Bicycles offer an affordable and fun alternative to commuting by car or bus. They are also a healthy form of recreation. In Colorado and in Denver, biking is a lifestyle. But cars and trucks in Denver make cyclists extremely vulnerable in traffic accidents. Bicycles lack the protection that a car or truck provides, and injuries for a bike rider can be devastating and potentially deadly.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you need an attorney skilled in Colorado traffic law. Our team of Denver injury attorneys can pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Our uncompromising dedication to our clients and our track record of securing successful outcomes has earned us recognition from a number of noteworthy legal groups. These include Super Lawyers, the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and Expertise, which named us Best Car Accident Lawyers in Denver in 2019.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation. We’ll listen to you, answer all of your questions, and help you understand your legal rights and options. If you decide not to retain us to help, you will have no obligation for any payment to our firm. We’ll be happy knowing that you will leave us armed with important information that will help you as you pursue your case. Call us right away at 303-586-7297 or fill out our easy online contact form here on our website at www.olsonlawfirm.com.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Denver
Bicyclists in Denver must share the road with larger passenger vehicles and commercial trucks. Commuters who elect to ride bicycles quickly learn to exercise caution when traveling alongside motor vehicles of all kinds, but sometimes an accident is outside their control.
Accidents may occur because the driver of a larger vehicle simply doesn’t see the cyclist. This issue may be compounded by bad weather, low light, or driver neglect. Cyclists must be extra cautious when sharing the road – but motorists must be just as cautious.
Several dangers that may lead to an accident, are:
- Distracted and drunk drivers — Cyclists easily escape the notice of other drivers. A motorist looking at their phone or performing other tasks behind the wheel is inviting an accident. A driver looking elsewhere or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can miss an approaching bicycle. A driver could be too slow to react to a cyclist outside their field of vision. Likewise, distracted cyclists listening to loud music or talking on the phone can make a fatal error that leads to a serious accident.
- Aggressive drivers — Some drivers don’t respect the difference in weight and power between their vehicles and bicycles. They pose a greater danger if they’re engaging in reckless behaviors like speeding, tailgating, and driving in the bike lane.
- Car doors — Drivers often do not look in the side mirror before exiting the vehicle. A cyclist riding by at the wrong moment could be struck by the door.
- Blind spots — A bicycle is small enough and quiet enough to disappear in a car or truck’s blind spot. If a driver fails to turn their head and glance backward before changing lanes, they could miss a cyclist’s approach and cause a collision.
A common factor in almost all bicycle accidents is lack of attention. Both motorists and cyclists must be fully aware of their surroundings and make sure others on the road know that they’re nearby.
Types of Bicycle Accidents
There are several common accident scenarios that cyclists should be aware of:
- Stop signs — These accidents happen when a car stops at a stop sign and proceeds into the intersection but collides with another vehicle that had the right-of-way. Colorado only requires cyclists to stop at stop signs “if required for safety,” and they may only slow down as they cross the intersection. A collision may occur if the cyclist misjudges the speed or distance of oncoming traffic or, likewise, if a driver misjudges the distance of an oncoming bicyclist. Cyclists can often avoid these types of collisions by stopping at every stop sign, even when the cyclist doesn’t believe it to be necessary.
- Left cross — In a case where a cyclist and a car approaching an intersection from opposite directions, and the car turns left but fails to see the cyclist or misjudges the distance, the car may collide with the bicycle.
- Right hook — When a car makes a right turn without checking for an oncoming cyclist, they may hit the bike head-on or move into the cyclist’s way before the bicycle has time to brake, causing a collision.
- Sideswipe — Aggressive drivers who don’t pay attention sometimes move into a bike lane or try to push past a cyclist in their lane. They are supposed to pass with at least three feet of distance on the right, but the motorist may misjudge the distance or intentionally crowd the cyclist (an all-too-common occurrence).
- Rear-end collision — Bicycles usually have to move with the traffic flow. Aggressive or speeding drivers move much faster than a bike. They can easily hit a cyclist from behind, throwing the operator forward into the road or running them over. Even if the driver isn’t speeding, not paying attention as traffic slows for a stoplight can lead them to rear-end a stopped bicycle.
Types of Injuries from Bike Accidents in Denver
Injuries sustained in a cycling accident are often severe, especially if larger vehicles are involved. Because the cyclist is in the open with little protection, brain or spinal damage or severe trauma to the rest of the body is not uncommon.
Some of the severe injuries that might be suffered in a bike accident include:
- Broken or fractured bones or ribs
- Lacerations and deep flesh wounds
- Crushed or severed extremities
- Organs damaged or punctured by broken ribs or accident debris
- Lost teeth and a broken jaw
- Road rash, or skin damage from skidding along pavement
- Brain damage from heavy impacts to the head
- Damage to the spinal cord, sometimes resulting in partial or full paralysis
Head injuries are particularly common among cyclists who fail to wear a helmet. One-third of non-fatal bicycle injuries are head impacts, according to the National Safety Council. There’s no law in Colorado or Denver requiring the use of a helmet while cycling, but it is strongly encouraged to avoid injury.
Denver Bicycle Laws
Bicycle operators must respect the rules of the road, just like drivers of cars and other vehicles, and those drivers must follow the laws regarding cyclists. Here are some of the most important laws concerning bicycles in Denver:
- Riding on roads and streets — Cyclists have all the rights and duties of other drivers, with some exceptions. That means that they must ride with the flow of traffic. If the right-hand lane is wide enough to share with other vehicles, the cyclist must ride far enough to the right to give overtaking motorists room to pass.
- Cars overtaking a bike — A car overtaking a bike on the road must pass on the left and allow at least three feet between the right side of the car and the bicycle.
- No “skitching” — Cyclists may not hold on to or otherwise attach themselves to a motor vehicle on the road.
- Don’t ride on the handlebars — Bicycles may not be used to carry more people than they are designed for.
- Reflectors and lights — All bikes must have a white headlight and a red rear reflector, and the light must be switched on at night.
- Colorado Safety Stop — At a stop sign, a cyclist must slow down and, if required for safety, stop before proceeding through the intersection. After slowing and yielding, they may make a turn or move into the intersection. Denver allows this, but some county or local governments may have laws requiring a full stop. It’s important to note that this rule only applies to stop signs, not traffic lights.
The use of helmets is strongly encouraged. Wearing a helmet can lower the risk of a head injury by up to 85 percent.
Can I Get Compensation for My Denver Bicycle Accident?
The answer to this question depends in large measure on who was liable for the accident. Colorado follows the modified comparative negligence law. This law states that the damages a party can receive for an accident will be reduced by the amount of their negligence.
If you were found 10 percent at fault for the accident and you were awarded $100,000 in damages, you would only be able to collect $90,000. A party mostly at-fault for the accident (fifty-one percent or more) can’t collect damages, however.
Compensation in an accident can address a number of essential needs. The compensation you qualify for could pay for some or all of the following:
- Medical and hospitalization bills
- Prescription drugs and painkillers
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Treatment for mental and emotional trauma
- Long-term home care and rehabilitation
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
- Funeral and burial expenses
Sometimes insurance companies will try to argue that you were primarily at fault for the accident so they can avoid paying any damages. It’s very important to have skilled legal counsel who can counter ploys like this.
How Long Do I Have to Sue for a Denver Bike Accident?
Colorado law limits the amount of time you may have to file a lawsuit related to a bicycle accident. The law is called the statute of limitations. If the accident arises as a result of a collision with a motorized vehicle, the Colorado statute of limitations, C.R.S. 13-80-101, gives a bicycle rider three years to file a lawsuit against the responsible motorist. However, if the accident giving rise to the lawsuit resulted in the death of the cyclist, the time limit to file a lawsuit is reduced to two years, under Colorado’s wrongful death statute of limitations
Contact a Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Denver
Suffering an injury in a bicycle accident is a painful and traumatizing experience. At Olson Law Firm, we understand the frustration and worry that come with the aftermath of an accident like this – we ride bikes too.
We can guide you through this overwhelming ordeal so that you can heal from your injuries and move forward with your life. We take on the burden of dealing with everything else so that you can worry about getting better. Call us as soon as possible or fill out the form on our contact page to set up a free consultation to review your case. You may also request a free copy of Sean Olson’s book, Results Matter, to find out what a lawsuit against the responsible driver in a bicycle accident may look like.
Remember, our clients come first. We are here to help you, to inform you, and to advocate on your behalf. The sooner we have your information the better. We are equipped to set-up a remote virtual consultation and to allow you to sign all necessary documents from the safety of your home. Call our experienced and compassionate legal team at 303-586-7297 or complete the contact form on our website, www.olsonlawwfirm.com.