When you’re riding the scenic routes in and around Breckenridge on your motorcycle, you may feel invincible. Unfortunately, the actions of another driver on the road can quickly end that feeling and your enjoyable ride.
Motorcyclists are much more likely to be injured in a collision than someone riding in a vehicle, with bikers having an 80 percent chance of injury or death versus 20 percent for people in passenger cars.
Recovering from a motorcycle accident is often a lengthy and painful process.
Broken bones and soft tissue injuries are common and may leave you in pain for weeks or months. You might require more physical therapy than your health insurance carrier is willing to pay for or need accommodations that aren’t covered.
Additionally, you have to worry about the cost of repairing your bike and all the time you might miss at work. These issues are common after a bike crash, and many motorcyclists struggle to collect payment from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
Do You Really Need a Breckenridge Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
Yes. Your motorcycle accident lawyer will help you fight to receive compensation for all your damages, including:
- Medical bills. These are often substantial in motorcycle accidents because of the higher risk of injury. We frequently see cases where bikers suffer multiple broken bones, back or spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), internal injuries or bleeding, scarring, and more. It’s essential to ensure that all your current medical bills are addressed, as well as any future treatment you need, including long-term care for more severe injuries. We can also seek damages for mobility aids, travel expenses, or other costs related to your medical care.
- Lost income. Depending on the nature of your work, you might be unable to do your job for weeks or months after an injury. Even a “simple” leg fracture could take months to heal, keeping you away from a position that requires you to be on your feet all day. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have paid time off (PTO), this could be exhausted before you return to work. Additionally, you deserve to be compensated for your lost PTO.
- Lost earning potential. Another possible consequence of a negligent driver’s actions is permanent disability or disfigurement. You can seek additional damages for any permanent injury, and if it prevents you from returning to work or doing the same type or amount of work as before, you may also pursue damages for lost earning potential.
- Pain and suffering. Both your physical and mental suffering are valid damages, and they can be linked to each other. If your injuries cause chronic physical pain, for example, you will have a higher risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
- Property damage. Your bike can sustain significant damage in an accident and may even be totaled. We’ll ensure you receive a fair valuation for the cost of repairs or replacement, including any significant depreciation of value due to the crash.
- Wrongful death. Losing a loved one to a motorcycle accident can be devastating. Nothing will make up for the loss, but pursuing damages can at least allow you to rebuild your life without the added stress of struggling through financial difficulties. You can seek compensation for funeral or burial expenses, final medical expenses related to the accident, lost financial support if your family member was the primary earner, and loss of consortium or companionship.
Why Is It So Difficult to Get Compensation From the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company?
There are several reasons, but they all relate to one fact – the insurance company wants to save money. To that end, they will use any legal loophole available to avoid paying your claim or to pay you less than you deserve.
Here are some everyday situations that may come up in your motorcycle accident claim:
The Other Driver Isn’t Really at Fault, so You Have to Pay
Insurance company adjusters love to make this claim. Liability insurance covers damage the policyholder causes others, so if the policyholder isn’t at fault, the insurance company isn’t obligated to pay anything.
And if you think that fault is a simple matter decided by a police report, that’s unfortunately not always the case. However, your lawyer can help you refute claims that you were at fault.
The Inconclusive Police Report
One thing to understand about fault is that while it may seem obvious to you who caused the crash, it is not necessarily apparent to the other motorist, their insurance company adjuster, or the law enforcement officers who respond to the scene.
Police reports can be inconclusive if the two drivers have conflicting stories and they find no witnesses or other strong evidence. The responding officer is required to state their opinion of what happened and who was at fault, but they often have to do this with very little information.
As a result, there may be some situations where the officer’s opinion is incorrect. Fortunately, an opinion is just that – an opinion – and we can challenge it in court with sufficient evidence.
For this reason, we will review the police report carefully with you. If anything seems wrong, our investigative team will search for more information, including:
- Photos or video evidence of the accident or scene. Today it’s sometimes possible to recover video from traffic cameras, doorbell cameras, security cameras, dashcams, etc. Often law enforcement officers are busy with multiple cases and don’t have the time or resources to track these down, but our investigators will perform a thorough search for any video or photographic evidence to show what happened.
- Witness accounts. The responding officer will try to interview everyone at the scene, but sometimes witnesses leave before the police arrive or before they can be interviewed. Our investigators will visit the crash scene, knock on doors, and attempt to locate anyone who lives or works nearby and may have seen what happened.
- Electronic data. Many vehicle drivers who strike motorcyclists claim they never saw the bike. Sometimes this is due to the motorcycle’s relatively small size or large objects like buildings and trees blocking the driver’s view. But in other cases, the driver may have been distracted by a smartphone or other device. We can request their phone data to determine if they used it during the crash. Additionally, the event data recorder or EDR data from both vehicles can tell us more information about the accident, such as which direction and how fast the car was going when it hit you.
The Insurance Company Makes You an Offer, but It’s Not a Good One
Sometimes, despite their best efforts, the insurance company adjuster can’t find even the weakest evidence that you were at fault for the accident or your injuries. In this situation, they might switch strategies and simply make you an offer.
Be careful – the initial offer from an insurance company is likely to be a lowball offer that fails to cover all your damages. We highly recommend speaking to a Breckenridge motorcycle accident lawyer before you sign anything from the insurance company.
If we find that the offer doesn’t compensate you for all your losses, we can negotiate with the insurance carrier for a more reasonable settlement.
Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence and Motorcycle Accidents
While we’re talking about this, you should know how fault is apportioned in personal injury cases in Colorado. Like many states, Colorado uses modified comparative negligence statutes for these claims.
This means that fault doesn’t have to be the responsibility of a single person or entity but can be shared. In motor vehicle crashes, it is usually divided between the two drivers.
Although one person can be 100 percent at fault and the other 0 percent at fault, there are many cases where the percentages fall somewhere in the middle.
Fortunately, being partly at fault for an accident doesn’t prevent you from collecting damages in Colorado.
As long as you were less than 50 percent responsible, you can pursue compensation from the mostly-responsible party – but whatever percentage of fault you have will be subtracted from your damages.
In motorcycle accidents, sometimes the insurance company will accept that their client caused the accident but argue the injured party made their injuries worse by failing to use safety equipment – usually a helmet.
For instance, they might argue that your head injury would have been less severe if you’d been wearing a helmet. Helmets absolutely do reduce the risk and severity of head injuries, and we encourage you to always wear one when riding.
However, even if the lack of a helmet worsened your injuries, that doesn’t mean you can trust the insurance company’s opinion of how much it worsened your injuries. They may be overestimating your portion of responsibility, potentially costing you thousands in damages.
Your Breckenridge motorcycle accident attorney will work to show that the other driver was still primarily responsible in order to recover the largest settlement possible.
How to Get Help From a Breckenridge Motorcycle Accident Law Firm
Please contact the Olson Law Firm for a free consultation about your motorcycle accident. We’ll review the details of your accident and give you a no-nonsense explanation of your options for seeking compensation.
There is no obligation, but if you do decide to move forward with us, we won’t charge you anything until we win or settle your case. Call Olson Law Firm at (720) 730-4325