the unique features of motorcycles. The following acts are not permitted:
- lane sharing
- lane splitting
“Clinging” is when a motorcyclist attaches his or her vehicle to another vehicle (sometimes another motorcycle) to be towed. This act is extremely dangerous and illegal in the state of Colorado.
It is also illegal in Colorado for motorcycles to share lanes with cars or to drive in between lanes. However, a motorcyclist is permitted to share a lane with one other motorcycle.
Colorado’s motorcycle handbook
In addition to these laws, the Colorado Department of Revenue Motor Vehicle Division (DMV) released a handbook to instruct motorcyclists of the laws pertaining to them. The handbook covers many basic topics about motorcycle safety.
Motorcyclists must get a valid license with a general motorcycle endorsement in order to operate a two- or three-wheel motorcycle. To receive the endorsement, prospective drivers must:
- pass a driving record review
- pass a physical aptitude review
- pass a vision test
- pass a written test
- pass a skills test
- pay the required fees
The manual even details the specific skills and maneuvers tested on the skills test for two-wheel motorcycles and three-wheel motorcycles. Special rules for applicants under the age of 18 also apply.
Preparing to Ride
The manual runs through all of the checks drivers should perform on the motorcycle before heading down the road. The first few detail the appropriate attire, including helmets and eye protection as discussed above. The manual states that motorcyclists should dress for the weather to avoid severe chill and fatigue and describes the specific kinds of jackets and shoes that are helpful for different kinds of weather.
The next checks the motorcyclist should perform relate to the motorcycle itself. Drivers should check air pressure in the tires, oil and fuel levels, headlights and taillights, turn signals, brake light, clutch and throttle, mirrors, brakes, and the horn.
The handbook recommends motorcyclists be extra cautious about their visibility since motorcycles are so much smaller than cars. To increase visibility, motorcyclists can wear bright clothes, keep headlights on at all times, use signals, and flash the brake light before slowing.
If the motorcyclist is driving at night, he or she is even less visible to other vehicles on the road. Therefore, motorcyclists should ride slower at night than in the day and leave more distance between themselves and other vehicles. The manual also recommends that motorcyclists use their high beams when they can, and when they are following another vehicle, they should try to use the headlights of the vehicle ahead of them to see the road ahead.
In addition to following all traffic laws, cautious motorcyclists can employ other knowledge and maneuvers to avoid accidents. They can take advantage of the small size of a motorcycle to use different parts of their lane to make curves and to use their mirrors to keep track of the vehicles or other riders behind them. Riders should stay in the center of their lane when they suspect other vehicles might be tempted to split the lane with them in heavy traffic.
The DMV manual suggests motorcyclists employ the “SIPDE” riding strategy by
- Scanning ahead, to the side, and behind the motorcycle for potential hazards;
- Identifying hazards and potential conflicts;
- Predicting how a vehicle will move, especially if it is coming toward the rider;
- Deciding when, where, and how to react to any hazards the rider identifies; and
- Executing based on that decision.
The manual also includes instructions for driving with caution based on uneven surfaces, railroad tracks, and dangerous road surfaces—such as after rain, ice, or snow. It also offers step-by-step guidelines for how to avoid collisions or minimize your injuries in a collision.
When riding with a group, the DMV handbook recommends that motorcyclists keep the groups small (four or five motorcycles) to avoid interfering with traffic. Less experienced riders should ride directly behind the leader so that the more experienced riders in the back can watch them. Also, the person riding in the back should set the pace.
The manual also mentions that planning ahead and knowing the route can help avoid misunderstandings among the group. It is best to ride in a staggered formation.
The handbook describes various emergency mechanical scenarios, such as tire failure, stuck throttle, wobbling front wheel and handlebars, chain problems, and engine failure. Also explained is how to identify each of these problems and what a motorcyclist should do in the moment to address the problem.
Why the Colorado laws and handbook matter
These laws and handbook instructions matter for the purposes of establishing the legal norms that people expect from motorcyclists in Colorado. They can help establish who was at fault for the accident based on whether the operator of the motorcyclist or car violated any of those norms.
These laws and instructions can also help establish defenses and define the kinds of arguments that the parties can make. For example, the person who caused the accident cannot necessarily say you were negligent because you did not wear a helmet.
Of course, even if you followed the rules mentioned in this article, you might still have been partially or entirely at fault if you committed a different act or omission that led to the accident. A CO personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether you will have to take some financial responsibility for the crash.
What to do if you are in a motorcycle accident
This section of the article will describe what you should do if you have been in an accident involving a motorcycle and another motor vehicle. If you are reading this article, you will have likely already taken several of these steps after a collision.
These accidents can be even more serious than car accidents because there is little to no protection between the driver and the outside elements. Even crashes at low speeds can seriously harm motorcyclists. An injury attorney can listen to you describe the steps you have taken after the accident thus far and outline the steps you still need to take.
Address Your Injuries
If your injuries are apparent and debilitating, of course you must address them immediately. If you can, call an ambulance or have someone else call an ambulance.
Even if your injuries are not serious, you should still visit your doctor shortly after the accident to make sure that you have not sustained injuries that have not become apparent yet. Some of the most impactful injuries take a while to come to the surface, such as brain injuries or spinal injuries.
Keep track of all of your medical providers, visits, and expenses. This information is evidence of your injury and proof of the financial burden that the defendant caused you.
Gather Evidence and Witnesses
If your injuries are not so apparent that you are comfortable getting out of your vehicle, then you should call the police to make a crash report and begin exchanging information with the other driver or drivers in the crash. An officer will arrive to gather the information of the drivers involved in the accident. The report will become public record after a few days, and you will have access to it then.
If you are able, get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the other drivers, and include the contact information of witnesses who saw the accident. If you have a device that is able to take photos, snap some of the scene of the accident and the damage to the vehicles and motorcycle.
A fault determination is highly fact-specific, but it is crucial to know in order to be able to potentially recover for your injury. The witnesses and evidence can help you form an idea of how the accident occurred from a perspective other than your own. Equipped with this information, you can consult with a lawyer to get another opinion about whether your case would be successful if you were to sue the other parties to the accident.
If it is appropriate in your case, an injury attorney can find an expert witness to evaluate the evidence and offer a professional opinion about who was likely at fault. Zinda Law Group has the resources necessary to secure expert witnesses to testify in support of your claim.
File Your Legal Claim
After you have evaluated the evidence and determined that the other party is likely the one at fault, then you can file your claim to recover for your injuries. You must file within the correct time frame, and you must state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Your legal theory will likely be that the other party was negligent. This means you must prove that the other driver owed you a duty of care and breached that duty. Furthermore, you sustained an injury for which it is possible to receive compensation, and the other driver directly and proximately caused your injury.
Your injury attorney can help you with your claim and begin the discovery stage of litigation. In discovery, the lawyer will interview witnesses and the other parties. As part of your legal strategy, the lawyer will learn whether the opposing party plans to raise any defenses and can negotiate a settlement by communicating with the other attorneys and insurance companies involved.
The settlement usually covers two types of compensation in personal injury cases: economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are to cover the victim’s financial hardship, including missed wages from time off of work and medical expenses. Noneconomic damages compensate the victim for pain and suffering.
Call our Fort Collins motorcycle accident lawyers to get started
If you still want to know, “Can an injury lawyer near me really help me?” then reach out and share your story with the compassionate Zinda Law Group attorneys. You have nothing to lose by calling our lawyers, because the consultation is free.
Better still, we offer our clients a No Win, No Fee Guarantee. That means our clients do not pay us unless we win their case for them.
Motorcycle accidents should not be taken lightly, and the people who cause them should be held responsible. Victims benefit from the help of experienced motorcycle accident attorneys, who can assist them at all stages of litigation.
Entrust your case with lawyers near you in Fort Collins, who will care about you and your success. Give our Zinda Law Group attorneys a call at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your free consultation. We are ready to help you begin by setting your goals for your legal claim.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.